1. Marseille – One of the top places to visit along the French riviera is Marseille. As the largest port in France, and one of the oldest cities still standing, this area of the country offers beaches, a tropical climate, and plenty to see and do no matter what your budget may look like.
2. Cannes – Cannes is one of the most world-renowned spots in France, thanks to the Cannes Film Festival which brings in celebrities and others from around the world. Gorgeous tropical beaches compete with historical sites and fascinating architecture, making Cannes one of the top places to visit along this part of France.
3. St. Tropez – One of the hotspots along the is St. Tropez, a vacation spot known for glitz and glamour, where the rich and famous stay and play. The exquisite ocean views, turquoise waters, and mild warm climate all combine to make this area a tropical getaway ideal for anybody and any budget.
4. Nice – One of the larger cities along the French riviera, Nice is a world renown destination for anyone on a honeymoon, or anyone who enjoys nature and gorgeous scenery. Tropical sunsets, warm white sand beaches, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and other establishments make this city very visitor friendly.
5. Juan les Pins – Juan les Pins is a smaller city along the coast of France, but it is a very popular destination for visitors. The lively nightlife in the area combine with a warm and friendly population, a tropical setting, and gorgeous scenery for an unforgettable vacation.
6. Antibes – One of the top places to visit along this Riviera is the city of Antibes. The summer is a time when this city is packed with visitors from all over Europe, and the world, so you may want to visit during the off-season. One day in this historic and gorgeous location and you will quickly understand why Antibes is one of the top ten.
7. Monaco – One of the most famous destinations along the French riviera, Monaco is most well-known for casinos, royalty, and the Princess Grace Kelly, who started as a movie star before marrying royalty. Monaco offers a number of activities aside from gambling, both on land and in the water, and it is one of the top destinations in this area for tourists.
8. Cap Ferrat – With some of the most breathtaking views and a tranquility not found in many places, Cap Ferrat is one of the top places to visit in this part of France. Numerous gardens and a port are just a few of the attractions, and the sun and beaches are also common reasons why visitors choose this location for vacation.
9. Vence – Located in the eastern part of the Cote d’Azure, Vence has much to offer and this is why it is one of the top ten. A thriving community of artisans has made this location popular, and the lush vegetation alongside tropical beaches is a splendid contrast.
10. Beaulieu-Sur-Me – Situated a short distance from Nice, Beaulieu-Sur-Me is located along the coast of the French riviera. The seaside town is nestled among majestic mountains and natural beauty that is amazing. The scenery alone makes this destination a top ten to visit when in France.
Kayla McBride is one of the fellow article contributors of the travel informational website Travel Advisor Tips.
The French riviera is a delightful place with many charming villages and towns. Located on the Cap d’Antibes or Antibes peninsula between Cannes and Nice, Juan-les-Pins is a popular spot that first flourished in the 1920s and 30s when celebrities including F. Scott Fitzgerald discovered it.
Today, it’s still popular with the jet set, and during the Cannes Film Festival, it’s jam packed. Huge yachts anchor off shore and the restaurants along the beach are hopping until the wee hours. The sandy beach here is one of the best on the Riviera. And the charming Old Town of Antibes, with its lively food market and Picasso Museum, are a short walk away.
Top end Juan-les-Pins hotels.
Betraying it’s jazz age roots, the Hotel Juana is a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member. The Art Deco style building, which is a designated monument, was restored in 2004. Rooms here have WiFi access, mini bars, and large marble bathrooms, and some have balconies that look out over the neighboring islands. There’s a beach club where you can rent loungers and umbrellas, a heated pool, fitness center, and Turkish bath. The restaurant is also quite good.
Occupying a former private villa where Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald came to play, the Hotel des Belles-Rives is also a Small Luxury Hotel member. The beach-front location is tops and there’s a café, bar, private dock, and beach club for rentals. Many of the 43 rooms have sweeping views. If you spend enough, you may stay in the same one as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or Josephine Baker.
It’s hard to say which is the best Juan-les-Pins hotel. But most people would agree that it’s one of these two.
Hotel Saint Valerie is just a few minutes from the beach. As a member of the Chateaux & Hotels de France group, it has many nice amenities including air conditioning, mini bars, Internet access, and satellite Television. Ask for one of the rooms overlooking the terrace or swimming pool.
