SHADES OF BLUE
Boulevard Princesse Grace de Monaco stretches along the coast from Nice to Monaco. You can see orange terra cotta roofs and the changing color of the sea, from light green to deep blue. In this picture, you can see the famed Cap Ferret stretching out into the sea.
La Vie Comme Rêve à la Côte d’Azur
They say the most beautiful shade of blue is seen
at Cote d’Azur or the French Riviera.
STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY
Côte d’Azur or the French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. It is a mountainous area with a long stretch of beach. There is no clear border, but it stretches from Menton near the Italian border all the way to St Tropez and also includes Monaco. In the 19th century, the Calais-Méditerranée-Express service from Calais to the Côte d’Azur was offered by the company that created the Orient Express, a long-distance passenger train service. Later, it became known as Le Train Bleu or “the blue train” thanks to its colour.
PORT OF LUXURY
1. Monaco’s Port Hercule has a view of new buildings emerging from old houses.
2. Houses in Saint-Paul-de-Vence are made from stone, and usually have brightly coloured doors and windows, giving this part of town an adorable feel.
3. Nice was once under Italy. The Franciscan Church and Monastery of Cimiez features a large gilded wood Baroque alter piece from 16th century.
4. Promenade des Anglais runs along the beaches of Nice, as far as the eye can see, lined with Nice’s signature palm trees.
After the service was launched, the French Riviera became a holiday destination for the elite in Europe, from Queen Victoria of England to the Russian monarchs, as well as billionaires from around the world. It was also a popular place among impressionists such as HenriMatisse, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Writers like Edith Wharton, Somerset Maugham and F. Scott Fitzgerald were also captivated by the French Riviera and portrayed the place in their literature.
Thanks to the length of the Mediterranean coastline, the French Riviera covers many important cities, such as St Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Monaco.
A popular activity here is going on a yacht and making stops at various spots. There are many yacht companies to choose from, but most of the routes begin in St Tropez and ends in Monaco.
To get to the French Riviera, fly to Toulon-Hyères Airport. From Cannes or Nice, you can also travel by car to resorts and hotels. To get on a yacht to explore the seas of the French Riviera, embark in St Tropez which is on the west side. It was formerly a small fisherman village, and in the 1960s, a star emerged from this town — Brigitte Bardot, who lived in this fisherman village.
Those who visit Monaco might want to experience Monte Carlo-style luxury, and they can taste and feel it at Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse.
Today, St Tropez is home to many chic clubs and restaurants such as Club VIP Room (Residence du Nouveau Port, 83990, Saint-Tropez, www.viproom.fr) where the VIPs hang out, Caves Du Roy (Byblos Saint-Tropez, Avenue Paul Signac, Saint-Tropez, www.byblos.com), and La Résidence de la Pinède (La Réserve Ramatuelle, Chemin de la Quessine, Ramatuelle, www.lareserve-ramatuelle.com), one of the most famous restaurants located in a resort outside St Tropez, serving French and Mediterranean cuisine. To stay, La Réserve Ramatuelle offers modern luxury with a world-renowned spa. St Tropez is a good start for your French Riviera exploration. After a long journey, it’s nice to unwind in a luxurious resort and get pampered at a spa, or party at a famous club.
If you have time to spare, there are shops and brandname boutiques to visit, such as Dior boutique at Dior Des Lices, which is a small community mall in an old building. There are also multibrand shops. There is a surprisingly wide array of brandname offerings considering the size of the town. Perhaps because it’s a docking area where multi-millionaires come for a holiday, this port city is designed for this clientele.
Pampelonne Bay, not far from St Tropez, is a hub for party people, with Club 55 (www.club55.fr) lunch club and beach club where famous faces come to mingle and relax in the sun while gazing at the beauty of the French Riviera. For a wilder experience, check out Nikki Beach (www.nikkibeach.com), a beach club for the trendiest, with the best music.
If Monaco is the epitome of grandeur, Cannes is the pearl of the French Riviera. It fuses the beauty of St Tropez’s holiday vibe and Monaco’s luxury. It has everything for those seeking a modern French Riviera experience. The Cannes Film Festival is held in May every year and is a magnet that draws people from around the world to come meet their favourite celebrities. The lifestyle here is all about modern glamour, with palm trees, seaside parks, and beaches. The buildings along the beach are shops for those looking to buy espadrilles with stylish designs.
La Croisette Boulevard shopping street is famous partly because it is home to every brandname boutique imaginable. But if you want to explore local trends, head to Rue d’Antibes, or if you’re in the mood for a multibrand experience, visit 55 Croisette (55 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400, Cannes) where you can browse designs by Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier and many more. Another option is Jacques Loup, a multibrand store which has been around since the mid-20th century with a great selection from superbrands. It is truly a shopping paradise.
