La Casella is situated a stones throw from many of the regions most famous towns and villages. With the coastal towns of Cannes,
Antibes and Nice a mere 25 minutes drive away and with numerous hill top villages such as Mougins & St Paul de Vence on your doorstep.
La Casella is perfectly placed to let you discover the cultural wonders the Cote d’Azur has to offer.
Picture perfect Antibes is situated in between Cannes to the west and Nice to the east and is approximately 12km from Casella.
Antibes’ picturesque Old Town is concentrated around its world-renowned superyacht port. It is a cosmopolitan town where one could be forgiven for thinking English was the local language. Popular with tourists and home to numerous expats and ‘yachties’, Antibes is one of the world’s major international yachting centres supporting many industry businesses.
The town is protected by its medieval stone ramparts and its majestic Fort Carré, both reminders of the town’s rich history. A stroll along the Port Vauban with the shimmering Mediterranean on one side and the distant mountains to the other is definitely recommended as the sunsets on the horizon.
The Old Town of Antibes is quaint and traditional. It is popular with locals and visitors alike. Antibes is buzzing with activity throughout the summer months and much of the activity centres around its fresh produce market, which takes place on the Cours Masséna, every morning except Mondays. Antibes is blessed with several small sandy beaches, right in the heart of the city which are perfect for families. Plage de la Gravette is nestled cosily between the Old Town and the Port, protected from the wind and with gentle waves, this sandy cove gets very busy in the summer months.
Further down the coast is Cap d’Antibes, another stunning area which connects Antibes with it’s sister town of Juan-les-Pins. A drive or stroll around the coastal path of the Cap takes you past some of the regions most stunning and expensive properties and is home to the world renowned Eden Rock Hotel.
Built on the site of an ancient Ligurian city, on an elevation that slopes down to the Gulf de Napoule and with a back drop of the Massif de Esterel, it is difficult to imagine a more splendid location than that of Cannes on the French Riviera. Sheltered by the surrounding hills, Cannes enjoys the most privileged mild and temperate climate. Cannes is one of the highest visited cities in Europe thanks to perhaps to the most renounded film festival in the world, The Cannes Film festival every May. There are other numerous international events and congress throughout the year making Cannes a fashionable resort of truly international proportions.
A short 20 minute drive from La Casella, Cannes enjoys over 300 days of sunshine per annum and you can find yourself adorning a pair of sun glasses whilst sipping an aperitif on La Croisette in any winter month watching the world go by.
From the harbour the town presents a truly magnificent panorama with a mix of both modern and èpoque architecture. The city is centered on rue d’Antibes and La Croisette . A truly cosmopolitan boulevard, this 3 kilometre promenade around the harbour goes from the old port in the west past the Palais des Festival and onto Port Canto and Palm Beach in the east. An evening stroll along La Croisette is truly one of the most enjoyable past times for any visitor to Cannes on the French Riviera
The walk along the boulevard presents quite a spectacle in itself, performed against the backdrop of the sea, golden beaches and palm trees. La Croisette is the true symbol of the rapid expansion Cannes has enjoyed over the last century. With a concentration of luxury hotels, impressive private apartment blocks and residences plus the prestigious global luxury brand boutiques.
In contrast to the opulence of La Croisette is the area known as Le Suquet. The oldest part of Cannes, where the streets and houses cluster around the slopes of Mont Chevalier. Le Suquet has the intimate, quiet and peaceful feel of a village in stark contrast to the bustling streets below following the coast line in the bay of Cannes. After a steep climb past the restaurants and shops within this old part of Cannes there are some lovely cafes in which to rest a while before descending into the vivaciousness of Cannes and La Croisette.
Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, is a short 15 minute drive in a westerly direction from La Casella. Grasse has been a popular tourist destination for several centuries, with the smell of flowers and clear air,and at an altitude of 300-400 m, you can enjoy a fresher climate during the heat of the summer months.
