Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Cannes, France

Driving into Cannes, France from the Italian Rivieria through Monte Carlo was an experience. The streets sparkle like diamonds, seriously! What do they put in the street to make it sparkle? I want it for my driveway, haha! We first stayed at the Intercontinental Carlton. This is the stuff dreams are made of. This is the 5 star hotel where the elite stay when they come for the Cannes Film Festival. Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Sofia Loren, Alfred Hitchcock, Sean Connery, Uma Thurman, Sharon Stone, & Sean Penn all have suites named after them and are the rooms they stayed in often. It is located on the famous La Croisette Boulevard, right in front of the beach and sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. 
The hotel first opened in 1911. In 1954, Alfred Hitchcock filmed To Catch a Thief at the hotel. In the summer of 1983, the hotel and its private beach featured prominently in the music video for the Elton John song I'm Still Standing. (The video also appears in the 2019 film Rocketman.) During the shooting of the video, the Carlton was the scene of a drunken party involving  Elton John and the band Duran Duran that has since become something of a legend at the hotel. Significant damages to the rooms in Elton John's suite resulted. Not going to lie, if I would have realized this video was filmed here prior to staying, I would have for sure recreated scenes from it, haha. I guess that means I have to go back!
The Carlton Cannes has been the target of several high-profile jewelry robberies.  In 1994, three men brandishing automatic weapons entered the jewelry store in the hotel and proceeded to open fire. The thieves made off with over $60 million in jewelry and precious stones. After the investigation, it was determined that the thieves were firing blanks as no bullet holes were evident. The thieves have not been apprehended. In 2013, a thief stole $137 million in jewels from the hotel in a daylight robbery. The jewelry was part of a temporary exhibition. No suspects have been charged with the heist. The heist has been called the biggest heist ever in France, and possibly the biggest heist of all time.
*The hotel is currently closed to undergo a crazy gorgeous remodel and is expected to open in the Spring of 2023.
I took so many photos around the hotel. The staircases were amazing. There are actually amazing staircases on both ends of the hotel! The hotel even shared one of my photos on their Instagram! 
This picture is dedicated to Aubrey and all of her friends lol. I have got SO much crap for having this photo on my Instagram from Aub & her friends. If only they would have seen the music video.....
"Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid"
-Elton John, I'm Still Standing, music video filmed at this hotel

Different staircases on the opposite ends of the hotel

Brian and I got a little bit of alone time in Cannes. We left the girls in the room and went to the Carlton Beach Club, right out front of the hotel. We also walked to where the Cannes Film Festival is and I got to walk the red carpet. 

We enjoyed seeing the creative window displays of all the biggest designers. If I had to pick one place in the world that has been my favorite shopping, it would be Cannes. The stores are across from the sea! And there was just something so magical about it. Here, take all my money, happily. After shopping, we had an inexpensive meal at McDonald's hahahahaha. Guys. Seriously, the McDon in Cannes is where it is at. Their food was on another level. Gourmet-looking salads, pasta salads, their chicken...it felt like a restaurant. I guess if you are going to be right next to all these high-end shops and right across from the Mediterranean Sea, you need to up your food game. 

       Louis Vuitton window display                                        LV
Dolce & Gabbana 

Christian Dior
We enjoyed exploring Cannes on foot and finding the hidden gems of the city. There was a carousel by the sea, movie scenes you could insert your face in, interactive art everywhere, fun graffiti, just an all-around gorgeous city, even away from the beach and sea. 
Aubrey and I did a Create Your Own  Signature Perfume class in Grasse, France at Galimard. They have been in business since 1747! It was SO much fun! You start with 127 scents and create your signature fragrance. We had a custom label with the name we chose for our scent applied to the bottle and received a mastery certificate. They even gave little sister, who wasn't old enough to participate in the class at the time, her own vial of perfume that mommy created. The final perfume consists of a blended “Top Note” (peak), Middle Note (heart note), and Base Note (fond note). Your unique formula will be recorded in Galimard's confidential database for you to re-order at your convenience (in Parfum, Eau de Parfum, body lotion, shower gel, or scent diffuser). You can book a similar tour here. Thanks to the precious scents indigenous to the French Riviera, Grasse was named the Perfume capital of the world. Grasse is only 10.5 miles from Cannes. 
Bay of Angels

My Grandmother used to visit Nice, France in the summers of her youth before the war. She had a sibling who had a home there and she would go to stay with them. It was over 650 miles away from her home, but still in France. I was anxious to visit Nice. There was a terror attack in Nice on Bastille Day in 2016. Bastille Day for France is similar to the 4th of July in the States, a day of celebrations. In a few weeks, we would be attending Bastille Day celebrations in Paris and I was fearful that visiting Nice would bring up the fear of being in large crowds during the same event in France. When the attack happened in 2016, I was on Instagram and was looking at the hashtags for Nice and came upon some absolutely gut-wrenching images that stick with you forever. Haunting ones. They were uploaded by supporters of the responsible group, who were proud of the loss of life and destruction. It was such an uneasy feeling to go to the same spot I had seen families killed. The same feeling you get when visiting the 9/11 memorial at the site of the Twin Towers. Somber, but this was still a newer, vivid memory for me. I kept putting the day trip to Nice off but finally decided to do it on an overcast day when beach life and shopping and other site seeing weren't prime. When we got to the Promenade des Anglais (Walkway of the English),  it was bumper-to-bumper traffic. I really only wanted to see the famed pebbly beaches of Nice, and since I was already anxious about being here, I decided to leave the kids in the car with Brian and let them go park somewhere so I could get out and go see the beach full of pebbles and grab a few pictures quickly. Brian was not able to find a place to park and traffic was forcing him to stay on a certain route, so while he tried to find a way to loop back to me, I walked along the Promenade des Anglais all the way up to where it turns into Quai des Etats-Unis (United States Dock) and then up to The Bay of Angels. When walking from the beach back to the promenade, I got a sick feeling and I was kind of out of it realizing I was walking where so much death and tragedy happened. I was not paying attention and almost got run over by a cyclist as I was in the bike lane. I hurried to the pedestrian area and continued to the Bay of Angeles for a great view of Nice. Walking along the Promenade were the French military walking with their weapons out. We have seen this in Paris near famous monuments and in Italy. I am still not used to it, people walking towards you with weapons out, it's a weird feeling. Especially mixed with the other emotions I was having.
I found a huge art installation of a hashtag that said #ILOVENICE. I grabbed my tourist photos of the sign, then went and got back in the car and that was it for Nice. 
I really wanted to visit a spice market in the South of France. In every guidebook, there is info telling you how to see some of the most high quality spices in the world. We found a smaller market in Cannes. There were many different vendors selling cheeses, seafood, olives, truffles, spices and produce. 
We also stayed a couple nights at the Holiday Inn in Cannes, free with hotel points. We all wanted a pool to swim, and the pool at the Intercontinental Carlton was still being built. Can't pass up a free hotel stay in Cannes! 


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