IT’S A CANNY WAY TO THE RICH LIFE

CANNES IS COSTLY AND FILLED WITH THE TRAP­PINGS OF WEALTH, SO WHEN IT ALL GETS TOO MUCH, HEAD FOR THE HILLS

Central and North Burnett Times - - BUSINESS BUZZ | ADVERTISIN­G FEATURE - WORDS: ANN RICKARD www.an­nrickard.com

To think of Cannes is to think of glam­our. The Cannes Film Fes­ti­val says it all: the red car­pet, the movie stars, the gowns, the tuxe­dos. Glam­our upon glam­our. Then there is the ob­scene wealth. Mega yachts the size of small ocean lin­ers pack the har­bour and look over to Belle Epoque ho­tels and lux­ury apart­ments lin­ing the Promenade de la Croisette. We are in Cannes right now. So is El­ton John with David and Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. While they were on El­ton’s yacht an­chored out­side the har­bour, we were on the lit­tle tourist train with a bunch of other scruffy tourists chuff­ing through the town. Our paths were not go­ing to cross. None of us hoi pol­loi on the lit­tle train or strolling the streets of Cannes this day would ever know num­bers or names of celebri­ties and wealthy A-lis­ters in town. Un­less it is dur­ing the film fes­ti­val, celebri­ties keep a low pro­file, al­though it is en­ter­tain­ing to spec­u­late on who might be who by the num­ber of Lam­borgh­i­nis, Fer­raris and Porsches pulling into the pala­tial ho­tels. Cannes screams wealth and ex­cess. The yachts lin­ing the har­bour com­pete in size and style. Some­times the own­ers fly in and live on board for a few days, visit the ex­pen­sive restau­rants, shop, and then fly off to do what­ever wealthy peo­ple do. While they are not there they rent out their yachts to other wealthy peo­ple who don’t have quite as much cash to own their own yacht, poor things. The sea sparkles all day un­der the con­stant sun­shine, as though God is up there throw­ing bags of di­a­monds down on it all day. The beaches, only a few of them pub­lic and free, are crowded with bronzed bod­ies laz­ing on striped sun lounges. Al­though it is beach-to-ho­tel glam­our, Cannes is sur­pris­ingly small and easy to get around. Small doesn’t mean it is not big on lux­ury. Shop­ping along the Rue d’An­tibes re­veals ev­ery big brand name in the world. When you tire of prom­e­nad­ing and gawk­ing at the yachts and the beau­ti­ful peo­ple and the op­u­lent shops and prob­a­bly have not spot­ted a celebrity, it’s a good idea to head away from the har­bour to the old town, Le Su­quet. Here the nar­row streets are crammed with bistros and bars with prices more suited to the wal­lets of most of us. And the at­mos­phere is lively, es­pe­cially at night. It’s an en­er­getic and lovely al­ter­na­tive to the beach­front luxe. Go a lit­tle fur­ther up to the charm­ing vil­lage of Mou­g­ins, a hill­top town with Ro­man ori­gins. It is about a 15-minute drive from the town cen­tre and has views over ver­dant forests to Grasse. Mou­g­ins is most known for at­tract­ing artists. The place is awash with high-end gal­leries with for­mi­da­ble staff who will hap­pily re­lieve you of $50,000 for a quirky sculp­ture or con­tem­po­rary paint­ing. Most fa­mous of all artists who have stayed in this pic­turesque vil­lage is Pi­casso. He lived here for his last 12 years and to­day the small vil­lage milks his so­journ for all it’s worth. Pho­tos – most show­ing him bare-chested with a ci­garette dan­gling from his mouth in a clut­tered stu­dio – are at ev­ery cor­ner. Mou­g­ins has a strong culi­nary his­tory and rep­u­ta­tion, Alain Du­casse had a res­tau­rant there. We counted as many restau­rants and bistros as gal­leries. We sat on the ter­race at L’Amandier, where a set menu of gen­er­ous three cour­ses cost 33 eu­ros (about $45). Many of the bistros and gal­leries are hid­den in the nar­row lanes away from the square (where the old blokes play petanque) and it is a jour­ney of dis­cov­ery to wan­der and find one that ap­peals most. Cannes is an eye-opener on the French Riviera, a he­do­nis­tic town where the likes of us can visit, en­joy, won­der what it would be like to have it all, then go home to our or­di­nary but pleas­ant lives.

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