Cannes also has a wide selection of Michelin star restaurants, but the most noteworthy is La Palme d’Or at Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez (73 La Croisette, 06400 Cannes, www.HotelMartinez.com), which offers exceptional food and services. The name of the food here is short and simple, with only main ingredients featured, but the taste, created by a Michelin star chef, is second to none.
LUXE AND GLAM
5. Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse is lavishly decorated and is among the most beautiful restaurants in Monaco.
6. The flower garden in Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is open to the public and is a popular wedding and party venue.
SPICES OF LIFE
7. The ruins on Cimiez Hill was where a Roman settlement called Cemenelum was located. Here, you can find ruins of homes, opera house, and Roman bath.
8. Packaged spices are popular souvenirs for visitors. Buying spices in Nice’s Old Town is a must-do on many travellers’ list.
Take a trip to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera. Small, adorable houses are located along the streets that snake up the hills. Don’t forget to check out La Colombe d’Or (www.la-colombe-dor.com) which is a restaurant and an art gallery. Built in the early 20th century, it was where famous impressionists and expressionists came to hang out. It is a Michelin star restaurant with excellent food. If you want a local feel, there is a bistro at the city square where people come to unwind and play pétanque.
If you are a fan of contemporary art, Fondation Maeght (632 Chemin des Gardettes, 06570, Saint-Paul-de-Vence) is worth your while. Check out the outdoor sculptures while you’re there. Picasso Museum (Château Grimaldi, 06600 Antibes www.antibes-juanlespins.com) was formerly the magnificent Grimaldi palace, and Picasso spent some time here before moving to Paris. Picasso was invited to set up his studio in a part of the château, and it still remains today.
The largest town of the French Riviera is Nice, which has been referred to in many famous literary works. Nice is a charming place with its endless beach, the gorgeous Promenade des Anglais and the spiralling Cimiez Hill which offers an unrivalled view of the Mediterranean Sea. It is where the Matisse Museum and Cimiez Monastery are located, as well as beautiful gardens. You can see the city from a bird’s eye view. These two places are connected. Nice has a charming Old Town part which is worth a visit. Don’t forget to try the ice cream here — the most famous place for ice cream is Fenocchio (2 Pl. Rossetti, 06300 Nice).
From Nice to Monaco, you will pass Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a former villa of Baroness Rothschild. Today, it is a venue for events, but it still retains its glamour and beautiful architecture. The pink building is filled with old objets d’art, and the garden is just as mesmerising, with seasonal flowers and a rich collection of succulents (06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, www.villa-ephrussi.com).
Before we know it, we’ve left France and entered Monaco. It takes about an hour to go from Nice to Monaco on a bendy road along the hills, with the Mediterranean Sea to one side. The centre of Monaco is Monte Carlo, which is very developed today. Despite its small size, Monaco is a place of ultimate luxury.
SCENTS OF THE SEASON
9. The orchard of Cimiez Monastery has both fruits and flowers.
10. Houses on Saint-Paul-de-Vence are made from stone and are hundreds of years old. In the past, the lamps were lit with candles.
TASTE OF LIFE
11. The French Riviera is known for its glorious food, fusing Italian and Fresh cuisines, local offerings and Michelin star delicacies, beautifully presented and incredibly delicious.
Even if you’re not a gambler, you should not miss a trip to the magnificent Monte Carlo Casino, which is surrounded by luxury brands to tempt shoppers. Port Hercules, the only deep-water port in Monaco, is a legendary port where you can witness the Monaco Grand Prix which has been held since 1929 and is still one of the most emblematic Grand Prix in the Formula 1 calendar today.
Monaco has the highest number of awarded restaurants and home to a 3 Michelin stars restaurant Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, where Chef Alain Ducasse and Chef Franck Cerutti present infinite combinations of Mediterranean flavours and luxury. The wine list is legendary — 600,000 bottles line the walls of its cellars. It is a must-visit place for gastronomes.
There is also a museum to visit. The Oceanographic Museum (Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco Ville, Monaco, www.oceano.mc) is located at the area called The Rock of Monaco. Here, you can check out an aquarium and learn about marine animals. The building itself is over a century old, built for the purpose of sharing knowledge about art and science.
These are only a part of the French Riviera. No matter how much time has passed, it remains as captivating as ever. To explore the French Riviera, you do not have to visit every corner, because there are many little nooks to explore, which means there are always something new to experience on every visit. Whenever you come here, you will always be impressed with its beauty and the most beautiful shade of blue in the world.