007 Travel story: Côte D’ Azur (FRANCE, ITALY, MONACO) 2013

007 Travel story: Côte D’ Azur (FRANCE, ITALY, MONACO) 2013

February 1, 2014 2 By 007 Travelers

CÔTE D´AZUR 21st – 28th of May 2013

Pirita’s and Mika’s own trip for two

Airline: Finnair
Flights: Helsinki – Nice – Helsinki, 252.31 € / person

Hotels:Bastide de la Brague, 55 Avenue numéro 6, Biot / Antibes, France
340.00 € / 4 nights

Hotel Provenza, Via Cornelio Tacito 4, Ventimiglia, Italy
205.00 € / 2 nights

Hotel Negresco, 37, Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France
248.00 € / 1 night

“Nice’s Nice View”

Tuesday 21st of May 2013

As usual, we left by taxi to the airport and there was quite long queue at the baggage drop. At the same time, there were plenty of holiday flights, people were going to Canary Islands as well as other holiday destinations. We had also to put the tags to our bags by ourselves (self -service, you know…). Our flight took off at 08.10 AM and it went well.

When we landed to Nice, we immediately took taxi to Nice harbour, where we headed to Rivage Croisiere ticket office and picked  up tickets to sunset cocktail cruise, which was going to happen in next day. We were able to pick up the tickets before the office closed its doors at 12.00 AM. Then we continued to train station, and while we were in the train, the shipping company called and told us that the evening cruise had been cancelled and they offered the slightly longer afternoon cruise as a replacement. We took it, but consequence was that it changed our time schedules significantly and we had to made new planning for the day.

We traveled by train from Nice to Biot and our guest house’s hostess Isabelle picked us up by her car and took us to Bastide de la Brague. 

Bastide de la Brague

After she showed our room to us, we headed to the neighboring Marineland. Ticket price was 38 euros, pretty expensive, but all the shows were included in the ticket price: Sea Lions , Dolphins & Whales. Great things to see!

After Marineland we went to visit Antibes and walked to the harbor and beyond. We took photos of Fort Carre d’Antibes, which is the fortress in the Sean Connery‘s 007 movie “Never Say Never Again“. The fortress was Bond villain Largo’s villa in the movie. Some of the outdoors shots were filmed there.

(Did you know: The title of the movie is (allegedly) based on a conversation between Sean Connery and his wife. After “Diamonds Are Forever“, 12 years earlier, he told her he’d *never* play James Bond again, and there he was, playing James Bond again. Her response was for him to “never say never again”. 

Since this was an “unofficial” Bond movie, the producers were not able to use the famous gun barrel symbol or Bond theme music. This movie was actually a re-filming of “Thunderball”).

Fort Carre d’Antibes

Then we ate dinner at a restaurant called CK. There, a glass of sparkling wine was included to dinner price. Mika ate Salade Nicoise and Pirita something else. What a good way to end the first day in France. After dinner, taxi took us back to Biot, because public transport was stopped at 8 PM.

Wednesday 22nd of May 2013

Breakfast (which was included to the room rate) was starting at 7 AM, but our host Franck was about to go to fishing in the morning, so he was so kind that he got up as early as 6 AM to make some breakfast for us. From Biot we went to Monaco by train. Tickets had to be bought before we went to the train. There was a ticket machine in the station and we had to validate our tickets before stepping in to the train. Day was bright and sunny and our first destination was Prince’s Palace on the top of the hill. We saw stunning views over the harbor of Monaco and took some photos. After walking back the stairs, we took a bus and drove to the center of Monte-Carlo.

From “GoldenEye
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

We took photos of Hotel de Paris (from Bond book “Role of Honour“), as well as of the famous Casino, to where we were suppose to go to the guided tour. However, it seemed to be closed for some reason. Instead, we went to Cafe de Paris and enjoyed a drink and a giant ice-cream.

