On the South Coast of France, the “Riviera” is the focus of attention.
A long tracking shot across the mountains of the Var and the southern French coast, ducking under a clothesline full of laundry to focus on the skin of a young woman lying in the sun. The opening scene of the 1956 film And God Created Woman introduced both Brigitte Bardot and Saint Tropez. Of course, the site was known before Roger Vadim chose it as the location of his cult movie: an old fishing village on a hook of land jutting into the azure waters of the Mediterranean, a former privateers’ lair full of quaint little squares and ochre-tiled roofs, with its market at Place des Lices and its port lined with pointus – colorful fishing boats whose sterns are tapered as finely as their prows – bobbing gently in the waves.
Between Saint Raphaël and Le Lavandou, Saint Tropez is synonymous with carefree sunny days, with wild nights, the jet set and bohemian chic.
“Take pieces of turquoise, emeralds and lapis-lazuli: there you have the backdrop of the sky. Top it with diamond dust and Roman candles, for the two or three clouds that float above our mountain. And as for the sea – take nothing but the train to come here and see it.” The author Prosper Mérimée, who loved the region, wrote these lines to his friend Madame de Beaulaincourt in 1866. Nearly 150 years later, they are still an apt description of the French Riviera. The French call it the Côte d’Azur, the Azure Coast, bathed by the Mediterranean’s infinite palette of blues from Bandol all the way to the Italian border. The cobalt of the Baie des Anges is indelibly associated with Antibes, where Picasso was an honorary citizen. Between the port and Place du Safranier, the museum devoted to him spotlights paintings, drawings and ceramics by the great artist, who spent much of his life under the sunny skies of Antibes, Golfe Juan, Cannes and Vallauris. This is where, in 1946, he painted La Joie de Vivre, an ode to peace and contentment against a background of swathes of blue, not unlike the vivid compositions of Nicolas de Staël, another painter who loved the land and its light.
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The hotel basks in the scents of the maquis, perched on a hillside overlooking Palombaggia Beach. This is one of the finest beaches in southern Corsica, with its turquoise waters and white sands fringed by stone pines, and the Cerbicales islands in the distance. The elegant stone bastide boasts guest rooms overlooking the surrounding countryside which are simply decorated in natural colours and materials so as not to upstage its rare environment. La Table de Mina ("grandmother" in Corsican), the restaurant, offers an introduction to the cuisine and ingredients of Corsica. It occupies a peaceful terrace next to an infinity pool that reflects the sky and the stars. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. A French General, who fell in love with a Punjab princess by the name of Bannu Pan Deï, built the Pan Deï Palais in 1835 in Saint-Tropez, as a token of their love. It is as if you are inside a maharajah’s mansion, with an exotic garden and rooms placed under the watchful eye of a Hindu god. The cozy spa and the hammam are a promise of serenity and well-being. Enjoy the peace and quiet next to the pool under the drapes of the Balinese beds. In the evening, this area becomes a lounge bar, just the place to enjoy a cocktail. The restaurant is a very sought-after spot in Saint-Tropez. Dishes of Indian, Asian and French inspiration take you on a genuine voyage of discovery. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Overlooking Vence, between Nice and Cannes, the Château Saint-Martin & Spa, with its fourteen hectare park, boasts exceptional panoramic views of the Mediterranean. This former residence of the Knights Templar, a place steeped in history, provides an awe-inspiring and serene setting. Discover gourmet cuisine and an exceptional wine cellar, which make for tasty moments to share. An infinity pool and the spa Saint-Martin by La Prairie are perfectly integrated into the landscape and offer absolute relaxation. Several villages in the surrounding area, which have served as a source of inspiration for talented artists, are now renowned for their museums and art galleries, like the Maeght Foundation. Also worth visiting: the Chapel of Rosary, which owes its fame to the works of Henri Matisse. