Belvédère (Occitan: Barver) is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. The village of Belvédère is an attractive village sitting above the river Vésubie at the entrance of the Gordolasque valley.
View of Belvédère
|Intercommunality||Métropole Nice Côte d'Azur|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Paul Burro|
|75.41 km2 (29.12 sq mi)|
|• Density||9.1/km2 (24/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||575–3,080 m (1,886–10,105 ft)|
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.|
The Bronze AgeEdit
Belvédère lies to the west of Mont Bégo. The sacred mountain, close to Nice, in the Alpes Maritimes and part of the Mercantour National Park, currently being included in the UNESCO world heritage list. For thousands of years, from the Stone Age all the way to the Iron Age, the first inhabitants of Europe were climbing all the way to the top of Mount Bego along the Canyons of the Valley of the Roya river starting from the Mediterranean Sea. They have recorded their early expressions of observing nature in more than thirty thousand graffiti on the stones of the Vallée des Merveilles. The Belvederois remained an anonymous inhabitants of this part of Ligurie (Liguria) living on the fringes of the sacred mountain. There are some vestiges of their ancient fortifications for example there is evidence of a part of a fort behind the church, which can be considered as the prehistoric beginnings of the actual village.
In 500 BC the Gauls infiltrated the Ligurian coast and arrived in the mountains around . The inhabitants of Massalia (Marseilles) founded colonies along the coast: Antibes, Monaco, Nice. Farmers spread inland raising vines and olives without however reducing the independence of the mountain dwellers
The Romans crossed the Alps Maritimes to secure a passage to Nice & Marseilles and to fight in Spain. In 125 BC they annexed the inland areas to found the Roman province of Provence followed by the Alpine regions as far as Tyrol.Belvedere was occupied and noble Romans of Cimez (Nice) who spent summers in Belvedere and developed the thermal baths at the nearby mountain village of Berthemont-les-Bains. Reputedly Conrelia Solenina wife of the third century emperor Galienus(c. 218 – 268) and mother of Valerian II, Saloninus, and Marinianus visited the baths.
The Barbarian InvasionsEdit
In the 5th century the Germans finally overwhelmed the Western Roman Empire. They disputed Provence with the Visigoths, then the Ostrogoths installed themselves, followed by the Lombards and finally the Francs, who organised and administered the region and repulsed the raiding Sassanids(Arabs) in the 7th & 8th centuries,whose attacks penetrating as far as the Vesubie.
Under the Counts of ProvenceEdit
At the dawn of the millennium Belvedere was part the kingdom of Burgundy.Rudolf II (880-937), was ruler of Upper Burgundy (912–937), Lower Burgundy (Provence) (933–937) and also ruled Italy for nearly four years (923-926) during the chaotic period at the end of the Carolingian era. However, in 926 the Italian nobility turned against him and requested that Hugh of Arles,Comte d'Arles, the effective ruler of Provence (or Lower Burgundy), rule them instead. Rudolf returned to Upper Burgundy to protect himself, assuring Hugh's coronation as King of Italy in the process. The Counts would dominate the region until 1388, effectively for the duration of the Middle Ages. It was the feudal era with a lord or Seigneur for each village, but most areas maintained their autonomy and Luceram, Utelle and Saint Martin Vesubie, like Belvedere, administered themselves. After the death of Queen Jeanne (1382), Amadeus VII Count of Savoy, Aosta and Maurienne, the Red Earl, taking advantage of the subsequent war of succession in Provence negotiated the succession of Nice to Savoy with Baron Jean Grimaldi Bueil, who was seneschal of Provence and commander of the garrison defending Nice. Ruined by war, the inhabitants of Nice and the countries aligned themselves with the policy of John Grimaldi and accepted the protection of the House of Savoy through the Treaty of Saint Pons, known as the Revocation of Nice to Savoy.
