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  • BONJOUR, I'M RICK STEVES,

  • BACK WITH MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE.

  • THIS TIME, IT'S YACHTS, CASINOS, AND FANCY VILLAS.

  • FUN IN THE SUN ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA.

  • THANKS FOR JOINING US.

  • IN EUROPE IS HERE ON THE COTE d'AZUR,

  • OR THE FRENCH RIVIERA.

  • AND AFTER SOAKING UP MORE THAN OUR SHARE OF SUN, WE'LL SEE

  • HOW THIS GLITTERING STRETCH OF FRANCE'S MEDITERRANEAN COAST

  • OFFERS MORE THAN JUST A FIRST-CLASS BEACH BREAK.

  • BUT DON'T GET ME WRONG.

  • WE WILL ENJOY THE BEACH, FROM HIGH-END RESORTS

  • TO HIDDEN JEWELS OF THE COTE d'AZUR.

  • WE'LL WANDER THE GARDENS OF A 19th-CENTURY VILLA,

  • ZIP UP THE CORNICHE

  • TO SEE A TROPHY OF THE CONQUERING ROMANS,

  • REFLECT ON THE LIGHT AND COLOR OF MODERN MASTERS,

  • GO POSH WITH THE GLAMOUR SET,

  • RELAX IN ANTIBES

  • AND THEN FEAST ON BOUILLABAISSE.

  • WHEN EUROPE HEADS FOR THE BEACH,

  • IT OFTEN ENDS UP ON THE SOUTH COAST OF FRANCE,

  • THE COTE d'AZUR.

  • WE'LL START IN NICE,

  • CHECK OUT VILLEFRANCHE AND CAP FERRAT,

  • RACE OVER TO MONACO,

  • VISIT CANNES

  • AND FINISH IN ANTIBES.

  • IN THE 19th CENTURY, ARISTOCRATS FROM LONDON TO MOSCOW

  • FLOCKED TO FRANCE'S SUNNY COTE d'AZUR, OR BLUE COAST.

  • MUCH LOVED FOR ITS BLUE SEAS AND BLUE SKIES,

  • THIS WAS THE PLACE FOR NORTHERN EUROPEANS

  • TO SOCIALIZE, GAMBLE AND ESCAPE THEIR DREARY WEATHER.

  • WHETHER YOU'RE RICH OR NOT, NICE,

  • WITH ITS ETERNALLY ENTERTAINING SEAFRONT PROMENADE

  • AND FINE MUSEUMS, IS THE ENJOYABLE

  • BIG-CITY HIGHLIGHT OF THE RIVIERA.

  • IN ITS TRAFFIC-FREE OLD CITY, ITALIAN AND FRENCH FLAVORS MIX

  • TO CREATE A SPICY MEDITERRANEAN DRESSING.

  • NICE MAY BE NICE,

  • BUT IT'S HOT AND JAMMED IN JULY AND AUGUST.

  • WE'RE HERE IN EARLY JUNE,

  • BEATING THE SERIOUS HEAT AND CROWDS.

  • THE BROAD PROMENADE des ANGLAIS,

  • LITERALLY, THE "WALKWAY OF THE ENGLISH,"

  • WAS PAVED IN MARBLE

  • FOR BLUE-BLOODED 19th-CENTURY ENGLISH TOURISTS

  • WHO WANTED A SAFE PLACE TO STROLL AND ADMIRE THE VIEW

  • WITHOUT GETTING THEIR SHOES DIRTY

  • OR SMELLING THAT FISHY GRAVEL.

  • TODAY, IT'S A FUN PEOPLE'S SCENE

  • WITH A BIKE AND ROLLER BLADE PATH

  • THAT LEADS ALL THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT.

  • THE BEACH, WHILE PEBBLY, IS POPULAR.

  • WHETHER YOU'RE LOOKING FOR AN ADRENALINE RUSH

  • OR JUST WORKING ON YOUR SUNTAN, THIS BEACH HAS IT ALL.