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. This château, built on the steep slopes of the French Riviera, offers breath-taking vistas of the Mediterranean and has plenty of relaxing activities in store: swimming in the pool, fragrant gardens or Indian massages. The charming rooms are all different. The great classics of French gastronomy as well as Mediterranean specialties can be savoured in one of the four restaurants of the Chèvre d’Or, where the pleasure derived from the fine cuisine is enhanced by the stunning views. After the meal, you can stroll through the cobblestone streets of the medieval cliff-side village overlooking the grandiose panorama of the sea. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa has dropped anchor in a sheltered bay in the Gulf of Porto-Vecchio. Toussaint Canarelli and his daughter Hélène have created a delightful, authentic spot where you can while away your days romantically in the languid torpor of its fine sanded beaches and the peace of its extensive gardens in the shade of the pine trees. Right next to your room, the Clarins Spa, a huge area with wood and water throughout, offers soothing treatments. In this land of fragrances, the chef draws on freshly picked vegetables from the hotel’s organic garden and produces gourmet menus with many ingredients from the island. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. Cypress trees pick out Château de Berne at the end of a road that wends its way through 1,300 acres of preserved nature. For three hundred years, characterful Provence and fresh rosé wines have been aged in its cellar. Renovated in “country chic” style, the delightful rooms boast stunning views over the garden, vineyards, and forest. At the restaurant L’Orangerie, the cuisine abounds in the scents and flavours of Provence. This is a heavenly spot where heirloom varieties, flowers and garden herbs all grow together under the olive trees. The spa is located in a contemporary environment, which is marked by a zen atmosphere and focuses on products around the vineyard. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. On the French Riviera, near Lavandou, this large Tuscan-style villa shines out against the magical background of the Mediterranean Sea. Imbued with charm, the Club de Cavalière exposes its ochre arcades and fragrant vegetation to the sun. Nestled among maritime pines, bougainvilleas and exotic gardens, the hotel is bordered by its own private beach of fine sand overlooking the Levant islands and has an array of sumptuous rooms and suites, and villas with patios right on the sand. This is the perfect place for a truly refreshing break. The restaurant features the flavours of southern cuisine, in the shade of mulberry trees and overlooks the magnificent bay of Cavalière. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The Monte-Carlo Beach, a chic and timeless hotel built in the 1930s, has always been the epitome of glamour and "dolce vita". This palace, which has received celebrities from far and wide, has been renovated by architect designer India Mahdavi, and restored to all its former glory. Sea all around, and with an original terracotta façade and frescoes inspired by Matisse and Cocteau make it the perfect setting for an exquisite break. Located in a site of outstanding natural beauty, in the shelter of a pine forest, the Monte-Carlo Beach offers a “Cabanas” service, an Olympic pool, a La Prairie spa and its gourmet restaurant Elsa, certified as 100% organic by Ecocert. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a park. This is an elegant Mediterranean home, just a few minutes from the beaches at Ramatuelle and the port of Saint-Tropez. Far from the summer crowds, this magnificent mansion with its four Provencal mas invites you to unwind in the heart of its paradise-like grounds that are full of exotic fragrances. Beside the superb pool, in the shade of 300 year-old olive trees or in the winter garden, treat yourself to true relaxation. The Provencal cuisine, with its two restaurants, Le Bistro and L’Olivier, is a genuine reflection of the spirit of the South of France. The Bastide also offers its guests the option of hiring its magnificent 22 m long San Lorenzo yacht for a day. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel on the seafront. A stay at La Villa is a statement. This hotel stands for good taste. It offers a particular art of living. La Villa, much like a private club, is a haven for lovers of beauty, tranquillity and culture. Art permeates the entire hotel, from the painter’s canvas to the violinist’s bow, not to mention the keys of the piano. Culinary art too has some well-tempered chords to play. The views over the Bay of Calvi, the scents of the sea and the pine forests, the sounds of music mingling with the song of the cicadas, the flavours of the local ingredients, beautiful plasterwork cool to the touch... Just enter La Villa, across from the Citadel, and all your senses will come alive. ... Learn moreless