Why the rich and famous love the French Riviera…12th August 2015
The Côte d’Azur, it has many names, yet each conjures the same image. Today, the front door of Europe remains the chosen destination of celebrities, artists and legendary protagonists. Why? Let’s uncover the secrets of this amazing region…
100 years of pulling power…
Towards the end of the 19th century the Cote d’Azur was craving for attention.
Relatively unknown, it was a poor place, void of tourism visitors and activity, aside from the agriculture and seaside commerce you would expect of such a place. Then, persuaded by her cousin King Leopold II of Belgium, Queen Victoria landed in Nice, and her trip - which was to last only few weeks - lasted months. There, along with many prominent figures she gave a second wind to the Côte d’Azur.
By the 1920s lands where bought, villas were built and now many of the places that ring a bell are memories from this golden age: the botanical garden Les Cèdres, the Villa Mauresque, Juan-les-Pins… These became winter resorts for everyone from Churchill to Chaplin, and it is still the same case today.
What is so charming about the South of France?
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that he had found “the perfect spot”, with his big house on a private beach, 100m from the casino. It would seem that the buying criteria of the world’s HNW is the same today as it was for the first who found it. His home was in Juan-les-Pins, and if Europe already knew of the French South, it was he who opened the door ‘en masse’ to those on the other side of the Atlantic.
Now the region is connected with the whole world, with 4 airports, 33 marinas and 160 different nationalities visiting each year. The region welcomes more than 20m visitors per year (compared to 12,000 at the end of 19th century). This influx is evident in some places, but in others the same original charm holds true.
Where are today’s jewels on the French Riviera? Private
They are everywhere, but you have to look. Catch a glimpse of the Riviera’s roots by driving to the St Paul De Vence village, one of the most intact medieval examples of the region. Stop at the Colombe d’Or restaurant, famous for the quality of its food and the people who frequent it. Sample the true fragrances of the region - lavender and jasmine - in a secret village called Grasse, in Roquevillon. And if you want to be reminded visually of the region’s opulent story, swing by Monte-Carlo and visit the Salle Belle Epoque restaurant of the Hotel Hermitage, where the French Riviera’s pubescent years will unfold in front of your eyes.