“Eternal Summer”: Alluring Aesthetics of the Old Riviera Ads

Monte Carlo Casino. Monaco, c. 1900

Summer vacations on the Riviera during the early 20th century were a pinnacle of elegance, luxury, and refinement. The Riviera, with its idyllic coastal landscapes, became a sought-after destination for the European elite, artists, and intellectuals who flocked to its sun-drenched shores to revel in the pleasures of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

When it comes to luxury and fashionable vacations, during the early 20th century, the cities on the French and Italian Riviera were hit destinations. These two iconic coastal regions in Europe captivated all those who wished to enjoy picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and vibrant culture. The Italian Riviera stretches along the northwestern coast of Italy, from the French border to Tuscany. Cinque Terre, Portofino and Genoa are renowned for their stunning cliffs, azure waters, and colorful seaside villages. The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is a glamorous stretch of coastline along the southeastern part of France. It is renowned for its glamorous resorts, sandy beaches, and vibrant nightlife. Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez captivate with their charm even today.

A poster for “Train Bleu”, allowing passengers from Switzerland and Central Europe to get to the Cote d’Azur or the Italian Riviera more quickly. France, 1929

But let’s go back to the first half of 20th century. Travel companies realized wealthy adventurers and those wishful of a unique Riviera experience were a growing market. So, alluring aesthetics of travel ads was used to attract people having certain tastes and preferences when it comes to travel.

Elegance and Glamour with a Dose of Adventure

The old Riviera travel ads from the early 20th century evoke a sense of elegance, glamour, and adventure that defined the golden age of travel. These captivating advertisements were crafted to entice wanderlust-filled travelers to embark on a journey to the sun-drenched shores of the French and Italian Riviera, the epitome of luxury and leisure.

Sanremo. A view of the coastline from a terrace. Poster by Vincenzo Alicandri, c. 1920 (CC BY 2.0)

With their vibrant colors, graceful typography, and alluring imagery, these ads transported viewers to a world of opulence and sophistication. They showcased the Riviera’s pristine beaches, azure waters, and picturesque coastal towns, enticing travelers to escape the confines of everyday life and indulge in the pleasures of this Mediterranean paradise.

Poster for the Riviera Express by Rafael Ochoa y Madrazo, 1903

These vintage ads often featured elegant men and women enjoying the leisurely pursuits that the Riviera had to offer. Images of people sunbathing on golden sands, playing tennis, strolling along the promenade, or savoring a leisurely meal at a seaside café created a sense of idyllic relaxation and sophistication.

The Exclusivity of Carefree Joy

The advertisements also highlighted the region’s luxurious accommodations, such as grand hotels and opulent resorts, promising an unparalleled level of comfort and indulgence. These establishments were often depicted as havens of refined elegance, with their ornate architecture, lush gardens, and stunning views of the sea.

Alassio tourist poster, June-September season by Filippo Romoli, 1929

Furthermore, the old Riviera travel ads conveyed a sense of social prestige and exclusivity. They portrayed the French Riviera as a playground for the rich and famous, where one could rub shoulders with aristocrats, artists, and celebrities. The promise of a vibrant social scene, glamorous parties, and cultural events added an irresistible allure to the Riviera’s appeal.

Beyond the visual allure, the language used in these vintage ads also played a crucial role in capturing the imagination of potential travelers. Descriptive phrases such as “sun-drenched coastlines,” “eternal summer,” and “Riviera paradise” painted a picture of a destination where carefree joy and indulgence were the order of the day.

In many ways, these old Riviera travel ads served as windows to a bygone era, capturing the essence of a time when travel was considered a luxury and the Riviera was the epitome of sophistication. Today, they serve as nostalgic reminders of a glamorous past and continue to inspire travelers to explore the timeless beauty and allure of the French Riviera.

Whether displayed in vintage posters, travel brochures, or magazine advertisements, these old Riviera travel ads transport us to an era when the promise of sun, sea, and effortless elegance beckoned adventurers to embark on a journey to a coastal haven that embodied the epitome of refined leisure.

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