Mika in front of Hotel de Paris

Bond arrives with Aston Martin to Casino in “GoldenEye
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC
Monte-Carlo Casino

We shot the Opera House entrance and walked towards “Lover’s Lane”. From there we headed to Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix race track, where we were able to walk, before the actual race was about the start next day (qualifying session).

In front of Opera House

Entrance to Opera House in “Never Say Never Again”
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

”Bond was to catch the Blue Train to the Côte d’Azur. An apartment was reserved for him in the Hôtel de Paris.”

John Pearson: “James Bond, The Authorized Biography of 007″

”At a little after six on Tuesday the Mulsanne slid into Monaco’s Place Casino and up to the entrance of the Hotel de Paris. It was a splendid, clear spring evening, with hardly a breath of wind to stir the palm trees in the gardens which front the Grand Casino.”

John Gardner: “Role of Honour”

“They walked behind the casino on Avenue de Monte Carlo, past the Bar Américain, and down broad stone steps to the gardens and terraces of the Casino. This was an ideal lover’s walk, as the gardens overlooked Monte Carlo’s harbour and were stocked with all kinds of exotic flowers.”

Raymond Benson: “Never Dream of Dying”

From Monaco to Cannes. Cannes film festivals were on going and we spotted Jackie Stewart and Roman Polanski at least, narrowly missed Robert Redford. People were shouting his name, when he went over. Parties were on-going at Palais des Festivals, the festival area was looking nice, some shop were closed temporarily when assistants of the big stars did shopping. 

We continued to Cannes harbor, from where our 3-hour day cruise departed.
For the price of 40 EUR, we were able to circle around the Bay of Cannes, with and without motor’s help. We sailed in front of famous hotels, such as Hotel Majestic, Carlton Intercontinental Hotel and Hotel Martinez.

Carlton Hotel

“They bathed together and then had a luxurious dinner in her room at the Carlton. Tylyn dressed Bond’s wounds and kissed them, then gave him a thorough massage.”

Raymond Benson “Never Dream of Dying

The cruise price included refreshments and pastries. The real price for this cruise would have been 50 euros, but we got some discount due to the evening cruise cancellation. When we anchored in the middle of the sea, we saw how some sales man went from boat to boat selling ice-cream! 

The cruise ended literally at a good time. Thunderstorm started just after we got out of the boat and it was raining heavily. While waiting rain to stop, we went for a dinner to pizzeria called La Pizza Cresci, which sold half pizzas! After watching some festival stuff, we traveled back to our hotel and second day was wrapped.

Thursday 23rd of May 2013

After early breakfast we traveled back to Cannes. We had plans to rent a car from there and make trips to nearby cities. Unfortunately, all rental cars were sold out and next ones would have been free until the following week. We headed to same harbor than day before and this time took the ferry to Iles des Lerins, where was island of Honorat. After half an hour we reached the island and explore it by walking through it, finding Chappelle Saint-Sauveur, its monasteries and chapels and then went to make some shopping in monastery’s small souvenir shop. When we returned to Cannes, we were the only passengers in the ferry, so we got a private sea tour!

The island of Honorat

In Cannes train station, they told us that trains to Grasse had been replaced for some reason by busses. There was one hour time to wait the next bus, so we had a lunch at Le Triopmhe restaurant near the station and there were best salads ever! Finally, we managed to get to the bus and journey to Grasse took an hour and on the way we saw nice landscapes before and after the city of Mougins. In Grasse, our goal was Fragonard perfume factory. We were able to buy products with factory shop prices and we saw a little bit how the production goes. If  we would have wanted to produce our own scent, it would have been lasted 2 hours. Price for that was 45 euros, including educational session and manufacturing. We had no time for this, so we returned back to Cannes by bus and from there we took a train to charming little village called Villefranche-Sur-Mer.

Here, we enjoyed ice-creams at beach cafe and then went to search 007 filming locations. First we walked to Pollonnaise square, where we can see Bond following Domino Petachi in “Never Say Never Again”. 

Bond follows Domino in
Never Say Never Again”
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

From there we continued to the Port de la Sante harbor, where Domino arrives by the boat in a same film. 