Medieval: Grasse is a true medieval town that withstood Saracen raids in the 9th century. Grasse was an independent republic in the 12th century, with diplomatic relations with the neighboring city-state republics of Genoa and Pisa. In 1227, the Count of Provence, Raymond Bérenger brought Grasse into his control and was the Bishopric of Antibes from 1244 to 1790. In 1536, Charles-Quint invaded the city-state of Nice and sacked Grasse on the order of the governor of Provence. In 1589, the “Ligueurs” layed siege to Grasse and took the town during the Wars of Religion. In 1860, after the County of Nice became a part of France, Grasse was attached to the Alpes-Maritimes.
The old town (“vieille ville”) is quite large and historically interesting. Tiny streets wind forever between the 17th and 18th century buildings, up and down ancient steps, passing through arched tunnels and sometimes opening out onto large squares.
The principal square near the top of the old town is the Place aux Aires. A pretty, three-tiered fountain splashes in the center and arcades line one side. Somewhere down in the old village a narrow street comes out onto the Place du Petit Puy (and through the archway into Place Godeau) with the 10-11th-century Notre Dame du Puy cathedral (rebuilt in the 17th c.) and its huge 18th century clock tower. Inside the cathedral are three paintings by Rubens, commissioned from the then-unknown artist in 1601 by the Archduke Albert for the Santa Croce di Gerusalemme in Rome, and offered to Grasse in the 19th century.
Throughout the 19th century celebrities and royalty vacationed in Grasse prefering the temperate climate to that of Cannes or Nice.Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the Emperor’s sister, spent the winter of 1807-08 in Grasse, recuperating her mental and physical strength, whilst Queen Victoria vacationed through several winters in Grasse, staying at the Rothschild’s or at the Grand Hotel.
Historically, Grasse had been a flourishing leather and tanning center since the 13th century. When perfumed gloves became fashionable, the town provided them, and when the leather business faded away, the perfumeries took over with Grasse offering the sunshine and micro-climate that facilitated the growth of these most delicate flowers.
Some of the ancient factories, now abandoned, can be seen along the southern edges of the old town, recognizable by the high, brick smokestacks for their distilleries.
The public side of the perfume business can be seen through guided visits of the principal “parfumeries”. The visits are free, show the process of making perfume, include their own little museums, and finish in the sales room where you can obtain their products.
les Quatre Chemins
Route de Cannes
Tel: (33) 493 36 44 65
73 route de Canne
Tel: (33) 493 09 20 00
60, Bvd Victor Hugo
Tel: (33) 493 36 01 62
To the west of Cannes and boardering the Var, Mandelieu-la-Napoule has definite charm. Nestling between the famous red rocks of the Esterel and Tanneron Massifs with the sea at its feet, the “town of mimosas” attracts visitors seeking the coast, countryside and tranquillity. Backing onto the Massif, Mandelieu also provides a gorgeous panorama from where, in the morning when the weather is fine, you can sometimes make out the outline of Corsica in the distance.
It is known for the Château de la Napoule, a fortified castle from the 14th century. In the 20th century, Henry Clews Jr (son of the wealthy New York banker Henry Clews) and his wife Marie Clews, entirely renovated the château which they then inhabited. Henry Clews Jr was a painter and sculptor whose work still fills the castle, which is now run as a non-profit arts foundation by his descendants.The château was once an ancient foundation, then a medieval fortress of the Counts of Villeneuve. Today the 4th century Roman Tower and 11th century Saracen Tower are all that remain of the château that was destroyed during the French Revolution. The château designed by the Clews has a cloister, a charming terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with a Gothic afternoon tea room.
The castle gardens designed in 1919 consist of the main garden which opens with a large driveway to the castle and three smaller gardens. The gardens were awarded the Outstanding Garden label by the French Ministry of Culture in 2005.
The area is popular today for golf and has a vibrant sailing and watersports facilities together with one of the regions largest superyacht ports.
