TO CATCH A THIEF
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.