  • TAN LINES CAN BE HARD TO FIND

  • AS EUROPEANS ARE RELAXED ABOUT TOPLESS SUNBATHING.

  • WHILE MAJOR STRETCHES OF THE BEACH ARE PUBLIC,

  • MUCH OF IT IS PRIVATE, WHERE YOU PAY TO RENT A SPOT,

  • COMPLETE WITH MATTRESS, LOUNGE CHAIR AND UMBRELLA.

  • FOR A PARTICULARLY SCENIC LUNCH,

  • YOU CAN EAT ON THE BEACH.

  • I'M HAVING A salade niçoise, THE HEARTY LOCAL STANDARD

  • WITH ANCHOVIES, TUNA, HARD-BOILED EGGS

  • AND TASTY LITTLE niçoise OLIVES.

  • GRACEFUL BUILDINGS FROM THE TURN OF THE LAST CENTURY

  • LEAD IN FROM THE BEACH, REMINDERS OF THE Belle Epoque,

  • LITERALLY, "THE BEAUTIFUL AGE,"

  • WHEN THE WORLD SEEMED TO REVOLVE AROUND THE UPPER CLASS

  • AND INDULGENCE WITH ABANDON WAS A LIFE-STYLE.

  • NICE'S GRAND OPERA HOUSE

  • ILLUSTRATES THE BEAUTIFUL EXTRAVAGANCE OF THIS ERA.

  • IMAGINE THIS OPULENT JEWEL

  • BURIED DEEP IN THE OLD TOWN OF NICE WAY BACK THEN.

  • WITH EUROPE'S ELITE WINTERING HERE,

  • THE ROUGH-EDGED TOWN NEEDED SOME HIGH-CLASS ENTERTAINMENT.

  • A PRIME EXAMPLE OF Belle Epoque LUXURY

  • IS THE MAJESTIC HOTEL NEGRESCO.

  • IT OFFERS SOME OF THE CITY'S MOST EXPENSIVE BEDS

  • AND A CHANCE TO STEP BACK

  • INTO THAT AGE OF EXTREME REFINEMENT.

  • THE EXQUISITE ROYAL SALON COMBINES Belle Epoque GRACE

  • WITH ENGINEERING BY THE GREAT FRENCH ARCHITECT GUSTAV EIFFEL.

  • THE CHANDELIER IS MADE OF 16,000 PIECES OF CRYSTAL.

  • IT WAS BUILT IN FRANCE FOR THE RUSSIAN CZAR'S MOSCOW PALACE;

  • BUT, BECAUSE OF THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION,

  • HE COULDN'T TAKE DELIVERY.

  • MANY OF NICE'S EARLY VISITORS WERE RUSSIANS,

  • AND THE CITY'S RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CLAIMS TO BE THE FINEST

  • THIS SIDE OF THE VOLGA.

  • FIVE HUNDRED RICH RUSSIAN FAMILIES WINTERED IN NICE

  • AND NEEDED A WORTHY ORTHODOX HOUSE OF WORSHIP.

  • CZAR NICHOLAS THE SECOND GAVE THIS CHURCH

  • TO THE RUSSIAN COMMUNITY HERE IN 1912.

  • A FEW YEARS LATER, RUSSIAN COMRADES,

  • WHO DIDN'T WINTER ON THE RIVIERA, SHOT HIM.

  • HERE IN THE LAND OF OLIVES AND ANCHOVIES,

  • THE CHURCH'S PROUD ONION DOMES SEEM OUT OF PLACE.

  • BUT, I IMAGINE, SO DID THOSE RUSSIANS.

  • [ Orthodox choir singing ]

  • THE INTERIOR IS FILLED WITH ICONS AND CANDLES.

  • THE ICON WALL

  • DIVIDES THE TEMPORAL WORLD OF THE WORSHIPPERS

  • FROM THE SPIRITUAL WORLD BEHIND IT.