Located in the hills about 5 km west of La Casella is one of the regions most beautiful villages – Mougins. This medieval village is steeped in history and is positioned amongst pines, olives and cyprus trees and encircled by forests (the Valmasque forest covers over 400 hectares). Mougins village has kept much of its olde world charm and with an altitude of 260 metre offers the visitor the most amazing panoramic views of the Baie de Cannes and inland towards Grasse.
Like most of the villages within this region of the French Riviera, Mougins and its inhabitants have worked to make sure as a tourist to Mougins you will not be disappointed. Everywhere you look you will be charmed by the buildings, flowers, snaking side streets and be amazed at how the houses have been kept in such good order. The colours and textures of the buildings are elegantly complimented by incredible arrays of Mediterranean flowers throughout the village of Mougins. Over the past 10 years the village has given rise to a large gathering of almost 20 art galleries within the heart of the village and many more studios offering a myriad of unique creations and products.
Much of the centre of the ‘old’ village of Mougins dates back to the 11th and 15th centuries. In the 11th century the Count of Antibes gave the Mougins hillside to the Monks of Saint Honorat. During this period, Mougins was a fortified village surrounded by ramparts and parts of the medieval city wall still exist as well as one of the three original ancient gate towers (Porte Sarrazine). During the 18th century War of the Austrian Succession, the village was plundered by the Austro-Sardinian armies and damaged by fire. Following this, some of the ramparts were deconstructed and several new little streets of early 19th century houses were built. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the village was a centre of floral production, producing lavender, roses and jasmine for the perfumeries in nearby Grasse. Mougins is a living village, where both the ancient buildings and the 19th century houses are inhabited as they have always been.
The melange of colours in Mougins emphasised by the Mediterranean skies has seduced many artists and celebrities who have chosen to stay or live in Mougins, including Picasso (who spent the last 12 years of his life here) Winston Churchill, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel to mention but a few. Mougin’s close ties to the celebrity, art and cultural world is also due to a strong gastronomic history coupled with the quality and choice of villas and luxury houses available to buy and rent within a short distance of Mougins village.
Pablo Picasso spent the last 12 years of his life living in Mougins (1961 to 1973), where he eventually died. He lived in a ‘mas’ (farmhouse) at Notre-Dame-de-Vie, which is a small hilltop just beside the old village of Mougins and next to the 12th-century chapel of the same name. Picasso’s studio was in the old village in a building that is now the tourist office, while the studio of Fernand Loger was above what is now the village wine shop, next to the rear of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art (MMoCA).
Mougins has a long history with gastronomy and is home to many superb restaurants. Great chefs such as Roger Verge and Alain Ducasse having both managed restaurants in Mougins. Both were synonymous with the restaurant L’Amandier, which is situated in the heart of the old village. This restaurant still exists today and is housed in an historical building – during the Middle Ages this was the court house of the Monks of Saint Honorat, before becoming an almond mill in the 18th/19th centuries. Denis Fetisson, who received the Jacquart Trophy for the Rising Star in Gastronomy in 2006, now manages L’Amandier and is also the manager and head chef at La Place de Mougins (previously Le Feu Follet, regularly frequented by Picasso) which is another important restaurant in the heart of the old village. Last but not least is the Moulin de Mougins probably the most famous restaurant in the area of Mougins and heavily frequented by the stars during the Film Festival in Cannes.
St Paul de Vence
Saint Paul de Vence is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Provence with its spectacular setting and outstanding views together with a wealth of culture and history.
Over the years the natural light quality in the area has attracted a number of world famous artists such as Chagall, Renoir, Matisse, Soutine, Signac and Dufy. Offering further cultural inspiration other european poets and writers also flocked to the village enjoying the benefits and privileges life in the South of France.
The rich and famous of France have always considered Saint Paul de Vence a perfect retreat and later, it became the turn of international film directors and actors, such as Yves Montand, Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, Romy Schneider, Roger Moore and Tony Curtis.
The rich artistic heritage has obviously given rise to a number of wonderful museums and art galleries of varying quality together with numerous artisanal workshops keen to trap the plethora of year round visitors. However, the richness of the architecture and the village itself may be enough for any visitor to soak up the wonder that is St paul de Vence.
