The Road Ahead : April May 2012
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 30 THE ROAD AHEAD APR/MAY 2012 TRAVEL DEPARTURE INTERNATIONAL spotting is during the Cannes Film Festival. Linger as long as you can afford at a restaurant along the Croisette (expensive), drool over the merchandise in designer boutiques and marvel at the amazing super-yachts. While some things have changed -- the much- mourned Princess Grace is no longer in her pink palace, nor is Brigitte Bardot cavorting on the beach at St Tropez -- but Johnny Depp, Elton John and Leonardo di Caprio have all been spotted here. And the Russians are back. Not aristocrats, but oligarchs whose opulent villas make the era of which F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway wrote about, pale in comparison. The best way to view how the other half live, is to drive the coast's three corniches (roads carved into the mountainside) which link Nice with Monaco. The distance varies between 35-50 km, according to which corniche you choose. (Make mine a Rolls Royce Corniche!). The basse -- lowest and slowest -- is fabulous with the top down as you cruise past elegant 19th Century villas with gorgeous gardens, while the moyenne (middle corniche) has eye-popping glimpses of luxury resorts, villas, and more yachts. Most intriguing is the medieval hill town of Eze which perches on a pinnacle overlooking the coast and beyond. It was originally built to keep Saracen pirates at bay. Park your car and clamber its cobbled streets to browse the galleries, boutiques and bistros till you reach the top. Highest of the three roads, is the grande corniche, which turns, twists and climbs to 550 m past umbrella pines, oaks, silvery-grey olive trees on one side, and cacti and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean on the other. (Caution, it is sometimes shrouded in mist). On that sombre note, it was on this road that Princess Grace's car careered off the edge, killing her and injuring Princess Stephanie. Ironically, it was also on this road that Hitchcock shot a romantic scene in the film To Catch a Thief, featuring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. The hinterland is equally lovely. Schedule a visit to Grasse, France's perfume capital, and don't miss St Paul de Vence. If you can manage it, dine at the famous Colombe d'Or. Feast on fabulous provencale food, and feast your eyes on the priceless collection of art. Many famous artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Chagall and others came here in the 1920s. They couldn't pay their bed and board, and contributed paintings instead. Hence the restaurant has a priceless collection of masters to delight their diners. MAIN IMAGE: NICE HARBOURFRONT. FOIE GRAS. TYPICAL RIVIERA VISTA (M.OEHLBECK). TRAVEL OFFER: EUROPEAN COACH TOURING Experience the French Riviera and other European highlights on a guided coach tour and let someone else do the hard work for you. Trafalgar is currently offering companion airfares from $999 when your flights are booked through them in conjunction with their guided holidays. For more details, refer to page 35, call RACQ Travel's award-winning consultants on 1300 888 449 or email travel@ racq.com.au.
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June July 2012