Between the south-eastern border of France and the Mediterranean is the Principality of Monaco, renowned for its glamour and scintillating luxury. If well-connected, one can visit the home of Prince Albert and his princess at the Prince’s Palace, or play with the highest of the high-rollers at Monte Carlo.
For fans of the late Grace Kelly, a trip to Saint Nicolas Cathedral where she and Prince Rainier were married in 1956 is a must. Of course, a visit won’t be complete without a stroll through Monaco’s lush gardens, its palace-lined streets, high-end boutiques, the exotic cactus garden, the fab entertainment complex of Monte Carlo and the gorgeous sandy strands, where the rich and famous bathe in the sun.
From this sumptuous starting point one can make several excursions to nearby points of interest.
Antibes and Saint-Paul de Vence
Founded by Greek traders in the fifth century BC, Antibes continued to be a major port city under Roman rule. After Rome fell, this seaside village once again fell into obscurity until the 19th century when it was rediscovered by well-heeled Europeans who were enchanted by the ancient Roman aqueducts, luxurious mansions, open-air markets, boutiques, cafes and castles. Today some of the finest yachts in the world are moored in the Antibes Marina.
For generations the muse has visited artists in the idyllic splendor of Saint-Paul de Vence. A gorgeous village overlooking Cannes, it still lives up to its artistic heritage as a nexus for modern and contemporary art. Cobblestone streets are lined with medieval homes, shops, galleries and cafes in what many still believe is the most beautiful village in all of France.
Nice and along the Corniches
Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and Chagall are just a few of the countless artists who have been attracted to the sophisticated city of Nice. The light holds the city in a special glow and its natural beauty make it world renowned. One of the must-see sites is the Cours Sayeya, the French Riviera’s biggest flower market, ongoing since the 19th century.
On the Moyenne Corniche is nestled the lovely medieval village of Èze-le-Village. Stroll through the streets and peruse the boutiques, shops, ateliers, galleries and cafes; later one can climb a steep path which leads to a cactus garden boasting an unparalleled view of the Mediterranean. This path, by the way, was Nietzsche’s favorite walk; while taking it, one could imagine the great intellectual leaps the philosopher made while breathing in the fresh coastal air.
The scenery along the Grand Corniche is second to none, such as at Villefranche-sur-Mer, the setting for many movies. The old town, the bay and the port are striking and used to harbor the Russian and later the American flee; today it still accommodates large vessels, and cruise ships often dock here.
In the beautiful village of Saint-Jean-Cap- Ferrat, one can visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a Tuscan-style palazzo built by Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild in 1905. It’s filled with a lifetime of treasure, and the French gardens are impeccable.
In the village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer is the exquisite Villa Kerylos, constructed on a rocky promontory over the sea. Built for French archeologist Théodore Reinach in the Periclean Greek style, it was completed in 1908. The classical simplicity, furnishings, lighting and decorative pieces are a marvel to behold.
The French Riviera – or Côte d’Azur, as the French themselves call it – is one of the wonders of the Mediterranean. The suggestions given above are only a small sample of what awaits the exigent luxury traveler.
By Bob Preston, Europanache.
Additional Content by Doron Levy
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