Hôtel Belles Rives
33 Boulevard Edouard Baudoin, Juan-les-Pins
In Juan-les-Pins is the small, storied, glamorous Hôtel Belle Rives—the Riviera home of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (there’s no better time to read Tender Is the Night). It’s a meticulously preserved, pastel Art Deco jewel box, with interiors that haven’t changed much since the Fitzgeralds were in residence. Lavish guest rooms with balconettes scented by the trailing bougainvillea look over the cobalt sea, while the pink marble lobby and wood-paneled bar filled with paintings summon a time when aperitifs were de rigueur and people dressed for dinner. Have breakfast on the balcony, then head down to the beach to reserve your sun bed and striped parasol. After a day swimming laps across the mirror-clear, calm bay, a massage in the spa sets you up for a long dinner in one of the many restaurants populating this particularly beautiful coastal stretch. A predinner champagne cocktail on the blue-and-terra-cotta-tiled terrace to a soundtrack of live jazz tinkling on the piano is what summer on the Riviera is all about.
La Colombe d’Or
06570 Place du Général de Gaulle, Saint-Paul de Vence
For a taste of the picturesque countryside, look no further than La Colombe d’Or in Provence. Tucked between the hills of Nice and Alps Maritimes, this family-run inn, once favored by the likes of Picasso and Matisse, prides itself on a discretion decidedly unusual for the South of France. Here, this quiet rustic hotel has amassed a museum-worthy art collection of 20th century masters—Chagall, Calder, Braque, Matisse, and Picasso—all of whom were regulars and donated works in exchange for a stay or a few meals. A large Calder mobile hangs over the swimming pool; there’s a Léger mosaic mural overlooking the terrace. The rooms, housed in a simple stone façade, have a quiet, understated beauty, with four-poster beds, white duvets, and worn-in Oriental rugs. La Colombe d’Or remains delightedly old school, and bookings must be made by phone or requested in writing. The hotel is closed from October through Christmas.
Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat
71 Blvd. du Général de Gaulle, Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat
Strategically sprawled over an especially beautiful slice of the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco, this century-old palace-turned-hotel never offered guests much to complain about, yet now, with the Four Seasons group taking over operations, things are bound to get even more spectacular. The Pierre-Yves Rochon-designed mansion houses seventy-four guest rooms and suites, decked out in a minimalist-chic (for perpetually glam Côte d’Azur, at least) style that allows the lush surrounding and stunning views of the water do all the talking. Like the 17-acre property itself, the amenities cover a lot of ground: There’s Le Spa, a massive, opulent wellness oasis with its own gardens, world-class masseurs/aestheticians, and a tricked-out gym; a picturesque infinity pool (there’s a miniature version inside the spa); and several on-site restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Le Cap, plus a phenomenal room-service menu. So yes, you can leave the property to explore, but why would you want to?
Hotel Cap Estel
1312 Ave. Raymond Poincaré, Èze
While many luxury hotels in this neck of the woods claim seclusion, none can hold a candle to Hotel Cap Estel and the private peninsula upon which it is situated. The eighteen rooms (most are suites, actually) are done in varying intensities of seashell-inspired blushes and creams and are spread out over three buildings: Le Cap—the main house that started it all—and three additional wings, all of which have their own distinct personalities and views of the otherworldy grounds. There’s much to explore around the property: chef Patrick Raingeard’s Michelin-starred Le Table, an intimate and exceptionally well-stocked bar, a spa (with its own indoor pool and a menu of surprisingly advanced wellness treatments), not to mention, the beautiful private beach. That said the thing to do is post up by the salt-water infinity pool for the day. Also worth mentioning is the luxe on-site movie theater.
Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc
J. F. Kennedy Blvd., Cap D’Antibes
Originally intended as a retreat for writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald immortalized it in Tender is the Night) and perched at the rocky tip of Cap D’Antibes, this 116-room resort is something of an architectural jewel on the French Riviera. Housed on 22 immaculately landscaped acres with parasol pines and seaside palm, the highlight is the restaurant and heated saltwater pool (which inspired many a Slim Aarons shoot), which is expertly cantilevered over the sea. The guest rooms are wonderfully old-fashioned (but now updated with WiFi and flat-screen TVs) and feature views of either the Mediterranean or the property’s manicured gardens. Room no. 5, for example, features floor-to-ceiling drapes, French doors that open up onto a marble terrace, and a Louis XV writing table. Dinner on the hotel grounds is predictably pricey though memorable, and the hotel concierge can arrange for meals in nearby Nice. While there’s no beach access, there is an overwater trapeze and carefully placed diving boards for those who want to plunge straight into the crystal waters.
La Réserve Ramatuelle
83350 Chemin de la Quessine, Ramatuelle
Just six miles from the oft-touristy St.-Tropez, La Réserve Ramatuelle offers a dose of something more serene. Set on 25 acres of cypress trees and parasol pines, this secluded retreat was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose most notable commissions include LVMH’s Paris headquarters and galleries in the Louvre. Relying on a quiet palette of terracotta tiles, white walls, and linen-upholstered furnishings by Poltrona Frau, much of the property’s design is meant to bring the outdoors in. South-facing rooms have views of the Mediterranean coastline and Bay of Pampelonne in the distance. There are nineteen suites and nine rooms—all with their own terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows; for those looking for something a bit more grand, they’ve recently added two new villas to their assortment, each of which comes with a chef, butler, housekeeper, and heated swimming pool. The 10,000 square-foot spa is a real draw, with eleven treatment rooms (the spa menu uses La Mer for all its services), full gym, and a multi-day wellness program through Nescens. Chef Eric Canino cooks up a menu of health-conscious dishes inspired by the fruits and vegetables he grows on-site in his garden.