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 😉
It’s sometimes important to take the higher ground! This is the high altitude view I’ll be enjoying quite a lot of over the next 6 weeks, with 12 flights lined up across 3 trips and 5 countries for various business and leisure trips, the first stop being Hong Kong… This particular lovely sky was observed last month just above the French Riviera when landing on the Lufthansa flight from Munich, the second leg of my trip back from Sofia in Bulgaria.
Pure serenity in the Mediterranean air on a blissful evening! Driving back home after a perfect afternoon this weekend in Villefranche, Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu, I stopped over on the quiet road at the entrance of the Cap Estel Hotel and snapped this lovely sunset looking back over Cap Ferrat and Cap Roux in the foreground. Wishing everyone an amazing week!
It certainly already feels like spring, now that March is upon us and yesterday I decided to go on a lovely day trip around Villefranche, Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu under the sunshine. Why not do the same today and enjoy a nice lazy Sunday lunch sitting on a table by the water, like the people on this picture? Check out l’Oursin Bleu there, lunch there was amazing and I’ll be posting a full review on it soon. In the meantime, to optimise your day in Villefranche, check out this in depth blog article and have a wonderful Sunday!
Some inspiration for the weekend… This amazing view was taken in late February (basically last Wednesday), from the village of Grimaldi Inferiore, just across the Franco-Italian border, on my way to the Villa Hanbury botanical gardens. Across the turquoise water, you can basically see the Tête de Chien mountain that overlooks Monaco, the luxuriant Cap Martin and in the foreground, the old town of Menton. Wishing all my readers an amazing weekend 🙂
It may be the season of carnivals but this time of the year on the French Riviera is also the time of the mimosa tree, which colours the whole countryside in a beautiful bright and fragrant yellow which is wonderful for photos but horrible for people who are allergic to the pollen! Why not go for a nice hike in the hills this weekend, especially close to the village of Tanneron in the foothills of the Esterel just behind Cannes, where you can enjoy some fantastic views. If you need some inspiration on where to go, follow the recommendations in the dedicated article, have fun! PS. This photo was taken just across the border in Italy, in the beautiful gardens of Villa Hanbury, you’ll find more about this beautiful place soon…
I’ve never actually been to visit Chicago, just transited 3 times through the airport but this shot I got before landing at O’Hare airport in January 2018 certainly makes me want to go and visit this apparently beautiful and windy city (though perhaps at a time of the year where the weather is more clement!). I have to say that flying over a frozen Lake Michigan whilst jet-lagged and seeing the famous skyline suddenly piercing through the layers of clouds made me wonder if I hadn’t mistakenly taken a flight to a modern-day Asgard instead of the American Mid West! This is a great way to close off February, hoping to get a touch of spring soon #tbt
A blend of old and new, this is the brand new face of the Casino Square in Monte-Carlo, with the inauguration of the “One Monte Carlo” complex on the former location of the Art Deco (and slightly Stalinist) Sporting d’Hiver building that was demolished in 2014. The whole “neighbourhood” houses residences, a conference centre and especially a host of luxury boutiques such as the 3-story Louis Vuitton store you can see here. Personally I’m still undecided if it’s cool or not, ie. a real asset to the Principality or just a monstrous carbuncle (to quote Prince Charles talking about Canary Wharf in London) – time will tell, though I have to admit it’s a relief for the construction works to be over, just waiting for the gardens to be rebuilt and Casino Square will again be the centrepiece of Monte-Carlo…