Holidaying on the French Riviera, Grand Hotel Style

I am suffering from Deadline-itis. Two deadlines glaring at me with fanged intentions. As always during these stressful moments, it seems that all the world apart from me is in holiday mode; either on holiday or about to depart.

I go out so rarely at present due to the pressure of work that when I receive an invitation from friends who have arrived here on the coast, it is a rare treat and reminds me that the Côte d’Azur is more than a Spaghetti Junction for tourists. It has some quite remarkable locations and buildings, each with its own story to tell.

One of the Carlton’s Belle Epoch cupolas

According to legend the hotel’s twin cupolas were modelled on the breasts of the dancer-actress-courtesan, Carolina Otero, christened ‘la Belle Otero’. Until recent renovations, the restaurant on the hotel’s top floor was named La Belle Otero in celebration of the Spanish beauty.

The friends I linked up with this week were staying at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. A seven-storey linen-white building boasting 343 rooms as well as ten capacious penthouse suites on the top floor with views to the Bay of Cannes beaches and the Mediterranean. ‘Luxe’ as the French say. Deluxe beyond my dreams. My pals were staying in the Grace Kelly suite. We drank champagne on their private terrace and enjoyed the sun descending over the water. One of them asked me whether I had known that the Carlton with its Belle Epoch domes had been built in 1911. I would have mistakenly dated it a little later and we began a conversation about the birth of tourism along this coast. Antibes, Golfe Juan and the Cap d’Antibes were the haunts of the Americans whereas the British and the Russians preferred Cannes. Nice was more cosmopolitan. Each of these three resorts has its grand hotel. The Negresco in Nice, the Carlton in Cannes and the mythic Hotel du Cap right on the water at Antibes. And each hotel has…

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