Port de la Sante harbour

After that we went to Port de la Darse. There we found an old warehouse to where motorbike chase ends.

Bond drives to the warehouse:
Never Say Never Again
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

We also visited La Citadelle’s yard, where Bond and Domino escapes from Largo’s Palmyra estate (so parts of the Palmyra were filmed here and some parts in before mentioned Fort Carre). 

La Citadelle
La Citadelle 30 years earlier
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

We also spotted James Bond’s villa, which is located high in the mountains.

James Bond villa

Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Then evening began to arrive at the beautiful Riviera. We traveled by train to Monaco, where we climbed up the stairs to Fort Antoine’s open-air theater, which is seen in the Pierce Brosnan‘s “GoldenEye“. In the movie Bond walks up the stairs past the open-air theater, where is some mimic performance on-going. Bond looks down and sees how Xenia Onatopp and Admiral Farrell leave by boat from port of Yacht Club.

The stairs of Fort Antoine theater

Fort Antoine theater in
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC
Bond watches towards Yacht Club in
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

“During this warm evening, some of the tourists were watching the performing mime in the square, while others stared down the bright lights of the harbour. James Bond didn’t just stare.”

John Gardner: “GoldenEye”

Then, we took tasty milkshakes with us, while walking back to Monaco train station. When we arrived back to our hotel, Isabelle and Franck gave us next morning´s breakfast and took it to our room’s fridge.

Friday 24th of May 2013

Breakfast in the room and then from Biot to Antibes by train, where we changed train and continued to Saint-Raphael. There we visited the church of the Basilique Notre -Dame de la Victoire. After that we walked to the harbor and bought ferry tickets to Saint-Tropez. 25 Euros / person / round-trip. Les Bateaux de Bleu Saint-Raphael ferry took off from the shore, despite of heavy wind. After an 1 hour journey, we arrived to St. Tropez and walked around the center and bought some gifts.

St Tropez

We had earlier already found out that there public transportation is not very frequent, so we took a taxi and drove to 7 km trip to Ramatuelle. Taxi cost was 30 euros. There was St. Tropez’s main destination: Pampelonne Beach and the Club 55

Pirita´s nails by: Susanna´s Nail-Salon. Järvenpää, Finland

Club 55 entrance

There are only three Club 55 beach clubs in the world. We were curious and went there a little before opening time and tried to get free table to have a lunch there. We were lucky enough to get the table and soon after, the whole place became full, because of pre-orders. Brigitte Bardot had called this as her favorite place. After all, she is a local citizen.

Pirita @ Club 55

After walking at Pampelonne Beach, the wind began to blow so much that we went to take a taxi back to St. Tropez side. We had to go somewhere to hide from the wind and we found an art exhibition. It was interesting, artists themselves were also present. Before returning back, we went to Restaurant & Club Papagayo and had ice-creams and drinks. Despite the strong winds, we were able to get back to Cannes and from there by train to Antibes. After having a dinner at Le Maloune restaurant, we took a taxi to Biot. 

Saturday 25th of May 2013

After breakfast we checked out from our Biot hotel. Franck’s fishing buddy drove us to the station and we with our suitcases traveled by train to the Italian side and to the city of Ventimiglia. Our hotel called Provenza was located about one kilometer from the station. It was still a morning time, so our room was not ready yet and we left our luggage to hotel’s storage.

We went up to the mountains, where was Hanbury Botanic Gardens (Sir Thomas Hanbury Gardens at La Mortola). Tickets: á 9 euro. The magnificent botanical garden, which started from the top of the hill and we walked down the mountain side lower and lower to the valley. Of course, after reaching the bottom, we had to climb back to the top, so we got our day’s exercise there.

 We didn’t want to go back to the hotel yet, so we took a bus and traveled from Ventimiglia to San Remo. The distance was about 15 kilometers.

San Remo harbour

We walked downtown and took some photos in the port. When we walked to the picturesque shopping arcade, we found nice place Ristorante 3 Scalini, where we ate Italian pasta and drank red wine.

