Is there anywhere more wonderfully glitzy than The Côte d’Azur? We don’t think so. This is the place to head (or to strut actually) this Summer but don’t just make a bee-line for Cannes, St Tropez and Nice. The French Riviera is also home to some captivating smaller towns and villages. The early summer promises long sunny days and balmy evenings so nip over there before the hordes arrive, the roads jam up and it’s too hot to leave the poolside.
WHERE TO STAY
Set along the coast from Nice, understated luxury with a Provençal touch is the name of the game here. Just look at that sweeping VIEW of the Mediterranean Sea. Need we say more? If flopping on a sun lounger isn’t your cup of tea, there’s activities gallore from petanque, ping pong and paddle boarding to snorkelling, horseriding, yoga and 5am fishing trips.
A secret so good we almost want to keep it to ourselves (just don’t tell everyone). Four treehouses hidden in the woodland, each named after a character from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and THE most beautiful natural swimming pool. Perfect for couples (we recommend Shere Khan with its freestanding teak bathtub) and families alike (Swallows and Amazons ahoy). Breakfast is deliciously organic with croissant, fresh bread and cheese amongst home-made treats. Make reservations at La Colombe D’Or (see below), La Brouette and Le Tilleul.
WHERE TO EAT
There is no shortage of Michelin stars lighting up the restaurant scene but this is our favourite. Boasting an idyllic location, you will not be disappointed. Arrive early and explore Eze, a charming hilltop town with cobbled streets, narrow passages and hot pink bougainvillea.
The reknowned La Colombe D’Or hasn’t changed its menu in decades. Bravo. After all, you can’t improve on perfection. Former guests, including Matisse, Miró, and Chagall, have all left their legacy on these walls (in exchange for board and lodging) so make sure you take a detour on the way to the ladies. Be sure to request a table on the Terrace.
WHAT TO DO
One of the most important collections of twentieth century art in Europe, the Foundation blends art, architecture and a breathtaking landscape (overlooking St Paul de Vence). Matisse fans will also enjoy the nearby Rosary Chapel which was entirely conceived and decorated by the painter himself.
Explore the Perched Villages
If you can brave the winding roads, with sharp drop-offs to the side, then it’s worth visiting the many perched villages (you’ll be rewarded with the view). Peillon, Mougins and Gourdon should be top of the list.
Image credits: booking.com, airbnb.com, chevredor.com, seeantibes.com, saint-pauldevence.com, essentialsailing.com