Côte d’Azur in April
Even if April is still not bathing weather in the French Riviera, I recommend a trip to the Côte d’Azur nonetheless.
At least if you are like me and enjoy less people. Well, less people in one of the most beautiful sea-sides in the world still means "quite a few" people. Understandable, if you consider the fantastic weather we had throughout the week.
Our trip started in Nice airport, from there a quick detour east to the small cliff-town of Eze. What a beauty!
If you just do one thing when in Nice, go to Èze. Especially in low-season it's only you and a few others who are on an adventure to discover the secrets of a medieval village. Little shops and cafés invite you to linger in the small and winding alleys.
On a general note: shop owners or clerks are so nice in this part of France. I always wondered: where are those snooty French everyone talks about? Definitely not here. (Well, found a cheeky waiter in a seafood restaurant in Cannes where we were treated like the idiots we apparently were! And since I always waited for it to happen, I was kind of relieved when it eventually did).
Lunch in either the SLH or Relais & Chateau property is most recommended, with views to remember! It was then that I realized why it's called "Azur". We chose the restaurant of Château Eza, a fantastic SLH hotel on the edge of the cliff.
We started at Nice Airport (1) and rented a car to go to Èze (2). Our next stop was the first hotel stay on this trip in Antibes (3).
Painters such as Picasso spent their time in Antibes and have been inspired to create world famous works of art, so we thought it may just be good enough for us to spend the night.
Our choice fell again on an SLH property: Hotel Juana in Juan-les-Pins.
It is not directly at the beach (other than the SLH sister hotel Belle Rive, which must be nice too, since we took a stroll down their seaside), but the beach is not far, reachable in 5 minutes by foot. They also have a cute outdoor pool. I swam a few lanes and the lemons on a nearby lemon tree always made me smile when looking up to the bright blue sky, thinking: life isn't that bad after all.
Juan-les-Pins is a nice little seaside town belonging to the commune of Antibes. Beachfront restaurants and cafés everywhere. In Antibes itself we walked through the old town adjacent to a small yacht harbour. A recommendation is the Pablo Picasso Museum. An old medieval building, recently refurbished, and again with fantastic views of the azure blue Mediterranean Sea. Oh, the paintings were nice, too...
Restaurants and other foodie goodies in Juan-les-Pins
French Cuisine at its best in a small restaurant with personal service: Ti Toques
Coffee or Tea time at our hotel's own café with delicious little cakes (as are also found throughout Antibes)
Off to the last leg of our journey two nights later: Cannes, home of the world famous film festival. In cities around the world (and airports) you get the same luxury boutique stores, like Hèrmes, Luis Vuitton, Gucci and so on, but here in Cannes at the Croisette Boulevard, promenading along the beachfront, it seems, must be the birthplace of these stores - this is the origin of luxury, if there is any.
And the yachts at this harbour show you who is actually able to pay for the luxury showcased. Some really beautiful boats just being readied by the crews for the first outing of the year. And maybe also for the film festival that was about to start in a few days. Those boats were directly anchored at the main convention hall.
Restaurants and other foodie goodies in Cannes
Ice cream at Niva Gelaterie
Espresso in style at the Armani Café just next to our hotel garden
Seafood at Astoux et Brun
Korean hot plate at Sushi Time
And also for this last stay we chose an SLH (I sense a theme here...) hotel: the Grand Hotel Cannes. It's directly situated at the Croisette, the famous boulevard.
I guess, what sticks out of all our Côte d'Azur stays is one thing: the view. One look at this colour and you are sold. Granted, you can have an azure-coloured sea also in some other places around the world, but here you get it while eating French cuisine at its best, sitting in a medieval village. That's hard to beat.