History unravelling with a bitter casino war, a family drama, an unsolved disappearance, a possible involvement of the French Connection…

While all eyes will be on Cannes for the next two weeks with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars walking the red carpet of the world’s biggest film festival, Nice is revisiting a tale of seduction, money and betrayal that has been gripping the French Riviera for more than 30 years.

Famed director André Techiné (My Favorite Season, Wild Reeds) has taken up residence in the city for the next month to start shooting the as yet untitled new movie about the infamous “Affaire Le Roux”.

Even though a body has never been found, a man, the presumed victim’s lover, has been convicted of murder, but has since been released from jail after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Court of Appeal in Aix en Provence did not justify its decision.


It all started in late 1977, when Agnès Le Roux, the glamorous daughter of the owner of the Palais de la Méditerranée, disappeared at the wheel of her Range Rover. At the time, Le Roux had been romantically involved with René Agnelet, a lawyer and a serial womaniser, who convinced her to vote against her mother, a former model who was running the family-owned casino since the death of her husband, at a board meeting.

This betrayal led to the take-over of the casino by Dominique Fratoni, the owner of Le Ruhl. Agnès received in return three million francs from Fratoni, but soon after the money was transferred to Agnelet’s private account, the lawyer decided to end their relationship and the heiress mysteriously vanished.

In 2007, Agnelet was sentenced to 20 years in prison after his third trial. A few years later, a former mafia member, Jean Pierre Hernandez, claimed that the real culprit was instead Jeannot Lucchesi, a well-known figure from the Marseille underworld, but did not provide any real evidence to support his accusations. The mystery, therefore, remains unsolved.

Equipment on set for filming of Le Roux movie in Nice

The movie started shooting yesterday, Monday, in Vieux Nice. It stars Adèle Haenel as Agnés Le Roux, Guillaume Canet as Maurice Agnelet and Catherine Deneuve as Renée Le Roux. 

Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée
13, Promenade des Anglais
06000 Nice

Telephone: 04 93 27 12 34

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2 Responses

  1. Maureen Emerson

    Designed by Professor Charles Dalmas working with his son Marcel, the Palais de la Méditerranée was the epitome of Art Deco glamour and a departure for this architect who had built the domed and encrusted Carlton Hotel in Cannes. The façade of the Palais, with its row of arcades surmounted by the horizontal and vertical lines of the windows, was decorated with large bas-relief figures by the sculptor Antoine Sartorio. The interior with its splendid entrance hall, enormous stained glass windows and white marble staircase illuminated with Art Deco crystal chandeliers was breathtaking. Mainly conceived as a gaming house with rooms, its accompanying theatre attracted such music hall stars of the day as Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker.
    But if one had been walking along the Promenade des Anglais in the 1980s hoping to catch a glimpse of this splendour, all that would have been seen behind the silent façade were piles of rubble in an enormous void. Badly managed and losing money rapidly from the 1930s onwards, the building deteriorated steadily until 1978 when the remaining contents of the hotel were sold off and the interior entirely demolished, although the facade was spared. As the result of tortuous disputes and court cases, which brought no credit to Nice, the shell remained empty for 26 years. But it enjoyed one happy and vivacious period before its demolition when it was requisitioned as the commissary for the American troops in 1944 after the liberation of Provence. How well I remember its sadness during all those years. As did the author Graham Greene.
    Maureen Emerson


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