  • THE ANGEL, WITH RED BOOTS AND WINGS,

  • IS THE PROTECTOR OF RUSSIA'S RULING ROMANOV FAMILY.

  • THE HAMMERED-COPPER CROSS COMMEMORATES THE MASSACRE

  • OF THE CZAR AND HIS FAMILY IN 1918.

  • THE ICON OF THE VIRGIN AND CHILD

  • IS DECORATED WITH SILVER AND SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES.

  • A PRIEST HERE TOLD ME THAT, AS THE WORSHIPPER MEDITATES,

  • STARING DEEP INTO THE EYES OF AN ICON,

  • HE ENTERS A LAKE, WHERE HE FINDS HIS SOUL.

  • NICE WAS BORN ON ITS EASY-TO-FORTIFY HILL.

  • FROM THERE, AND INLAND FROM THE BEACH,

  • SPREADS ITS COLORFUL OLD TOWN.

  • THE OLD TOWN SQUARES FEEL MORE ITALIAN THAN FRENCH BECAUSE,

  • UNTIL 1860, NICE WAS RULED BY AN ITALIAN KING.

  • UNTIL THE MID-1800s, THE PEOPLE HERE SPOKE AN ITALIAN DIALECT.

  • STREET SIGNS ARE STILL IN TWO LANGUAGES

  • AND PASTA IS STILL A FAVORITE.

  • NICE'S ITALIAN RULERS LIVED IN THIS PALACE.

  • AS THE MODERN NATION OF ITALY WAS BEING CREATED,

  • THIS REGION WAS GIVEN A CHOICE:

  • JOIN THE CHAOTIC NEW COUNTRY OF ITALY,

  • OR JOIN WEALTHY FRANCE, WHICH WAS ENJOYING GOOD TIMES

  • UNDER THE RULE OF NAPOLEON THE THIRD.

  • THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE VOTED TO GO FRENCH, AND voilà.

  • THE OLD TOWN OFFERS

  • A CULTURAL SCAVENGER HUNT OF OPPORTUNITIES.

  • FROM ITS MEDIEVAL MARKET SQUARE WITH FRESH SEASONAL PRODUCE,

  • TO A PASTA SHOP SHOWING NICE'S ITALIAN ROOTS,

  • TO THE NEARBY PATISSERIE AUER.

  • ITS Belle Epoque STOREFRONT BRAGS THAT IT'S BEEN RUN

  • FROM FATHER TO SON SINCE 1820.

  • QUEEN VICTORIA SATISFIED HER SWEET TOOTH RIGHT HERE.

  • Socca, A THIN CHICKPEA CREPE,

  • SEASONED WITH PEPPER AND OLIVE OIL,

  • IS A PEASANT'S STAPLE PREDATING TOURISM

  • THAT'S STILL DEAR TO LOCAL HEARTS.

  • AT THIS BUSY STAND, THE socca ARRIVES BY MOTOR BIKE,

  • HOT OUT OF THE OVEN, AND IT'S SOLD AND GOBBLED UP

  • AS QUICKLY AS THEY CAN SLICE IT.

  • FLOWERS SEEM TO GROW EFFORTLESSLY AND EVERYWHERE

  • IN THIS IDEAL CLIMATE.

  • THIS HAS LONG BEEN

  • THE RIVIERA'S BIGGEST FLOWER MARKET.

  • FRESH FLOWERS ARE A FINE VALUE IN THIS OTHERWISE PRICEY CITY.

  • AND WITH SUCH AN ABUNDANCE OF FLOWERS,

  • IT'S NO WONDER PERFUME IS A LOCAL INDUSTRY.

  • THE MOLINARD FAMILY HAS BEEN MAKING PERFUME

  • FROM COTE d'AZUR FLOWERS FOR A CENTURY.

  • PERFUME IS DISTILLED LIKE COGNAC

  • AND THEN AGED LIKE WINE.

