The South of France always conjures up images of romance and glamour, and both images are correct.
It is a special place, where for years it has drawn artists and photographers to capture its spectacular light, and has attracted visitors to experience its charming medieval villages, to experience its cuisine, its perfumeries, and of course, to create a little romance of their own.
In October 2004, Edward F. Nesta, Publisher of Luxury Experience magazine, as well as President of our parent company, Luxury Experience Company, and I were invited to Saint Paul-de-Vence, France to participate in the 5th Annual Unisys Travel & Distribution Executive Summit, which attracted some of the industry’s top leaders. While Edward gave the closing address and participated in the summit, I had the pleasure of joining the accompanying guests on special tours organized by Unisys. The event, covered in detail by Hotel Business magazine (www.hotelbusiness.com), was held at the Unisys International Management Conference Centre (www.unisys.com). (Read our article on the Unisys Summit in our Events section.)
The Unisys center is located within walking distance of the village of Saint Paul-de-Vence, and guests took a leisurely stroll to the village, where we met up with our guide, Rudy. He told us of the history of the village, which a nobleman founded in the 13th century, and where 14th century fortified walls surround the village. Since that time, it has become the second most visited place in France. Long a haven for artists, it attracted its first artists Renoir, Chagall, MirÃ³ and Matisse, who came to capture its magnificent light and strong, bright colors in their paintings. It also attracts filmmakers who come for the same reason. As I had stated, romance is always in the air in the South of France, and the actor Yves Montand met actress Simone Signoret at the world-renowned restaurant Colombe d’Or in the village. We toured the village and went to the Saint Paul-de-Vence cemetery where the artist Marc Chagall is interred. Visitors had left small pebbles on his stone in his honor, and Robert, also one of the Unisys guests, and I also left a small pebble each in remembrance.
Shoppers and art lovers will be pleased to know that the village is also home to some unique boutiques and art galleries. One of the shops that I always make sure to include a visit to is Les Trois Etoiles, 7, Place de la Mairie, (
), where they offer award-winning excellent handcrafted liqueurs and specialty oils. (See our article on Les Trois Etoiles in our Liquor Cabinet section.)
The Galerie ART PASSION, 2, rue du Bresc (
), hosted an intimate art reception for Unisys guests where each guest had the opportunity to meet world acclaimed Italian artists, Guido Borelli and Danka Weitzen. (Read our article on the reception in our Arts & Antiques section.)
Saint Paul-de-Vence is also home to the Fondation Maeght, (www.fondation-maeght.com), whose collection includes some of the most important modern art in the world. I went with other Unisys guests and took a short stroll to visit the museum. Guests were enthralled with the sculptures and labyrinth garden by Joan MirÃ³, by the mobiles and large-scale sculptures by Alexander Calder and Alberto Giacommetti, paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, and paintings by Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, among others.
Another day, I went with friends from Unisys to Monaco, which is only a one-hour drive away, and experienced the glamour of Monte Carlo. We watched the changing of the palace guards, and then visited Les Palaise, built in the renaissance style, to have a glimpse of royal life. We also visited La Cathédrale de Monaco, where Princess Grace is interred. Although time did not allow us to visit the Oceanographic Museum, I did go there on past trips to Monaco, and it is worth making the time to visit.
We had a very special lunch at Le Saint Benoit, 10 ter, avenue de la Costa, (www.monte-carlo.mc/lesaintbenoit), a beautiful restaurant with panoramic views of the sea and the yachts, that Monte Carlo is also famous for. (Read our article on the restaurant in our Restaurant section.)
Afterwards, we went to the casino, since a trip to Monte Carlo would not be complete without a visit to the Casino de Monte-Carlo (www.casino-monte-carlo.com), where we spent a bit of our time, as well as our money there. Although we all tried our luck, only Dottie won any money. As Samy aptly explained, we made a contribution to the Monte Carlo coffers, and of course, we had fun doing it. Next on our list was shopping at Le Métropole, 4 avenue de la Madone, which was the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. We returned to the Unisys International Management Conference Centre happy, with empty pockets and laden with packages, a most successful day.
© December 2004. Luxury Experience. www.luxuryexperience.com. All rights reserved.