Nicole Trilivas

The French Riviera: where to pull off a September getaway

The French Riviera: where to pull off a September getaway
Image: Airelles St-Tropez, Chateau de la Messardiere
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The French Riviera is one of the world’s most legendary travel destinations. Just a mention of the Côte d’Azur can conjure up glamorous images of yachts bobbing in the Vieux Port of Saint-Tropez, sun-splashed beaches studded with striped parasols and endless bottles of pale pink Provençal rosé. Now that France is on the Amber List, start dreaming of your next trip to one of these high-end hideaways.

Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is located in the Carré d’Or (Golden Triangle) of the Principality of Monaco, which in itself is a gilded mini-metropolis of excess. Dating back to 1884, this independently own Belle Époque bolthole is all about opulence, from the lavish Givenchy spa and rooftop pool designed by Karl Lagerfeld to the gold-leaf and caviar-topped sushi at the Michelin-starred Yoshi. After a recent facelift, the palatial, 150-square-meter Suite Carré d’Or penthouse is worthy of Grace Kelly and may just be the sweetest suite in the whole Principality, with sumptuous, old world (but not old fashioned) interiors by Jacques Garcia and unmatched vistas over the legendary Monte-Carlo Casino and the jewel-like Mediterranean Sea. 

With every whim catered for, you may think there’s little reason to leave this cocooning property, but Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo makes it easy with curated Just For You experience packages that show you the best of the area (think: electric bike rides down the San Remo cycle path; an evening visit to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco; or even the chance to play princess for a day on a Grace Kelly tour to locations like the Monaco Cathedral, where the Hollywood star was married to Prince Rainier III in 1956, and the Irish Library, which was founded in honor of the princess’ Irish heritage).

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel

Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel sits like a white summer palace above the rocky coast of the Mediterranean on over 17 green acres. With light-filled, high-ceilings throughout and an impeccably manicured, cypress-lined drive, it will come as no surprise that this property dates back to 1908. However, it was in the 1930s that the hotel’s fame reached new heights, thanks to its now-legendary clifftop beach club, Club Dauphin

Last year, this Côte d’Azur institution reopened with a fresh look that includes new terrazzo stone straight from Italy in the photogenic, 33-metre saltwater infinity pool and new cabanas, which this year, have been chicly dressed by Dolce&Gabbana in pops of primary colour and plenty of Sicilian flair. At the elegant Le Cap, which also has a Michelin star (are you noticing a theme here?), local Chef Yoric Tièche, born and raised in nearby Aix-en-Provence, serves sophisticated seasonal signatures like red mullet fresh from the Mediterranean Sea and herbs pluck from the hotel’s garden, plus there are over 600 wines on offer, sourced from all around France.

Airelles St-Tropez, Chateau de la Messardiere

Overlooking Pampelonne Bay and sitting on over 25 acres of rolling Provençal countryside, Airelles St-Tropez, Chateau de la Messardiere is not your typical trendy Tropezian retreat. Instead, it’s a veritable rosé-pink fairytale castle that dates back to 1904, when it was first built as a wedding present for famed horseman, the eponymous Henry Brisson de la Messardière, and his new wife. Recently, Château de la Messardière had a fairy-godmother-like makeover and just emerged from a massive, multi-year renovation care of the prestigious Airelles brand and the acclaimed French architect and interior designer, Christophe Tollemer. This is the first summer that the hotel is welcoming guests after the rebrand and restyling, so you’ll be in for a treat with Matsuhisa, a limited-edition summer culinary partnership with famed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and exclusive new experiences like private helicopter day trips over Gorges du Verdon or Mas du Mangoustier and perfume-making workshops. There’s plenty to keep you occupied at the hotel too, with a brand-new outdoor lap pool; state-of-the-art spa by French brand Valmont; and a photogenic new beach club in nearby Pinet,Jardin Tropézina, which you can reach via complimentary transfers in a pastel mini moke or—if you’re very lucky—in the hotel’s very own super-swish Rolls Royce Cullinan.

Airelles Saint-Tropez, Pan Deï Palais

Château de la Messardière isn’t the only new property in Saint-Tropez: Pan Deï Palais is another opening fresh on the scene. A new addition to the Airelles brand, this boutique hideaway is in the heart of town and manages to be both trendy and timeless at the same time. Based in the buzzy Place des Lices just a five-minute walk from the yacht-filled harbour, this is the spot to be if you want a slice of famous Saint-Tropez glitz. With a butter-yellow façade, the property actually dates back to 1820, but chic, Indian-inflected interiors keep it fresh and updated with of-the-moment French charm—plus, there’s a new pool oasis surrounded by tropical greenery. Don’t miss a dinner of seabream tartar; handmade fagottini; and lemon baba at the hotel’s Dolceva restaurant by Tuscan chef Marco Garfagnini. Pan Deï Palais has ten rooms and two suites, but the whole property can be rented on an exclusive basis, if you’re really looking to push out the boat in this iconic French Riviera town.

Cheval Blanc St-Tropez

If you’re one of those people who live by the phrase ‘money shouts, wealth whispers’ then this is the hotel for you: It’s all about understated luxury at Cheval Blanc St-Tropez. Immaculately dressed in deep, sea blue and luxurious shades of white and cream that wouldn’t look out of place in a bridal atelier, this LVMH-owned hotel is supremely comfortable and ultra-sophisticated without being too stuffy or too grand. For example, the hotel has a custom fragrance designed by Guerlain nose Thierry Wasser, but you may not know it if you didn’t specifically ask about it. The impressive three-Michelin-starred La Vague d'Or by chef Arnaud Donckel is worth visiting for alone; however, there’s more than one reason to stay, including a beach (a rarity for a Saint-Tropez hotel); a little gem of a pool; and a Guerlain spa—fully equipped with hammam and snow shower.

JW Marriott Cannes

Taking a stroll down the palm-and pine-lined Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes is an absolute must when you’re on the riviera. Dating back to the nineteenth century, the Croisette stretches along the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea and is dotted with famous sites like the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, the site of the famous Cannes Film Festival. So, if you’re looking for a hotel at the center of it all in Cannes, consider booking one of the grand dames along this fabled promenade, like JW Marriott Cannes, which is actually the site of the very first Cannes Film Festival. Old Hollywood charm is plentiful here: handsome rooms come with oversized photographs of golden-age stars and there’s a very retro façade. Recently, the property went through a renovation making it shinier than ever—but one thing that will thankfully never change is the amazing location.