The Princes of SavoyEdit
The Princes of Savoy were French by race and language and Belvedere remained a French village. But for the majority of the period from 1388 until 1713 the successors of the Red Earl, Amedee VII, successively allied themselves with enemies of France. As a result, the "Pays Nicois" was crossed by hostile armies and subjected to incessant devastation, particularly following the battles between Charles V and Francis 1st (1494–1547) . This unhappy situation continued off and on until after the war of Spanish Succession when at the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) Louis XIV of France and Philip V of Spain on the one hand met representatives of Queen Anne of Great Britain, the Duke of Savoy, and the United Provinces on the other and divided up Spain's European empire. Savoy received Sicily and parts of the Duchy of Milan, while Charles VI (the Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, received the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, and the bulk of the Duchy of Milan. Then in 1723, or in 1720 according to the international law the crown of Sardinia was awarded by the Treaty of The Hague to King Victor Amadeus II of Savoy to compensate him for the loss of the crown of Sicily to Austria, enabling him to retain the title of king. Besides Sardinia, the new kingdom with its capital in Turin included Savoy, Piedmont, and Nice with the result that Belvedere from now on was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia which included Savoy, Piedmont, the Comte de Nice and Sardinia and thus it remained until 1860.
Under the Sardinian RegimeEdit
During this period Belvedere lived under a foreign flag: however the Pays Nicois benefited from the general peace and progress. The beautiful countryside, mild climate and verdant agriculture, attracted, all along the coast, rich residents which benefited many of the villages. Cultural life developed, but villages like Belvedere stayed isolated and life remained primitive without passable roads or commerce. Belvedere, like its neighbours, retreated into itself and in effect formed a little independent republic. The French Revolution of 1789 brought a disruption, which the people supported without getting any benefits from it.
The Revolution and a return to FranceEdit
Situated just over the frontier of France,from which it was separated by the Var & the Esteron, the Nicoise region became a refuge and place of conspiracies for the French émigrés: nobles, royal officers & priests who hoped to re-establish the royal family in France. A French army crossed the Var in September 1792 and freed the country from the Comte de Nice. Many of the inhabitants, who were secret Francophiles and partisans of the republic welcomed the return to France. This would be the beginning of a bloody confrontation with the Austro-Sardinian armies, which pillaged and caused havoc in many of the villages in the hills and valleys like Belvédère.
In The high valleys of the Gordolasque and the Vesubie, the most important battles unfolded, interrupted only by winter and the difficulties of communication. Belvedere was occupied, requisitioned, bombarded, taken and retaken by the French and Austro-Sards alternatively.
……..in the case of Belvedere. On 2 March 1793,General Brunet republican troops based in Saint-Julien, assaulted the village: "the soldiers quickly climbed the escaladèrent terraces, planted with olive trees that made them immune artillery fire and musketry" the Sardinian troops were forced to retreat hastily to Saint-Blaise, Saint-Martin, the Col de fenestration and even Entracque. With Belvedere, the whole valley Vésubie who fell into the hands of Republicans. The success only lasted 6 months. In September 1793, the village suffered violent attacks from the Col de Raus; the redoubts of Saint-Julien, Vesca Del Cairo and Saint-Sauveur was the scene of fierce battles. On September 8, Belvedere fell again, and it was not until April 1794, with the Vésubie, the village was retaken" 
The fall of Robespierre brought the fighting to an end in May 1794, but the comté de Nice was back in French hands. After the Austrians lost at Mondovi, which was fought on 21 April 1796 between the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte and the army of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. The French won the battle and quickly forced King Victor Amadeus III to sue for peace. The Sardinians capitulated and at the treaty of Turin on 15 May 1796, Savoy and the comté de Nice were returned to France. Belvedere was back in France.
