Travel

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3 Summer Getaways in France

In partnership with our friends at Cuyana

France is always having a moment. And selling us on the rustic, sunflower-soaked charm of Provence, the sparkling French Riviera, the très chic cafés of Paris is not hard. It’s settling on exactly which destination that can leave us paralyzed with indecision. Glamorous Cannes or old-world Antibes? The sunny life of Aix-en-Provence or the medieval feeling of Saint-Rémy? The distinctly local Canal Saint-Martin or the fairy-tale Saint-Germain?

In the name of research, we traversed the arrondissements, pounded the promenades, and climbed the hillsides to find the crème de la crème of the Côte d’Azur, the City of Light, and those Van Gogh–yellow hillsides. Pack a bag, reboot your Kindle, load up on #goodcleangoop sunscreen, get on that plane—and have a very bon voyage.

Escape to Provence

provence
  • Provence France
    Villa la Coste
    Provence France
  • Provence—the subject of a thousand escapist summer reads—lives up to its pretty-as-a-postcard reputation. The perfumed hilltops and resolutely French villages are made for linen dresses, straw baskets, and daily visits to the butcher, the baker, and yes, even the candlestick maker.

    Check In:

    It’s not the ochre-hued French farmhouse covered in trailing hot-pink blooms that comes to mind. Instead, rooming at the resolutely contemporary, design-forward Château La Coste is manna for the art lover. The sprawling property contains a vineyard, a twenty-eight-suite villa, a first-rate spa, and a breathtaking art walk of large-scale installation pieces by the likes of Frank Gehry and Tracey Emin.

    For a more traditional Provençal abode, La Maison du Village—an outrageously pretty eighteenth-century townhouse owned by two expats and outfitted with local textiles in the heart of medieval Saint-Rémy-de-Provence—is the way
    to go.

    Where to Eat:

    If there’s so much as a crumb with Francis Mallmann’s name attached to it, we’ll eat it. And while it seems unlikely that the Argentinian chef’s signature buried-in-the-embers rescoldo vegetables would be on a Provençal table, they are. Mallmann’s restaurant at Château La Coste serves up the most sublime clay-oven-roasted fish, slow-aged meats, and those famous vegetables in a pretty, rustic space that could have been plucked from a corner of his Buenos Aires restaurant, Patagonia Sur. Another ridiculously scenic location for a long, lazy lunch is Le Château des Alpilles outside Saint-Rémy. Tables laid with French linens sit beneath shady trees in front of the nineteenth-century castle, and lunch is a several-course-long, seasonal-ingredients-only affair.

    What to Do:

    First: Rent a car. Then roll the windows down and inhale the fragrance of countryside punctuated with a million sunflowers and fields of budding lavender that stretch as far as the eye can see. Stop to pick up a baguette and a basket of bursting-with-sweetness tomatoes at the local market for a lunch savored under the shady cedar trees. Stop to gather bunches of lavender to press between pages of your diary or hide underneath pillows for dreamy, scented sleep. Stop to explore the medieval churches, small local vineyards, and artisan perfumeries that dot the narrow roads weaving across the landscape.

    For days that require a plan, the art tour at Château La Coste—a two-hour stroll through olive groves and vineyards speckled with large-scale (and some smaller) installation pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Frank Gehry, Kengo Kuma, and Alexander Calder, among others—rivals an afternoon at any world-class museum. For a sweet treat, you can do no better than chocolate at Joël Durand’s chocolatier in Saint-Rémy.

    what to wear

    1. Anne Sisteron
 necklace Anne Sisteron
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      Anne Sisteron
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    Escape to
    the Riviera

    riviera
  • Riviera France
    Riviera France
  • You could go to glitzy Cannes or the sleepier villages closer to Monaco like Èze or Beaulieu-sur-Mer, but Antibes, with its delicately maintained balance of Riviera glamour and regional authenticity, hits the spot.

    Check In:

    Out-of-towners flock to the famed, over-the-top Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, perched on cliffs overlooking the superyachts on the bay, but a couple of minutes down the road in Juan-les-Pins is the smaller, storied, glamorous Hôtel Belles Rives—the Riviera home of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. (While you’re at it, 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. As the sun dips in the late evening, a 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.

    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.

    Where to Eat:

    Exquisite food is common as croissants on the Côte d’Azur—whether it’s in the cozy, unassuming bistros quietly serving Michelin-rated meals to wise tourists or the more scene-y but fun spots that line the coast. Reaching the insanely popular La Guerite means hopping on a boat and riding the waves over to the rocky, pine-scented Île Sainte-Marguerite (a few minutes from Cannes and about twenty from Antibes). Just-caught fish grilled to order is the way to go.