  • IT TAKES MORE THAN 400 POUNDS OF LAVENDER

  • TO PRODUCE JUST ONE QUART OF PURE ESSENCE.

  • FOR THE FRENCH,

  • FINDING JUST THE RIGHT PERFUME IS A PERSONAL QUEST.

  • BECAUSE SO MANY GREAT 20th-CENTURY ARTISTS

  • CHOSE TO LIVE AND WORK HERE, THE RIVIERA IS STUDDED

  • WITH WORLD-CLASS MODERN ART MUSEUMS.

  • HENRI MATISSE, MARC CHAGALL, PABLO PICASSO AND MANY OTHERS

  • RAVED ABOUT THE REGION'S LIGHT AND VIVID COLORS.

  • THEY WERE CHARMED BY THE SIMPLE LIFE-STYLES

  • OF FISHERMEN AND VILLAGERS.

  • THE ARTISTS' COLORFUL AND SEMI-ABSTRACT WORKS

  • REFLECT THE SLEEPY, MORE DREAMY RIVIERA

  • BEFORE ALL THE DEVELOPMENT HIT.

  • THEY SETTLED HERE IN THE SUN

  • AND PAINTED WITH WIDE-EYED WONDER.

  • THE MATISSE MUSEUM OFFERS A FASCINATING INTRODUCTION

  • TO MODERN ART INSPIRED BY THE FRENCH RIVIERA.

  • HENRI MATISSE OPENED A WINDOW ONTO PARADISE.

  • ARMED WITH THE BRIGHT COLORS OF THE IMPRESSIONISTS,

  • MATISSE CAPTURED THE RADIANT RIVIERA OF THE 1920s:

  • SEASCAPES, FRUIT, FLOWERS AND CURVACEOUS WOMEN.

  • MATISSE WAS THE MASTER OF LEAVING THINGS OUT,

  • LETTING US FILL IN THE REST.

  • MATISSE PAINTED THE THREE-DIMENSIONAL WORLD

  • AS A TWO-DIMENSIONAL PATTERN OF VIBRANT COLORS.

  • YOU DON'T LOOK THROUGH MATISSE ART LIKE A WINDOW;

  • YOU LOOK AT IT.

  • YOU CAN TRACE HIS WORK AS IT EVOLVES.

  • IT BECAME SIMPLER WITH TIME, FROM DETAILED REALISM,

  • TO A COLORFUL IMPRESSIONISTIC STYLE,

  • TO BOLD BLOCKS OF BRIGHT COLORS,

  • TO EVER SIMPLER FORMS,

  • PARING IMAGES DOWN TO TWO BASIC ELEMENTS:

  • LINE AND COLOR.

  • HIS SERIES CALLED JAZZ, LIKE THE MUSIC,

  • CELEBRATES ARTISTIC SPONTANEITY

  • AND THE OTHERWORLDLY BEAUTY THAT ART CAN CREATE.

  • MATISSE ENJOYED A LONG AND CONTINUALLY EVOLVING CAREER.

  • IN HIS 70s, FIGHTING CANCER AND CONFINED TO A WHEELCHAIR,

  • HE TRADED EASEL PAINTING FOR A NEW MEDIUM:

  • PAPER CUT-OUTS.

  • THE CUT-OUTS ARE A SINGLE COLOR WITH A STRONG OUTLINE.

  • SCISSORS IN HAND, MATISSE SAID,

  • "I CUT STRAIGHT INTO THE COLOR."

  • THE CHAGALL MUSEUM IS NEARBY.

  • STARTING IN THE 1950s,

  • MARC CHAGALL PAINTED A CYCLE OF CANVASSES

  • DESIGNED FOR THIS BUILDING.

  • EVEN IF YOU'RE SUSPICIOUS OF MODERN ART, THIS MUSEUM,

  • WITH THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF CHAGALL'S WORK IN CAPTIVITY,

  • IS A DELIGHT.

