With a literary heritage that will make bookworms swoon
(and a hedonistic array of champagne cocktails) Hôtel Belles Rives evokes all
the glamour of the French Riviera in the 20s.
“With our being back in a nice villa on my beloved Riviera
and Cannes) I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those
strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in
one’s life seems to be going well.” This is an extract from a
letter sent by F. Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway on his time
spent at his seaside home – Villa Saint Louis – in Juan-les-Pin,
now Hôtel Belles Rives.
It’s here, at Hôtel Belles Rives, that Fitzgerald began to write
Tender is the Night, while he rented the private seaside residence
with Zelda and his daughter in 1926. Visitors to the hotel (in
particular, those on a Fitzgerald pilgrimage) will delight in the
fact that just beyond the harbour, a small blinking green
lighthouse – which may have been the model for the green light on
the dock that symbolised Jay Gatsby’s longing for the elusive Daisy
– is visible.
Fitzgerald fans – add this to your hotel hit list, stat.
Some 42 rooms are kitted out with Pierre Frey fabrics and
original art-deco furnishings. In the all-marble bathroom, you’ll
find an array of Penhaligon’s products and fluffy robes, finished
in aqua-blue stitching. It’s worth noting that standard rooms are
on the smaller side, so reserve a suite if you can. A sea view is
also essential but otherwise, rooms follow a similar pattern.
What’s for breakfast?
Feast on a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs peppered to
perfection, paired with smoked salmon and roasted tomatoes. Follow
with fresh fruits or a stack of pancakes (other baked delights that
might entice include the zingy citron tart – yes, even at 7.30am).
Whether a meek or munificent morning meal, dining on the terrace is
How about lunch and dinner?
Dinner at La Passagère, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant,
is a schooling in French fine dining. Polite barks from under the
table are to be expected (this is the South of France chérie) as is
an abundance of fresh rye bread – even the butter is stylishly
plated, served in a pearlised shell. Pull out a blue-and-white
woven chair before commencing your feast – start with crab ravioli
and end with La Passagère’s signature lemon soufflé – a cloudlike,
zesty concoction that we could eat three times over. For a much
quicker meal, pop down to La Plage, a casual all-day eatery centred
around salads, grilled fish, langoustine skewers and, of course,
copious amounts of chilled rosé.
Is there a bar?
Piano Fitzgerald Bar, complete with (you guessed it) a grand
piano, leopard-upholstered seats, mirrored tables and a deliciously
hedonistic array of champagne-based cocktails, is a jewel box of a
room. Order “Green Therapy”, a cocktail of gin, cucumber and egg
whites, and hope you don’t get a taste for something you really
fancy (at around €20 a pour, drinks don’t come cheap).
There are two beaches – one rocky and the other a small sandy
slope – both with daily towel and sunlounger charges, so you’ll
find us rising early and parking up on the hotel’s jetty to secure
one of the prime lounging spots. Territory marked (with a retro
towel), spend the rest of the afternoon waterskiing across
Golfe-Juan Bay – the stretch of sea where water-skiing was
Things I should know
Some trivia. At Belles Rives – then Villa Saint Louis –
Fitzgerald began to write Tender is the Night, while he rented the
private seaside residence with Zelda and his daughter in 1926.
Within a short walk I can find…
If you enjoy hotel-hopping half as much as we do, then a
30-minute coastal walk is a short pilgrimage to worth embarking on.
Your Eden? Why Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, of course.