Tag Archives: French Riviera

An Evening in St Tropez…

A few years ago I had dinner with two female friends in St Tropez.

The restaurant was very stylish, one of those where you sit outside along a charming, pedestrian-only street, sip wine, watch the ultra-chic stroll by, and pretend you belong there.

It was a wonderful evening except for the fact that my friends kept rambling on about how incredibly handsome our waiter was.  I’m not usually the jealous type, but an entire meal spent talking about an attractive waiter is a bit much don’t you think?

Something else bothered me.

He was apparently so good-looking that they were rendered completely oblivious to his abysmal English.  I’m not just lashing out here.  My Italian was better than his English and I don’t speak Italian.  For the girls, though, the carnage discharged from his mouth that night sounded as smooth and silky as just-served foie gras.

“Oh my god, did you see his eyes?”

“An endless sea of blue!”

“I know!  I know!  And it’s so obvious he works out!”

“And his English is sooooo good!”

“I know!  I know!”

During the first course, thankfully, Mr. Marvelous remained pleasantly absent, resting comfortably, I assumed, in a secret mirrored room reserved exclusively for irritating handsome people.

Then, at just the right moment, he swept in on a cloud of pulchritude to collect our plates. Continue reading

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Casa Mare in Old Antibes

My wife and I recently visited our beautiful Norwegian friend, Maren, who happens to live in the best house on the best street in Antibes.  She has spent the past several years tirelessly renovating a spectacular five bedroom home, Casa Mare, in the old town’s Safranier-district.

I was eager to see the results of her hard work so I rang her up and within seconds my irresistible charm succeeded in wrangling a private tour.

Pas mal, n’est pas?

Casa Mare is situated on what must be one of the most charming streets in the south of France, the Rue du Bas Castelet. With brimming flower boxes and eager vines stretching across a narrow walkway, the pedestrian-only avenue could easily double as a movie set.

The house fits perfectly into this idyllic setting.

Each of the bedrooms is decorated, with hand-made furniture no less, in soothing neutral tones evoking a simple, effortless style.  Heavy wooden ceiling beams and original rustic floor tiles add a comfortable authenticity to contemporary Casa Mare.  All rooms are equipped with Continue reading

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Le Stuff on The BBC!

Before Alfred Hitchcock could cast Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in his blockbuster film “To Catch A Thief”, American author David Dodge had to write the novel.  His book was inspired by an actual burglary that took place next door to the Villa Noel Fleuri, a house Dodge had rented for his family in the south of France in the early 1950’s.

In September of 2010, bravely fighting my way through the warm sun and delicious food of the Cote D’Azur, I joined writer (and expert detective) Jean Buchanan in her search for the mysterious villa.  Randal Brandt, a Dodge expert with no equal, provided invaluable assistance from his home-base at the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley.

Listen to the program here.

Learn more here.

Like what you see?  Subscribe to Le Stuff here.

The following text is from the BBC Radio 4 website.

The American thriller and travel-writer, David Dodge (1910-1974), is best known for his 1952 novel To Catch A Thief, which Hitchcock turned into an iconic film three years later. Unusually for Hitchcock, half the film was shot on location, and the Riviera is as much a star as Grace Kelly (in her final film – she met Prince Rainier during a publicity shoot and became Princess of Monaco) and Cary Grant (whom Hitchcock tempted out of retirement with this script).

Dodge’s book was inspired by a real incident when he briefly became the number 1 suspect for a daring cat-burglary at Continue reading

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The French Riviera: Driving Heaven?

Click here for information on the French Riviera Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

From the celebrated corniche roads to the beautiful back country, the south of France offers intrepid drivers endless opportunities for motorized fun.

The crew at BBC’s Top Gear already knows this.
They began their search for the “World’s Best Driving Road” near Monaco on the renowned col de Turini.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s glamorous 1953 film, To Catch A Thief, driving plays a pivotal role during chase scenes through the beautiful villages of the back country and on the dramatic moyenne corniche (with Grace Kelly behind the wheel no less).

“Ronin”, starring Robert DeNiro and “GoldenEye”, starring Pierce Brosnan also feature Continue reading

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To Catch A Thief: Locations, locations, locations….

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Check out Le Stuff’s new “To Catch A Thief” page.

I was contacted recently by a film producer who’s developing a series of travel shows for Germany’s N-TV.  He asked for my help in identifying specific locations used in To Catch A Thief.

No problem, right?

Well, I thought it would be a breeze but I have to admit there were a couple of challenges.


The film crew setting up a shot outside La Colombe D’Or in St Paul de Vence

1) The Balcony Scene:
A woman screams as she discovers her jewelry has been stolen.
In a panic she runs onto her hotel room balcony where we, the viewers, are treated to an expansive shot of Nice’s world famous seafront boulevard, the Promenade des Anglais.

And so begins Alfred Hitchcock’s light hearted thriller “To Catch A Thief”.
(From Le Stuff’s “To Catch A Thief: Take 1)


The producer wanted to shoot on the “actual” balcony used in the scene.

OK.

I knew it was several blocks east Continue reading

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4 Fun Things to do in Nice

Nice is an underrated city.

The fifth largest metropolis in France has a reputation for being noisy, crowded, and a place where retirees shuffle off to live out their final days in sun-kissed obscurity.  Dig a little deeper though, and this bustling town reveals a wonderful depth of character with just the right sprinkling of Franco/Italian seasoning.

Here are 4 fun things to do in Nice, France.

1)The Old Town
Don’t miss it.  Yes, the streets are narrow and charming, and the flower market held on the pedestrian-only cours saleya is a must, but the main reason I look forward to visiting this section of Nice is food.  Around every corner, it seems, there’s another opportunity to indulge in excruciatingly delicious Nicoise cuisine.  Think authentic Italian pizza, socca, Ratatouille, pastries, homemade ice cream, and the list goes on and on and on….

2) Colline du Chateau
There’s actually no chateau (it was destroyed in 1706) on this wooded hill overlooking the city , but Continue reading

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The French Riviera: Best Drives

Click here for information on Le Stuff’s French Riviera Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

Into The Back Country

I recently posted tips for driving the celebrated, and often congested, corniche roads.  I would now like to offer a few suggestions for those wishing to break free from the constraints of traffic by heading north into the vast arriere pays (back country).

Begin your journey in the tiny hamlet of Pont du Loup and head west on D2210 in the direction of Le Bar sur Loup.  Bar is a beautiful and uncrowded working class village that sits on the side of a hill overlooking the Loup Valley.
Consider having lunch at the recently renovated
L’Hostellerie du Chateau (the food is sublime) located in the town’s main square.  You may also want to stop by the tourist office (just steps away from the Chateau) and make arrangements for a guided village walking tour.


Le Bar sur Loup

Trip Notes:
Auberge des Gorges du Loup

Pleasant, affordable accommodations and a good restaurant in the tiny town of Pont du Loup.
http://www.auberge-gorgesduloup.com

L’Hostellerie du Chateau
Beautifully renovated 14th century chateau in the the main square of Le Bar sur Loup.  Exquisite restaurant and 6 tastefully decorated rooms.
http://www.lhostellerieduchateau.com

Continue east from Bar on D2210 in the direction of Pre du Lac.  As you enter Pre du Lac take a sharp right onto D3 and begin twisting your way up to one of the most beautiful villages in France Continue reading

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