There’s no doubt about it, the Cote d’Azur still remains one of the most beautiful and exciting stretches of coastline in the world. Its soft Mediterranean light, its Alpine backdrop, its clear waters, its corniches, creeks and beaches still dazzle. There are many lovely places but the Cote d’Azur has the edge and always will have because it attracts, and no doubt will continue to attract, the very rich and famous. With them comes that special veneer of pure glamour we find so alluring. Their excesses are so monumental in the form of giant superyachts and palatial villas, that we don’t feel envy but are happy to walk in their lofty footsteps allowing ourselves to believe, even temporarily, that we are part of their magical court, trailing in wanderlust touched by the imaginary gold dust they leave in their wake.
But if the super-wealthy come here, it is not par hasard, as the French would say. They come because la Cote d’Azur is French, and what does that mean? Well, that the French – because of their long tradition of art de vivre and savoir faire – are unequalled when it comes to chic, sophistication, and pure luxury. The rest of the world thinks it can do it as well as them, but it doesn’t really. It still looks to France as the ultimate reference point, whether it is for gastronomy, clothes, luxury goods, wine, or impeccable service. The super rich know this. That’s why they return year after year – they too are caught up in the glamorous reality of what France represents at its very best.
I have come to Cap d’Antibes, one of the most exclusive locations on the Cote, and am staying in a 4 bedroom penthouse apartment with private pool at Le Parc du Cap, a complex of new 1, 2 and 3 bedroom and penthouse apartments set in landscaped gardens between the old town of Antibes and Juan les Pins. The Cap d’Antibes peninsula, which juts out into the Mediterranean between Cannes and Nice, is steeped in romantic, cultural, artistic and literary history. This is after all the place where in the 20s, the American socialites Gerald and Sara Murphy persuaded the owner of Hotel du Cap (now the mythical Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc) to stay open for the summer months, thus making the Cote a summer destination rather than the winter one it had previously been in Victorian times. This is where Scott Fitzgerald wrote Tender Is The Night, with that memorable description in the opening chapter of the beach close to the fictional Gausse’s hotel directly inspired by Hotel du Cap. This is where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor purchased Château de la Croé set in 6 acres of parkland at the tip of the Cap, now owned by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovitch. At Château de la Croé, the Windsors entertained such illustrious figures as the Aga Khan and Churchill, who vacationed regularly at nearby Château de l’Horizon. In the 60s, Juan les Pins became home to the world famous jazz festival which this year hosted the rock star Lenny Kravitz, whom I watched striking perfect notes on his electric guitar whilst he sang to an adoring crowd under tall dark pines in the warm Mediterranean night.
Sitting on the wrap-around terrace of the penthouse in Le Parc du Cap with views stretching to old Antibes on one side and the open sea on the other, it is interesting to note that these most comfortable and peaceful surroundings built by the Caudwell Collection in a modern, contemporary style have a story behind them. The head of the Caudwell Collection, businessman John Caudwell, billionaire founder of Phones4U, had come ashore from his yacht to cycle. Here he was struck by the vast vacant structure of Le Provençal Hotel, an Art Deco “palace hotel” described as “the place where you had to be to meet the jet set,” which had fallen into disrepair after it was shut down by its owner in the 1970s for reasons that still remain a mystery today – French strikes were given as a cause but it seems these weren’t the reason. John Caudwell was able to acquire this grand hotel, which had hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Ella Fitzgerald and Joan Collins. Today, the company is in the process of renovating Le Provençal with the intention of bringing it back to its former glory in the form of over 30 luxury apartments. With the hotel came 2 plots, one of which is the site of Le Parc du Cap. The fact that John Caudwell is the sole investor and that he has surrounded himself with a dynamic and highly professional team led by Matthew Murisson means that great personal attention has been given to every detail, and only the best materials have been used to make Le Parc du Cap a development of world class standard. It even has a personalised concierge service that will help meet all organisational needs.
The air is balmy on this July evening, the temperature just right. I know that, should I so wish in the morning, I can walk down to the old town of Antibes just 20 minutes away with its narrow streets and covered market much loved by the locals, visit the famous Picasso Museum and beyond watch the hundreds of sailing boats moored in the port of Antibes, the largest yachting harbour in Europe, or else I might choose to walk the old customs route that hugs the coast past the great villas set in their massive grounds at the southern end of the peninsula. I might take a picnic and, like Scott Fitzgerald, sunbathe and swim in shallow waters in one of the many creeks, or else I might choose to remain in the 21st century and go down to the ultra modern spa facilities in the complex and have a massage. Which is, in fact, what I do decide to do. Marie, the masseuse, used jojoba oil macerated with “Rose de Mai,” the rose grown at nearby Grasse for the perfume industry. She told me, “I like to use these natural products which come from this area in a place like this, which is refined and luxurious.” Feeling beautifully relaxed, I then lunch at The Grill, the open restaurant overlooking the sea at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
Owning a flat in Le Parc du Cap allows you to experience the very best of the Cote d’Azur. The practicality of the apartments and the easy access to Nice airport (which is only a half hour drive away) allows you to dip in and out at your will, or stay for longer periods. They are ideal “lock up and go” pads but they are also adapted to long-term living. One thing is certain: their very special location ensures that you are never bored, not for one minute.
Prices of the flats as follows:
1 beds from €587,500
2 beds from €864,900
4-bed penthouses from €4,950,000
For further information, go to www.caudwellcollection.com/parcducap.