The French Riviera Your Way: How to Roll Like Hemingway
Dining to this view at La Réserve is among the Riviera’s many pleasures. (All photos: Marcia DeSanctis)
Before the Côte d’Azur became the summer hangout for both backpackers and billionaires, it was a place for northerners like Queen Victoria, King Leopold of Belgium, and all manner of Russian Grand Dukes and Duchesses to thaw their chilly bones in the winter.
When that changed is subject to debate, but many credit the American couple Gerald and Sara Murphy. In the 1920’s, they were among the first to spend the hottest months bathing in the Mediterranean, and invited their friends Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald to cavort with them on the beach in Cap d’Antibes. In 1927, Coco Chanel built a house in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and drew her own cadre of boldface-named houseguests (Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali).
Another transformation happened in 1956, courtesy of Brigitte Bardot and her unprecedented allure. That year saw the release of And God Created Woman, a movie that catapulted both the actress and St. Tropez into myth. From then on, despite overwhelming high-season crowds, the Riviera has endured as a place for sensuality, escape, and world-class glamour. Time is always precious on the Côte d’Azur, so here are a few tips to help maximize yours:
Best affordable hotel
The Splendid is just a block from the ocean and La Croisette, and its tiny lobby is often graced with the presence of owner Annick Cagnat, whose warmth sets the tone for this intimate hotel. In a town famous for Dolce wishes and Gabbana dreams, the Splendid is an elegant throwback to old-world flair, with balconies that overlook the port and its gleaming white boats.
Cruise the Riviera in a vintage Porsche.