Living France - - DESTINATION -

If you want to know what all the fuss is about when it comes to the French Riviera, watch Al­fred Hitch­cock’s ro­man­tic thriller, To Catch a Thief and you’ll un­der­stand the hype. As Cary Grant and Grace Kelly drive along its glis­ten­ing Mediter­ranean shore, the se­duc­tive charm oozes from the screen, and you’re left in no doubt why this is the most sought-after stretch of coast­line in the world.

The coastal city of Nice has had a star­ring role in many movies but fame has not gone to the cap­i­tal of the Côte d’Azur’s head, and it re­mains a very live­able city. One of the most charm­ing parts is the Old Town, a maze of crooked pas­tel-coloured houses and build­ings that shows off the city’s Ital­ianate ar­chi­tec­tural legacy. A res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood as well as a pop­u­lar tourist area, the area’s wind­ing al­ley­ways house boulan­geries and tabacs as well as restau­rants, bou­tiques and bars. A cen­tral point is the mar­ket square of Cours Sa­leya where a flea mar­ket is held ev­ery Mon­day with around 200 ven­dors sell­ing jew­ellery, vin­tage clothes, paint­ings and ce­ram­ics. A morn­ing flower mar­ket takes place ev­ery day (ex­cept Mon­day) and pro­vides a riot of colour and fra­grance, while on Place St-François, a lively fish mar­ket that takes place daily is the main at­trac­tion.

And while vis­it­ing celebri­ties are chauf­feured around town, Nice’s pub­lic trans­port is ef­fi­cient and very rea­son­ably priced. It’s easy to forgo four wheels and em­brace get­ting around on two thanks to the city’s Vélo Bleu bikes. A to­tal of 2,000 of them are parked at 175 points through­out Nice, and you’ll see lo­cals cy­cling (and rollerblad­ing) around town and along the Prom­e­nade des Anglais. If you want to give your legs a rest, hop on the sleek tram sys­tem; a sin­gle jour­ney around the city is priced at €1.50, while a Ticket Azur will take you to places around Alpes-Mar­itimes in­clud­ing An­tibes, Juan-les-Pins and Cannes. As home to the fa­mous film fes­ti­val, Cannes ex­udes wealth and glam­our. How­ever, sun­bathing on the golden-yel­low beaches and ad­mir­ing the su­per yachts at the har­bour is open to all. Walk up to the old quar­ter of Le Su­quet to find wind­ing cob­bled lanes lined with lo­cal restau­rants and a glit­ter­ing view of the city be­low.

Even if you don’t have the cash to splash that some of the area’s res­i­dents do, the good news is that the best things along the French Riviera are free. When it comes to soak­ing up the 300-plus days of sun­shine a year, swim­ming in clear blue wa­ters and hik­ing up the lush hill­sides, it’s clear that this life­style is price­less.

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