Inexpensive Juan-les-Pins hotels.
One of the most popular hotels in Juan-les-Pins because of its solid value for money, Hotel des Mimosas has 34 rooms in an old villa that was built in 1870. It’s located on top of a hill, surrounded by pretty gardens. There’s a good beach within a ten-minute walk and a nice swimming pool. Upgrade to a room with a balcony or terrace. For summer, you’ll need to make reservations months in advance to get a room.
Another good value is the Hotel Le Pre Catalan, which is in a village built at the turn of the century. In a residential neighborhood with flower- and fruit-filled gardens and terraces, it’s a real charmer. Guests can get a cocktail in the bar and enjoy the heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Some of the 24 rooms have kitchenettes and terraces.
Read about Juans-les-Pins here And find more places in France here
I had the yacht charter of the century this past July in the Mediterranean. I was looking for a relaxing, fun vacation for my family but I also wanted to include some friends in the festivities and my charter broker put together a package for me that was incredible and surprisingly didn’t break the bank.
I booked a 10 day yacht charter starting in St Tropez, where we stayed for a couple of days lunching at both Nikki Beach and 55 Club where champagne was sprayed freely. I even found my own little treasure called Bamboo on Pampelonne beach. Bamboo was set in a beautiful location and the food was amazing and completely reasonable. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and I especially enjoyed the ‘Piscine’s’ of Champagne and the digestive which tasted like butterscotch. A great place which I highly recommend!
After St Tropez we stopped for a day in the port of Antibes, not only to visit the charming old town of Antibes but also because my wife had to go up to the village of Gordon to buy basil mustard. Apparently at this family run store, they grow and make everything and I must say the mustard and the lavender honey are quite good. In addition, the village has breathtaking views, it is so high up they call it the Eagle’s nest.
We spent the next day in Antibes getting our Jet Ski Licenses which I must say was quite enjoyable. An instructor came onboard and after passing a morning learning all the ins and outs of small watercrafts we maneuvered our jet skis like pros! That evening we anchored off of Monaco where we enjoyed dinner at L’Horizon Deck in the Fairmont Monte Carlo and watched the International fireworks festival. The Restaurant is amazing with 360 degree views and the fireworks spectacular. I had never seen fireworks so elaborate and set to music. Apparently the firework competition runs all summer up and down the coast of the French and Italian Riviera. If you can catch one I highly recommend it. That was just one of the many bonus’s that our charter agent planned for us.
Seriously, knowing that I was spending less than last year for the exact same product really made such a difference… I was able to turn off my blackberry and relax for the first time in years. The yacht charter crew were professional, attentive and took such a pride in providing the best service. I enjoyed being onboard so much that I instructed the Captain to go over to Corsica and anchor off. There we enjoyed using our new jet ski licenses and the peace and quiet! I can’t describe how beautiful it was anchored under the cliffs of Bonifacio and if that wasn’t idealyic enough one day we watched dolphins play as we ate lunch on the aft deck.
The onboard chef’s really took our preferences to heart and my family and I were always astounded with the culinary excellence, my mouth is still watering now! My wife is a celiac and can’t eat any gluten which translates into no pasta, no bread, no cakes. However you would have had no idea the Chef had any restrictions at all. Every morning we had a selection of fresh fruit and yogurt along with eggs cooked to order, rosemary new potatoes, beef and chicken sausages and fresh squeezed juices. The evening meals were just magnificent and too plentiful to describe yet I will never forget the appetizer we had one evening of Foie Gras with Fig Marmalade.
The yacht was so smooth and travelled through many nights maximizing our day time aboard. Waking up in a new destination is something that never fails to impress me
The captain made sure that every little detail was perfect and was very entertaining with various anecdotes and ‘stories from the high seas!’ We were very lucky to have such a knowledgeable and happy crew. This is something I would really stress to your charter broker. Rebecca researched the crews of each yacht we looked at for charter and got references which highly paid off.
I think my next vacation will be a luxury sailing yacht charter, maybe this coming Caribbean season…
http://www.bluewateryachting.com is an exclusive yacht charter company specialising in luxury yacht charter in the South of France, the Italian Riviera and the Amalfi Coast. Whether you are interested in a Mediterranean yacht charter, Caribbean yacht charter or a South of France luxury yacht charter, we always provide a first class service.