  • SEVENTEEN BIBLICAL SCENES MAKE UP THE NAVE, OR CORE,

  • OF WHAT CHAGALL CALLED "THE HOUSE OF BROTHERHOOD."

  • EACH PAINTING IS A LIGHTER-THAN-AIR COLLAGE

  • OF IMAGES INSPIRED BY CHAGALL'S RUSSIAN FOLK VILLAGE YOUTH,

  • HIS JEWISH HERITAGE, BIBLICAL THEMES AND HIS FEELING

  • THAT HE EXISTED SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH.

  • CHAGALL PAINTS A WORLD THAT'S HIDDEN TO THE EYE:

  • THE MAGICAL, MYSTICAL WORLD BELOW THE SURFACE.

  • HE BLENDS PERSONAL IMAGERY,

  • PARTICULARLY FROM HIS CHILDHOOD IN RUSSIA;

  • THE HASIDIC JEWISH PERSPECTIVE HE ABSORBED AS A CHILD --

  • THAT'S THE IDEA THAT GOD'S EVERYWHERE,

  • IN NATURE, ANIMALS AND EVERYDAY THINGS;

  • GRAVITY-DEFYING COMPOSITIONS,

  • WITH LOVERS, ANIMALS AND ANGELS TWIRLING BLISSFULLY IN MIDAIR;

  • AND CHILDLIKE SIMPLICITY -- SIMPLE, HEAVY OUTLINES,

  • OFTEN SPILLING OVER WITH CRAYOLA COLORS.

  • CHAGALL SAW THE BIBLE AS A SYNONYM FOR NATURE.

  • HIS BRILLIANT BLUES AND REDS

  • CELEBRATE NATURE AND ITS CREATOR.

  • HIS COUPLES ARE ENCHANTING.

  • TO CHAGALL, HUMANS LOVING EACH OTHER

  • MIRRORED GOD'S LOVE OF CREATION.

  • HE WROTE, "IN ART AS WELL AS IN LIFE,

  • ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, PROVIDED THERE IS LOVE."

  • THE SNUG PORT OF VILLEFRANCHE,

  • IN SPITE OF THE LUXURY YACHTS GLISTENING IN ITS BAY,

  • OFFERS TRAVELERS AN EASYGOING SLICE

  • OF SMALL-TOWN MEDITERRANEAN LIFE

  • JUST MINUTES FROM THE BUSTLE OF NICE AND JET-SETTY MONACO.

  • THIS TOWN FEELS ITALIAN, WITH SOFT ORANGE BUILDINGS,

  • STEEP, NARROW STREETS

  • AND ITS PASTEL HARBOR.

  • WHEN THE ORIGINAL ANCIENT PORT WAS OVERTAKEN BY PIRATES,

  • ITS VILLAGERS FLED INTO THE HILLS.

  • LATER, IN THE 13th CENTURY, THE KING WANTED TO REINHABIT

  • AND THEREFORE STRENGTHEN HIS COASTLINE.

  • TO ENCOURAGE THE VILLAGERS,

  • HE GRANTED THE TOWN TAX-FREE STATUS AND THIS PLACE BECAME

  • "VILLE," TOWN, "FRANCHE," WITHOUT TAXES...

  • VILLEFRANCHE.

  • VILLEFRANCHE WAS PROTECTED BY AN IMMENSE CITADEL.

  • TODAY, BECAUSE MOST OF ITS 8,000 PEOPLE CALL THIS

  • THEIR PRIMARY RESIDENCE,

  • VILLEFRANCHE FEELS MORE LIKE A REAL COMMUNITY

  • THAN NEIGHBORING RIVIERA TOWNS.

  • ONLY A FEW FAMILIES STILL FISH FOR A LIVING.

  • BUT HUGE YACHTS CALL THIS BAY HOME.

  • THIS STRETCH OF COAST

  • IS STUDDED WITH THE FLOATING TOYS OF MULTIMILLIONAIRES.

  • LOCALS KEEP TRACK OF THE WORLD'S BIGGEST YACHTS