Hotel du Cap FranceHotel du Cap Families
Paradise is no longer lost— it’s been lying low on the French Riviera. Tucked neatly away on sun-drenched Cap d’Antibes is the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, one of the most sought-after summer addresses in the world. With 22 acres of well-appointed grounds and soaring trees, look no further than this legendary coastal hideaway for an extravagant family vacation.
These days, Hotel du Cap appeals to a hip, jet set family clientele where the Jolie-Pitt brood and J-Lo twins are more likely to occupy the hotel’s coveted cabana space than Daddy Warbucks. Upon arrival, families are greeted with heavenly chocolate truffles along with teddy bears, pint-sized children’s robes and comfy slippers for the kids. The courteous staff is quite literally at your beck and call and you’ll quickly come to the realization that the only finger you’ll lift here is the one that guides that ice-cold Bellini towards your mouth while you take in those rays of sun that dance on the Mediterrean.
Children are welcomed year-round but activities reach their peak during July and August. Water sports rule and the resort’s resident Jacques Cousteau will teach the young ones to swim, windsurf, and sail. Older children will enjoy cavorting in the hotel’s retro seawater infinity pool which effortlessly spills into the Mediterranean. As they descend a short flight of stairs off the pool’s deck and avoid encounters of the sandy kind, they’ll discover a launching pad to the Mediterranean’s calm blue waters.
For those craving sandy encounters, the resort has sandboxes suitable for sandcastles by day and pétanque by night. Have an urge for an actual beach? An obliging staff member will whisk you off to Plage de la Garoupe, one of the area’s finest stretches of beach. As an escape from the scorching midday heat, head indoors with the kids for pastry and chocolate workshops from the hotel’s famed pastry chef.
As dinner hour draws near, there’s the perfect opportunity to break out that sports jacket you nabbed for junior at last year’s Bonpoint sample sale. The restaurant’s laid-back atmosphere will give you room to actually breathe, savor your meal, and bask in the sunset while your children marvel at the table-side preparation of Steak Diane.. The chef will gladly purée the menu’s vegetables du jour for your little one, or prepare the gnocchi — sans morels — for that picky eater. You won’t be rushed or hushed here but if the kids can’t last through dessert — no worries. Your dessert will beat you to your room complete with digestifs and of course, milk.
Take advantage of the hotel’s expert pampering then bounce back to earth and explore the rest of Antibes which was a favorite summer haunt of another Hotel du Cap guest, Pablo Picasso. Be sure not to miss the Musée Picasso, located in the16th-century Château Grimaldi in Vieil Antibes. Not only does the museum house several of the artist’s most striking works, but , Picasso actually made the château his temporary studio in the 1940’s.
For a pleasant stroll in town, head to lively Juan Les Pins. Known for its nightlife, this charming, waterfront community is also worth a lunch stop, especially if you have younger children. Grab some crêpes and paninis at Le Crystal then head to Jardin de la Pinède for a picnic where the children can enjoy the carousel, bumper cars, and an impromptu international play-date on the brisk merry-go-round.
For some good old-fashioned family fun, Marineland is a short, 15-minute drive from Hotel du Cap. Head out early for daring encounters with dolphins, stingrays, penguins and polar bears. Even the underwater shark tunnel gives Atlantis a run for its money as does the mini-golf course and Aquasplash Water Park.
When your action-packed adventures leave you craving something French — and not french fried— head to nearby Biot for a civilized meal. Set on a hilltop overlooking Antibes, this quaint village is the glass-blowing capital of the Riviera. The kids can watch experts shape molten glass into unique, brightly colored forms while you prepare to purchase bubbly homemade glassware on your way out.
The town center has plenty of casual options for lunch but if the kids are up to it, the outdoor patio at Les Terraillers is worth checking out for its regional Italian-Provençalecuisine.
If shopping is more your cup of tea, flip a coin with your partner for shopping rights then head to Cannes The winner gets to splurge at some of the finest boutiques this side of France, but the real hero gets to chase the children along the marina on the Promenade de la Croisette. Not far from the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, is an outrageous carousel ride featuring Ferraris, not horses, and the entire family can check out the gratuitous movie cardboard cutouts for photo-ops near that infamous red carpet. Hungry? Snag a table at La Gavroche, hidden on Rue St. Antoine in the old part of town, or finally give in to everyone’s pizza craving at La Piazza.
A short drive from Antibes is two of the Côte’s most picturesque towns. Perched high on a hill is Saint-Paul de Vence, a stunning medieval village that’s home to one of Europe’s most important modern art museums. The collection at La Fondation Maeght boasts over 9,000 pieces of contemporary art, including works from Kandinsky, Calder and Chagall.
Continue your tour in the clouds and you will find Eze. This gravity-defying town overlooking the Mediterranean wins the award for most heart-stopping views. But leave your strollers behind — Eze is definitely a village of hikes, not strolls. Make sure not to miss le Jardin Exotique, a magnificent garden amid the ruins of a 12th-century fortified castle. Although a bit touristy, this spot offers the most panoramic —and aromatic— views of the French Riviera.
Because having your head in the clouds can sometimes be a good thing, look no further than the Côte d'Azur for a family vacation you won’t soon forget.
Need directions to the nearest convenience store for diapers? Not necessary. The concierge will send a driver to collect forgotten items. With daily direct flights from JFK to Nice, getting there is the easy part. Tearing yourself away from this slice of heaven to explore the Côte d'Azur’s regional highs -- not so easy.