The jet-set lifestyle is one that springs to mind when you imagine renting villas on the C’ote d’Azur. Whether you want to hire a beach villa in France to enjoy the area’s vast coastline, or soak up the local Mediterranean culture, the Cote d’Azur has something for everyone. Many impressionist painters made the Cote d’Azur their home and St Tropez villas provide the perfect base from which to make excursions to see the work of well-known artists.
The capital of the area, Nice, contains work by the likes of Matisse and Chagall, and Antibes is the place to visit if you want to see works by Picasso. There are also numerous festivals which take place throughout the year. Of these, the most famous are probably the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix, both of which take place in May. Jazz festivals in Nice and Juan-les-Pins take place in July and music enthusiasts may well want to visit these towns from their Cote d’Azur villas in the height of summer. If you prefer to relax and enjoy the sunshine when on holiday you will not be disappointed – the Mediterranean climate means that there are 300 days of sunshine per year in the area.
What’s more, there are 115 kilometres of coastline and beaches to relax on and some 3,000 restaurants where the local cuisine can be sampled. Visitors to the capital, Nice, will be able to taste the famous fish dish, bouillabaisse, or try the local speciality Pissaladiere, which is a tart made with anchovies and onions. Nice, also known as Nissa la Bella, which translates as Nice the Beautiful, will also be of interest to history buffs as it is thought to be one of the oldest human settlements. Antibes is a town nestled between Cannes and Nice, which may well appeal to beach lovers and culture vultures alike.
There are an astonishing 48 beaches on the stretch of coastline between Antibes and Juan les Pins. The area is also home to many museums including one dedicated to Picasso and an absinthe museum for those more interested in the history of their alcohol.
If you’re thinking about spending a break at a beach villa in France, take a look at QualityVillas.com. With a wide range of villas in St Tropez to choose from, getting the perfect villa Cote d’Azur could not be an easier task.
The French riviera is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. With its golden beaches, turquoise waters and abundant entertainment options, this is hardly surprising. The region features Mediterranean climate with mild winters and sunny, dry summers. As such, the area attracts visitors across the year. Cannes is one of the most popular cities on the French riviera. It is characterized by busy sandy beaches, harbour full of boats, grand bay front hotels, vibrant streets, excellent restaurants, and many fairs and festivals. Some of the top attractions in the city include -
La Croissette is the first place visited by a majority of people in Cannes. The well known promenade runs along the shore and is lined by a number of upscale shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and souvenir stores. On a walk down this popular path you can even bump into a celebrity.
The Cannes Film Festival
The prestigious festival is held every year in May at the Palais des Festivals et des Congres. It attracts celebrities from across the globe. The convention centre is located at the heart of the city and hosts a number of events through the year. The flag stones outside the building feature handprints of many celebrities.
Musee de la Castre
This popular museum features a diverse variety of artwork. Apart from the art, the building itself, an old castle, is also interesting. The castle’s tower offers a stunning view of the city of Cannes.
Cannes is a paradise for nature lovers, shopping enthusiasts as well as foodies. The region’s stunning coastline never fails to mesmerise visitors. As far as shopping and food is concerned, La Croisette and the nearby streets feature many apparel and accessory stores as well as a number of restaurants and cafes. Apart from La Croisette, Meynadier and rue d’Antibes are other popular shopping districts. While Cannes itself has a lot to offer, there are a number of nearby places worth visiting. These include Nice, Grasse, Antibes, St. Tropez, Mougins and Frejus.
The natural beauty, perfect climate and abundant entertainment options make Cannes an ideal holiday destination. When it comes to holiday homes, Cannes property is preferred by many. Because of high demand and limited supply, the properties here are expensive compared to other locations. However, the high selling and rental price commanded by a Cannes property makes it a worthy investment. Whether you are looking for a holiday home or a lucrative real estate investment, Cannes property is one of the best options.
Burger Davis Sotheby’s International Realty are a leading luxury property rental company who provide a wide variety of the finest luxury property, apartments on the French riviera. Ideal for holiday or corporate rentals including Cannes Film Festival Accommodation.
