Cannes might have once been a small fishing village, but since the aristocracy decided to make it one of their favourite getaways almost two centuries ago, the diamond of the Côte d’Azur has never looked back.
And it wasn’t just well-heeled Brits who took a shine to the place. Cut to the 20th century and everyone from Grace Kelly to Elizabeth Taylor was a firm favourite of the sunny seaside resort, and regularly walked along the town’s streets and boulevards.
Famous for its film festival in May, Cannes is one of those wonderful places that demands very little from its visitors, and instead does its best to serve as a stunning backdrop to deliver a delightful and relaxing break.
Stroll along the famous La Croisette, taking in the sea and sand and ornate façades of grand dame hotels and be sure to indulge in the numerous chic boutiques. Stop to sip a cocktail and take in the view on The Carlton’s terrace and enjoy fine dining at its restaurant – or, better still, al fresco, at its Restaurant de la Plage. Some say the Carlton is all about its façade, and although it surely is splendid the interiors may not quite live up to expectation. If modern day luxury with full bells and whistles is what you are after you cannot beat one of the two penthouse suites at the Martinez that span the building’s entire top floor. Once settled in make your way to perhaps the finest dining experience in Cannes at the hotel’s Michelin-starred La Palme d’Or restaurant.
For those familiar with the town, heading away from La Croisette is a must. Once you re-familiarise yourself with the pretty, hilly old town of Le Suquet, venture north to Le Cannet. As well as being the home to the charming Musée Bonnard, dedicated to the work of Pierre Bonnard, the founding member of the avant-garde painting circle Les Nabis, the area with its cheaper rents also houses some of the best food from the next generation of chefs. Try Claude Sutter’s Bistrot Saint Sauveur or Bruno Oger’s Le Bistrot des Anges, the sister to the more formal La Villa Archange.
If hotel stays do not appeal instead rent ‘La Tour’, the sprawling villa perched on the California hills – the area where Picasso had his stunning home. Built around a centre stone tower with spectacular views to Cannes bay, the open-plan rooms and fresh white styling are sure to soothe. For larger groups the five bedrooms and bathrooms plus a lovely pool area mean there is still plenty of space for everyone.
The beauty of Cannes is its ease of access. As well as the ability to fly to the main airport in Nice, private jet flyers are also able to land just a 20-minute drive west of the main drag, at Cannes Mandelieu airport.
For a slice of quintessential French Riviera life Cannes certainly ticks all the boxes. With fast flights and super quick connections, this summer be sure to jet off for even a short weekend and follow in the footsteps of Hollywood royalty, soaking in the kind of old world glamour
Explore three emerging and vibrant art districts, hopping between each by private jet
With the long days of summer and temperatures holding firm now is a great time to explore the buzzing art scenes across northern Europe. From Estonia to its Scandinavian neighbours across the water, there are numerous spaces showing a range of work that are ripe for a visit, and sure to inspire.
Being close in distance doesn’t always equate to an easy journey, but with a multi-stop getaway by private jet you can pack in a lot in a short time, hopping between each city with flight times of under an hour.
ART IN OSLO
Starting in Norway, head to Oslo and the city’s hippest neighbourhood, Grünerløkka. Once a working class district in the East End of the city, the area has become a haven for artists, cool cafés and unique boutiques that spill into the surrounding neighbourhoods too. With a number of spaces to fill a full weekend a good place to start is RAM gallery, a mixed exhibition space for art, crafts and design that was founded in 1989 by the Society of Fine Art Photographers and The Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts.
Another great space is Schaeffers Gate 5, an art, music and performance venue located on the ground floor of an old tenement building from the 1890s and located just a short walk from Grünerløkka’s trendy coffee shops and restaurants. And these are not to be missed either. Stop for a coffee at Chillout Grünerløkka or Hendrix Ibsen on Vulcan between browsing the art, and be sure to cross the river to drop in to Standard Gallery who have just returned from Art Basel and who showcase their roster of artists at fairs all over the world.
A quick flight will transport you from Norway to its neighbour Sweden, and the very cool Södermalm, Stockholm’s south island and its creative hub. With a laid back vibe the area is a wonderful mix of coffee shops, bars and popular restaurants, as well as some excellent furniture shops and galleries. Apart from commercial spaces like Galleri Knall and their permanent exhibition of the colourful works by local artist Christina Knall, photography features highly. A must-see is the dramatic Fotografiska, the contemporary photography gallery that fills a cavernous former industrial building by the water, and after finding inspiration there head to smaller galleries like Galleri Kontrast which represents the work of around 50 documentary photographers.
