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The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera

  By TEAM TNS   Oct 5th 2012 at 6:00AM Lifestyle RATED

 

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera

 

The words Côte d'Azur, with their accents and consonants, conjure up images of seaside resorts, opulent casinos and magnificent yachts floating down the coast of the blessed region. The playground and preserve of artists, billionaires and celebrities, stretching from the Mediterranean coast to the Southern Alps is a swathe of coastal land peppered with delightful villages, glittering cities and luxe resorts. Set adrift to discover the magic of this meandering magnificent coast, the French Riviera, and along with it, the Principality of Monaco.

Cannes

The city's landscape is a perfect retreat, one that you enjoy over glasses of sparkling bubbly! Such is the charisma of this locale that becomes the hot-bed of some of the world's most distinguished creative minds, whether it's during the Cannes Film Festival, or more recently, the Cannes Lions. An epicurean destination, Cannes allows you to escape to a mesmerizing world that befits not only the rich and the famous yachting on the calm Mediterranean, but also those who find immense business opportunities in this lap of luxury. But beyond business, the glitterati, the melting pot of creative minds, Cannes truly is a beacon and as Stendhal writes in his Memoires d'un touriste, "There, you can spend the twilight of your life in peace." A small Ligurian port that has become one of the most sought-after cities of the world has a story to tell that's steeped in history, heritage interesting tales to bring with it the 'gentle way of life.' Founded in 997, Portu Canuae was just a small fishing village and it was in the same year that the Castrum Marcellus fort, that is now called the Suquet was built. So, Porto Canuae had its 'kan' or the high point. And Cannes was born! But it wasn't until the 19th century when Cannes started to grow in the ladders of aristocracy. Cannes, today, is the epicentre of the Cote d'Azur or the French Riviera for not only the crème de la crème, but anyone who wants to experience a slice of heaven. A few places make up Cannes, the city, as it witnesses people from all over the world flocking to taste the 'Cannes way of life'. And one of the best ways to explore this city is to walk through the lanes and bylanes brimming with charm and charisma drawing you in; there are fifteen murals greeting you on the way; whether it's Marilyn Monroe, Buster Keaton or shots from different eras of cinema depicted in the 3D paintings on the walls of Gare Automoblis, the main bus-stop of the city.

Not to be missed:

-Saint Honorat Island is an absolute must-visit if you're looking for some solitude while you wine and dine on the French Riviera.

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera



Nice

The quickest way to get to Nice is to board a train from Cannes. Or else, you can always take on the road to absorb the sights. Nice, the muse of artists for centuries, the capital of the French Riviera lured in old masters with its promise of enchanting light. Henri Matisse in praise of its iridescent charms said, "When I realised I would see that light every morning, I could not believe my happiness. I decided never to leave Nice and remained here for my almost entire existence." And leave he didn't. Discover contemporary Nice, an open air museum, visiting its 20 odd museums and municipal galleries including the national Marc Chagall Museum and the Matisse Museum. Visit the old city, with its stunning baroque-styled palaces, and stop by its palpably green gardens. Stroll by its promenade-lined beaches, soaking in the warm Mediterranean breeze. And when the first light of dawn reveals itself, you will understand Matisse's inspiration.

Not to be missed:

-Don't forget to check out the lovely Hotel Negresco located on the Promenade des Anglais, which was the hotel of choice of the late Michael Jackson and other Hollywood stars.

-For a mouthwatering Indian meal, head to Noori's at 1, Place Grimaldi, owned by the charming Anaz Ahmed. A must-try is the mutton biryani.

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera



Saint Tropez

French writer Guy de Maupassant succinctly summed up Saint Tropez's charms, as he dropped anchor of his yacht Bel Ami on its turquoise waters. "Saint-Tropez is one of those charming and simple girls of the ocean…set on the water like a shell, feeding on fish and sea air," he wrote. Truer words were never spoken. A veritable fairyland, Saint Tropez's discernible elegance lies in its landscape: provençal buildings, stocky olive trees, stately cypresses and lush roses. This glamourous city is home to Brigitte Bardot and other sensual pleasures of life: fine wine, fantastic bars, nightclubs and impeccable fashion. Relive an era walking down its silky beaches-the natural and wild Graniers, the charming little Ponche where Bardot's And God Created Woman was shot, and Fontanette beach with its charming fishermen's homes.

