cresh mentonThe third of my Christmas markets in France, Menton was a place I had never heard of until my Parisian friends Michael and Marlys announced they were moving there. I was in Monte Carlo and could not pass up the chance to visit this adorable couple in nearby Menton. They met me in Monaco and we traveled together by astonishingly cheap bus (1.50€) for an afternoon of Christmas market shopping and local sight-seeing.
Best Christmas Nativity Scene
The best, most wonderful Christmas Creche on display was in Menton, close to the markets. Its simplicity, combined with the gorgeous colorful architecture surrounding it, made this peaceful corner in Menton one of my favorite stops in the Côte d'Azur. I loved that the Creche was placed next to a replica of the village of Menton and that the entire scene was modest and beautiful like the locals themselves.

DSCN0985The second in my series of Christmas Markets in France, Cannes has an impressive amount of stalls despite the small year round population. The booths remind me of little log cabins, rustic and charming. The decorations around the market were traditional pieces - greenery with ribbons and bows all lit up with elegant bright white lights. My favorite decoration was the adorable larger than life topiary teddy bear dressed in a red sweater which was at the entrance to the market along the Boulevard de la Croisette.

My head is spinning. How could this be true? I was invited for a drink as part of the Christmas celebrations that Hotel Metropole in Monaco was having for the local press. I then followed it up with a brief meeting with Odile Firmin-Guion before she guided me to my dinner at the Chef's Table at Jöel Robuchon. She apologized profusely because she had to leave quickly in order to accept a ride home to Nice to be with her three children. I am glad that I told her, "Of course, go now and be with your kids. It's the most important thing of all." She was profusely thanking me and I was uneasy about that. I knew she worked hard, a woman in her position as Directrice of Public Relations for Hotel Metropole, and I did not want her to feel guilty that she chose to be with her family versus having dinner with me. Thank God she was home that night.

Christmas List Ideas: Know someone who is obsessed with Paris or all things French? Here are a few of my favorite things for the Francophile's on your Christmas list this year. There is something for every budget and I have included the descriptions directly from their websites. Simply click on the image to go directly to their site for more information on where to order these delights:
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Giant ornament sculpture in Grimaldi Square   Giant ornament sculpture in Grimaldi Square The Nice Christmas Markets were in full force last weekend as I made my way through the carnival atmosphere in Grimaldi Square to the shopping area. Along the way to the markets I encountered such magnificent sights as the new pavilion which is a vast open green space with playgrounds for the children, gardens for the horticulturists and benches for the aged and the young in love.

fairmont mc water facadeToday, the Fairmont Monte Carlo unveils a new restaurant by legendary Chef Nobu which was formerly a pop-up concept but is now a permanent part of the hotel. It will occupy the space previously taken by their formal dining room. The hotel added a narrow terrace space providing a bit of outdoor seating where diners will experience the serene views and sounds of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Nobu restaurant added a spectacular bar and two private meeting lounges.

DSCN1099The International Luxury Travel Market has kept me very busy with press briefings and breaking news from the world of luxury travel, however, I did take some time during the lunch break Tuesday to visit a few nearby landmarks and take in the local beauty while sightseeing in Cannes. Centuries old food recipes, charming pedestrian streets, spectacular views of the yachts in the harbor and iconic Cannes Film Festival murals were among the highlights of the walking tour from professional guide Karin Osmuk who works at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès - Cannes Visitor's Bureau.
cannes muralOde to the Cannes Film Festival
The city of Cannes owes its notoriety around the world to the ingenious idea to host a unique film festival once a year which brings the best of the best from around the world in the film industry to this tiny little town in southern France. Artists pay homage to the festival with several large murals throughout the city. At the foot of Old Town, the entire front of the Gare des Autobus (bus station) is one such mural dedicated to the history of the festival itself. Actors, both real and animated, are depicted on the facade of the station from the early days of black and white film to more recent animated cartoons and feature films.

DSCN0988After 24+ hours of non-stop travel to Cannes, it seemed like a good idea to head out into the fresh air for a vigorous walk to get the lay of the land, verses taking a nap before my 6:00pm International Luxury Travel Market kickoff evening. The Tourism Office in Cannes provided a lovely tour guide, Karin for me today to enjoy the 20 minute boat ride out to Île Saint Honorat where the working Abbey remains today.