Under the 1st EmpireEdit
The empire was accepted by Plebiscite. The Nice Arrondissement voted yes by 3,488 to 2 nos, while Puget Theniers had 2,818 yes to 3 no votes. The department was enriched by the addition of the arrondissement of San Remo ( Saorge, La Brigue, Perinaldo, Taggia, Ventimille and Bordighera)
In Belvedere the Raynardi family was en-nobled. Francois Felix Raynardi, comte de Belvedere. Capt in Regiment de Nice 1795, was created Baron of the Empire in 1810 and after the restoration created Marechal in 1816.
The peace that reigned there favoured peace and prosperity, but many of Belvederois men went to die on the battlefields of Europe
Return of the SardiniansEdit
Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the Sardinians represented by Victor Emmanuel 1st restored the ancient regime. However the republican experience had borne fruits. Everywhere voices were raised claiming more liberty and reattachment to France. Victor Emmanuel dreamed of a united Italy and appealed to Napoleon III. Too weak to take on Austria the King of Piedmont allied with France to declare war in 1859.
The Austrians were definitively beaten at Vaincue at The Battle of Magenta on 4 June 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai. The Franco-Piedmontese coalition consisted in overwhelming majority of French troops (1100 Piedmontese and 58.000 French). Their victory can therefore be considered as mostly a French victory.The French wanted to obtain what the Belvederois and the other inhabitants of the comte de Nice and wished for so long.
The empire strikes backEdit
By the treaty of Turin on 24 March 1860 the King of Piedmont ceded to Napoleon III Savoy and the Comte de Nice on condition of a favourable plebiscite. On 15 April there was a triumphant result for France. Of 89 communes, 79 replied unanimously in 10 only where there some nos. On 14 June the Sardinian flag was replaced by the French. Belvedere retrieved its nationality, lost in 1713, found in 1794, lost again in 1815 and retrieved definitively in 1860.There was one shadow, which was not removed until victory in WWII. Several communes in the high vesubie remained an Italian enclave for another 87 years until 1947 as a hunting reserve for his majesty the king of ItalyThere is no war, which does not leave sad souvenirs. The Communes of Saint Sauveur, Isola, Rimplas, Valdeblore, Saint MartinVesubie and Belvedere were part of the Southern side of a remarkable line of frontier forts of 1860. Belvedere had to accept the loss of territory of all of the north part of the Gordolasque vally from the Cascade du ray between the Cime de la Valette and the Celle du south Capelet. This territory was reserved for royal hunts until it was submitted by the Italians in 1947 and re-established under the title of the Commune of Belvedere.
The last occupationEdit
With the rise of fascism in Italy a new menace arrived at the frontier as the Italians, encouraged by Hitler, made their presence felt. Their occupation only was terminated by the final defeat of the German army.
In the spring of 1945 the Authion massif above Belvédère was occupied by the 34th DI and troops of German mountain brigade in a network of fortifications: Forca (2078 m), Three Communes redoubt (2080 m), Plan Caval (1932 m) and fort Mille Fourches (2042 m). On 10 April 1945 the French 1st free French division (MFO) (BIMP), Pacific marine infantry battalion units and mechanized elements of the 1st Regiment fusiliers sailors, supported by artillery and aviation, launched an assault on German positions from the South. After a difficult fight the Mille Fourches fort fell on 11 April, followed by Forca and Caval. Finally on the 12th, the redoubt of Three Communes was taken by a tank supported by five volunteer soldiers. At the end of a perilous ascent, Corporal Césaire Le Mercier, a Breton belonging to the 1st BIMP made it into the fort and emerged with 38 prisoners. The entire German front collapsed on 24 April 1945.
Hundreds of soldiers from both sides lost their lives in this battle (273 killed, wounded 644), one of the last on French territory. It allowed French troops to continue to Piedmont following the orders of General de Gaulle's who wished to occupy territory with a view to obtaining border changes in future peace negotiations. This French attitude led to tensions and hostilities with the American allies, who were keen to prevent the dismemberment of the Italian territories by vengeful victors. Belvédère was at one point evacuated and then reoccupied.
