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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Top 25 Riviera celebrity hotspots - Part 1

Posted on 4th Nov 2014 in Nice News


Make out like Prince Bertie in Monaco

Week 1 - Royalty

1) Queen Victoria

Queen Vic kicked off Cote d’Azur tourism as we know it today. In 1882, the weighty royal became the first celebrity to sojourn in the South of France.

But Her Royal Highness didn’t do budget travel. Oh no. Her royal train from Calais to Nice’s Gare-de-Provence (located near the daily Libération Market) shuttled Scottish soldiers wearing kilts and Indian servants wearing turbans.

Victoria met her cousin Prince Leopold of Belgium in Villefranche. His villa recently became the most expensive property in the world. She bemoaned her playboy son Prince Bertie’s visits to the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Those grand salons privés gaming rooms were recently opened to the general public.

2) Princess Diana

The People’s Princess adored the French Riviera. She spent her final summer off St Tropez aboard the 63m superyacht Jonikal. The Vieux Port – once painted by Matisse and Signac – hasn’t changed for a century. Catch an open-air ferry from Nice, Cannes or Ste-Maxime and see for yourself.

The Princess of Wales stepped out at the Cannes Film Festival a decade before. As ever, she graced the May sunshine with a medley of Bruce Oldfield and Christian Dior. Like Mick Jagger and Pablo Picasso before her, she stayed at La Preverger. The price of this 15-bedroom chateau? Well, you could rent approximately 1,000 Nice Pebbles apartments for the same price.

3) Princess Grace Kelly

She was the movie star that saved Monaco. The Rear Window actress sailed into Port Hercule harbour in April 1956 – for a marriage that would add stardust and celebrity to the stuffy world of Monte-Carlo. The May Grand Prix still weaves around the yachts where Kelly disembarked from the USS Constitution liner.

Kelly was first courted by Monaco’s Prince Rainier III in the Hotel de Paris’ Bar Américain. Pop in for a €15 vin blanc to discover black and white prints of the actress in Riviera road movie To Catch A Thief. A year later the couple celebrated their wedding in Monaco’s Salle Garnier, which hosts opera and classical concerts year-round. Tickets cost from €10 up.

4) Tsar Nicholas II

Russians have long loved the French Riviera. A century ago, a direct train from Moscow to Nice carried every aristocrat, prince and pretender to the Southern French sunshine. The Moscow-Nice train route was reinstated in 2012. It’s 47 hours direct if you fancy it.

Pre-Soviet celebs didn’t come more famous than Tsar Nicky. On his most celebrated trip in 1912, he arrived in Nice-Port, underneath the fabulous new Restaurant Passe-Plat. The Russian royals then promenaded to the belle époque pier that once protruded from the Casino Ruhl.

The Tsar also purchased the world’s largest baccarat crystal chandelier for the Kremlin back home. Sadly, Nicky lost his head shortly after in the Russian Revolution – and the chandelier now hangs inside the Negresco Hotel.

5) King Edward VIII

King Edward VIII gave up his entire kingdom for "the woman I love". In this case it was twice-divorced (twice!) American (sacré-bleu!) Wallis Simpson. Fortunately, Eddie still had enough money to purchase Chateau de la Croë, the mansion on the very tip of the Cap d'Antibes. This sea-facing behemoth is now owned by billionaire Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich.

In 2014, Woody Allen shot Magic in the Moonlight, which is set in the same glamorous era, next door at the Villa Eilenroc. These gardens can be visited on Wednesday afternoons. Guests with royal tastes can sip a gin fizz in the Rotonde Bar of the adjoining Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc (€26). Or dine sand-in-the-toes at Michelin beach outfit Les Pecheurs (set menus from €85).


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