After a long trip last week back from Asia, there was nothing better than to take a quick hop across the port on the electric Boat Bus, with some stunning sunset views of the buildings of Monaco. It was a great feeling and surprisingly peaceful to glide silently over the calm waters of the Mediterranean after the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
I’m currently on my way back to Europe from a really nice trip to Asia, which included 3 days in the lovely metropolis of Hong Kong. I think it was about my 20th time there but there is nothing more satisfying than arriving after a 20 hour journey and walking along the newly-renovated Kowloon waterfront, enjoying the fantastic views across Victoria Harbour towards the spectacular skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island – it’s title as “Asia’s World City” is fully justified!
When I’m asked what sort of typical dishes one can eat in Monaco, the barbaguian is the first thing that springs to mind! This delicious snack is made out of a very light pastry stuffed with a mix of Swiss chard (blettes in French, a kind of spinach), then fried until golden brown. The origin is of course under debate between the local villages but the general consensus is that it’s mainly a speciality from Monaco… You can find them in the market at the Place d’Armes and in the A Roca stores amongst others but generally the best ones are to be found at the Bar Américain of the Hotel de Paris or at the Café de Paris, bon appétit!
In addition to being a fantastic museum with great content, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is also an architectural gem – purposely built in a strategic location in the Old Town of Monaco ahead of its inauguration in 1910, it really looks like it was slammed into the side of the cliff side. You can check out this amazing perspective from the entrance to the Parking des Pêcheurs public car park, accessible by lift from the museum esplanade. To discover the museum in more detail, check out the dedicated blog article!
Walking down a major shopping street in Monaco last week after a dentist’s appointment, I looked up and noticed some nice classical Belle Époque architecture from the 1920s. Sadly more and more of these buildings are being knocked down to make way for more modern and functional buildings but it’s important to stay close to the heritage of the area as the past often contains the keys to future success!
The influence of the French Riviera truly stretches all around the world! I’m currently touring around East Asia and was pretty surprised when I came across a subsidiary of the glamorous Café de Paris of Monte Carlo, not on Casino Square but in the lobby of the palatial Galaxy Hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau in southern China, also a global gambling capital. Was very happy to see a nice sculpture of the late Princess Grace and some vibes back from home, even on the opposite side of the world by the Pacific Ocean…
A perfect walk to do in the spring is to enjoy a 30 minute stroll along the coastline from Beaulieu to the port of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat – it’s a fully flat footpath and affords stunning views along the eastern part of the French Riviera and its dramatic mountains. Why not combine with a visit to Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu and then either go to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on top of the hill or else a nice lunch by the quaint port of Saint Jean? Enjoy the weekend!
When you fly in to Nice airport from the west, it’s difficult not to notice the striking red rocks and bizarre shapes of the Esterel mountains, a volcanic mountain range that floated off Africa several million years ago and now forms the border between the Var and the Alpes Maritimes departments, just west of Cannes! Nowadays, in the absence of dinosaurs and other dodgy creatures, it’s a great place for hiking and also to relax on the lovely red beaches, the contrast with the blue of the Mediterranean makes it a truly magical spot. But this time of the year is perfect to visit when there are fewer crowds and it’s not too hot in the hills.
As the weather gets warmer, the mountains get more appealing and spring is the perfect time to go hiking on the French Riviera! Indeed, the coastline is only the tip of the iceberg and the “département” (county) is called the Alpes Maritimes for a reason as most of it is covered by the southern Alps. This is the view from the top of the Col de Tende, the mountain pass at around 1000m above sea level that marks the border between Italy and France up in the hinterlands, looking south down the Roya valley towards the coastline and Ventimiglia. Find out more about the opportunities to explore the mountains and make the most of the great outdoors with my practical guide!
When I had just arrived in Monaco as a kid, this kind of idyllic scene really epitomised the style and luxury of the French Riviera: the secluded private villa that takes up a prime part of the coastline and has a wonderful pool and stunning sea views. It just so happens that I stumbled across this lovely view on the way back from Beaulieu to Monaco and that this isn’t a private villa but a 5* boutique hotel called the Hotel du Cap Estel which stands on the eponymous cape on the eastern side of the Bay of Eze before Cap d’Ail. I’d never actually seen this place as it’s tucked away from the main road and even though it’s currently closed for the winter season, it looks absolutely idyllic – definitely somewhere to try out for a drink or lunch when the warm weather kicks off 😉