A First Birthday in the French Riviera: What to Eat & See
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
The South of France is the mediterranean coastal jewel, and for me, of the world! It's better known for the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix, but there is so much more to it than just these famous events. I have been so fortunate to travel here many times for both leisure and work, and each time I arrive I find a new little town or village that I simply love, visit old favourite haunts, find a cute little boutique with the most amazing finds or restaurant serving the spectacular food. The French Riviera never seizes to surprise and wow. We thus decided what better place to celebrate Alexander's first birthday!
Our trip in July 2018 involved two weeks travelling to three main bases and we explored the surroundings from here: Mougins, Monaco and Saint Tropez. We chose these areas for their baby friendly vicinities, amazing restaurants & nightlife, things to do, sandy beaches and hotels. I can promise you that the French have the warmest hospitality towards children that we have seen to date when travelling, so it truly made the time memorable!
WHAT TO SEE
The Cote D'Azur is a long coastline but here are some top picks that we absolutely adore and revisit on family holidays.
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
I love visiting this little town for the old-style Riviera chic. This is a little peninsula nestled between Monaco and Nice, that has the most incredible houses and sandy beaches. You will be stunned with the views of the Provencal coastline so don't be afraid to explore the place on foot along the coastal footpaths to see amazing villas and gardens.
My top picks to see here are the magnificent Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild; Paloma Beach which is one of the French Riviera's unique sandy beaches; Villa Kerylos and don't forget to lunch at the Cap du Eden Roc or the luxuruous Grand Cap Ferrat Hotel.
This is simply the most famous resort on the Cote D'Azur but this little fishing town was made famous by Brigette Bardot, a French turned Hollywood actress known for her sexy appeal and boho-chic style. Saint Tropez never ceases to disappoint.
You much to see around the Port but certainly don't miss the Place des Lices, a lively square where a market is hosted almost daily.
Although technically not Saint Tropez, the Plage de Pamplonne is a must see for it's wide sandy beaches and crystal clear water. For me, a visit to Le Club 55 or Club Tahiti is are must do lunch venues for delicious seafood, to spot some celebrities and take in the beautiful crowd. Definitely try the tarte de tropizienne, a French take on the Victoria sponge but lighter and more zestful, it's simply delicious!
Of course, you will find all the major high end designers, but also many cute boutiiques and many wonderful independant designers stocking amazing clothes.
Stay at the Byblos Hotel in the centre of town, La Residence de la Pinede if you would like beach access or the Relaix and Chateau's Pan de Palais. But just a warning, if you travelling in July or August, book several months in advance as these places are completely booked out during this time.
This mountaintop village dating back hundreds of years so not what most people synononomously tie with the Cote D'Azur but trust me it's a must see. Found between Nice and Monaco, this beautiful little town is built entirely of stone. You will find the cutest little streets, restaurants, boutiques and will also get a glimpse of the Provencal village life. Catch spectacular views of the French Riviera and surrounding towns of Eze by visiting the Jardins Exotique d'Eze.
Wandering around this town is amazing and if you like stay at Chateau Eza to appreciate more of it. Certainly one of the most beautiful and unique hotels I have ever visited, it is quite simply surreal and will blow your mind with the phenomenal views & world class hospitality!
St Paul de Vence
Another astounding medieval town in the French Riviera that doesn't get enough air time. St Paul de Vence is truly beautiful with cobblestoned street, unique art galleries and boutiques. Stroll through the village exploring every nook and cranny.
Stay at the beautiful Relaix and Chateaux Le Saint Paul to truly immerse yourself in the town. If you unable to stay here, certainly stop for lunch at their decadent gourmet restaurant to discover a taste of Provencal cuisine.
There's so much to do and see in Monaco. It really is as marvellous as you may have heard. There are some lovely sandy beaches but generally Monaco is great to visit to eat, drink and be fabulous.
Shopping is amazing, as the country houses so many different luxury brands. The Cafe de Paris in the centre is a must do to have a St Germain Spritz, people watch and feel fabulous. Of course, there's the casino if you into seeing a glimpse of the James Bond life from the movies. Not to be missed are the Prince's Palace, Oceanographic Museum and Jardin Exotique de Monaco. You might be lucky enough to also catch a concert in Monaco City as the city usually houses many cultural acts.
In general, when you out, dress to kill, people watch and make the most of the facilities in some of the most awesome hotels along the French Riviera.
WHERE TO EAT
I have had the best meals here, you can never go wrong so here are my top 5 restaurants picks in the Cote D'Azur.
Cipriani is quite simply an institution. You can never go wrong visiting this fab brand no matter where in the world it is. In Monaco, it's simply amazing. For one, you will find the best dressed crowd, just simply beautiful people. The owners/managers treat customers like family so expect a warm welcome (and thank you when leaving). The waiters are busy but totally focused on you. As for the food, as per all Cipriani restaurants, simply superb. This place attracts the well-heeled so don't be afraid to pull out all the stops!
1 Avenue Princesse Grace, 98000, Monaco
Song Qi for a fabulous fine dining experience with Chinese food. Think immaculate service in tuxedo decked waiters, in trend music from a fab DJ, and the most delicious Chinese food imaginable. The crowd is sexy, sleek and dressed to the nines so don't be afraid to pull out your latest Louboutin shoes, Missoni dress and Chanel handbag.
7, Avenue Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco - Monte Carlo
L'Amandier de Mougins has the most fabulous views of Mougins and is worth going here just for this! They serve the most delectable tasting menu that must be tried. Expect typical provencal food served with finesse and the most amazing amuse bouche!
48 Av Jean-Charles Mallet, 06250, Mougins
L'Auberge des Maures is one of my favourite restaurants in Saint Tropez for many reasons. The most amazing provencal style food, rustic, hearty and just beautiful; simply fabulous wine list and the warmest staff. They serve their own brand of liquer after the meal and be prepared to be amazed, absolutely delicious! The crowd is upmarket as like all of Saint Tropez, but the dress code is not overly fancy so your typical tropizienne boho-chic will work here to the tea.
4 Rue Dr Boutin, 83990 Saint-Tropez
Rivea at Byblos. I'm a huge Alain Ducasse fan so this has to be on my list but this restaurant really is quite simply my favourite Alain Ducasse restaurant ever as the food for me is just sublime! Its a more simple and delicate than Ducasse's usual style, and the location of the restaurant is just jaw dropping. In Summer, you have open dining with a huge flower covered wall on one side. It's housed at the Byblos hotel so you can't expect anything but a fashionable crowd who knows good food.
Hôtel Byblos, Avenue Maréchal Foch, 89990, Saint-Tropez
Enjoy this beautiful part of the world and let me know if you need any further guidance or advice.
Shanti | The Kensington Diary