Côte d'Azur, France

This is where rustic glamour was invented: a balmy playground, equally endowed with show-off glitz and craggy, pine-clad coastline. Beautiful beaches stretch east from Hyères towards the Italian border; the celebrated hot spots – Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo – are synonymous with unashamed ostentation, and have Italianate architecture and rock-star villas to match. When the boats and Bulgari get too much, you can retreat to the region’s mediaeval villages. Èze, Mougins and Saint-Paul- de-Vence crown the cypress-dotted hills, all quaint cobbled alleys, casual cafés and ruined ramparts. The one thing you can’t escape is the Mediterranean, its blue brilliance a timeless lure, whether you’re Pablo Picasso or Paris Hilton.

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When to go

To make the most of the coast, go May to September, but check the social calendar to avoid the road-clogging traffic that accompanies events such as the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    British Airways, BMI Baby, EasyJet and Air France cover the regional airports of Nice (in the east) and Marseille (in the west) between them (www.ba.com; www.bmibaby.com; www.easyjet. com; www.airfrance.com). As of Summer 2011, CityJet (www.cityjet.com) will offer flights from London City airport to Toulon.
  • Trains

    From London, take the train via Lille to Marseille; from Paris, board the TGV. The coast-hugging track from Marseille to Menton – stopping at Toulon, Saint-Raphaël, Cannes, Antibes, Nice and Monaco – is spectacular, in some spots putting you closer to the Med than a beachfront sunlounger (www.tgv.com).
  • Automobiles

    Driving to the south coast can be a cross-country epic. Instead, put your car on the train in Paris, courtesy of Autotrain, board a separate passenger train, and take to the road in Avignon, Fréjus or Nice (ring Rail Europe on 0844 848 4050).
  • Taxis

    Towns such as Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo have taxi ranks, but you’ll have no luck hailing. For middle-of-nowhere fares, ask your hotel to book a cab.

Junior Suite 210 at Cap Estel, Côte d’Azur, France

Junior Suite 210 at Cap Estel, Côte d’Azur, France

Cap Estel could easily be mistaken for an elegant wedding cake, with its cream and white tiers, candy-stick balconies and curved contours. This hotel boasts the unabashed, in-your-face glamour of a big-screen siren; it’s a Riviera retreat fit for the likes of Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe – apt really, given Èze’s proximity to filmstar-fabulous Cannes and Monaco. Built as a summer residence in 1898, the Cap has a private beach, and those lucky enough to land the Junior Suite 210 will enjoy uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean from their beautiful balustraded balcony.

Find out more about Cap Estel
SUN-SOAKED SOPHISTICATION

SUN-SOAKED SOPHISTICATION

If you like your holiday to be an excuse to flaunt designer resortwear and your ritziest accessories, then we've got your A-list. Perfect your red-carpet poses and make a beeline for Cap d'Antibes Beach Hotel on the Côte d'Azur for a showstopping seaside stay. Decking clad, day-bed-dotted Maçakizi is the place to be seen on Turkey's Bodrum peninsula – pull up a chair at the Aegean-facing bar or settle in for some sea-fresh fare at its destination restaurant. In Vietnam, The Nam Hai is a shoreside style icon on Hoi An's China Beach with an OMG infinity pool, a serene spa and seductive, butler-serviced, oceanfront villas. 

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Wrap up in… The French Riviera

Wrap up in… The French Riviera

Jump into a vintage convertible – don’t forget your sunglasses and scarf – and motor on down the winding roads to the brilliant blue waters of the legendary Côte d’Azur. On the coast that defined seaside glamour, make your first stop the majestic Cap Estel, a Mediterranean mansion with glitz and elegance worthy of Grace Kelly. We won’t tell if you just want to soak up some sun poolside, where the infinity pool seems to melt into the sea. Hop back into your car, though, and you’ll find yourself with top table reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants like the Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or; on private, historian-guided tours of the area’s many Roman ruins; and with off-hours access to Nice’s Matisse, Chagall and Picasso museums, the first of which was the painter’s home. Or, ditch the car completely and make for the ocean for a day out yachting and diving. After all, the Riviera’s all about indulging your whims.

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