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Cynthia Sauvage

Boca Raton, Florida Travel Agent

Exploring France and Spain

From the French Riviera to Biarritz, you can find glamorous, fashion-forward, trendy places. Plus, there are amazing cultural treasures wherever you go, as well as wineries and, of course, restaurants from low- key to high-end, all with awesome food. 

Along the French Riviera, Cannes offers pretty beaches and a seaside boulevard where everything happens. My favorite place to stay there is Hotel Barrière Le Majestic. Located across from the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, it hosts many of the stars who come every year for the Cannes Film Festival and offers lovely views of the Mediterranean and the town from its rooftop pool and many of its rooms. The hotel also has kids programs for 4- to 12-year-olds and a red carpet where they can have their photos taken.

Nearby is the wonderful town of St. Paul de Vence. One of the oldest medieval towns along the French Riviera, it perches atop a cliff and it feels like you can see the whole of the south of France. Not surprisingly, it attracts many artists, whose works are displayed in the many shops the line the narrow winding streets; paintings and sculptures by some of the area’s famous artists are displayed at the Fondation Maeght.

Another rightly renowned Mediterranean favorite is Saint Tropez. It has a small quaint town center and the surroundings are beautiful, but the biggest draw is the swank ambiance of the bars and restaurants and the glorious yachts docked in its huge marina. It is fun to sightsee the famous people and then head up into the vineyards to sample some great rose wines and stop by quaint medieval villages like the old town of Ramatuelle, where you might spot a celebrity or two browsing in the boutique.

Heading over towards the Atlantic, Biarritz is another of my favorite places. Its Hôtel du Palais is practically a destination in its own right. It was built as a summer residence for Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napolean III, and for many years, European royalty was entertained here. It is fun to notice that the building is shaped in an “E” in honor of Eugenie. Now a hotel, its grandeur restored, it is the place to stay. Gambetta Street, with its stylish shops and restaurants, is a two-minute walk from the front door, and the hotel overlooks the Grande Plage (the beach) so you can watch the surfers while dining on gourmet cuisine in its elegant restaurant.

From Biarritz, you can easily cross the border to Spain to visit San Sebastian, known for its tapas bars and beaches. It makes a great base for hiking, shopping, and surfing. And Bilbao, with its Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, and charming old town, is a scenic drive away. You can rent a car, or hire a car and driver, and explore the dramatic Basque coastline, stopping at small fishing villages and medieval towns where you will hear and see the Basque language and get a sense of the unique Basque culture.

I loved exploring the south of France and the Basque Country of Spain and I am sure you will too. Please call if you would like to know more.

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