    High up above the cliffs in old town Antibes is where you find the more traditional southern cuisine. Le Comptoir de La Tourraque is almost hidden around a discreet corner at the top of the old town and is the place to fill up on roasted lamb, buttery vegetables, and desserts so pretty (chocolate-sculpted pears filled with mouse, caramelized apple tarts), you almost feel guilty taking a spoon to them. Café Brun is the go-to bar for a pre- or post-dinner drink—we bet on cold rosé and cheese and were not disappointed.

    What to Do:

    If you do nothing else on Côte d’Azur, get on a boat. The type of boat—big and costly or small and easily manageable—doesn’t make a difference. The goal is to see the coast from the water. The concierge at Belles Rives will handle the hire and the captain and pack the woven basket you’ve hopefully picked up at the market with fresh fruit and champagne, while you lather up with mineral sunscreen. Ease out of the harbor and spend the afternoon hurtling off the boat into the cool depths, floating in the hidden coves along the aptly named Billionaires’ Bay and along the rocky, pine-scented edges of the Île Sainte-Marguerite. For the maritime-averse, the Musée Picasso in the picturesque old town is a cool, cultural retreat from the muggy afternoon heat.

    what to wear

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      Cuyana
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    2. Loren Stewart necklace Loren Stewart necklace
      Loren Stewart
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    Escape to Paris

    paris

    Photo courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel

  • Hôtel de Crillon
    Hôtel de Crillon

    Photo courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel

    Hôtel de Crillon
  • If you fall into the camp of people who love to throw caution to the wind and plan a metropolitan trip at the height of summer: respect. Paris is spectacular no matter the month—or the temperature—and at the height of summer, skipping the crowds at the Louvre to wander around Canal Saint-Martin, stopping only for restorative gulps of cool Pouilly-Fuissé, has a magic all its own.

    Check In:

    The boutique Hotel Nolinski is easily our favorite new pied-à-terre in the capital. It’s on the smaller side and a couple minutes’ amble from the Tuileries Garden, with forty-five rooms that are significantly bigger than the usual Parisian accommodations—and stunningly decked out with artworks and design tomes. A spa and pool in the basement plus a concierge who knows all the city’s secrets put Hotel Nolinski in our back pocket anytime we can steal away to this storybook city.

    You also can’t go wrong with a stay at the gilded palace that is the Hôtel de Crillon. Fresh off a four-year renovation, the eighteenth-century treasure has been restored (and updated) to an unmatchable standard. Guest rooms are more modern in muted greys but still opulent, the bar echoes the splendor of Versailles, and the location—just off the Place de la Concorde—means that some of the city’s best cultural institutions are steps away.

    Where to Eat:

    You’re in Paris. Truly great meals are always within arm’s reach. Those white-tablecloth, silver-spoon perennial classics—the Bistrot Paul Berts and La Fontaine de Marses—always sneak onto our itineraries, but we must confess that a slew of genre-ditching new openings have commandeered our Parisian evening plans for the foreseeable future. At Mokonuts, husband and wife Moko Hirayama and Omar Koreitem have created a menu so unusual and baked fennel cookies so scrumptious, we (and the rest of Paris) will happily trek up to the far corners of the 11th to stand in line.

    For a bar-à-vin like no other, Freddy’s on the Rue de Seine is très chic with its jugs of wildflowers and cavelike interior and vraiment délicieux thanks to small bites like razor clams drizzled in herb oil and paper-thin Iberico ham accompanied by too many glasses of vin rouge personally recommended by wine connoisseur and owner Juan. There’s nothing not to like here.

    Pounding those beautifully maintained Parisian sidewalks requires energy. Teeny, tiny hole-in-the-wall Boot Café (in a former cobbler’s storefront) in the Marais is the cutest spot for a caffeine fix this side of the Seine. The original, duck-egg blue “Cordonnerie” façade is hard to miss—but with only six seats inside, get that café au lait to go.

    What to Do:

    Skip the summer crowds milling around the 1st and wander up to the resolutely French banks of Canal Saint-Martin. This knot of narrow streets sloping around the canal are filled with Paris’s young bohemians lazing on picnic blankets reading, spilling out of the many wine bars (hello Le Verre Volé), and crowding around those signature circular café tables. This is the Paris rarely seen by visitors, and—at the height of the tourist-sodden summer season—it’s pure bliss.

    Rather than lining up to see the much-visited masterpieces at the Louvre or the Pompidou, meander across the Seine to the Left Bank and visit the secret-garden-style Rodin Museum. Sculpture is best appreciated in natural light, and the quiet, manicured gardens surrounding the stately museum (and Rodin’s former workshop) are full of the artist’s brooding masterpieces, including The Thinker. Inside you’ll find a handful of Monets, Renoirs, and Van Goghs that belonged
    to Rodin.

    If you can’t face leaving the comfort of Nolinski or the Crillon for dinner and crave a night of minibar raiding and robe lounging, make a pit stop at the most artisanal grocery store we’ve ever come across: La Grande Épicerie. Pick up some blinis, smoked salmon, cheese, and preserves for a thoroughly gourmet dinner in bed.

    what to wear

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