There is art everywhere you look in Saint Paul de Vence, from the imposing ramparts surrounding the village, to the main fountain at its centre.
Things to do in St Paul de Vence
La Colombe d’Or – This was once a rustic inn but is now a first class restaurant and hotel which serves delicious food in breathtaking surroundings. The hotel actually houses some works of art by none other than Picasso and Matisse, among others. Over the year La Colombe d’or has become one of the most famous restaurants in the region.
Fondation Maeght – This museum sits on top of the village and is home to some incredible pieces of art. This particular museum is a working one, which makes it incredibly interesting as the artists live and work on site. The museum entrance fee is €15 and is open throughout the year.
Musée de Saint-Paul Saint-Paul museum is situated within a 16th century stone house. The museum showcases contemporary art and also hosts temporary exhibitions by artists who have touched the history of the village like Marc Chagall, André Verdet and Jacques Prévert.
The Folon Chapel – Admire the famous design work of Jean-Michel Folon. Discover how the artist made strong links with Saint-Paul over thirty years and gaze at his stained glass designs, sculptures and beautiful conception of art. The White Penitents’ Chapel was Folon’s last design project before his death in 2005.
Local History Museum – The local history museum marks the history of St Paul de Vence where historical figures such as King François I, Vauban and Queen Jeanne have gathered. This museum is also a fun and educational attraction for children.
The town of Valbonne is one of the French Riviera’s hidden gems, with it’s charm and architecture left over from the 16th Century. In contrast to the twisty little streets in the hundreds of other villages on the French Riviera and the rest of France, Valbonne is laid out in neat, symmetrical rectangles planned by the Abbot of Lerins, based on the layout of Roman cities. In the centre of the village is the glorious 16th century Place des Arcades.
A short 5 minute drive from La Casella, Valbonne is a fairly large town with a population of around 12,000 people and a large Anglophone community. It is a beautiful place that is situated in a lovely valley and is surrounded by woodlands. Its peaceful surroundings and traditional French architecture have made Valbonne a popular tourist destination all year round.
The town itself has been pretty well maintained over the years. The central part of the town has retained its 16th century character and during a leisurely stroll through the old town you can see how fondly it has been cared for. You’ll feel like you have stepped back in time with stone fronted houses, ornate doors and entrances, large steps upto the main doors and the many vines and flowers decorating the exteriors of the village houses.
In the centre of the village is the quintessential and beautiful 16th century square Place des Arcades. This central square is surrounded on all four sides by picturesque arcades, cafe terraces and little shops. There are little streets running off from every side of the square down the symmetrical lanes inviting you to amble a while and gaze at the beautiful village houses together with more restaurants and little boutiques before you amble back to the Place des Arcades for a well deserved aperitif.
The town is a very active throughout the year with regular markets every Friday and an antiques/brocantes market on the 1st Sunday of every month. Many of the annual fetes are celebrated within the village accompanied by live music or parades and are great fun for all the family.
The village is in the commune of Valbonne Sophia Antipolis, which consists of the technology and business park of Sophia Antipolis. First developed in the early 70′s, Sophia Antipolis has evolved into a highly recognised international business community, with more than 1,000 companies hiring more than 22,000 people giving rise to a varied and international society.
The French Riviera and villages such as Valbonne have long been a retreat for Parisians taking a weekend break from the hustle and bustle of city life, being just an hour and a half away by plane. This region has also been a firm favourite with the British for many years and the ever increasing flights into Nice airport have made a second home on the French Riviera more accessible for many UK residents. The laid back lifestyle, more than 300 days of sunshine per year and the varied lifestyle, cuisine and cafes of Valbonne are the perfect get-away.
The hot Mediterranean climate of the French Riviera means that you are almost guaranteed sun all year round. Summers are hot, with maximum temperatures hitting the high 20′s or quite often more. Even winters are mild and you could be sitting in the Place des Arcades in bright sunshine sipping a delightful glass of rose from a provencale vineyard in any winter month.