HOTEL BELLES RIVES, is an Art Deco mansion on the Mediterranean with beautiful views of the sea from rooms with balconies. This was the former home of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. It was here where he wrote the Great Gatsby. There is a private beach and a pier used for sun bathing and water sports. The hotel has no swimming pool, everyone swims in the Mediterranean Sea. No one seemed to miss having a pool. I know I did not miss it! My deluxe room faced the sea with a walkout balcony was spacious for one or two guest but, the bathroom was on the smaller side with a bathtub/shower combination and one sink, all in marble.
We walked to a sister property, Juana Hotel, for dinner and a sight inspection. This is a 4 star property with special attention to families regarding the accommodations (connectors) and a heated outdoor pool. The hotel is across the street from a park and beach. The guest have access to the Hotel Belles Rives for watersports. We dined outside on the terrace. The food and atmosphere was wonderful.
Started my day with an early wake-up call, 630 am and met Loretta and Patrizia at the beach for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea! The water was calm and refreshing. I was surprised to see that we were not the only guest enjoying a morning swim.
After breakfast on the terrace with a view of the sea, we went into the old town of Antibes for a walking tour. Our guide, Laure from the Office de Tourisme ET Des Congres D ‘Antibes Juan-Les-Pins was very knowledgeable with personal contacts in the city. We stopped by the best Pastry shop in town and the baker was delightful. His story was great but, his food was amazing! I had no idea the old town of Antibes was such a charming village with so much history, especially in regards to art. The Musee Picasso exhibits an impressive collection of his paintings, drawings and ceramics that he produced while living in Antibes. Apparently, it was 1946 and the happiest time of his life, he was 60 years old and his wife was 20 yrs. old and pregnant! Picasso donated all of the works to the city upon his departure. We had a little time to visit the open air market before returning to the hotel for lunch.
Our afternoon was spent on a yacht, The Accama, a mere 109 feet! We felt like the “locals” yachting on the Mediterranean!
The evening was topped off with a gourmet dinner at La Passagere in the Hotel Belles Rives. It was a perfect evening to dine under the stars.
Nice – Gordes Provence
We transferred to Nice for a sight inspection and lunch at the iconic HOTEL LE NEGRESCO. The pink-domed hotel, a national historic monument, is set along Nice’s Promenade des Anglais and the sea. The location is perfect but, the interiors are eclectic at best. The amount of antiques is overwhelming and each floor has a different theme and color palette. Lunch was delightful on the terrace with views of the Promenade.
Our next stop is Avignon via the TGV (high-speed rail) from Nice. Actually, it was only “high-speed” for a short time. This was more of a local train with several stops along the way and a 20 minute delay due to a disruption outside of Avignon. This was my first experience traveling by rail in France. Luckily we were able to manage our luggage and enjoy the ride.
Our hotel for the next 3 nights was LA BASTIDE DE GORDES. The hotel is an ancestral castle built on a cliff, overlooking one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. Upon arrival the hotel staff was very welcoming in their traditional and tasteful attire. The hotel had been closed for over a year and only reopened in June. Having not seen it prior to the closing, I cannot comment on the transformation. However, I can say it is beautiful. Each room is different with regards to size, décor and layout. They offer many options for clients with any special request. The T.V.’s are hidden in a mirror and not to distract from the traditional furnishings.
Due to the late hour, the staff took our luggage directly to our rooms and we walked a block into town to local restaurant, La Cantina, for dinner. The food was casual and delicious.
The hotel staff was very gracious and opened the beautiful lap pool earlier than usual so, I was able to enjoy a refreshing morning swim. The weather was definitely cooler than on the Cote D’Azur and the scenery was more of the countryside of Provence.
After a wonderful buffet breakfast with hot and cold options, as well as made to order eggs, we were met by our guide for the day. Anne from the Office de Tourisme Luberon Monts de Vaucluse surprised us with two Citroen 2CV’s – vintage Citroen’s to go sightseeing in! What a fun way to spend a day! Guest may rent a vintage Citroen for the day and explore on their own, too! We visited the Senanque Abbey and the Lavender Museum. Lunch was an indoor picnic (the winds in Provence can be force to be reckoned with) in the 4 bedroom Villa on the hotel’s property.
After a light breakfast, we jumped into our vintage Citroen 2CV’s and headed to the L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Sunday market. It is the largest outdoor market in the idyllic Luberon area of Provence with a mix of food vendors, flea market, clothes and antique market all in one.
We returned to the hotel by 2pm for a Champagne brunch which is very popular with local people and visitors from the area.
After a leisurely morning and breakfast, we were transferred to Avignon the rail station to catch our TGV train to Paris. The hotel was gracious and provided us with a lovely boxed lunch for our train ride. This was truly a TGV high-speed experience. In two hours we arrive Gare Nord and were greeted at the platform by our driver and transferred directly to our hotel.
LE CINQ CODET, is a new 5 star boutique hotel on the Left Bank in one of the most sophisticated neighborhoods of Paris. The hotel is in a building from the 1930’s which housed the former France Telecom offices. It is has 67 rooms and suites. The style is contemporary elegance with an outstanding collection of art work, luxurious amenities, signature floor to ceiling bay windows and state of the art in-room technology. The hotel is in the 7th arrondissenment and steps from Les Invalides, Musee Rodin.
My room was a small suite with 1 ½ bathrooms. There were two sets of pocket doors separating the sitting area from the bedroom and the bedroom from the master bath. There was a flat screen T.V. in the living area and in the bedroom. All bathrooms had a separate shower and bathtub and double sinks. The room layouts are unique and no two are alike.
Dinner was at the hotel restaurant, La Citadelle which has two dining rooms and an outdoor terrace. The gastronomic restaurant, Pierre Gagnaire was closed one night and then reserved for a private party on the other night.
After breakfast and a hotel sight inspection we took a car to the Right Bank for two more hotel inspections on our own. The first stop was Hotel Regina at 2 Place des Pyramides which just received a 5th star. In my opinion, this was a mistake. The hotel was recently renovated by was not up to the standards of other 5 star hotels in the neighborhood. The 2nd hotel was the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal which is a few blocks away but, miles away in terms of style, décor, luxury and location.
After a light lunch at a café we walked to the Le Marais district in the Jewish quarter of Paris. The history of the Marais is fascinating and now is the city’s epicenter of cool, with hip boutiques, designer hotels, art galleries and Paris’s gay community.
After a quick clean-up at our hotel, we had one last sight inspection and a farewell dinner at LE BURGUNDY. The hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel with 59 rooms and suites in the fine tradition of hotels with high standards and outstanding services. The hotel is a sister property of Le 5 Codet and has a wonderful collection of artwork, an integral swimming pool and welcomes families, too. We were fortunate to have dinner in the Michelin starred Le Baudelaire restaurant after cocktails and champagne in the Bar Le Baudelaire. This was the perfect ending to a fabulous evening and wonderful trip in France!
I have to say this trip was a first for me in several ways; first time to the Cote D’Azur, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea! My first time to travel by TGV and to the Provence region of France. Lastly, my first time to stay on the Left Bank! Personally, I don’t mind which bank of the Seine River I stay on, as long as I’m in Paris! It’s a walkable city and you can just stroll everywhere, it really doesn’t matter what side of the river you are on. They are both spectacular.