Back in March, flying from the grey chilly weather of Cork, Ireland I entered the warm spring sunshine of the French Riviera. Still early season there were many good bargain hotels available. Prices skyrocket at this time of year but it’s still well worth a visit and there’s even a certain world-famous film festival to enjoy!
Cannes and get it
Cannes is a rich city on the French Riviera. A haunt of the rich and famous it is perhaps best known as the venue for the Cannes Film Festival held each May.
The 2019 Cannes Film Festival runs from 14 May till 25 May. Big names attending this year include French legend Alain Delon as well as British director Ken Loach. Mexican film directorAlejandro González Iñárritu will serve as jury president.
Last year’s 71st annual Cannes Film Festival boasted Oscar winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett as President of the Jury. The Japanese film ‘Shoplifters’, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, won the Palme d’Or, one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry.
Luxury hotels such as the famous Martinez and designer shops abound. The large harbour is full of expensive looking yachts. Situated about 20 miles west of Nice it has an equable all year-round Mediterranean climate.
In the 20th century luxury hotels like the Carlton, Martinez and Majestic were built. Then in 1946 the world-famous film festival commenced.
If you’re thinking of going the May temperature in Cannes is a spring like 21°C, almost exactly the same as Sydney and a touch warmer than Melbourne at this time of year.
Count your millions in Monte Carlo
About forty miles down the coast from Cannes lies Monte Carlo, literal meaning Mount Charles, which is world famous for gambling, tax minimalising, and a Formula 1 race.
The tiny princedom of Monaco, to which Monte Carlo belongs, is the second smallest state in the world after the Vatican. The minuscule principality is surrounded on three sides by France and on one side by the Mediterranean. It is built on solid rock and is full of road tunnels.
Like Cannes it is home to the affluent. Monte Carlo is estimated to be full of the super-rich: 30% of the officially resident population are millionaires including many famous tennis stars like Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka and a few F1 drivers as well.
Aussies like a bet of course and the world famous casinos’ slot machines pay out up to 2 million Euros.
You can chance your luck on the roulette wheels but must show your passport as identification. The minimum stake is a surprisingly low 17 Euros but of course that’s their come-on price to get you hooked. There is no limit to what you could lose on those tables.
As well as gambling, Monaco is famous for its annual grand prix at which as many as 100,000 people are spectators.
If you fancy a meal at the luxury restaurants you could try the caviar at 150 Euros a spoonful.
At the super deluxe 5-star Hotel Negresco in Nice I saw a bottle of wine on offer at a staggering 4,800 Euros. A cold bottle of Fosters might go down better to drown your sorrows if you miss the Palme d’or!
Yes, Cannes and the Riviera are a rich part of the world. Unless you `Break the bank at Monte Carlo` as in the old music hall song made famous by Charles Coborn, it might be better to move on to less expensive surroundings!
Nice place to be
If you want to come to Nice in the winter, you can enjoy the world-famous carnival in February when hotel rooms are not too expensive. January and February daytime temperatures average about 13°C (55°F) and snow and frost are almost unknown. Nice does get rather warm in the Mediterranean summer, but the sea provides cooling relief for bathers.
For young travellers who don’t want to gamble millions at the casinos or stay in the preposterously priced hotels at the film festival there are many good hostels of around 20-25 AUD$ a night. It’s then an easy short trip on the train to visit Monaco or Cannes for the day.
It’s a fascinating apart of the world even if you don’t break the bank.