Head further east again with just another short flight over the Baltic Sea, this time to Estonia, and find yourself in Tallinn, one of northern Europe’s latest must-visit destinations. Its Kalamaja district is the place to make your way to, located between the Old Town and the coast. Here new coffee shops, bars and galleries have transformed the former industrial area drawing artists and creative types over the last decade. The colourful wooden architecture is striking, and many of the Tallinn houses from the 1920s and 1930s have now been restored as homes for young families.
A great place to start is the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia which has a full and varied programme through to the end of 2018 planned. The non-profit museum has been running since 2006 and occupies a former squat in a once abandoned office block. Discover local emerging artists and explore past winners of the gallery’s own contemporary art prize, the Köler Prize. Close by, towards the city centre, also be sure to visit the Kultuuri Katel, the city’s creative hub, housed in a former power station and now a vibrant venue with concerts, theatre performances, workshops and art exhibitions.
With three wonderful and thriving districts explored, it’s time to head home. After an abundance of emerging artists and their cutting edge work to inspire you might be coming home with something special to hang on your wall and remind you of your very special, whirlwind, artistic adventure.
Swap ferries for yachts and explore Elba’s beautiful beaches
Marrying a stunning mountainous landscape, arresting views to the clear, aqua-coloured sea and 190 beaches, Elba is certainly one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful jewels. In fact its mineral resources have led to a history featuring a long string of marauding conquerors all determined to get their hands on its riches.
The largest island in the Tuscan archipelago may be best known as the place where Bonaparte was once exiled, though since the 1950s savvy travellers have been using it as an idyllic retreat, featuring Tuscany’s famous food and wine and an abundance of harbours to explore by yacht along its spectacular coastline.
For many getting there involves a journey by ferry from the Italian mainland, or a connecting flight from Pisa, Florence, Milan, or one of three Swiss cities to the island’s small airport near Marina di Campo. Private jet fliers can however have easier access, with a flight time from London, for example, of less than two hours.
And what a difference those two hours make. Legend says that this exquisite island was created from a pearl from Venus’s necklace, and it is certainly a fitting story. With sea level harbour towns, villages clinging to the mountaintops and beaches that range from the soft and sandy to the wild and rocky, there is a picturesque and tranquil corner to suit any traveller.
The best way to explore the stunning coastline is from the water, and there are a number of yacht charters with an excellent selection of both skippered vessels and bareboats. Although there are many that are docked on the mainland at Punta Ala there are also options on the island itself at Portoferraio in the north, just a 20-minute drive from Marina di Campo airport. An excellent option is the brand new, teak-decked Lagoon 450, a 12-berth, skippered catamaran. A week’s charter will allow you time to travel along to the west and south coasts stopping as you go. There is also the option to visit other islands in the archipelago like Gorgona, Giglio, Capraia, Giannutri and Montecristo, home of Dumas’ infamous count, plus neighbouring Corsica for some French flavours.
If you prefer to remain firmly on the ground Portoferraio offers some of the best hotel accommodation at the palatial Hotel Villa Ottone, one of the two 5-star hotels on Elba. Surrounded by centuries-old parkland and featuring a private beach, choose between a suite in the main villa with wonderful sea views and gorgeous sunsets to enjoy, or a more secluded cottage in the park grounds. There is a tennis court, wellness centre and nearby 9-hole golf course, plus the opportunity to start your island adventure by bike, kayak or on foot. Another stunning option a little west from Portoferraio is Hotel Hermitage, at the north end of Biodola bay. Stroll along the hotel’s fine sandy, private beach and indulge in its three restaurants and three bars with views over the Gulf of Biodola. The hotel also has a dedicated restaurant for children should they need some special attention.
With a population of around 12,000 Portoferraio is Elba’s main town, and named its capital by Napoleon. The town’s imperial past can clearly be seen in the military architecture designed to protect the harbour city including Fort Stella, Fort Falcone and the English Fort, which was recently restored.
Still the town is relatively busy in the summer, and on an island that boasts enough beautiful beaches to allow you to truly get away from the crowds, finding your favourite is a must. Popular beaches like Sansone near Portoferraio and Cavoli near Marina di Campo can get crowded so head to Laconella, the more diminutive neighbour of the better-known Lacona beach, or Forno in the Biodola Gulf, a tiny beach with a village atmosphere and dotted with local fishing boats.
For an island that was once the place of an Emperor’s exile – albeit a pretty comfortable one – Elba is certainly a place for a luxurious escape today. Be there in just a few hours to sample its rich and rugged landscape, its numerous exquisite beaches, and don’t forget to have a healthy dose of the delicious local wine too before you head home.