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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Top 25 Riviera celebrity hotspots - Part 4

Posted on 31st Jan 2015 in History


Chirac loves Auron, but Vlad prefers Monte Carlo

Week 3 - Presidents & Politicians

16) Nicholas Sarkozy

The French Presidential retreat of Fort Bégançon near St Tropez wasn’t enough for Nicholas Sarkozy. So he started an amorous affair with singer Carla Bruni – who owns a similar sized mansion on Cap Négre close by.

The pint-sized ex-Prez jogs and cycles around the village of Cavalière each summer. In 2014 Sarkozy was scolded for not wearing a motorcycle helmet…as opposed to current President Hollande who wore one to his illicit love affairs. Classy.

Sarko cycled along the Promenade during his frequent visits to Nice, a key political stronghold. Nice Pebbles guests may pedal in his tracks on a free Vélo Bleu bike.

17) Sir Winston Churchill

Like most bon viveurs, Sir Winston used the South of France as personal playground from the time he was in his 20s. Well-healed pals would take the Train Bleu night train from Calais – then wake up in Cannes ready to party. Churchill spent most Riviera retreats at La Capponcina, a villa on Cap d’Ail. He also ‘hung’ at the Duke of Westminster’s nearby mansion, La Pausa, which recently came on the market for €40m.

Churchill's favourite casino was at Beaulieu. It reopened in 2014 after extensive renovations. Gamblers can now hit its inexpensive outdoor brasserie and sea view poker tables.

18) Hu Jintao

France receives more Chinese visitors than any other nation. Their favourite place after Paris? The Cote d’Azur.

If former President Hu Jintao is anything to go by, our Chinese friends are loaded. When Mr Hu stayed at the Negresco Hotel in Nice…he booked out the entire building. The Chinese premier also visited the fabulous Musée Masséna history museum on the promenade. Ex-French President Sarkozy treated Hu to dinner in the Old Town’s Petit Maison restaurant later that evening. Steaks cost up to €100. I wonder who paid?

19) Jacques Chirac

By inaugurating the TGV Meditérranée, which connects Paris with Cannes, Antibes and Nice, Chirac is a hero in the South of France. When booked a month or two in advance, these tickets cost around €29.

But "Le Bulldozer" is more famed for his visits to the Riviera ski resort of Auron. Chirac would ski en famille at what are (outside the French school holidays) Europe’s quietest slopes. Join the fun on the €4 daily ski bus from Nice-Ville station.

20) Vladimir Putin

The Russian president is a big cheese in Monaco. The Arctic bear is best mates with Prince Albert, who made his name as a winter Olympian.

Putting Crimea, Ukraine, human rights, gay equality to one side, Monaco has declared 2015 the Year of Russia. The Red Army Choir and the Russian Navy will visit the Principality later in the year.

Some press reports allege that Putin is the ultra-wealthy owner of a South of France villa near Cannes. "Detritus excavated from someone’s nostril,” says the former KGB boss. Bah! But it’s still a great place to strip off Vlad.


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