It exudes sophistication, bonne humor and joie de vivre, evoking an atmosphere of elegance unlike anywhere else on earth. This is the Cote d’Azur, Europe’s premier holiday destination.
Stretching from Cassis to Menton in southeastern France, this stunning coastline is home to iconic resorts such as Antibes, Cannes and Saint-Tropez. That’s before heading to the independent principality of Monaco and the charming gem of Nice, the beautiful countryside of Provence.
The area gained a reputation as a tourist hotspot in the 19th century. At the time, British and European aristocrats camped here during the summer, ensuring good weather and ready access to first-class culture.
Today, it continues to be the ultimate place for the wealthy to relax. With its first-class sailing, exclusive villas and hotels, and the opportunity to drive vintage sports cars along classic Mediterranean roads, the Côte d’Azur has retained its charm over the years. No wonder there are. At its heart is unparalleled simplicity, beauty and old-world charm.
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Soup au pitou is made with green vegetables, beans, pasta, and potatoes.
Nothing expresses the simplicity of this region more than the food. This is the place where you can find the freshest ingredients, especially in Nice. And few people understand the wonders of Niçoise cooking like Vanessa Masset.
Massé runs Pure & V, a Michelin-starred restaurant that likes to keep things simple. Every morning, she heads to the market to touch and feel the best vegetables for her dishes.
“I love this place,” she says. “I am… very happy to wake up by the sea. And now… it’s time to take a breather before a busy day. In my case, it doesn’t work. I go to the market every morning.”
Her passion for food is evident as she wanders through the stalls under the warm Mediterranean sun and chooses what she needs for the day.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, we just use what we have,” she says of the cooking methods in this part of France. “At Cuisine Niçoise, of course we use local ingredients…For me, it’s finger foods, simple things, lots of flavors.”
Whether it’s a delicious soup au pitou, made with green vegetables, beans, pasta, and potatoes, or le fleur de courgette, a simple stuffed zucchini flower that’s a staple of these parts, This is evident when you look at the beautiful dishes created by our chefs. Add fresh anchovies straight from the sea and you’ve got a dish that shows why Nice’s humble cuisine is so beloved.
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Overlooking the medieval hill town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
As if exquisite food, wonderful weather and seaside resorts tumbling down cliffs towards the Mediterranean coast weren’t enough, there’s another core aspect to the Côte d’Azur. It’s light.
Surrounded by Provençal coastline and farmland, this glorious landscape meant that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the region became the ultimate destination for artists looking to escape the constraints of Paris . And no artist is more synonymous with the Côte d’Azur than Henri Matisse.
“He came here in 1917 at the age of 48. “Quite late in his life, he just fell in love with this area and decided to spend the rest of his life here,” explains art lover Florence Tournier. To do. Gallery of the Matisse Museum in Nice.
Although Matisse’s finest works are on display here, bathed in the sunlight of Niçoise, there is one painting that stands out in the museum. “The Storm in Nice” was painted during Matisse’s first visit to Nice.
“It was raining for a whole month and it was ruined,” says Tournier of Matisse’s first stay in the South. “I think he was so angry that he almost decided to never go back. But the next morning, the Mistral wind blew the clouds away and this amazing light appeared in the sea and in the sky, and he I decided to stay here for the rest of my life.”
This view, drawn from the Mediterranean Palace, which was then a hotel, can still be enjoyed today, making the Côte d’Azur a particularly attractive destination for art lovers. It doesn’t take much exploration to find the classic landscapes that have been depicted throughout the region.
Matisse’s work was not the only one that highlighted the true beauty of the area. Joined by his great friend Picasso, Renoir, Monet and Chagall all headed here to bring their canvases to life.
“Across the Côte d’Azur, you can find places that inspired artists or were used as landscape decorations or models for various paintings,” says Tournier.
In fact, although often overlooked, there are some very beautiful artist footprints that visitors can follow to see these inspirations for themselves. Pass through Antibes, Aix-en-Provence, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a short drive northwest of Nice.
It was here that Chagall did much of his work. As you look out over the valley, you can see exactly what he painted, which is still the same a century later.
As Tournier says, “You can feel the light, you can feel the color, and you can follow in the footsteps of these artists.”
The simple pleasures of the French Riviera bring true joy.
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Lavender fields forever.
A hundred years ago, the lights of the Côte d’Azur gave artists a reason to flock here, but today another simple part of daily life also attracts visitors in droves. It’s lavender. The vast, purple, swaying fields across Provence are an Instagram dream come true.
While some may be daunted by the influx, lavender farmer Jean-Pierre Jaubert is happy to see tourists passing through his fields. He says it’s great for business.
Lavender is as much a part of the southern French identity as the sun and beaches. This flower has grown wild here for hundreds of years.
In his native French, Jaubert explains that his family has been working in these fields for 300 years.
“I think this is in my veins…what could be more beautiful than this?” he said, pointing to the field and breathing in the scent. “The sound and smell of bees”
According to Faubert, Provence is a cyclical story, and the light that drew in the artists helps the lavender grow and brings in more visitors who want to get closer to nature.
Faubert’s farm store is booming, selling all things lavender, from bunches of dried flowers to lavender essence. And it is also one of the ingredients for perfume, another typical Côte d’Azur product.
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Perfume maker Jessica Buchanan is known for her nose.
The town of Grasse, an hour from Nice, is the perfume capital of the world.On top of that Lavender, flowers bloom everywhere here. And at Fragonard Perfumery, founded in 1926, we know how to create the perfect scent.
Karina Hidalgo, who works at Fragonard, says choosing your favorite perfume is not as easy as you think.
“When you go to a perfume store, you want to try every bottle,” she says. “Her nose won’t smell after 3 o’clock.”
However, there are ways around this problem.
“You smell your clothes, your skin, your hair. Every time you can’t smell (a new scent), your nose needs to smell something it already knows in order to keep sniffing,” Hidalgo said. He says with a laugh.
At Fragonard, we can also help you create your own personalized scent that will make you remember the Côte d’Azur. Jessica Buchanan is an expert in perfume creation, known here as “The Nose.” She has been trained to distinguish her 3,000 essential oils by smell. Only by reaching that dizzying level of her is she allowed to call herself a “nose.”
“Smell each ingredient individually and then take small notes,” Buchanan says. Then, you can start again after shaking the tester paper to remove excess alcohol, she added.
There’s a science to it, a way to get to the heart of this special region of France.
The Cote d’Azur is a wonderful place that exudes an atmosphere of elegance and retains a charm and beauty reminiscent of years gone by. It’s a place that rewards the modern traveler who chooses to slow down and enjoy every angle: food, art, landscape.