Having a marina berth for a yacht is quite essential since there is otherwise no other place to safely keep a yacht when it is not in use. There are several types of marina berths available through the world but it is extremely important to select the one that would be right for you and would be according to your requirements.
Some of the things that one needs to keep in mind while select a marina berth are:
* The location of the marina.
* The cost of the berth.
* The facilities available at the marina.
* Electricity, maintenance services, round the clock security and the rules and regulations.
While selecting a marina berth it is important to select one from a trusted source and selecting a location that has ample benefits. Getting berths in France for a yacht can be quite beneficial since most of the berths in France have ample facilities and excellent security systems.
Port Galice Antibes in France is one of the best places to consider if you are looking for berths in France. The location of Port Galice makes it quite beneficial for a marine berth. Any good marina berth should be at a location from where there is easy access to some good travel destinations. France is known to be one of the most loved and most visited countries in the world since centuries and Port Galice in Antibes is located at a prime location from where there is easy access to some of the best places along the coast of France.
Some of the places that can be easily visited from Port Galice are:
* Antibes- Antibes is located on the coast of the famous French riviera and is the ideal coastal city with a dazzling beach lined with palms swaying in the sea breeze. The city is quite charming with its historic ancient buildings situated around the narrow cobble stoned streets.
* Cannes- Cannes is also situated quite close to Port Galice Antibes which makes it one of the best berths in France. Cannes represents chic sophistication and is synonymous with the international film festival. The city has several palm shaded streets, outdoor cafes and beach facing restaurants.
* Monaco- Monaco is the second smallest country in the world and is very famous as a tourist destination. Monaco is mainly famous for its casinos and for hosting Grand Prix races, however, there is a softer and more serene side to it as well for those who care to explore it.
* Toulon- Toulon is the second largest naval port in France and is the gateway to the French riviera. The beaches here are perfect for relaxation on a summer day. Toulon remains untouched by tourism and can be the perfect hideaway for anyone who is longing for some solitude.
Berths in France can have several advantages due to its proximity to several other European countries like Italy and Spain. In France itself there are a number of destinations worth visiting along the coast in the French riviera which makes it one of the best places in the world to have a marina berth.
Yacht Charter Italy and Yacht Charter France – Fraser Yachts focus on French & Italian Yachts for crewed motor & sailing boat yacht charters on the French riviera.
For the centuries now Côte d’Azur or, so known among the English-speaking community, French riviera has been attracting tourists from all over the world by its mild Mediterranean climate and exceptional sunshine all through the year. The region is famous for its diversity offering a wide range of activities for people of all ages. Not a surprise that this place has become popular among hunger investors who have been increasingly buying properties, developing businesses and acquiring holiday houses. More and more people are settling down in Nice, Antibes, Juan les Pins, Cannes, Mougins or any other not-a-distant from Sophia Antipolis city in search for a work-life balance that life in the region offers.
So how come the traffic gets heavier, the rental prices grow with the speed of light and the region gets overpopulated in the summer time? The tendency started couple of decades ago, when the French Silicon Valley – Sophia Antipolis – was constructed. Sophia Antipolis is a technology park northwest of Antibes and southwest of Nice. The area of 2 400 hectares includes over 1300 technology companies offering jobs to 37 000 people. The companies mostly specialize in the fields of computing, electronics, pharmacology and biotechnology. Some of the widely known names that are W3C, Amadeus, Schneider Electric, ITT, Hewlett-Packard, Thales, France Télécom, Bayer, Legrand, Air France, CR of Science, Siemens, NXM, SAP, ST Microelectronics, Accenture, Toyota. A number of research laboratories such as CNRS, INSERM, I3S, LEAT, INRIA, INRA, SAP and others. The companies benefit from a great location and happily welcome their clients on various congresses and meetings…
Ask what it’s like to live and work in the French riviera and you will hear – working day from 9 am to 5pm, beach tennis golf cycling jogging swimming etc during the lunch time, and subsequently an efficiency in work and life. City life taught people to work long hours and still have things to get done. Life in the French riviera makes work a not-the-most-important-thing in your life but teaches efficiency and leaves time for important things such as family and hobbies.
