Friday, October 11, 2013

Boutique Apollon

In the vibrant “Petit Marais” district of Nice, an abundance of trendy shops and restaurants can be found, and one of my favorite places to visit is the Boutique Apollon.

Whenever I am in the neighborhood there always seems to be an enticing array of sexy underwear and beachwear on display in the windows at Apollon.

In conversation with the owner’s beautiful daughter Mandy one afternoon, I was told the boutique opened in October of 2007 by her mother because at the time there seemed to be a lack of selection when it came to quality men’s underwear, swimwear amongst other clothing items in Nice and I tend to agree with that sentiment.

This quaint, fully stocked store maintains a varied and ever changing collection so you’re sure not to encounter the same item twice when stocking up from season to season.  Name brands such as: Barcode Berlin, Addicted, Arthur Club and Modus Vivendi to name a few are available in every taste and size.

Apollon is a shopper’s heaven.  It’s the one stop shop for not only underwear and swimwear but there are also those edgier pieces in the form of club wear if you were looking for something when attending a social event at one of the gay establishments in the city.  And you will also be able to find casual and sportswear pieces for outdoor activities or for the gym.


As the Boutique Apollon Facebook page suggests, you’ll find a mix of chic and naughty items available.

So if you are in Nice, be sure and stop by Apollon, for a small boutique it provides a big punch!

As of 2018 Boutique Apollon has now closed.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Monaco Open Air Cinema

Last night a friend and I thought we would check out the Open Air Cinema in Monaco at the foot of the rock next to the magnificent Oceanographic Museum

Movies are shown at this beautiful outdoor venue in the summer from about the middle of June until near the end of September.  The ticket booth outside the cinema doesn’t usually open until just after dusk, around 8:30pm, with the movie starting an hour later.

The Monaco Open Air Cinema

Keep in mind you can’t make reservations and there are a limited amount of seats.  There were other groups of people ahead of us also attending the movie, but we had no trouble getting our choice of seating.

The movies featured are up-to-date with a classic film or two thrown in occasionally, the ones played at this venue are the English version with French subtitles.

Cost to get into the cinema is based on what kind of seat you would like; the cheapest are near the front of the screen and cost from 11-13 euros with the most expensive being the more outdoor lounge type chair of higher quality costing from 22-25 euros.  This is Monaco after all and choice is important.

All the seats in the cinema do seem to give you a prime viewing location no matter where you sit and every two seats get their own table to hold your variety of refreshments that can be bought near the ticket counter.

We ended up seeing a British comedy that wasn’t exactly at the top of our list of films to see but we did choose this night to attend and to us this atmosphere of the evening was more important.  Yes, it's a very romantic setting.

The weather in the French Riviera has been so hot, and I love the heat, but it was nice to be able to sit on the edge of the rock, under a clear evening sky with the stars twinkling above us with a gentle, cool sea breeze coming off the water.

The Monaco Open Air Cinema is the perfect location, especially given the fact that in this part of the Principality, in the evening, it’s like a quiet little village, a peaceful place to sit under the night sky and take in a movie.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Perched elegantly in what feels like the center of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula is Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its magnificent gardens.  So immense is this estate, it can be seen from miles around.

The villa’s prominence on Cap Ferrat can be attributed to the character of the individual who built it, the wealthy French socialite, Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild.
In short, at the end of a rocky marriage and after the death of her father in 1905, she and her brother inherited a fortune estimated at €700 million.

This helped enable her passions for art and architecture as she saw fit, so between the years of 1905 and 1912 she had the villa constructed (painted in her favorite color - flamingo pink) with its surrounding gardens laid out to look like that of a luxury cruise liner.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Beatrice even insisted her gardeners wear blue naval berets when working on the grounds so that they resembled sailors working on the decks of a ship.  Given the different levels of the gardens, from the upper balcony of the villa one can see how she imagined this for herself.
Eccentric is not a big enough word for this interesting woman yet the estate is surprisingly well decorated for the time period and not as ostentatious as one might expect, each room seems to have a defined meaning and purpose behind it.
Beatrice died in April of 1934 at the age of 69 from tuberculosis, having no heirs she left everything to L’Institut de France which then made the estate permanently open to the public.

Stepping on to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild estate is like stepping into a fairy tale land.  Views alone from this vantage point on Cap Ferrat are worth the small price of admission.
Beatrice was obviously a woman with an artistic vision.  If you are a historic architectural buff like me, you will notice immediately the many minute design nuances that are delicately integrated within the impressive structure, especially when you take the time to learn about the process in which the villa was built to Beatrice’s exacting measurements.
The open air courtyard in the middle of the villa lets you imagine what it must have been like back in the day at one of her social events and where now one can rent out part of the villa for weddings and other such events.  Even in the main garden, small musical festivals are a regular occurrence on a summer evening.
While exploring the estate you can listen to an audio guide about each room that you enter, one thing that is not mentioned in the audio but is still well known today in the French Riviera is that although Beatrice was married at one point, it is also believed she was a lesbian given her vast collection of Greek and Roman goddesses so be sure to see what exactly her collection represented.

They say this was her way, back in the day, of expressing herself and stating, “I’m a woman on equal footing.”
Surrounding the villa is nine exquisite gardens built on what was once a very rough terrain; you will find the gardens suit everyone’s taste.  Provencal, Japanese, Florentine…even the rose garden has 100 different varieties of roses.

All these lush gardens nicely intertwine and are dotted with classical statues and grand stairways, the manicured trails are a lovely way to explore the grounds.
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild estate is easily accessible by car and there is also a bus stop right outside the grounds as well.  If coming by train, I would go to the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station and walk the couple of blocks down towards the coast as the estate is only a pleasant 25 minute walk away, just follow the posted signage.

Make sure to give yourself more than an hour to visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild estate as there is a lot of area to cover, it makes for a great afternoon and feels as though you are in a wonderful bygone era.