Côte d’Azur

Squeezed in Èze…

Squeezed a quick peek into the quaint medieval village of Èze today and immediately fell in love with the village motto – Isis Moriendo Renascor ‘In death I am Reborn’ (its emblem is a phoenix perched on a bone); and here’s why…

The village circles the ruins of a12th-century fortified castle (torn down in 1706) which is perched atop a narrow rocky outcrop 429m above sea level. Tiny red brick centered lane ways wind their way upward to the Jardins Exotique surrounding the castle and which afford the most spectacular views east to Cap D’Ail, straight ahead to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and west all the way to 20130919-215012.jpgAntibes and beyond on a good day. The restored walls and buildings crowding the lanes now house interesting hotels, cave dwelling art galleries and tourist driven gift shops and enticing little tree shaded squares dotted here and there make perfect ice cream retreats along the way. Reborn indeed.

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20130919-215022.jpgÈze commune extends from Èze-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean up to Èze-Village and Saint-Laurent-d’Eze connects the two, along with a rather irregular bus service for those less willing to slog up a steep irregular pathway.

The wise take the bus up and dawdle the walk back down. The views along the way would thrill even the most jaded traveller’s taste buds.

 

Bono (U2) thinks so too for he has a home in Èze-sur-Mer. A big pink and white concoction not at all in keeping with his image yet totally in keeping with the ‘hood’.

Such a pretty, atmospheric element of the region, a last minute ‘so glad I did’ visit.

A few photos – can you spot a golden goat?20130919-215034.jpg20130919-215028.jpg20130919-215041.jpg20130919-215046.jpg

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The ‘bitch’ does Cannes

I am now officially someone’s ‘bitch’. My master goes by the name of ‘UP’. Created by ‘Jawbone’ hangs with the Apple gang. Clingy. Promiscuous too. Always trying to penetrate my iPhone and upload a pile of gabble on an App that reminds me that I sleep too much, exercise too little and really should cut back on alcohol, baguette crusts and those delectable crisps disguised as ‘happy hour’ Aperitifs.

UP’s worse than a nagging mother in law. This electrode infused rubber shrouded bangle monitors my every move, 24/7. Mum in laws are electrode infused, house coat shrouded necklets and monitor your every move. According to men from past lives anyway.

Mind you I loved mine (in law that is). Vera rolled her own fags, told hilariously bawdy jokes, couldn’t cook for nuts (gave me great bouts of colic) flippe20130918-103513.jpgd her skirts to deliver Nana versions of a ‘brown eye’ and kept the tea pot perpetually hot and full. A delightful woman  with an invincible attitude ‘Don’t like it? Well bugger off!’ A fine woman but I digress…

20130918-103527.jpgOf course you’re wondering why i’ve indulged in this sadomasochistic relationship with UP aren’t you.

 

Cast your eyes around. Anyone currently punching the air triumphantly screaming ‘We survived Tough Mudder!’ while clearing the last glug of mud from their ears? The lean, mean fighting machines? Well they had to get their motivation somewhere didn’t they.

Thanks to my desperate need to satisfy UP’s demands, I visited Cannes yesterday. Wasn’t that impressed (compared to other parts of the Côte d’Azur). Reckon the celebs leave the helicopter idling, slip down the carpet, swipe their awards and make a run for it! Was impressed with my stats though.20130918-103537.jpg
• 21,076 steps
• 14.59k
• 210% move goal
• 1,774 cal total burn

UP almost smiled. Dare not tell it about my coffee and Gateaux reward. Meanwhile, you’ll be looking for photos of the place. Here we go then…
PS: Cannes has real sand, not the pebbly kind, an excellent Antique market, a lot of very big hotels, very small dogs and a great deal of naked flesh.

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Jane’s top 10 Villefranche gigs – ENJOY!

Ever visited Villefranche-Sur-Mer?

So many off beat, interesting, exciting and downright brilliant things to do in and around Villefranche-Sur-Mer (VSM) on the Côte d’Azur France, it would be remiss not to share my favorites. View the list as confirmation for ‘Heck yeah I’m booking my ticket now!’ or valid argument for ‘Bugger off, that’s not my gig.’ Your choice.

