“Formulas are worth nothing. Life is everything,” wrote Irish designer, Eileen Gray, whose romantic, multi-functional 1920s seaside home on the wild peninsula of Roquebrune Cap-Martin has been restored and is now open for visits. The same philosophy of adaptability seems to apply when it comes to the latest offerings on the French Riviera, which is humming with inventive energy to better suit today’s seasoned traveler. While exclusive, long-established hotels like Eden Roc and the Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat (just taken over by the Four Seasons) are adding spas, suites or innovative services, the effervescent cultural scene is equally exciting. There is a new art museum in Aix, the Centre d’Art Caumont, as well as a nearby vineyard/art center at the Château La Coste, where guests can dine at the superb café restaurant, sip tea in the carved wood Asian teahouse, check out the sculpture garden and stay for wine-tasting, concerts and films. There’s no shortage of starry restaurants—both new and classic favorites—as chefs continue to reinvent southern French cuisine with the freshest and finest locally sourced ingredients.
The Four Seasons has taken over the management of the elegant grande dame of seaside palaces, but there have been no major changes thus far, with the exception of a few new offerings: the poolside restaurant of Le Club Dauphin now serves a sumptuous Provencal buffet (in July and August) and a delicious Sunday brunch with a jazz trio has been added for September; the spa menu now includes signature treatments with Carita and the Swiss Bellefontaine beauty products that are infused with caviar, gold and silk. Guests can also partake in complimentary bi-weekly free yoga and Pilates classes and get in shape at the outdoor fitness center, under the parasol pines.
Hôtel du Cap Eden-Roc Hidden away in a beautifully tended rose garden, the Eden-Roc's new Sisley spa is housed in an airy, modern pavilion with two additional outdoor gazebos for massages. There are four treatment rooms, a hammam and sauna, plus a small, high-tech fitness center for yoga, Pilates and private workouts and a beauty center for hairdressing, manicures and makeup. Among the long list of massages and phyto-aromatic beauty treatments is a 150-minute facial and body plumping and relaxing ritual with roses.
Another fun feature is the new Children’s Spa (for ages 4-18), which offers pampering pour les petits with natural paraben-free products. The menu includes the 30-miute “Pirates and Mermaids Relaxation Discovery,” a decorative nail session; and back scrub and skin cleansing for adolescents.
Le Mas de Pierre Last spring, Le Mas de Pierre opened the new Provencal-style wing “Bastide des Fleurs,” a restored stone manor house set back near the hotel gardens. The six spacious, contemporary, white-on-white suites were designed by Patrick Ribes to have the occasional splash of floral-themed canvases and woodwork. Expect personalized service and a restful atmosphere: after breakfast on the private patio, most guests dive into the bastide’s pool or lounge in their full-service cabana.
La Bastide de Moustiers For the warmer months, La Bastide de Moustiers is offering gourmet picnic escapades for two to six people. The concept: guests are driven to a secluded spot by the river (in a vintage 1950’s Chevrolet) and left to enjoy Christophe Martin’s moveable feast until they call to be collected. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are also convivial barbecues in the potager vegetable garden, under the olive trees.
Le Bastidon is a new suite on the property. The 860-square-feet Provencal-style independent cottage has a private garden and a neo-rustic décor including a four-poster bed, handpicked country antiques, oak parquet floors and a marble-walled bathroom with a claw-foot tub.
A wave of recent openings, reinvented menus and star chefs have revitalized the dining scene on the Côte d'Azur this season, with the following highlights deserving a spot on any foodie's itinerary.
The South of France has long inspired artists with its stunning landscapes and shimmering sea. Two new museums showcase artworks that express the historic and modern elements that come together in this region. Cap Moderne, located just past Monaco, is housed in Irish designer Eileen Gray’s restored villa and displays her furniture and visionary home décor, as well as murals and a fresco by Le Corbusier, whose beach hut is next door. Caumont Centre d’Ar, in the center of Aix-en-Provence, rotates exhibits dedicated to both ancient and contemporary art inside a grand renovated townhome and garden.
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