In the end, it was time to make a return trip back to Ventimiglia side. There was a bus stop close to our hotel and we left the bus there. Our room was ready now, so we took our baggage in and we went back out immediately and headed back to France side by train. This time we went to Menton, where we walked along the promenade and visited local U-supermarket, where we found a wine called Pieru (which is Fart in Finnish). Oh, yeah!

Our first Bond target in Menton was Eglise St. Michel Church and its square. There 007 was driving his motorcycle down the stairs in front of the church, while chasing Fatima Blush in “Never Say Never Again“. 

Square of St. Michel Church
Bond drives in to the square
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC
Bond drives down the stairs in
Ramps Saint Michel
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Chase continues to the tunnel of Square Victoria, where Fatima’s sidekicks capture Bond, before he is able to escape. 

Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Square Victoria tunnel
Square Victoria tunnel in
Never Say Never Again”
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Then we continued along the Promenade de la Mer and found a restaurant Le Galion, which is mentioned in a John Gardner book “Role of Honour“. Then we headed back to the Italian side. 

“If they stayed for the evening in Monaco, they ate dinner in the hotel, but when they get excited of Cannes casino, they appeared in La Napoule L’Oasis tasting there the chef Louis Outhier’s the last temptation. Sometimes they ate at little more conventional Negresco, Nice, or even La Reserve a Beaulieu, or – when suitable opportunity occurred – a modest, Le Galion, which was located in Menton, Garavan harbour city.”

John Gardner: “Role of Honour”

When we were back in Ventimiglia, we had a dinner at Pizzeria Da Tonino. Atmosphere was very Italian: everyone was speaking loudly, while watching a soccer match from television. After dinner, it was time to go to sleep, because it was time to go the watch the Monaco Grand Prix next day.

Sunday 26th of May 2013

Originally the intention was to leave towards the Monaco track at 7.00 AM to get the good seats. However, we had seen in the previous day that Le Rocher, where we were about to go, was already full of chairs and such, because people had reserved the best places already. We decided to sleep a little bit longer and had a breakfast in peace. That was not included to room rate, but cost of it was only five euros per person.

We were aware in advance that Le Rocher was going to be full. It was all or nothing situation. If you get a bad place, you won’t see anything, but if you manage to get yourself to a good place, you can see better than from gold stands. We were prepared to sit on a slope, which can be quite hard. People had climbed to trees and lampposts to see the race. We got great places by arriving about one hour before the race started. We saw the whole race better than the average spectator would have seen. Pretty good value for 75 euros tickets! We also had a direct view to the big screen, where we could see the parts of the track that we couldn’t otherwise see.

The air was hot and there was plenty of excitements in the race. Kimi Räikkönen didn’t win, but we got half win, since Nico Rosberg was the winner when the race was over. He’s half Finn, half German, cause his dad is Formula One world champion Keke Rosberg. Queuing out of the area seemed to take forever. At last we reached a crowded train, and we went back to Ventimiglia. It was a good choice to take accommodation from Italian side, since majority of tourists were staying in Nice and France side. There was a lot of traffic jams in that direction.

The winner of Monaco Grand Prix 2013: Nico Rosberg

In Ventimiglia, we went across the bridge to the old town side of the city. We sat in the terrace of Restaurant San Giuseppe, where was nice views to the sea. Then we started to walk back to the hotel. On the way, there were so called love locks in the bridge and Mika luckily had one lock in his bag, so we carved our initials to the lock and locked it to the bridge.

Lock of love

We ate at Ristorante Il Brigantino, a family restaurant down by the sea. We chose to eat according to tourist menu, which was quite extensive. After that, back to the hotel.

Monday 27th of May 2013

After breakfast, we did some last minute shopping in the Italian side. After checking out, we traveled back to French side and stopped at Nice this time. Taxi driver raised his eyebrows, when we said that our destination was Negresco hotel. It’s pretty expensive hotel, but we wanted some luxury even for one night. In addition, Negresco is also a Bond hotel. Mr. Bond has stayed there in John Gardner book “Licence Renewed” and ate there in same author’s book “Role of Honour“.

