Photo courtesy of Le Fer á Cheval Photo courtesy of Le Fer à Cheval I just had the BEST massage of my life at Hotel Le Fer à Cheval in Megève, France! My therapist Alice applied the perfect amount of pressure to my aching back, legs, neck and feet which took away the tightness that sometimes comes with my busy travel. Lugging heavy bags and carrying a camera around all day tends to leave me with knots the size of Texas in my neck and shoulders. Not to mention that action-packed press tours where hiking in the rain and pounding the pavement in search of the best souvenirs can also bring on tension headaches.

photo 1Hiking in the rain was surprisingly fun! A rainy day in France is better than a sunny one in most places. Megève, France has a multitude of activities, both indoor and outdoor, to keep visitors chipper no matter the weather. So far it has been rainy on and off since my arrival yesterday, but I have hardly noticed. Between shopping, touring the local sights and hiking today in the mountains it has been an absolute pleasure spending time here with Best of the Alps – a European collaboration of the twelve world famous tourist destinations of the Alps - Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Davos, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Grindelwald, Kitzbühel, Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Megève, Seefeld, St. Anton am Arlberg, St. Moritz and Zermatt.

  castle view cannes abbeyWhat do you think of when I say Cannes? Naturally the Cannes Film Festival comes to mind, but there is so much more to this sleepy little village than meets the eye. People are usually surprised when I tell them that Cannes is quiet for the majority of the year and that only 70,000 people live there year round. I discovered this while attending the 2013 International Luxury Travel Market last December as part of the press corps. What amazed me the most is there are serious winemakers on Saint-Honorat off the coast of Cannes, France.  Award winning wines and liqueurs are being produced by some savvy Cistercian Monks on the pristine island of Saint-Honorat.

Downtown Monte Carlo Downtown Monte Carlo While attending the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, as part of the invited press, I will be doing some sightseeing, experiencing some one-of-a-kind activities and reviewing some of southern France’s best restaurants. Come along on my visit to Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo.
First Stop Cannes
Take off is from Houston, connecting in Dulles to Zurich with the final destination Cannes. After dropping my bags off at the four-star Hotel Mondial, I will make a beeline for the Tourism Office, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, to meet my guide for a quick overview tour of the city. After attending an official briefing about all things luxury at the Market, I will have the privilege of dining at La Palme d’Or, (2Michelin) at Hotel Martinez. In addition to this fantastic culinary delight, another night I will dine at Le Park 45, (1 Michelin) located in the Grand Hotel on La Croisette.

Cave de l'originale interiorWhen I asked Elénor, the concierge at the Palais de la Méditerranée, for a recommendation for a local restaurant that cooked dishes of the region with fresh ingredients, she did not hesitate for a second. She responded, "Where to eat in Nice? Why of course, Cave de l’Origine is the best for local cuisine" so Gal Pal Elizabeth and I made prompt reservations for a casual and excellent dinner that did not disappoint. The cuisine in southern France differs quite a bit from its northern counterparts. Heavily influenced by its Italian neighbors and Greek descendants, Nice’s local dishes contain fresh ingredients from the soil. Olives, tomatoes, shallots and garlic play heavily into the makeup of the famous local favorite “Niçoise stew.”

photo-12The Texans might razz France about many things, but not about champagne! They love champagne just as much as the rest of the world. Thank God the locals put down their guns (well maybe they were just concealed) for one night and picked up a glass of bubbly! Personally, part of my obsession about France has to do with loving wine and especially brut champagne. I was in heaven last night at the 10th Anniversary party for The Tasting Room in Houston, TX courtesy of fellow travel blogger Leah Walker of Leah Travels who was invited as part of the VIP crowd. Leah is a Houston City Editor for The Daily Meal and an Expert and Correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.

[caption id="attachment_7078" align="alignleft" width="300"]Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea[/caption] Old Town Nice has deep and complicated roots beginning with Greek civilization and provides us with some of the best sightseeing in Nice and France. According to Wikipedia, "Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Νικαία ("Nikaia") in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike is the Greek goddess of victory)". A long sordid history ensued and the people of Nice were co-mingled with roots from their Greek ancestors, Italian neighbors and seafarers who landed upon their shores and never left. The port of Nice was one of the busiest in the world and thus was a target for power-thirsty conquerors throughout the ages.