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20130908-100542.jpg20130908-100550.jpg20130908-100556.jpg1) The village clutches to it’s heart an ‘old town’ which includes the Rue Obscure, a 14th century defensive passageway which fell victim to urbanization over the centuries and became completely covered. St Michel’s Church with obligatory bell tower serving as village alarm clock and Saint Peter’s Chapel decorated by Jean Cocteau and devoted to fishermen. The villas bathed in soft hues of terra cotta, clotted cream and dusty tangerine, crowd narrow alleyways lined with restaurants, bars, clothing and gift stores, a Boulangerie-Patisserie, mini CoOp market and the essential Tabac (phone recharge, mags, papers, tobacco) all pushing up against a spectacular harbor foreshore; as well as…

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20130907-195131.jpg 2) Du Plage des Marinières, the local beach. Fee free too. Smooth pebbles, heavenly on hot summer days averaging 29-34 degrees, water so deliciously cool and salty you can toss the Floaties and indulge in submerging ears to listen to the swoosh of the ocean bed below, eyes heavenward to admire the ridiculously deep blue sky while pondering a visit to…

20130908-100734.jpg20130908-100741.jpg20130908-104613.jpg20130908-104710.jpg3) The ancient Citadel, once a fortification now housing Le Hotel de Ville actually the town hall; intriguing art and sculpture exhibits with zero entry fee, a nightly open air Cinema for minimal euro, uber cool vibe and compulsory language grasp, plus art centric gardens in which to view the harbor which is…

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20130908-101536.jpg 4) The deepest port in the Mediterranean and where you can (a) park your maxi yacht right in front of the many restaurants lining the harbor, give the crew the night off and/or (b) demand your cruise ship does likewise (agenda tick given the volume of cruise ships in the bay) where you can feast on Moules et Fruits de Mer (mussels and seafood) while you plan a…

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5) Walk to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the neighboring harbor jam packed with yachts and sea craft , more beautiful beaches, a backdrop of cliffs upon which houses cling precariously. You may refer to this village as Beaumont-sur-Mer if you enjoyed ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin; a movie script rumored to have been written for David Bowie and Mick Jagger…which leads to turning right at…

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6) Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat where you can admire the €€€ real estate belonging to ‘notable’ gentry including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Stroll along the beautiful Promenade Maurice Rouvier from the Beaulieu Bay de Formis side of the Cap and while there check out Villa Nellcote (the gates that is) where the Rolling Stones recorded ‘Exile on Main Street’ (in between Keith indulging in or brushing off the French constabulary for drug misdemeanors) while also…

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20130908-112414.jpg20130908-112509.jpg20130908-112601.jpg 7) Taking in the glorious Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild where Rothschild imagined and designed her gardens as a ship’s deck; temple of love at the bow, the Villa from which to admire her work (well that of the hired help, all required to sport red berets with pompoms) at the stern, the garden itself flanked with l’Espalmador bay to starboard and the Fourmis bay port-side. Observe and admire the musically synchronized fountains and while on the famous Villa roll you may also wish to…

20130908-114318.jpg 8) Marvel at Villa Leopolda up there on the VSM mountainside backdrop; possibly the world’s most expensive real estate where (a) battles over integrity maintenance were fought and lost with royalty, (b) a banker’s wife sued and won a Russian billionaire’s renege on a €35M deposit (on a sale originally touted at €500M, later refuted to be just €375M) and (c) in which a number of movies have been filmed including ‘To Catch a Thief’ starring Grace Kelly prior to her becoming a ‘local’. Which of course brings us to…

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20130908-114733.jpg 9) Utilising the village as the perfect 20min access to Monaco where you can don your fave Chanel frock or Stuart Hughes suit, add your best Harry Winston bling, tip the driver and head in to roll the dice at the Monte Carlo Casino while pouting for the paparazzi (see Black Amex Down post). Alternatively, to Èze-Sur-Mer where you can trek all the way up to Èze Village (while also admiring Bono’s home clinging to the mountainside); a mere 3 hour, 430 metres from sea level hike…yeah right! There’s a bus – €1.50

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20130908-115025.jpg20130908-115040.jpg10) If that’s not your bag, head in the opposite direction to Nice and dance down the Prominade des Anglaise (see ‘I’m still standing’ post), trawl the nitty gritty back streets and check out la mOMa gallery; Canne, if your anxious to do your best ‘red carpet’ imitation. Now throw off the papps, return to VSM and follow the…

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11) Tiny foot prints enticing you to brilliant works of art deliberately and enticingly hidden throughout the village, then debrief on what the artiste was trying to convey with that massive tangle of fluorescent wool between the trees over a chilled Sancerre while admiring another glorious sunset; after which of course you will..