Major expatriates are British, Italians, Swedish, and some Germans. English speaking shops (there is a good one in Antibes next to the port), Radios (Riviera radio 106.5fm), movies (look up on internet for eng speaking cinema), bars and pubs (some popular ones are in Antibes – Hop Store and La Gaffe and many in every major city) are available to gap the nostalgic feeling for home countries.
Since the 19th century, southern France, especially the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region has inspired many famous painters. It attracts for its various landscapes, rich colours and particular light. Thanks to its unic cultural wealth, the French riviera was a special place for liberty and experience. Lots of artists gather in artists’ studios in Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer and Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
Van Gogh, Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Renoir, but also Dufy, Matisse, Cocteau, Bonnard, Soutine, Derain, Cross, Boudin and Peynet immortalized the Provence and the Cote d’Azur during their stays or during their lives there.
The impressionists Cézanne, Monet, Degas and Renoir were very much inspired by the region. Renoir and Monet are the impresionnists who painted Provence the most. In Cagnes sur Mer, Renoir painted Paysages des Collettes, in 1914 and La Ferme des Collettes, in 1915. He was also inspired by the picturesque village of L’Estaque, near Marseille and painted L’Estaque. The village also inspired Braque, Derain and Dufy. As for Monet, he painted the town of Antibes (Antibes effet d’après-midi, 1888 and Antibes vue de la Salis, 1888).
Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence
Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence. He was really in love with his native region, which much marked himself and his work. He lived in Paris and Auvers-sur-Oise but every time he returned to his homeland, which much inspired him. He painted the Ste Victoire Mount around 80 times, but also the surrounding countryside, seaports, stone quarries and on cold days, he realised many still life paintings. The Bathers (les Grandes Baigneuses), one of his famous paintings aroused Picasso and Matisse’s interest. Cézanne lived and worked in Aix en Provence over a period of forty five years. According to him, “there are treasures to be taken away from [France], which has not yet found an interpreter worthy of the riches it offers”.
Van Gogh in St Rémy-de-Provence and Arles
Van Gogh arrived in Arles in 1888, intending to found a utopian art colony. He began painting local scenes and landscapes. Before coming in the region, his painting was very dark, as many Dutch painters’. In St Rémy de Provence, he introduced more colours in his work, as his famous painting The Sunflowers, for instance and can attest. Compare for instance the 1885 painting The Potato Eaters and the 1888 Bedroom, or the 1888 Yellow House, the property he rent during his stay Arles. Yellow meant to Van Gogh hope and friendship. Even when he painted the night, the result was much colourful during his time in Provence. The Starry Night (1889) and The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum at Night are amazing examples. After Van Gogh’s demand, Gauguin joined him in Arles and they painted together. They painted the Alyscamps in Arles. Van Gogh went for walks in the surrounding countryside and became soaked with images of olive trees, wheatfields and cypresses, which he introduced in his works.
Picasso in Antibes
In 1939, Picasso stayed a few months in Antibes, on the Cote d’Azur. He was lent a room in the Grimaldi Casle and Museum, which made him very much enthusiastic and willing to decorate the castle with his paintings. This joy appears in the work he produced in Antibes, such as La Joie de Vivre. There, he created several drawings and paintings, namely The Keys of Antibes, Peche de nuit à Antibes, Woman with Sea Urchins, etc. When he left, he gave his works to the Antibes town. But Picasso was also inspired by the village of Mougins, near Cannes and painted Paysage de Mougins II in 1965.
Matisse in Nice and Vence
Matisse, Picasso’s friend and rival, spend several years in Nice and Vence, where he discovered the “Mediterranean light” in 1898. The first month he was in Nice, it rained all the time. When he decided to leave the town because of the bad weather, the wind had cleared the sky and let the sun shine. He knew he would see this wonderful light every morning and eventually changed his mind and stayed in Nice for a long time. There, he painted among others Self-portrait, My Bedroom in the Beaurivage and The Open Window. It was for him a period of uninterrupted hard work. He was very much inspired by the city and its narrow balconies overlooking onto the sea and the local architecture. He loved the silvery light, the lively colours and the plunging perspectives of the city. He also painted the frivolities of life, like colourful parasols, shoes, hats and the current fashions women make up.
Chagall’s paintings Couple au-dessus de Saint Paul and La Table devant le Village show the Provencal village of St Paul-de-Vence.
