The South of France is wonderful place to visit any time of year whether be for a golf break, a romantic holiday,or a gastronomic experience, whatever the reason in any season! We went in October and the weather was just fabulous.
The best way to explore Cannes is on foot so make sure you bring your walking shoes. After checking in to our hotel we couldn’t wait to go walking on la Croisette so without wasting time we headed for the magnificent promenade. Our first port of call was the famous Marina, were large and luxurious yachts lined the many jetties.
We strolled along comparing the designer yachts wondering who owned them and hoping to catch a glimpse of some film star, perhaps have a Nespresso with George Clooney.
All along La Croisette are many fantastic restaurants, the aroma of fresh fish cooking wafted through the air made us both feel hungry, after carefully examining the menu outside the Croisette Beach Hotel’s beach restaurant we just had to experience for ourselves. This is what its all about, chilling out by the mediterranean, enjoying a fabulous seafood with a few glasses of vin rouge.
A couple of hours later we continued at a much slower pace along the beach as far as the famous Palais des Festivals, people watching and just enjoying the being in this amazing place. Across the road in the square to our delight we came upon an antique market. There was a great atmosphere in the market place, locals mingling with tourists examining the merchandise.
There was everything here from beautiful paintings, jewellery, china, pottery, furniture to war memorabilia. You could easily spend a few hours browsing and we did. I wished I had my car I could have filled it with gorgeous French antique furniture. Being a shopaholic I did purchase some lovely inexpensive pieces of costume jewellery.
Apart from having to rest a few times on the way up the steep hill, we just had to stop and photograph every scene at every corner as the views were stunning. Lots to see and to explore in this lovely Old Town, from the remains of the fortified tower and the 12th-century Chapel of St Anne to the small boutiques, quaint bars and cozy restaurants you’ll find along the winding cobbled streets.
One of the most memorable parts of my trip to Cannes was a visit to the Ile de Sainte-Marguerite. Just a short boat trip across the bay is this small mystical island. The island is full of beautiful eucalyptus and pines trees but mostly its famous for allegedly holding captive the Man in the Iron Mask during the 17th Century.
A visit to this fascinating island here is well worth making time for.
The first few nights we stayed at The Park Hotel & Suites Prestiges, which was excellent, my friend and I had adjoining rooms overlooking the pool. Each room had a modern fully equipped kitchen, lovely rooms, friendly staff and just a five minute walk to the sea.
The Best Western, Cannes a nice three star hotel which is within walking distance of the the main shopping area. It is very close to the railway station, to get to the main shopping area you have to either use the tunnel or walk about fifty metres to cross over the road. Opposite the station we discovered a great little Boulongere, which served fresh coffee and irresistible patisseries.
When I think of France I think about amazing food and wine that is right up there with golf and everything I am passionate about. We dined in some very fine restaurants and had some of the best gastronomic experiences this part of France has to offer. Restaurant Relais in the Old Town was typically french, the food, wine and atmosphere was amazing.
Fouquet’s Brasserie within the five star Hotel Majestic Barriere is where most of the rich and famous stay during the Cannes Film Festival. We didn’t get to see any stars but did experience five star fine dining! The food, ambience was amazing, this was one of the many highlights of our trip to Cannes!
After a few wonderful days spent discovering Cannes it was time to experience some of The Riviera’s golf courses.
The first course we played was Golf d’ Opio, Valbonne. The course is just 12 Kms from Cannes and fifteen minutes from Nice airport. The picturesque course Opio is situated between the Mediterranean Coast and the inland mountain region. The fairways are built into 220 hectares and feature an ancient Roman aqueduct and a 17th century Chateau, which is now a four star hotel. The restaurant overlooks the golf course, here the chef offers Provencal cuisine, rich in flavour andcolour with a wine list to match!
Our second round of golf was to be at one of the Côte d’Azur’s most famous, The Grande Bastide golf course. Grande Bastide is situated at the heart of the region of perfumes,
at the foot of the hills of the Niçoise valley. The views of Grasse, Opio and Châteauneuf de Grasse from the course are truly magnificent.
Designed by Cabell Robinson, once a partner of Robert Trent Jones Senior, the course is ranked in the top 50 courses in France. The wide – opened fairways are routed around small lakes on a gently undulating landscape, the greens are protected by numerous bunkers and water obstacles.
Grand Bastide is close to Grasse, five minutes from Golf Opio.
The last course on the itinerary was Golf du Claux Amic, Grasse.
This magnificent course is situated in the hills above Grasse. 600 metres. above sea level, on land that was a former 17th century hunting estate. The landscape is rocky and fairways are tight so you need to be quite accurate with your shots otherwise there maybe trouble ahead!
There is a calm and peaceful atmosphere around this course! perhaps it has something to do with the wonderful fragrant oak forest that surrounds it!
Grasse is of course the perfume capital of the world, we visited for one night and stayed at the Best Western Hotel Elixir. A superb four star hotel, the location was perfect for touring and for playing the nearby golf courses.
Our trip had sadly come to an end. The week was everything we had hoped it would be, there are many fabulous courses it was a pity we didn’t have time to play them all, another time another reason to come back.
Photography: Ger Bradley