Not to be missed:

-Don't leave without visiting the nightclub in Hotel Byblos, the village-style hotel that's a celebrity magnet. Unforgettable!

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera

Photo Courtesy: JL Chaix St Tropez

 

Monaco

A haven of haute couture and luxe casinos and a mecca of stylish hotels and restaurants, the Principality of Monaco and Monte-Carlo is a must-visit. It is the ultimate opulent playground of billionaires! The history of the Principality of Monaco is inseparable from the trials and tribulations of the Grimaldi family. The family's ascent began in 1297 when Francois Grimaldi seized a fortress in the region, and since then, Monaco and its monarchs have dazzled the globe. Prince Rainier III's fairytale wedding to actress Grace Kelly sealed its supremacy in the upper echelons of elegance. Visit The Prince's Palace of Monaco, try your luck at the Belle-Epoque jewel-the Monte-Carlo Casino, and check into the iconic Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo. Sipping champagne on the deck of your superyacht under a star spangled sky is the closest you'll get to utopia.

Not to be missed:

-A meal at the legendary Cafe de Paris and a visit to the Monaco Cathedral, after a languorous stroll through the old town.

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera

Photo Courtesy: Monaco Government Tourist Bureau, India

 

Antibes Juan-les-Pins

The resort town of Antibes and its commune Juan-les- Pins has history that dates back several millennia. The region's fascinating salons have drawn in the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Dizzy Gillespie, Josephine Baker, and Edith Piaf, amongst others, and Juan-les-Pins has its very own Jazz Festival, Jazz à Juan, the oldest in Europe. Must-visits are the Picasso Museum that has some of the artist's best work, the Napoleon Museum, the rocky promontory Fort Carré, and the Espace Marineland, the largest sea park in Europe. And for a sundowner, follow the riffs of the guitar to one of the lovely salons with the sound of surf humming in your ears, through cobbled pathways bathed in golden light. Don't leave without checking into the luxurious sanctuary of Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc perched on the southern tip of the Cap d'Antibes, a writer's retreat for over a century.

Not to be missed:

-When in Juan-les- Pins, do check out the Brazilian bar called Pam Pam. It's a must visit if you want to let your hair down!

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera

Photo Courtesy: JL Chaix St Tropez

 

Saint Paul de Vence

A delightful hamlet with an unparalleled legacy, Saint Paul de Vence has cobbled streets and narrow ramparts, lending it a certain mystique. Its enigmatic landscape and incandescent light drew in auteurs of all genres: writers, artists, and stars of the silver screen who found the village perched atop a hill, irresistible. With sweeping views of the countryside and sea, artists like Modigliani, Matisse and Picasso set up their easels here to paint in vivid hues a stunning landscape. Visit the olive mill, take a walk around the village and pay homage to Marc Chagall at his eternal resting place in the tiny, yet atmospheric cemetery.

Not to be missed:

-A must-visit is the Fondation Maeght with its unique architecture and gardens displaying works of artists and sculptors, including the Giacometti courtyard, the Miró labyrinth with its sculptures and ceramics, the mosaic murals of Chagall and Tal Coat and many more. In fact, the Fondation Maeght is home to one of Europe's richest collections of contemporary art.

 

The Azure Coast: Your Guide to Getting In and Around the French Riviera

Photo Courtesy: Marcel Jolibois

 

 

Getting Around:

The best way to experience the idyllic charms of the Côte d'Azur is to set sail on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Port de Cannes is the perfect place to drop anchor, offering 800 mooring areas. The port has illustrious company; it is only 16 miles from the port of Nice, 22 from the port of Monaco and 24 from the port of Saint Tropez. Cannes is also connected to the aforementioned areas by road and train.

 

Authors - Neeti Mehra and Aindrila Mitra

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