Staff Review

A Short Break to the Côte d'Azur in November

by The Kirker Team

A short break to Nice in the South of France offered the perfect escape from the gloomy winter weather, and with a flying time of less than 2 hours from Gatwick, we were quickly transported to the delights of the Mediterranean. Speedy boarding and pre-booked seats combined with being whisked away in a private car on arrival by one of our charming local drivers meant we were soon relaxing in the comfort of our hotel.'We had the pleasure of staying at the comfortable and stylish, Villa Rivoli, a converted private house dating back to the Belle Époque, ably managed by its owner (and old friend of Kirker clients), Barbara Kimmig, whose attention to detail assures her guests of a relaxing stay. Situated only a block behind the famous Negresco Hotel, we were conveniently located for strolling along the famous Promenade des Anglais, as well as being close to the station for forays further afield.'We ended our day enjoying a glass of chilled Prosecco from the terrace of a cocktail bar, watching the sunset over the bay, revelling in the clear skies and longer daylight hours and eagerly anticipating the weekend ahead. Dinner was taken in one of the local restaurants in the old town of Nice booked by our Kirker Concierge, Charlie Dyson, its wide choice of bars and restaurants are attractively located in a pedestrianised area. We returned to the old town the following morning to enjoy the colourful local market, with its abundant displays of local produce and flowers.'Nice has numerous attractions, including the famous Chagall Museum, the Musée Matisse and the Contemporary Art Museum, (we used Charlie again to pre-book our tickets). However, our morning began more energetically with a walk to the viewpoint close to the port, where the view over the bay and old town is well worth the steep climb, or you can take the lift from street level next to the Naval museum which opens at 10. We continued to the elegant coastal resort of Villefranche-Sur-Mer, located on a quiet bay between the towns of Nice and Monte Carlo, whose narrow cobbled streets date back to the 12th century. Refreshed by a coffee at one of the attractive beach side restaurants, we walked along the way marked coastal path to the neighbouring resort of Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, whilst enjoying the coastal scenery bathed in warn sunshine. En route we crossed the peninsula of Cap Ferrat, with its grand stately homes only partly visible through equally grandiose gates. Cap Ferrat is home to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, former home of Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild (the same Ephrussi family which was the subject of 'The Hare with Amber Eyes') and famous for its nine distinctive gardens.'Nice is an ideal base from which to explore the Cote D'Azur, and we also enjoyed visits to the hill towns of Haut de Cagnes and St Paul de Vence. Next time we shall also visit Monaco, Antibes and Cannes, all easily accessible by pre-booking a car and guide through our local agents, or by the train that runs along the coast, It was to one of these hill towns, Mougins, that we were based for the final night of our stay, the perfect place to relax after 2 days of exploring. Our hotel for the night was the beautiful Relais and Chateau hotel, Le Mas Candille, imaginatively converted from an 18th century farmhouse. Set on a series of terraces, the hotel enjoys panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and whilst the main pool is closed in winter, the thermal pool and heated Jacuzzi are open all year, a blissfully relaxing experience. The pretty village of Mougins is only a 5 minute walk, a lovely place to explore on a sunny morning, with its winding streets populated by art galleries and shops selling local handicrafts and cheeses. Dinner can be taken in one of Mougins' excellent restaurants, such as Kirker's recommended restaurant, L'Amandier, or at the hotel's own Michelin starred 'Le Candille', serving delicious Provencal dishes.'So, if you are seeking winter or spring sunshine but do not want a long flight, the Cote D'Azur is well worth considering. The mornings and evenings are cool, but the rest of the day is likely to be warm and sunny and there is plenty to do if there is the occasional wet day. The other advantage of travelling off season is the lack of visitors, which makes the sightseeing a more relaxing experience. This short break is just what we needed and we cannot wait to return.

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