The French Riviera is notorious as a place to party and pamper – from the flashy lights and mirrors at raucous local discos where the young, restless trust-fund set lets loose, to the newest, most luxurious spa oasis, where tanned, toned bodies provide extra eye candy. From the Croisette to Cap d’Antibes, there are more than a few places to raise a glass of champagne before heading off to crimson-carpet hoopla. Just be sure to recoup the morning after. Then start all over again.
- Cocktail Hour
Dusk. The universal signal of cocktail hour. The Hotel du Cap’s scenic poolside Eden Roc lounge — with its dramatic, panoramic views of rocky cliffs and the Mediterranean sea at sunset — has been a longtime standard, attracting the likes of everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Madonna since 1914. (Drop by at your own risk — the exclusive hotel has a strict and legendary door policy.) But the Hotel Martinez’s Amiral Bar is the newest spot for cocktail hour. Veteran bartenders serve drinks such as the Pink Floyd and the Cotton Club to mingling artists, regulars, and industry folk to the smooth jazz riffs of Jimmy McKissie’s terrace-side piano.
At the Gray d’Albion’s “38 The Bar,” which opened in January, hungry revelers gather under Philippe Starck crystal lights for one of the best bar-snack menus in Cannes. Savoury, quick, and sweet treats range from quiche with summer vegetables to black and white chocolate mousse.
Still, the most cutting edge cocktail crowd can be found at the Grand Hotel de Cannes’ new bar, designed by Fabrice Bourg and Nicolas Papamiltiades of 3Bis (geniuses behind Paris’ Meurice hotel). The $24.5 million renovation of the oldest hotel on the Croisette retains its 1960’s style, with rust-colored velvet chairs, ebony wood paneling, and black granite tables gracing the bar.
- In The Heat Of The Night
Every town has its perennial favorites — those spots where the music never dies and the crowd is always hot. For Cannes, it’s the mighty triumvirate of beachfront Le Baoli, buzzy Le Loft and Les Coulisses, French for “backstage.” Low season or high, that’s how Cannes’ year-round residents use Les Coulisses, making it a well-dressed launching pad for a night out. Across the street is the two-story Le Loft, an Asian fusion restaurant topped by a bar-lounge that would look at home in Manhattan, with its chic, international crowd. The newest of the three is Le Baoli, a Balinese-style temple of calm with a garden full of palm trees and canopied tables that morphs into a dance party as the night progresses and more champagne is quaffed.
- Laying Low — In Style
O’Caffee may be the lowest key nightlife spot on the Cote d’Azur, but it doesn’t lack for hipness. The restaurant/lounge shares a designer with former Paris-scenester haunt Barfly and guests lounge in zebra print chairs and snack on tapas ’til 1a.m. Special drinks include Mojitos with strawberries and champagne and a chocolate, cream, honey, and vodka martini called the “BooBoo Cocktail.” And O’Caffee’s D.J. Max plays deep house rhythms into the early morning.
(04) 93 39 19 91
- Dancing With The Stars
If you’re lucky enough to have a car and driver, the Caves du Roy, a disco in St. Tropez’s Hotel Byblos, is worth the trek. Flash is substance, billionaires abound, celebrities outnumber civilians, and nearly every week someone drops 15 grand on a bottle of special-edition Dom Perignon draped in white gold. Naomi Campbell has thrown more than a few birthday parties for herself here, amid a flashy display of glowing electric palm trees; sheiks and footballers down exorbitantly priced drinks and dance on the proverbial tables. The club’s famously liberal door policy gets a bit tighter during the film festival, so be sure to dress the part.
- Beauty and the Beach
Nikki Club/Nikki Beach offers the best of both indulgences. Legendary South Beach promoter Eric Omores brings his one-stop party-pamper concept to wherever jetsetters congregate, and Cannes has not been left out of the loop. He’ll transform the palatial Carlton Hotel’s white sand beach and lobby bar into a temporary high-profile retreat and club. At night Miami’s vices will be let loose, as partygoers sip Grey Goose Basilic-Fraise, Cointreau-versial cocktails, Piper Piscine champagne and Remy Martin Soda Siphons.
