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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Riviera Bucket List - Part 1

Posted on 20th Jul 2014 in Nice News


Wine tasting in Provence. What's on your bucket list?

In the movie Bucket List, Jack Nicholson ate a 'do-before-you-die' Michelin star meal in Eze. In a four-part series we explain how to do the Top 20 Riviera must-sees, without breaking the bank.

1) Drive the Monaco Grand Prix

It's the world's most glamorous race. It's two-miles (3.3km) of 5-star hotels and bling-tastic boutiques. It's where drivers who lose concentration end up swimming in the Port of Monaco, as Italian ace Alberto Ascari did in 1955.

To feel the wind in your hair rent a €200 convertible from Elite Rent. Those without Lewis Hamilton’s millions (the driver lives in Monaco as a tax exile) can ride an electric bike instead. Start your flying lap on Bl Albert 1er. Then bend around Sainte-Devote up to Casino Square. Ignore the parked Ferraris and shimmy down Mirabeau to the Fairmont Hotel. As PlayStation players will attest, it’s a dark ride through the infamous Tunnel before you hit the bright lights of the Port once again.

2) Sit at Cézanne’s easel in Aix

Local boy Paul Cézanne painted his home town and every Provençal scene for miles around. Today’s visitors can follow in his footsteps via a well-market walking trail. It runs past his family house at Bastide du Jas de Bouffan and his father’s bank (daddy kindly funded Cézanne’s early career).

But the Atelier de Cézanne is the true bucket list sight. The master’s brushes, props and pots remain untouched since he passed away in 1906. Play at being a Provence painter by shooting a selfie in front of his easel when the guard isn’t looking. #je_suis_cezanne

3) Fly into Cannes on a private jet

Ever heard of Cannes Airport? I’ll give you a clue. It’s VIP users don’t pay for their on-board drinks. Nor do they use Speedy Boarding either.

From the Cannes Film Festival onwards, the Gulfstream and Dassault jets of the rich and famous touchdown here. These include the Beckhams, who then helicopter up to their villa in Bargemon. Join the club by booking a €109 initiation flight with Aeroclub Antibes.

Alas, we lied about the jet. Beginners flights are in a Cessna 182, a single propeller light aircraft first introduced in 1956. Hold on to your seatbelt, as well as your lunch.

4) Sip rosé in a vineyard in Provence

It's the stuff of dreams. The thought of sipping chilled rosé in the searing heat of le midi...while you slave away at your desk in rainy North America/Europe.

Fortunately, fulfilling your fantasy is a cinch. Bike, hike or drive around literally any area of vineyard-filled Provence and you’ll spot a sign saying ‘Dégustation’ or ‘Wine Tastings Here’. We rate the pricey Bellet vineyards north of Nice Airport. The Chateau Minuty vineyard near St Tropez is particularly welcoming.

Sadly, visitors are politely dissuaded from sampling at Pitt and Jolie’s new rosé vineyard at Miravel. Bradgelina’s entire 2012 production sold out in just a few hours.

5) Have a golden sand beach all to yourself

Get real. Nice Airport welcomes 11.5m visitors per year, and you want a sandy corner all to yourself? Quiet coves abound on the Riviera, particularly on the Iles de Lérins and near La Trayas. But for an ice-white slice of heaven, take the train or drive west...

The Parc National des Calanques is France’s first new National Park since the 1970s. It protects 20 miles (32km) of fjord-like creeks between Cassis and Marseille. Speedboats and jetskis are banned; walkers and kayakers are welcomed with open arms. Hike or paddle to the secret sands of Calanque d’En-Vau midway through the park for breakfast…your footsteps will be the only ones there.


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