French Riviera: How to live the high life without spending a small fortune
Irish Social Media Influencer Rob Kenny weekends in the French Riviera.
A quick hour and a half flight from Dublin & you land in Nice airport. Welcome to the Cote D’Azur, a billionaire’s paradise.
Set the mood
This particular weekend Ireland’s own wealthy and fabulous were noticeably well represented, as over 200 wedding guests flew in from Dublin to celebrate the nuptials of 5th Avenue, New York-based Irish entrepreneurs Angela Frawley & Robert Mahon.
The Mahon family are best known for owning the ‘pig N’ whistle’ hospitality group, boasting no fewer than 13 bars and restaurants in Manhattan, as well as a number here at home.
35 minutes in a taxi and we were in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, the next town up the bay from Cannes, and where the French chateau wedding was to take place in three days’ time. We decided to get there early in order to experience this world-renowned region of France.
What a lot of people don’t realise, and I certainly didn’t before visiting, is that each of the town members of the French Riviera are remarkably close. Whether it’s from Nice to Cannes, or Antibes to Monaco, you’re looking at a quick 20 minute Uber journey between neighbours. Ultimately meaning you can enjoy more of these world-famous settings than you would think on a short-break trip.
One of our favourite guilty-pleasure moments was a visit to the five-star Eden Roc Hotel, nestled on a cliffside and overlooking the glistening blue sea surrounding the cap d’Antibes. The breath-taking French country decor style hotel offers two restaurant options; fine dining or the Grill at Eden Roc.
Unless you are willing to part with more than €300 per head, opt for the Grill. We got dressed up to the nines and had an unforgettable day sipping on €24 cocktails out of coconuts, eating beautiful food and people watching the world’s wealthiest families. The pinch of the final bill was worth it for a special memory we will always share.
I found Cannes itself to be overrated. Back-to-back designer stores and countless passing Aston Martins all oozes a [not so subtle] air of tackiness. Limit it to a day of exploring, enjoy a coffee in the stunning InterContinental Carlton Hotel and take a moment to relax on the famous palm tree lined beach, and you can enjoy Cannes for €20.
Without doubt, my favourite day of this Riviera trip (bar the wedding itself, of course) was a day trip to Île Sainte-Marguerite island, a 30 minute boat ride from the port of Cannes.
The only reason we knew to visit this island was because the bride & groom organised it themselves, for all early wedding guest arrivals. The beautiful island feels relatively unspoilt and you have to hike 30 minutes through a forest before arriving at your end destination; La Guérite restaurant and sun area.
We lay out in the sun on what felt like our own private island, enjoying wait service to our sunbeds and jumping in and out of the Golfe de la Napoule. An incredible view of Cannes staring right back at us across the water.
Come about 4pm, we made our reservation time in the restaurant, which looks almost like a more fashionable version of a scene from Mamma Mia. At 6pm, a live band started, and within an hour - I kid you not - they had everyone standing on their tables singing and dancing along to everything from Sia to Cher.
Word of advice - don’t forget you’re in the French Riviera. Prices are often concealed from menus and until your bill comes, you didn’t realise the house Rosé you've been confidently ordering bottle-after-bottle is €85 a pop.
Get me there
We stayed in an AirBnB in both Mandelieu-la-Napoule and Antibes. As there were four of us staying together, our money went further and we were delighted with both homes. We looked at hotels first and there was a big difference between hotel prices and AirBnB prices, for accommodation of the same appeal. The prices of hotels in this part of the world reflect the visitors who tend to book them, so for us AirBnB was a godsend.
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