The morning after, nurse your hangover at Nikki Beach, which has a Zen, airy vibe (despite cult de celebrity: last year Selma Hayeck, Morgan Freeman and Sharon Stone all relaxed there) thanks to plush white cushions, light-colored wood, and a mellow soundtrack. Recharge and cleanse the liquor from your system with signature detox fruit drinks (a secret hangover remedy), toxin-free victuals such as beluga caviar and La Croisette’s only sushi-like thon epice (spicy tuna en Francais). Supermodel volleyball contests and Elizabeth Hurley showing her new line of swimwear provide extra eye-candy.
After an evening of champagne-fueled yacht hopping, steady your spirit at the Spa Givenchy, perched on the rooftop of the gorgeous, Art Deco-style Hotel Martinez. You will be handed a covetable plush white bathrobe and directed to a sleek white lounge chair overlooking the sea. Lomi lomi, Swedish and lymphatic drainage massage are all available, but the most requested in this never too rich or too thin town might be the Slimming Massage, which promises to “mobilize fat accumulations.” The signature treatment, Exclusive Givenchy, is a detox triple-threat: first, a vigorous, exfoliating body scrub to slough away all memories of the night before, next a bathing in oils for some much-needed hydration, and third, a hydrating wrap and water jet massage to get you ready for another round of screens and scenes.
The Hotel du Cap is so matter-of-fact about its celeb appeal that there is a neatly alphabetized list on its Web site – everyone from Henry Kissinger to Nicole Kidman. We doubt Kissinger ever got a hot rock massage there, but now you can at the hotel’s new spa. The mosaic-inlaid steam room is a thing of beauty.
Centre Jouvence will be home away from home for Hollywood’s elite. The new medi-spa helmed by aesthetic medicine expert Dr. Philippe Sillard offers cutting-edge facial rejuvenation techniques. Prior to a red carpet event, Sillard suggests a skin-pick-me-up such as the O2 and collagen mask, which dilates pores and then employs a special serum to pulverize toxins under an infrared light. Afterward, Un Moment Pour Soi, a spa up the street at which Sillard consults, offers Thai Sawodika body care with hot stones, essential oils, or plantar reflexology.
Centre Jouvence: (04) 93 39 20 07,
- Get the Glow
Taizo may be Cannes’ premiere perfumery – owner Didier Pinier stocks high-end, rare lotions, tonics, and scents from Japan and Switzerland. But exhausted festivalgoers should check into the Taizo Salon for
Cle de Peau’s beaute treatment, which flushes cheeks and brings back the glow. On the way out grab relatively new store exclusives like Switzerland’s Bellefontaine up-lift firming gold serum for cellular renewal and enhanced elasticity and Preparation Perfumee by famed home designer Andree Putman, a unique find.
- Bathe Like A Balinese Princesses
For a break from Cannes’ chaos, a trip to Monaco is a good bet (in part thanks to the new Bay Casino). And the new Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort is a haven for relaxation. Pledging to restore the destination to its peak 1920s glory, the hotel created luxurious suites, mile-high ceilings, views of the Mediterranean Sea and expansive gardens among other things. After relaxing by the lagoon-style pool overlooking the white sand beach, bathe in the Hammam (Turkish purification baths) and indulge at Cinq Mondes spa. With roots in traditional Indonesian, Syrian, Chinese, Brazilian, Eqyptian and Moroccan practices, treatments range from Lulur Rituals for exfoliation once used by Balinese Princesses to the ancient Masque Kaolin et Herbes formula, which remedies urban pollution and stress.
- Hide Out
Brigitte Bardot was once the glam grand dame of St. Tropez, and Club 55 was her exclusive hideout. An oasis of simplistic chic in the resort town’s sea of excess, Club 55 was born when Bardot and her director husband, Richard Vadim, were on location filming “And God Created Woman.” The film crew mistook a local family’s beach shack for a cafe and asked the residents to provide meals for a few days — and the family agreed. Half a century later, their son, Patrice de Colmont, is still presiding over the longest running of the St. Tropez beach clubs, now the place to lounge and lunch. Bentleys are still the vehicle of choice here and the occasional hip-hop luminary will check in for some daytime relaxation, but Club 55 is more old guard, preferred by Bill Clinton and Bono rather than the Beckhams.