Staff Review

A Long Weekend on the Côte d'Azur


16 Mar 2016

by The Kirker Team

Kirker Holidays

After a busy start of the year my wife and I were looking forward to getting away for a few days. Although we enjoy carefully planning holidays for clients, we still look forward to our own escape now and then, to recharge the batteries. We had a long spring weekend to play with so we thought what better place than the Côte d'Azur? Close enough to be a short flight away, but also a place that basks in 300 days of sun a year and attracted great artists and writers such as Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald, it seemed the perfect choice. If the views inspired some of the most gifted to pick up a brush or a pen, then I was sure that they will help us forget the hustle and bustle of life in London. It is also very easily accessible as there are flights from all over the UK and often several per day.

Last year we went to Monaco and soared along the crystal blue waters of the coast in a helicopter and I have been to Cannes before, so this year we wanted to delve a little deeper into this picturesque part of France and visit the small villages that really inspired these writers and artists. Just back from the coast there are dozens of hilltop villages that feel lost to time. We chose to stay in Mougins, a beautiful medieval village about 15 minutes' drive above Cannes. When we arrived we felt as if we drifted into the Provence of our imagination, surrounded by stone houses and their multi-coloured shutters catching the afternoon sunshine. Mougins is like an open air museum: every other shop is an art gallery and there are impressive sculptures dotted around the village.

We stayed at Le Mas Candille which is about a 5 to 10 minute walk from the centre of the village. The walk into Mougins is uphill, which means that it is a lot easier coming home after a couple of glasses of wine. The hotel is made up of three buildings. The original 18th century farmhouse is where the restaurant, reception and some of the rooms are located. These rooms are slightly smaller but they have lots of character. Our room was located in the Bastide wing, a more recent addition where the rooms are much more spacious with larger bathrooms. This is a hotel where it is really important to choose one of the better rooms, as whichever building you choose you will get a wonderful view towards Grasse from these. The deluxe rooms in the Bastide also have a spacious balcony with a table and chairs to enjoy the view.

The hotel has two large swimming pools, but they do not open until May. However, there is also an excellent spa with an outdoor heated jacuzzi and small swimming pool which can be enjoyed in the winter months. Temperatures were a very pleasant twenty degrees for the first weekend in April but the heated water was still appreciated.

The hotel is probably best known for its fine dining restaurant which has been awarded a Michelin star. We had dinner there on our first night and it lived up to its reputation: we were spoilt with course after course of culinary delights. Just when I thought I couldn't eat anymore the waitress wheeled over the most impressive selection of cheeses I have ever seen. That only left one thing to do... breathe in and loosen a couple of notches on my belt. If you can't push the 'what the hell button' on holiday when can you do it!

You could stay at this hotel without a car because I can honestly say that Mougins is one of the prettiest towns I have visited and it is filled with excellent restaurants. On our second night we went to an excellent restaurant recommended by the Kirker Concierge. It was completely full of locals and there wasn't a single table free even in low season. Luckily David had advised us to book in advance. He has never got a single tip wrong: whether it is a simple trattoria for lunch or something more memorable for a special occasion. Nonetheless, if you want to make the most of the area it is best to hire a small car - there is so much to see in the region. One day we took a trip down to Antibes for a lunch of fresh local fish, and then afternoon tea in St Paul de Vence. We also visited the pretty village of Valbonne which is only 5km from Le Mas Candille but is well worth a visit.

As I write this on our flight home, the only thing I regret is that we are not staying at least one more night. I can promise that when you are sitting on a sun-drenched terrace with a glass of wine, you will not regret the decision to stay a few extra days.

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Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.


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