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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Riviera Bucket List - Part 3

Posted on 16th Sep 2014 in Nice News


Party on in historic Avignon

11) Spot a celebrity at the Cannes Film Festival

In the words of one wag: “Cannes is 10,000 people looking for 10 people who really count”. But the Film Festival marks the arrival of the Riviera summer season when serious celebrity abounds. Each May, Hollywood royalty (read Weinstein, Jolie, Tarantino, Spielberg) relaxes on the mile-long Croisette promenade on the Cannes sea front. If you fail to pap an actor with the iPhone then you’re not trying hard enough.

Three insider tips will get you closer to the action. Firstly, wear Black Tie. To make up numbers in low-budget and foreign films, the best-dressed passers by are routinely invited in. Secondly, locals are allowed to watch screenings for free (lucky them), but badges are seldom checked on the last days of the festival, allowing you to sneak in with a confident ‘Bonjour’. Thirdly, get producer accreditation by entering two pathetically obscure mini movies into the Short Films category. Whip that iPhone out now!

12) Shoot a selfie in Provence’s lavender fields

It’s the timeless picture of Provence. Fields of purple lavender scenting the air for miles around. Better still, high summer from June to August is the best time to shoot a selfie when the plants are in full bloom. It’s #RealProvence.

The lavender fields around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Valensole are the most easily reachable from the Riviera. But the Lubéron Natural Park, made famous by Peter Mayle's Year in Provence memoir, is the most active. Visit lavender farm Ferme de Gerbaud near where Marcel Pagnol's Provençal movies were set. Or see essential lavender oil distilled into perfume and soap at century-old Les Agnels.

13) Picnic on a private island

Some say a picnic on a private island is priceless. We say it costs the price of a Monoprix shopping spree and a €12 ticket to Ile Verte.

‘Green Island’ bobs off the town of La Ciotat. Only a few ferries a day chug out to this uninhabited gem, which is carpeted with Aleppo pines and lapped by azure seas. The best picnic spots are at La Plageolle, or on the lonely cove of Calanque Seynerolles. You’ll have only cormorants for company.

A little lonely for you? The larger natural park islands of St-Honorat and Ste-Marguerite float off the coast of Cannes.

14) Party like a pope

The Catholic Church wasn't always about charity, chastity and goodwill to fellow man. The Papacy moved from Rome to Avignon in the 14th century to become the richest force in France. Boy, did those guys spend?

Avignon’s Palais des Papes, or Pope’s Palace, is a lesson in medieval grandeur. Even more so if you take in the new €10 Les Luminessences d'Avignon 3-D lightshow, which takes place nightly from August to October.

The pope’s banqueting hall is 41m long. His personal bedroom is awash with fine frescoes. The holiest of holies had their own vineyard, Chateauneuf du Pape, just up the River Rhone. Party like a pope over the road at Le Marmiton – a secret passage still leads to this gourmet restaurant, as it did centuries before.

15) Take the chopper home

You know the feeling. It’s been a tough week, you’ve had a couple of drinks, and all you want to do is take a taxi home to bed.

But what is that taxi could ferry you home in six minutes at 240km/h? Enter Heli Air Monaco. The Principality’s own private airline operates a scheduled chopper service from Nice to Monaco every 20 minutes for €100 each way. Views top your regular cab ride too; raise a cheeky finger to those paupers commuting home past Villefranche and Eze.

Panoramic flights to the Italian border cost from €60 per person. High-fliers can charter a chopper to Corsica or St Tropez too.


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