Staff Review

A Short Break to the Cote d'Azur

by The Kirker Team

On a cold morning in November, we flew out to Nice to visit the French Riviera. After a brief flight, we were met by a clear blue sky and a warm 18 degrees. We then took the helicopter transfer: the part I was most looking forward to on the whole trip. All holidays to Monaco in the winter (until the end of March) have complimentary return helicopter transfers, and a helicopter transfer on the way home is included in the summer. The journey lasts about 7 minutes but it is a real James Bond experience as you fly along the coast with the most amazing views of the famous Cote d'Azur. On arrival in Monaco we were taken by a shuttle to our hotel; the 4* Hotel Columbus. This property has all the style you would expect in Monaco but in a quieter residential area by a pretty port. I would highly recommend a small Italian restaurant here called the Constantine: the menu changes regularly and they only use very fresh produce, at a reasonable price. It takes about thirty minutes to walk to the centre of Monte Carlo from here, but luckily the Hotel Columbus offers a complimentary shuttle to take guests straight to Casino square. We then visited the Hotel De Paris, which has a prime location next to the Casino and wonderful public areas. It also hosts the world-famous Louis XV restaurant which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The rooms are very classical in style and I would definitely recommend upgrading for the view onto Casino Square as it is unrivalled in the principality.'In the morning we collected our hire car from the centre of Monaco - I was very surprised at how easy it was to drive around the area. First, we headed for the hills above Nice to see the Chateau de la Chevre d'Or. This hotel has an unbeatable location perched on the top of a hill above the mediaeval town of Eze. The rooms are scattered throughout the village and it really is an amazing place to celebrate a special occasion. It also has a restaurant with two Michelin stars, beautiful gardens to enjoy with a drink and an outdoor swimming pool. There are some wonderful properties along the coast and I would highly recommend travelling outside of the summer months. The weather was excellent when we travelled in November, but it was also very peaceful, whilst during the summer holidays roads and towns can get very busy meaning journey times can double or triple and queues can be quite long in restaurants.'We then left the countryside and descended into the town of Nice. This is a great winter break destination. There are a number of flights per day and regional flights from nearly all UK airports. The weather is pleasant nearly all year round and hotels are very keen to welcome guests outside the peak months, often with some exceptional offers. My personal recommendation would be the hotel La Perouse. It has a unique location set into the rocks just back from the Promenade des Anglais and enjoys wonderful views of the sea and old town. We spent the night in a delightful hotel called Le Mas Candille in a small mediaeval town above Nice. It has a number of swimming pools and an excellent spa and the town's small picturesque centre is a ten minute walk away where there are a number of gastronomic restaurants. I would highly recommend staying in the deluxe rooms in the Bastide building with views looking over the hills towards Grasse. These are spacious and have been renovated recently to a very high standard.'We ended the trip in Cannes; another perfect destination for a winter short break. It has a lovely old town where there is a daily market and it is a great place to window shop or even treat yourself to some designer clothes. There are a number of pleasant restaurants with great terraces to watch the world go by - I was very surprised at how reasonable some restaurants can be in this glamorous city. We ate at a charming restaurant called L'Affable where a three-course meal cost us 42 euros each: the food was excellent and I would advise all clients to try this restaurant. Just around the corner from here is my favourite 4* hotel in Cannes: the Hotel Canberra. It is a very stylish hotel located on the main shopping street and a short walk from the Croisette and it has a large terrace with a heated swimming pool to relax in the afternoon. As is the case throughout the Riviera, the winter months are the quietest time of year and some hotels and restaurants close in January and February; but there is still plenty going on, some lovely weather and it can be incredible value for money.

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