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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Riviera Bucket List - Part 4

Posted on 8th Oct 2014 in Nice News


Want to break the bank and Monte Carlo? Here's how..

16) Break the bank at Monte-Carlo

You used to need deep pockets to break the bank at Monaco. Confidence trickster Charles Wells did that in 1891 by gambling the proceeds of his bogus 'musical jump rope' invention on the roulette wheel. By gambling double or quits he won one million francs.

Until 2012 entering the hallowed salons of the Casino de Monte-Carlo required an entrance fee. Gamers also needed a pair of fancy pants, although Crocs are still considered parvenu in this millionaires playground. Now all-comers are welcome to cash in a pile of chips to throw at craps, Texas hold ‘em or blackjack.

Lost your train fare home? Fortunately the ‘suicide terrace’ to the rear of the Casino was filled in during the 1970s. It’s now the Fairmont Hotel.

17) Have a cocktail on the Cap d’Antibes

The Hotel du Cap Eden Roc is where JFK holidayed, and where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton conducted a mad affair. To call it A-list is a serious understatement. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is the hotel’s nearest neighbour. And until recently, the reception desk only accepted cash.

If you’re fearless, impeccably dressed and don’t arrive during Cannes Film Festival, you may just make it past security. Once inside head for the famous Bar Bellini, an Empire-themed salon. Head barman Christophe Lencioni mixes a mean cocktail including the signature crushed-peach bellini for €34. Want a Coke? That’s €10 to you, sir.

Super-serious money eschews the hotel in favour of the private Villa Eleana and Villa Les Cèdres residences in the grounds. Expensive? You betcha. You won’t see much change from €15,000 per night.

18) Eat frutti di mare in Italy

Which would you choose? A steaming platter of spaghetti, mussels, octopus and clams al-fresco? Or a supermarket sandwich in front of your computer al-desko?

Fortunately, Italy’s finest place for frutti di mare, or ‘fruits of the sea’, is Liguria. Reachable by car or train, the rococo seaside resorts of San Remo and Alassio buzz all year long. Osteria Marinaio in San Remo is a rough-and-ready seafood specialist. La Vigna above Alassio if infinitely refined. Bank on €10 for a spaghetti frutti di mare in each joint.

19) See Van Gogh’s bedroom in St-Rémy

Vincent van Gogh committed himself to a country asylum in 1889. A good job for him, as he’d lost part of his left ear days earlier after a drunken brawl with artist Paul Gaugain in the nearby town of Arles.

It’s also good news for us, as the asylum was located within fields of lavender, olive and cypress. Over the coming months, van Gogh painted a dozen prize canvases including Starry Night and Irises. Some 21 reproduction paintings have been placed around the Saint Paul de Mausole asylum next to the scenes that inspired them. They now form a two-mile walking route into the peaceful, Provençal town of St-Rémy.

Van Gogh’s bedroom/cell, which he painted on many occasions, can be viewed inside the old monastery walls.

20) Eat a Michelin-starred meal in Nice

Nice has more Michelin stars than Marseille, France’ second city. Thanks to a local chef training school and a relaxed attitude to fine dining, the Riviera’s capital has become a centre of culinary excellence. It’s the one place in France where Birkenstocks are allowed at the dinner table.

And as the city’s top restaurants must cater for 350,000 hungry locals, lunchtime prices are keen. One-star set menus for under €20 can be munched at Keisuke Matsushima.

Want to upgrade? The Hotel Negresco's two-star Menu Chantecler is worth the €105 splurge: sample crab and mango cannelloni, and veal sweetbreads with chorizo.


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