In front of Hotel Negresco

Our room was not ready yet, so we left the bags in the hotel and went to mini train ride. The train circled around the old part of Nice. It also went up to the mountain, where we saw fabulous views over Nice: Baie des Anges / Promenade des Anglais looked beautiful.

Promenade des Anglais

After mini train ride, we went directly to the Hop on Hop off bus tour and as customers of Negresco we got some discount. Bus made a larger circle than mini train a while ago. Bus went also quite close to Sean Connery’s house, which is located at Boulevard Carnot. We didn’t ring his doorbell, though…

Nice le Grand Tour bus went through the following locations:

1 Promenade – Etats- Unis
2 Port – Quai Lunel
3 Place the Ile de Beauté
4 Croisière – Bleu Rivage
5 Place Garibaldi
6 Acropolis – Barla Louis Nuceran library’s main office
7 Cimiez – Monastère Cimiez Monastery
8 Musée Chagall
9 Raimbaldi – Lépante
10 Gare SNCF main train station
11 Eglise Russe – Russian church
12 Promenade – Magna
13 Congrès Massena Museum
14 Verdun Massena

The bus driver drove like in a wild west. After we had survived the last ride of the day, we took cocktails in Fregata bar.

After this we checked in to the hotel. We took a tour at the grand lobby and it was amazing. Circular in shape, everything looked good indeed. Even the elevator was decorated with red velvet. 

Our room was really nice as well, from open balcony we had spectacular view to the Eiffel winter garden and to the sea.

We had made a dinner reservation for the carousel restaurant Le Rotonde, which had moving carousel horses and interior otherwise also like in carnival. We got a window table where we enjoyed a champagne dinner of 150 euros. After that we walked around the shops of Negresco. There were some soft toys and cost of them varied between 1000 and 2000 euros. We didn’t buy any…

Mika & Pirita @ La Rotonde

In the evening we walked to the hotel’s private beach and took a short walking tour on the promenade. Our hotel stands on the promenade and features in almost all postcard or souvenir that can be purchased from Nice. The hotel itself is old, built in 1912 and opened the public a year later, so there were 100th anniversary year in 2013. Hotel has been owned by the same family for the last 50 years. The service is first class, such as the 5-star hotel should have. They mailed our postcards for us, and we didn’t have to worry about stamps either. We could make food orders 24/7 and room service was ready to serve at all times.

Tuesday 28th of May 2013

We ordered breakfast in our room. Gorgeous table arrived just the time we had ordered it. This was a luxurious way to end our Nice trip and it was worth it, even if the cost was 60 euros. We enjoyed the breakfast fully wearing Negresco’s bath robes. Then it was time to check out and go towards the airport.

Breakfast at own room in Negresco

“Then they sat and breakfasted at the balcony, watching the early strollers along Promenade des Anglais and the white triangles of yacht sails against the Mediterranean.”

John Gardner: “Licence Renewed

Our plane took off from Nice airport at 11.20 AM and we were on our way back to Finland.

“He noticed the distinctive yellow Ferrari as soon as he pulled the Aston Martin into the Casino’s parking area. He was not even thinking about the race on the Grand Corniche, for Bond’s mind was on Caroline. Were those really tears he detected in her eyes as she held him close on saying goodbye at Nice airport?”

John Gardner: “GoldenEye”

We had made again a memorable trip 🙂


Côte D´Azur, part 1: (Antibes, Monte-Carlo, Cannes, Villefranche-Sur-Mer)

Côte D´Azur, part 2: (Villefranche-Sur-Mer, Saint-Tropez, Menton, Monaco)

Côte D´Azur, part 3: (Monaco F1 GP, Nice)

Côte D´Azur: (The whole video)

See the list of 007 LOCATIONS (visited), excluding 007 HOTELS (visited) and
007 RESTAURANTS (visited), which have sections of their own, please follow the links.