Taking inspiration from the setting of Woody Allen’s latest film, we bring you 3 ports of call on the French Riviera that have a hefty dose of that ‘je ne sais quoi’…
Woody Allen has done it again. He’s written and directed a film so charming, it had me practically skipping all the way home. His latest offering is called ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ and I was lucky enough to bag an invite to a Warner Bros. screening before its nationwide release this Friday.
The romantic comedy stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone, and is set in the 1920s on the French Riviera. Firth plays arrogant magician, Stanley Crawford, whose on-stage persona is the world-famous Chinese conjuror, Wei Ling Soo. He takes it upon himself to expose a psychic medium, Sophie Baker (Stone), as a fake, when she tries to convince a wealthy family on the Côte D’Azur that she can contact their mother’s late husband.
At first, Stanley scoffs at the gullibility of the family, however he soon falls under Sophie’s spell, after she reveals information no one but him could have known. His whole belief system is called into question, and he finds himself losing his scruples and his heart in tandem. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but as you’d expect from a film that centres around a conjuror, nothing is as it seems at first glance.
While the plot was fun enough, it was the cinematography that really stole the show. I can only describe this movie as a 5-course meal for the eyes. Plus dessert wine. Visually, it was stunning. As a fan of recent Allen flicks like Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I’m glad he stuck to his tried and tested formula… flawless casting, a jazz-inspired soundtrack and sumptuous backdrops to bind it all together.
On the subject of filming locations, they included lavish villas in Cap d’Antibes and Mouans-Sartoux, and the imposing Nice Observatory on the summit of Mont Gros. In short, the type of eye candy only the South of France can do.
Thomson Cruises graze the French Riviera on a number of itineraries – here’s a look at 3 ports of call from which you can explore the real magic of the region (no illusions necessary)…
Fast cars. Millionaire yachts. Designer boutiques. When it comes to scrimping, Nice isn’t a fan. No wonder it’s been attracting a well-heeled crowd for centuries. Here you’ll find cosmopolitan bars where you can perch with a flute of fizz and watch the well-to-do world go by. Or take a stroll down Rue Paradis, where high-end names like Chanel, Armani and Louis Vuitton compete for your credit cards. Once you’re all glammed out, head to the city’s old quarter – you’ll find narrow streets lined with pastel houses, baroque churches and antique shops. But a visit to Nice wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Musée Matisse. Celebrating one-time Nice native, Henri Matisse, it showcases some of his best work.
Mention ‘Cannes’ and the annual Film Festival will most likely spring to mind. Every year, the red carpet is rolled out and super-cars purr through the streets carrying impossibly polished A-listers. However, beyond the see-and-be-seen party port is a trace of authentic France. Think 19th-century mansions, waterfront cafés and cliff-fringed beaches. The best way to see the sights is by petit train – these look-a-like steam engines with white clapboard carriages will take you on a whistlestop tour of the city. Further afield, you can drop in on the rich and famous in Monte Carlo. The town’s must-sees include the Grand Casino and the Grand Prix racing circuit.
Compared to its flashy cousins down the coast, St Raphael is the girl next door of southern France. This shy and retiring town sits on the edge of 36 kilometres of untouched coastline, overlooked by acres of natural forest and the terracotta-coloured peaks of the Esterel Mountain range. Whereas Nice and Cannes are more about flashing the cash, St Raphael favours a bargain. It’s filled with farmers’ markets, where you can rummage for fresh flowers, punnets of berries, and homemade cheeses. But if it’s a taste of the high life you’re after, you’re within easy reach of celeb hangout, St Tropez. This upmarket slice of the French Riviera is a hotspot for the world’s elite, and is packed with classy boutiques, chi-chi restaurants and eye-wateringly large yachts.
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Author: El Berwick
Published: September 18, 2014
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