The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Autumn 2022

Discover Aix, the ‘Little Paris’ of Provence, the historic region of Beaune, a land of wine and castles. Beautiful Bordeaux and Normandy. The stork villages of Alsace and the pickled-in-the-past, post-card pretty perched town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. Breath-taking Lavender fields in Provence, castles in the air in Dordogne. Exquisite Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice. Discover what’s new, the best tours, recipes, a language lesson, practical guides and much, much more…

esort in the Belle

esort in the Belle Epoque era, the first luxury hotel opening in 1904 – now the Hotel Royal- Riviera. In the 1950s, it attracted artists like Jean Cocteau and Henri Matisse, as well as movie stars such as Roger Moore and Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin and Tony Curtis. Today you can still spot a famous face sipping coffee by the quayside. Gallimard and at the Fragonard factory. Plus a wealth of small craft boutiques for that special present to give away, or even keep yourself. Laidback in Villefranche With its sheltered harbour and calm waters, Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the major cruise ports of the Côte d’Azur, despite numbering just 5,000 residents. In the 13th century, local people preferred to live in the hills away from the threat of pirates. So in 1295, Charles Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence, established a ‘free port’ – ville franche – offering various tax privileges in a bid to persuade them to relocate to sea level, concessions that largely remained until the 18th century. Today the pretty fishing port is also home to a flotilla of yachts and traditional fishing boats known as pointus, yet Villefranche still manages to retain an air of laidback loveliness with its seafront cafes, colourful facades and quaint 16th century back streets. It’s hard not to smile in a place where every narrow street has houses painted in a palette of lemon and apricot, russet and terracotta, and I loved the stylish, upbeat feel of the baroque bell towers, painted shutters, and wrought-iron balconies overlooking the harbour. Even my lunch at Le Cosmo bar was ablaze with Mediterranean atmosphere. Fresh white fish, scarlet tomato salsa, bright green rocket, and a wedge of lemon, all presented with a swirl of balsamic vinegar on a speckled blue and white plate. Just add a glass of chilled local rosé and some crisp baguette for the Moule Frites at Villefranche – looking on to Cap Ferrat © J'adore la France Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat from the Jardins d'Eze perfect light lunch. I even had a front row view of the 16th century Chapel of Saint-Pierre, used as a storeroom for fishermen until artist Jean Cocteau restored it in 1957, adorning the interior with murals of St Peter and local fishermen. Stroll through the citadel built in 1554, eleven years after the town was burned to the ground following the siege of Nice by combined French and Ottoman forces. With sweeping views over the harbour, it served as a military base after Nice and Savoie became part of France in 1860, then was bought by the city council in 1965 and transformed into a City Hall and cultural centre. Chilled in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Villefranche If I had money – lots of money – a holiday home in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat would be high on my wish list. This slim peninsula between Villefranche-sur-Mer to the west and neighbouring Beaulieu-sur-Mer fans out into a wooded Y-shape where luxury homes nestle discreetly in the pine trees behind high fences. But there appears to be no envy on the part of less well-off residents who insist that the wealthy don’t flash their cash here unless it is to support local businesses, albeit on the way to their luxury yachts in the harbour. But compared to many wealthy enclaves around the Mediterranean, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is amongst the most discreet. This once small fishing village flourished as a My tip is to follow one of the marked trails – free leaflet from the Tourist Office – to explore the village centre and the hidden beaches and monuments around the headlands. You could even walk the 9km-trail to Nice and catch a No 15 bus back. But don’t leave without visiting the outstanding Villa and Gardens of Ephrussi de Rothschild. Another Jardin Remarquable as well as a Monument Historique, this extraordinary property with sea views on both sides offers nine themed gardens, musical fountains, and an opulent interior, plus the irresistible story of the extraordinary Béatrice de Rothschild who created it. Well, maybe not all local residents have been low key, but she did leave something for us all to enjoy! Getting Around Catch a train from Nice to the seafront station at Villefranche, or hop off the Nice Grand Tour sightseeing bus. Eze is also accessible by train – sea level station beneath the medieval village – or by public bus from Nice (Line 82) or by train. The French Riviera Pass gives free access to a wide range of attractions and activities in Nice, but also in Villefranche, Eze and Cap-Ferrat – chose from 12, 48 or 72 hours Alternatively, do as I did and take a bespoke tour by car with Villefranche resident Sandra Ottaviani. Particularly good if time is short or you are travelling in a small group. 74 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 75

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