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20130908-120426.jpg 12) Choose from the array of restaurants to graze on a L’Apéritif (Aperitif), L’Entrée (Appetizer), Le Plat Principal (Main course), Le Fromage (Cheese), Le Dessert (Dessert), Le Café (Coffee) and a Le Digestif (Digestif) to finish the day on a nice note; all the while ruminating on highlights from this beautiful little piece of the famous Côte d’Azur.

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Derrière divots on the Côte d’Azur

20130827-133428.jpgThe sun is gloriously warm, the ocean a sparkling azure jewel, Yachts, pleasure cruisers, and colourful air beds upon which bronzed bathers are lazing bob gently on the swell, the Sancerre’s chilled to perfection and…Oh sorry, did I hear you say you’re too busy buying your ticket to read on? Please do for the Côte d’Azur, well Villefranche-sur-mer at least, is really rather special.

It is also fraught with danger…

Today I learnt that it is pertinent to hide when cruise ships arrive. All that nylon stretched across impossibly large derrières is a tad too much to bear. Why?

Said derrières clearly needed a beach fix. The beach as usual was wall to wall and claiming a smidgeon of territory required the usual cunning, deftness and abandonment of ‘personal space’ issues. Hence my poorly veiled glee as I staked my claim on a square metre recently vacated by a family. And that’s when the shadows loomed. And not of the cloud variety. I’m talking the beach fix derrières.

First they threw down massive beach baskets from which enormous beach sheets, blow up devices, sunscreen, hats, magazines, water and baguettes were exhumed. I swear I saw a small manservant being pushed back in.

20130827-133200.jpgWith the detritus of beach pleasure released, they then crafted little divots from the pebbly surface in which to park said bottoms. The hollows clearly weren’t suitably sized for once towels were spread; both pairs began to grind side to side until satisfied. It was not a pretty sight, or sound. Ocean view thoroughly obscured, I recompensed with the shade they afforded and a delicious little piece of eavesdropping. And that’s when I discovered they were from the cruise ship…20130827-133405.jpg‘Which side of the ship do we need to be on to see the Panama Canal?’ asked one of the other in a strong Texan voice. ‘Other’ didn’t have an answer; she was busy planning her outfit for this evening’s disco theme. Emitting a small shudder from the question intimating one G&T too many and a vision best erased, I gathered my sarong and departed. I had to. Just knew I would not be able to contain myself should ‘other’ ask ‘What happens to the ice sculptures when they melt?’

I know you’re dying for photo proof but I very much fear I’d be hunted down and sat upon. These are from a non cruise ship day.

Villefranche sur mer…ahhhhh!

Just down the Ruelle du Marché steps below my window there’s a live band rocking out universal classics; a few steps more, the distinct hum of revelers spilling out of the restaurants lining the foreshore. People are sprawled on the stairs leaning into each other, smoking, laughing and singing along in predominantly French and English accents. They’re totally ‘in the moment’.

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20130822-190227.jpg I might be in the old town’ where history connects with ancient fortifications, in this case The Citadel, but that’s where ‘old’ ends. Villefranche, an extension of Nice on the Côte d’Azur or ‘French Riviera’ is not only quaint, it’s abuzz with activity. Similar to the Cinque Terra in terms of architectural influence. Tall houses in the same faded patna of terra cotta, pink, yellow and cream with moss green shutters, trompe l’oeil facades and pots of Bougainvillea crowding less narrow enterprise lined lane ways. But that’s where the similarities end.

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20130822-185742.jpgThe locals smile a friendly ‘Bonjour!’ They happily relieve you of your strangled french and enjoy testing their english.

‘Arretez! Vous tues langue notre!’

Stop! You are killing our language!  And they work hard at making you feel welcome. It’s refreshing, rejuvenating and spirited and you know what? It’s working.
Sparkling, azure blue ocean dotted with yachts, bay cruisers and speed boats; a balmy 32 degrees, the best bread in Europe, chilled G&T’s and a cozy, albeit tiny abode to retreat to right in the beating heart of this dear little village.

 

 

 

20130822-185613.jpg20130822-185850.jpg Stay tuned for local highlights, the low down on retail therapy in Nice and a desperately needed hair style update (lest I be labelled a Wookie)

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