Haute Travel: Fall in the South of France

Leaving out Fréjus had something to do with tradition or perhaps it was a small tribute to Le Train Bleu. A force behind the 19th century aristocracy arriving to forgotten rural coastal towns where olive trees would greet them in the mild winter atmosphere. Yet here I was in medias res glancing at the ceiling of Hotel Hermitage on a Saturday auction of unique watch pieces, a few rows behind HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. Autumn already set foot in the calendar yet my thoughts momentarily swayed to a tiny peninsula on the Riviera in mid-July. Just for a moment…

On the left, the black Steinway piano. In the centre, the double bass, placed on its side. On the right, the drums. Opposite, the public, ready for the celebration. Keith, Jack and Gary arrive. A silent formal greeting. Then music, emotion, art. Nothing else. And that intimate conversation which began a long time ago, on a certain 23rd July 1985, resumes. Since that year, they have faithfully kept their appointment. And while it is understandable that different spectators may have different preferences regarding their performances over the years, there is no denying that each one was memorable; on every occasion, they present a new world to be discovered…


An exhaust murmur ceased to exist the very same moment when an electronic gas pedal reached its lowest point on the floor. Power delivered to both front and rear arrived in big lumps from what proved to be an inline 6-cylinder breathing. Needless to say, I was alive and so was the winding road leading towards the Azure Coast. Accompanying me on this journey was a particular combination of letters. First there was the d and right next to it an M. A most recent upgrade from Bavaria. Albeit intense the piston movement and pressure from three turbo chargers, the engine coolant temperature remains at idle. Should I be surprised? More to worry should a concierge lean his body against the hot metal body panels while reaching for the luggage. After all I’ve arrived. Eze. Perched above the sea on an inclined cliff, the last resort which kept the Saracens from polluting these shores with swords and beards.

The name is derived from a legend, yet personified by a Yugoslavian violinist Zlatko Balokovič who was guided to this place in Eze by a goat with golden hair. Whoever wrote this story on paper, tamed the name of Chevre d’Or. A hotel, a boutique establishment, even a restaurant graced with two Michelin stars. It’s been sixty years since the likes of Humprey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor, Roger Moore let alone Laurent Bacal have enjoyed this stunning property 429 meters above the sea line. Not more than thirty rooms in timeless décor guarantee, it will be a monumental triumph to occupy one of them in the summer months. Yet I have. Picturesque is the village of Eze and even more the view down to St Jean-Cap-Ferrat.


Exactly 33 watch manufacturers have each produced a unique timepiece for the Only Watch charitable auction aimed at research on Duschenne Muscular Dystrophy. One wrist watch totalled for almost half of the amassed funds, and as the Antiquorum director Julien Schaerer called it, “the most expensive titanium watch ever”. The Patek Philippe Reference 5004 is one of the great classics from Grand Complications collection. . Its Caliber CHR 27-70 Q is based on a “Nouvelle Lémania” movement, produced exclusively for Patek Philippe and completely reworked in the company’s workshops, to which Patek Philippe’s engineers and master watchmakers have added a sophisticated split-seconds mechanism and a very fine perpetual calendar. The movement comprises 407 parts, meticulously finished by hand according to the workshops’ time-honored methods. This Only Watch 2013 special Reference 5004T is the first and only version ever produced in titanium.

The auction summed 5.066.000 EUR and proved to be the most successful to date. This fifth edition of the biennial event coincides with the Monaco Yacht Show which has for four days displayed the most extravagant of superyachts in the world. Luckily for the ocean lovers an ending of the later, marks the beginning of a different type of gathering. First week of October and the Mediterranean becomes a playground for the wind worshippers right in those blue waters front of St. Tropez. More than three hundred sailing boats gather, about one half of those being vintage and classic. Shaped since the late nineteenth century, this is the great history of International Yachting. And what a view, a composure of disciplined vessels. Some of the greatest in the world. Les Voiles des St. Tropez is a celebration of the finest sailing boats from all around the world and what better than almost a ten days festival commemorating the highlights of an époque never to be forgotten. As for the view, what better way than sailing right in the middle of the action. For that, we had a unique opportunity to board the latest sailing cruiser from a CNB shipyard.


An obvious continuation of the Bordeaux series, the 76 aluminium footer premiered at the Cannes boat show and set its sails immediately afterwards. For the testing, of what proves to be, a vessel in need of just two people to operate. Properly proud, the founder of the shipyard Olivier Lafourcade can’t find of the words which compliment this first in the series model. Seaworthy, elegant, efficient, comfortable and easy to handle, with her superb proportions and a unique elegance signed by talented, world famous naval architect Philippe Briand.

Tucked on the sun deck, I simply marvel at the 440m2 spinnaker in bright red, the speed we effortlessly gather, its ease of operation and most of all, a view to die for. All what Les Voiles des St. Tropez has to offer is surrounding us on this firs regatta day, from a mere 9 m to a 50 plus meter yacht. Coming to a standstill in one of the bays, I witness an ingenious anchor silently hidden in the bow, and then it’s lunch time.

Sun, wind and salty water, how much of an ordeal for the skin to cope with. Those who know, understand they have to cleanse it before applying any active substances. Ceramic Slip full of extracts from jasmine, sandalwood, frankincense, French green clay among others will ready the skin for the potent potions. Such as Good Genes, Start Over or Juno. The extents of locating ingredients which nourish, moisturize, inhibit, reverse, reduce, increase, upregulate and rejuvenate our most protective organ is quite simply astonishing. Yet Sunday Riley is placing these delicate creams filled in glass bottles in our hands and asking us to simply respect ourselves.


I wonder whether Zlatko Balokovič would sit in the passenger seat of my borrowed X6 with the red-blue M sign. For sure he would not need to walk up Eze following a golden goat, yet relieved in comfort he would enter a concert hall very much tranquil. For other lovers of classical music, yes, there is a very much sophisticated stereo system with 13 speakers installed in this innocently white beast, much more to my delight, with 381 horse power, the average fuel it gulped was just 10 litres of diesel. You should see it scorch the highway, leaving the Alps Maritimes in the rear view mirror, with speeds indecent to mark the paper.

“You need to widen the scope of jazz so as not to leave it,” this was the motto of André Hodeir, the great jazz composer and violinist who recently passed away. This year once again, in Juan-les-Pins, jazz will lead you from blues and folk to free by way of rock, bossa-nova, funk and… Bach. Jazz was certainly able to win over musicians of different cultures, assimilate different traditions and influences, from America, Europe, Africa, India, Asia and other unknown countries…

Cote d’Azure is discovered on one’s first visit. Yet never fully revealed and uncovered. Returning year by year, one understands why.

Ibrahim Maalouf, class I seat, concert – 97 EUR
CNB 76 – starting at 2 million EUR
BMW X6 50d M – 107.000 EUR
Les Voiles des St. Tropez aboard Mariquita – priceless
Patek Philippe Reference 5004 titanium – 2.950.000 EUR
Chevre d’Or restaurant menu – starting at 95 EUR
Monaco Yacht Show daily pass – 80 EUR
Sunday Riley Juno – 125 EUR

Patek Philippe

CNB 76

Photo: SAGA Institute, Only Watch, Patek Philippe, CNB, Carlo Borlenghi, Monaco Yacht Show, Sunday Riley