So Mr C came back from two weeks working in the Dubai office and it was cold and raining in the UK, so we decided to head down to our Nice office for a week and see the girls. We actually flew from Lille airport in Northern France. Its a very small airport with parking directly opposite the terminal building and 1hr and 20 minutes later we arrived in Nice. Tres facile!
We were welcomed by Marina and Anais who handed us the keys to our jazzy sign written Smart car and we headed off to the hotel they had booked us into. A lovely boutique hotel Les Vergers not far from Nice. The owner, a lovely guy called Jacques, had upgraded us to a suite and it was perfect, in typical French style. I would recommend it. Add the fact that Les Vergers is just at the entrance to a historic perched village called St Paul de Vence that I absolutely adore and you have the perfect combination.
For those of you who have never been to St Paul de Vence, let me try to describe it. St. Paul is a beautiful medieval fortified village perched on a narrow spur between two deep valleys. The village itself is one of the most intact medieval examples of the region, with much of the ramparts still there. Narrow winding cobbled streets lead you past typical old houses and the village itself is home to scores of art museums and galleries with amazing paintings and sculptures, unique boutiques, various crafts and costume jewellery, in fact all things hand made or locally sourced. Yes it is expensive!
In the summer it’s absolutely stuffed with tourists rubbing shoulder to shoulder in the narrow streets, but at this time of the year it takes on a calm all of its own, and by night it is ethereal and quite simply magical. I am enchanted by it and it seems I am not alone. Saint-Paul de Vence has long been a haven of the famous. During the 1960s, it was frequented by French actors Yves Montand, Simone Signoret and Lino Ventura, and poet Jacques Prévert. And well known for the artists who have lived there, such as Marc Chagall, and more recently the couple Bernard Henri Levy and Arielle Dombasle. British actor Donald Pleasence died in Saint-Paul de Vence in 1995. Ex Rolling Stone Bill Wyman has a home there, as does Mr ‘do ya think I’m sexy’ yes, I still do Rod, and Richard and Judy!
We booked a table at La Colombe d’Or for dinner. La Colombe d’Or started life in 1920 as a café bar with an open air-terrace where people would dance at weekends, (Mr C and I have enjoyed many a lazy lunch there on that terrace, the chariot de fromage is awesome!) It became very popular, and soon extended as an inn of 3 rooms. The friendly atmosphere together with the owners deep interest in the arts brought the visit of many artists and the walls were soon covered by paintings, which often were exchanged for a stay or a few meals.
The hotel and restaurant has played host to some of the hottest names in art: Picasso, Matisse and Prevert among the list. You can view their works on display here. Just a tip for you, always make a reservation and NEVER order the hors d’oeuvres unless you are absolutely starving. I ordered it and there is no warning on the menu, but it actually arrives in 15 dishes (little tasters of this and that) and saucisson as well. Its probably enough for 4 people, so a bit startling really. Otherwise it was a perfect evening and we left St Paul extremely full but happy.
It kind of turned into a food festy few days, as nearby our hotel was another hotel with a Michelin two starred restaurant, Alain Llorca. Well it had to be done didn’t it? This hotel and restaurant is in an exceptional setting with panoramic views of St Paul and the sea. I was pleased that we went there, as many of our private jet clients actually request the catering on board their jet is sent from this restaurant. Totally understand why, it was fabulous.
And then after a day in the office with our lovely team France, we took the girls out with us to La Petite Maison for a slap up meal. When he was still President, Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed La Petite Maison to be his favourite eatery and it is still one of Nice’s hot spots, drawing celebrities and politicians for its happening scene and elegantly executed Niçois specialities.
We dined outside on the terrace which was pretty busy, but I do love the interior too with the drama of the noisy, high-ceilinged room, aglow with flickering candlelight, and the contemporary spins of local classics, tables are packed tight together but the service is good and the ambiance is great. Sante ladies, great to see you 🙂