The definitive return to FranceEdit
On 19 February 1947 the "Big Four" victors signed a peace treaty with Italy finally exorcising the Fascist regime. The relevant Communes regained their territory. Tende and Brigue returned to France. Belvédère returned definitively and completely to her motherland.
Belle and SebastianEdit
Belvédère together with the Gordolasque valley was used as the location for the 1965 television series Belle et Sébastien based on the novel by Cécile Aubry about a six-year-old boy named Sébastien and his dog Belle, a Pyrenean mountain dog, who live in a small French Alpine mountain village on the French side of the border with Italy. The series was translated and broadcast by the BBC. and a Japanese anime version, Meiken Jolie  was made nearly two decades later.
Prominent citizens and miscellaneous factsEdit
Andre Laurenti (died 1609) Professor at the university of Montpellier, presented at court by Le comtesse de Tonnerre in 1589, appointed as dotor to the King. 1603 appointed chancellor of the faculty of medicin chosen as doctor to Marie de' Medici. 1606 appointed "Archiatre" (doctor to the King) of Henry IV
Honore Laurenti (died 1612) Royal Advocate General for 20 years amongst several important duties he gave a funeral oration for Marguerite of Austria, queen of Spain who died in Paris in 1611
Francois Felix Raynardi (died 1832) Comte de Belvedere. Fought at Massena (aug 1793) as general of a brigade. See text above.
Dick Rivers (born 1945) alias Hervé Forneris French rock star; founder of the "Wild Cats"
|1794||Louis Giacobi||1811||Antoine-François Castelli||1823||Joseph Castelli||1852||Alexandre Giletta||1878||Adolphe Castellan||1919||François Pavy||2008||Paul Burro|
|1794||Louis Ravetto||1813||Joseph Castelli||1825||Jean-Baptiste Laurenti||1855||Anacleto Ruffi||1881||Jean-André Richéris||1932||Félix Robini|
|1795||Louis Prosa||1814||Jean-André Guigoni||1829||Charles Giacobi||1856||Jean-André Richéris||1887||Adolphe Castellan||1944||Joseph Giuge|
|1795||Louis Guigo||1815||Pierre-Louis Castelli||1831||François Galchier||1860||Jean-André Richéris||1888||Eugène Castelli||1945||Denis Lambert|
|1795||Louis Ravetto||1818||Jean-André Laurenti||1833||André Baldoni||1861||François Baldoni||1892||Gaspart Laurenti||1947||Joseph Baldoni|
|An VIII||Paul-François Laurenti||1819||Louis Giacobi||1835||Antoine Cristini||1862||Victor Franco||1894||Benjamin Franco||1960||Arthur Guigonis|
|1807||Louis Giacobi||1820||Antoine-François Cristini||1837||François Baldoni||1871||Jean-André Richéris||1896||Eugène Castelli||1965||Romain Maurel|
|1810||Gilette||1821||Charles Giacobi||1846||Franck Andrea||1871||Jean-André Richéris||1912||Constant Castellan||2001||Pierre Rainard|
- Website for the commune of Belvédère
- Website for the commune of Belvédère
- Link to Belvédère on local Vesubian website at www.vesubian.com including a Monographie de Belvédère by Marc ZWILLER(in french)
- French Wikipedia page for Belvédère
- Communes of the Alpes-Maritimes department
- Dances and traditional musics in Belvédère : farandole and passa-carriera
- This brief history was originally based the brochure "De la Baie des Anges a la Cime de Diable" by Mr Florentin Laurenti, a resident and historian of Belvedere.
- Y. Brugière, La numismatique de Salonine, bienfaitrice des Alpes-maritimes,
- Site officiel de l' Association MONT agne et Patrimoines ( AMONT )
- Belle And Sebastien | A Television Heaven Review Archived 14 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- "Meiken Jolie" (1981)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Belvédère.|