Explore France > Côte d'Azur

Aah, the south of France. Exploring there is without a doubt one of the most desired vacations. The beaches, the mountains, the luxurious hotels, the yachts (not that I've been on one!), the list goes on... it is all beauty and all extravagance.

My first time seeing the French Riviera was a few years ago. My friend Joanne and I had just spent a few days in Paris and wanted a taste of the south. So we decided to spend the rest of our vacation in Nice.

After a horrible night in a dirty room at Le Meridien, and getting in to a little catfight with the desk manager, it all changed for the better when we booked ourselves into the Hotel Negresco. An eccentric piece of work indeed! Pastel blue twin canopy beds, rose-coloured plush Louis chairs, a sweet little balcony overlooking the park and the largest pink bathroom I've ever seen in my life: our room couldn't have been more feminine and perfect for the two of us. We loved it!

The pink-domed hotel includes fascinating amenities, such as a restaurant completely decked out in an over-the-top carousel theme, a heavily wooded dark lounge, and at the heart of the hotel, the stained glass Salon Royal, which will leave you speechless. And there is art everywhere! The hotel's website refers to it as a "living Museum". So completely true.

Since the area was so enjoyable I knew I would be back. And wouldn't you have it; several years later I was back with my husband. We took a road trip which started in Cannes and ended in Monaco. (Rent a convertible!)

We decided to make our home base at the Royal Riviera in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The location was perfect since it was conveniently located in the middle of all the other towns we wanted to visit. Great choice! There is also plenty to keep you busy in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. However, should you feel like lounging and reading a book, the pool or beach was just the place. It's a beautiful hotel with amazing views and two very fine restaurants.

I specifically enjoyed a tour of Villa Ephrussi, Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild's seaside haven. With its nine exotic surrounding gardens, this palazzo is beyond description. A must see!

During the evenings we dined in an area just down the way from the hotel where there are many casual and tasty restaurants lined up against the waterside. We always seemed to make the right choice. Perhaps there was no wrong choice as the food was always exceptional. They keep you well fed and you might even catch a glimpse of a film star or two.

Cannes is lovely. We had a wonderful breakfast on Boulevard de la Croisette. After a good dose of people watching we went for a long walk along the harbour. The shops along the boulevard were tempting enough that we left with a few bags. Couldn't help it! Cannes is picturesque but spending a morning here was enough for us.

Antibes was our next stop. I was quite excited to get there because we had lunch reservations at the famous and glamorous Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Ok, so it was the most expensive BLT and frites I've ever had, but! Our table's position was perfect. We had an incredible view of the shoreline, where we could watch the waves hit up against the side of the cliff. The hotel grounds and ambience made it all worth it. I didn't want to leave - next time, we're staying.

Mediæval Eze is like a village in a fairytale. Situated 1,401 ft above sea level Eze gives you the best views of the Mediterranean Sea you will find. After a little bit of shopping we ventured up the steep cobblestoned paths to the top and it took our breath away... and, so did the view!

While at the top we toured through the grounds of a gorgeous hotel, Château De La Chevre D'Or. There, we noticed a tiered garden with an arrangement of life-sized animal figures; a little peculiar, but a lot of fun.

Then there is the ever-so famous Monte Carlo. To me, the most memorable and fascinating aspects of Monte Carlo were the actual position and landscape of the city and, of course, the yachts! Oh the multi-million dollar yachts. My husband could not keep away. The rest was a little too showy pour moi. I have never in my life seen so many women decked out in head-to-toe luxurious fashion brands. Dior shoes, Chanel sweaters, Missoni skirts, Hermes bags, Louis scarves, Van Cleef and Arpels jewels, and we cannot forget those puffy lips! Horribly put together and horribly tacky.

And the famed casino: what a serious disappointment. With only a few tables and several old slot machines I didn't understand its purpose. Sorry Monte Carlo! You are beautiful though, that I cannot deny.

I could literally go on and on about this very special coastline - those were just the highlights! That Mediterranean sun, oh how I love thee! It was more than a little sad when we had to leave.