Villa Genesis
Une histoire singulière

During the Belle Epoque, the popular holiday resort of Menton basked in a very rich and dynamic social life. Palace, mansion, villa... most residences welcomed the great and celebrated of the world and so they had to be majestic. Neo-classical buildings with their luxurious and refined décor nestled amidst extensive grounds.

The Hotel Aiglon, built in 1885 and now called the Villa Genesis, was one of the symbols of this era. Today it is still a temple of beauty, elegance and the sweetness of life.

Hans-Georg Tersling, a neo-classical architect

Hans-Georg Tersling was born on a modest farm outside the small Danish town of Karlebo. Initially trained as a carpenter, he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where he studied architecture. Upon graduation, the young man travelled to France, where he met Charles Garnier, the famed architect of the Palais Garnier in Paris, who hired him to work on the construction of the Monte-Carlo Casino.

After living for a few years in Paris, Tersling made his way to the French Riviera and settled in Menton. This was a judicious choice as he quickly gained a reputation as the region’s most significant architect. His career hit a peak in the 1890s, when he divided his time between hotel projects and the construction of majestic private villas. His work charmed Eugénie de Montijo, the last Empress Consort of France, who commissioned the Villa Cyrnos and Villa Les Rochers. The architect was involved in the development of the Condamine quarter and designed the Casino Municipal (now the Palais de L’Europe). These and other works helped to define the look of Menton and the coast.

Tersling led an extravagant lifestyle commensurate with his success but, with the outbreak of World War I, commissions began to dry up. His wealthy clients deserted him, but his expenses remained considerable. Falling into debt, he was forced to sell his properties, but even this was not enough.

The great architect was ruined and died in 1920. He was buried in Menton’s Vieux-Château Cemetery, but his legacy lives on in the streets of our coastal town.

Villa Genesis - Old Town

Some dates

1857: Hans-Georg Tersling is born near Karlebo in Denmark
1879: The architect graduates from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen
1887: He settles in Menton
1892: He builds the Villa Cyrnos for the Empress Consort Eugenie
1920: He dies in Menton

His masterpieces ...

The Palais de l’Europe in Menton
In 1908, the town of Menton commissioned Hans-Georg Tersling to design the Casino Municipal in the Condamine quarter. The architect created a huge building, 38 metres high, with an elegantly ornate façade, plenty of large and beautiful windows and numerous rooms, each luxuriously decorated. The Palais is now an events venue and performance hall housing the town’s tourist information offices.

The Russian Orthodox Church of Menton
At the end of the 19th century, the association La Maison Russe decided to erect a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in which to practice orthodox worship. Tersling built a church of relatively modest dimensions, just 12m long, 7.5m wide, and 22m high, with a 9m ceiling height, designed in the purest 17th century Russian style. A masterpiece that can still be enjoyed today.