Dali in Monte Carlo
Dali stayed in the Cote d’Azur several times during his life. Strangely, only his famous Cadillac car (exhibited at the Gala-Dali Museum, in Spain) shows a link between him and the region, as it is registered in Monte Carlo.
Those famous artists chose those towns and villages for their beauty because it would look very good on their landscape paintings. They cannot be wrong in their choice because their pieces are worth millions nowadays. If, as all these painters, you feel in love with the wonderful Provence and Cote d’Azur and would like to own a property there, Sextant Properties can help you in the process. They will put you in touch with English speaking French estate agents to help you find your dream property. Everybody knows that there’s no need to be an artist to love the region, its charming atmosphere, various landscapes and Mediterranean climate.
Sextant French property is a network of more than 100 estate agents in France offering a selection of 6000 French property for sale.
The main season for spotting super yachts in Europe is from May to September, you may be able to see yachts outside of this time but most will sail to the Caribbean for the winter. Many of the yachts sail out to sea during the day to allow their guests to enjoy the many toys, such as jet skis and boats they may have on board, but during the evening they reconvene in the ports.
One of the most well known spots for seeing the super rich, and if you’re lucky enough the odd celebrity, is St Tropez. Found on the South Coats of France St Tropez is an old fishing town which has become a Mecca for super yachts. The harbour in St Tropez has moorings for 1050 vessels but the bay outside can hold many more, and often in the warm summer months many yachts can be seen moored up in the bay. Some of the yachts that have visited St Tropez harbour include the impressive 52m Golden Yachts O’Neiro, the luxurious 68m CRN Alwaeli and the 58m Austal yacht Outback.
Staying along the South Coast of France one of the other playgrounds of the rich and famous is Antibes. Antibes harbour is one of the largest ports in the French riviera and boasts some of the largest yachts in the world as visitors. The harbour is made up of two parts, the inner harbour which hosts hundreds of yachts and the outer harbour which is reserved for the largest boats. Like St Tropez if the harbour is full many yachts will dock outside the harbour walls and use their tenders to get their guests ashore. Some of the super yachts that have visited Antibes include, the 126m Octopus currently owned by the co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen, one of Roman Abramovich’s boats Ecstasea and the opulent 75m Anastasia.
We now move away from the French riviera and on to the port of Barcelona on the North Western tip of Spain. Barcelona recently invested around 33 million Euros in creating a 21st century marina called Villanova Grand Marina. The marina is designed around super and mega yachts up to 80m in length, and has 49 moorings for such vessels. Some of the vessels that have visited Villanova include the 60m Feadship super yacht Paraffin and the 80m Oceanco yacht Amevi.
There are many areas around the world where super yachts can be seen and enjoyed but the three listed above should allow any enthusiast to get up close to some of the most stunning vessels afloat.
At many of these locations a large amount of yachts you will see will be charter yachts. For a wide variety of yacht charters please visit www.youryachtcharter.com
Charlotte Newman-Ford invites you to view a large selection of yacht charters at [http://www.youryachtcharter.com].
The prospect of a long week-end on the French riviera can only enchant. I was however, left worrying that a certain Icelandic volcano might spoil the party. Luckily the skies were clear and a short flight later, we were greeted with the breath taking view of Nice- the low Alpine mountains, the sea and the town itself nestled neatly in between. After a hassle-free car hire we set off to our first destination: the glamorous St Tropez, via the new motorway. We seemed to have coincided with the Harley Davidson Euro Festival 2010 which takes places in the Saint Tropez bay, meaning we were rubbing shoulders with (and overtaken by) roaring motorbikes along the way.
Once in St Tropez, we decided to sample the local seafood and watch the afternoon promenaders, which lead us to the marina. We were not disappointed, washing down seafood pizza with a dry and fruity rosé. Now that our stomachs were full we headed along the coast, meandering aroundPort Grimaud and Sainte Maxime. The former is known as a private lagoon pleasure city, full of waterways, yachts and houses in tasteful Provencal style. The brainchild of an Alsatian architect who wanted to recreate the feel of Venice, the town only arose from the sand dunes in the 1960s. Owners here are more than a little wealthy, and include Joan Collins. Sainte Maxime, often called St Tropez’s poor and less fashionable neighbour, was a pleasant surprise. The shaded streets were well worth a visit, including the 18th century church, colourful facades, cobbled alleyways and numerous squares with fountains.
