St Jean Cap Ferrat All Over Again

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The Saint Hospice promontory – hermits, shepherds and gazillionaires – is always worth a return visit It was just a question of time before such a thing would happen, and then, last week, it finally did.

She said so: It was St Jean Cap Ferrat all over again

“We have been here before.” Mrs. Easy Hiker said. “There,” she pointed to a spot in the distance just before the

St Jean Cap Ferrat All Over Again

Russian Churches on the Riviera

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Elsewhere in the world, the word may be that “the Russians are coming”; in the coastal region between Nice and Sanremo, they have arrived long ago and been part of the local communities for well over 150 years Once upon a time, before the advent of satellite TV dishes and the world-wide web, immigrants, even the very richest ones, felt the need to huddle together in the cold environment of an alien culture. What they

Russian Churches on the Riviera

Springtime for Napoleon

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200 years after the event, we followed the Emperor and his army on the first stage of their walk back to Paris and to Waterloo On 1 March 1815, the recently deposed Emperor Napoleon landed with a small band of 1000 loyal soldiers in Golfe Juan near Cannes, arriving from his exile in Elba to reclaim the French throne. Exactly two hundred years later, the municipal administration of what is now a small but lively

Springtime for Napoleon

The Remains of the Romans in the Riviera

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On the basis of the evidence, it feels safe to say that the Empire’s troops did not come here to enjoy the beautiful beaches The history of the Riviera, if we are honest, begins in the 17th century when its oldest towns were built, and it really picks up 200 years later with the invention of tourism.

Anything that happened before is irrelevant for the modern-day resort towns that are lining the coast.

The Remains of the Romans in the Riviera

The Nice of Henri Matisse

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The capital of the French Riviera was the great love in the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists The list of famous painters who have been claimed as the genius loci of one Riviera town or the other is long: Cagnes-sur-Mer has Renoir, St Paul de Vence has Chagall, Menton has Jean Cocteau, Vallauris and Antibes share Picasso (but there is a lot to share, Picasso being “vast and containing multitudes”). Even

The Nice of Henri Matisse

A Busy Hilltop Town for 2000 Years

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With its long history and a strong presence of the modern arts, Vence is the perfect destination for a walk through the Provencal countryside It would be silly to say that if you have seen one Riviera hilltop town, you have seen them all. No, worse than silly: unfair and, above all, ungrateful for the treasures they hold in store for their visitors. At the same time, however, it would be equally silly to deny

A Busy Hilltop Town for 2000 Years

A Taste of Provence

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Walks in the South of France On a country walk from St Paul-de-Vence to Vence, you can experience three different flavours of the fabled French “South” One of the French things that foreigners often struggle with is the fine distinction between the different regions in “the South”, a large area sometimes misunderstood as a single cultural unit where old men play boule between the ruins of Roman temples and lavender fields that were once painted

A Taste of Provence

Breathless in Monaco

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Urban Walks in the South of France With a trip to the Jardin Exotique, you always win Monaco mainly consists of concrete, and the few green spaces that you come across when exploring the streets of the principality all have an air of unrealness about them – as though the trees would all go up in a puff of smoke if you looked at them hard enough or, more likely, were revealed as cleverly conceived

Breathless in Monaco

Vallauris: A Town With Feet of Clay …

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… and a reputation that owes everything to the world’s greatest artist of the 20th century Vallauris proudly calls itself “the world’s capital of ceramics”. But that is only half the story.

The more complete version goes something like this: for centuries, Vallauris had been the place where the inhabitants of the French Riviera came to buy their ceramic plates and pottery, and when the demand for hand-made, carefully

Vallauris: A Town With Feet of Clay …

Ancient History Between Cannes and Antibes

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Easy Hikes in the South of France What have the Romans ever done for the French Riviera? Not much, it appears. For our first proper walk of the year – one involving a forest, “big sky views” and mud under our feet – we picked a theatre of ancient local history.

You would be surprised how difficult it can be to find real “history” on the French Riviera. Don’t

Ancient History Between Cannes and Antibes