We bought some souvenirs of course. I was told that in the area one is never more than 20 minutes away from a golf course! This is just as well, as it is such a popular sport and I for one wouldn’t want too many eyes watching as I retrieved my ball from yet another bunker.
It was getting late by then, and we decided to head back to our hotel in Nice, via the Esterel Massif, a coastal, rocky mountain range. It was however, too dark to see much by this point and we decided to explore further the following day.
The second day saw us visiting some new build developments. In Antibes we checked out the Perle de JadeResidenceand The Antibes-les-Pins Residence which has been completed and boasts contemporary design and stunning sea views. In Nice we saw the Jardin Pastorelli Development of apartments and townhouses, which is situated at the heart of Nice old town yet still feels remarkably tranquil once inside. On the way to St Raphael we decided to take a better look at the Esterel, marvelling again at its wild, untouched beauty, with rugged red cliffs jutting into the sea and lush greenery.
On Saturday morning we decided to get up early and make the most of the covered Marché Provencal in Antibes. Here one finds the freshest produce you’ve ever seen, prawns, langoustines, crab, tomatoes, peppers (both far redder than the pale sorts one finds in supermarkets here), courgettes (bigger than any I’ve ever seen), lemons, salads, fresh herbs and spices in yellow sacks, and olives, stuffed with all sorts of heady ingredients- garlic, nuts, peppers, anchovies or marinated in thyme and lavender. We even spotted a celebrity, the Welsh footballer Robbie Savage, browsing the stalls with his wife.
As we were in Antibes, we decided to visit the Picasso museum in the Grimaldi Palace where we saw the resplendent “Joie de Vivre”, celebrating happiness regained (post World War Two), and the radiant Mediterranean light.
Continuing the arty theme, we then headed to Vallauris, west of Antibes, where Picasso lived for seven years. He practically single-handedly brought about the renaissance of the Vallauris pottery industry and his presence is felt and evoked continuously (he was allowed to decorate the chapel in town and created a bronze statue for the local children to climb on in Place de la Liberation).
Biot was the next destination on our map, a former pottery centre but now renowned for its glassblowers and bubble glass products. The glass factory is open year round to the public who wish to see the craftsmen create their masterpieces. Following on in the arts and crafts vein we ventured 25 minutes up the road to Grasse, the world capital of perfume. There are plenty of old perfumeries one can visit though we didn’t have the time. Still, you can wonder and wander to your heart’s content in between the 17 and 18th century buildings, under arched tunnels, up and down ancient steps and then unexpectedly come upon a square with a three-tiered fountain, a Cathedral or a watchtower.
On the way back from Grasse we decided to stop in Valbonne, a picturesque town which retains a familial, village atmosphere. We sat in a square and sipped a hot chocolate-coffee drink in a picturesque cafe, utterly delicious, as we watched the world go by again- children playing, parents sipping wine and watching, tourists like us basking in the last rays of the day.
Our final meal of the trip took place in Antibes, and we feasted on Aioli Provencal- vegetables (carrots, potatoes, green beans) with fish served with the aioli sauce, heaven for garlic lovers like us, but not quite as enjoyable for anyone stepping within a few feet of us. We then ambled along into Juan les Pins, which really comes alive when the sun goes down, with its giddy mix of casinos, clubs, live music and late night shopping. Watching the beautiful people drift past as we sipped a beer, it was hard to imagine that within 24 hours we would be back in less Mediterranean climes, contemplating another week in the rat race.
In three days, we saw plenty, and yet only briefly. What struck me above all were simply the colours- the blueness of the sea (it isn’t called the Cote d’Azur for nothing), the arresting old town of Antibes with yellows, reds, greens; quaint yet not overly so. And then there is the culture- for all the sunbathing, jet setting crowds, the Cote d’Azur is also a place of overwhelming creativity and artistry, from perfumery to glassware, Picasso to pottery, it is truly a feast for the senses.
If you’re still unsure where to buy on the Cote d’Azur, and weighing up the pros and cons of Nice, Antibes, Cannes or any other town, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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