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Tender is the Night: Hôtel Belles Rives

It’s off season here in Juan-les-Pins on the edge of Antibes, and the streets are quiet, the occasional shop is open, and locals are dining leisurely by the sea taking in the sunshine, crisp air and a glass of rosé. It’s a beautiful time to be here on the French Riviera for those seeking quiet serenity including myself as I check into the famous Hôtel Belles Rives.

My mind drifts to what summer must be like here at the hotel, the former home of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda back in 1926 whose stories of life on the Côte d’Azur were nothing short of glamorous yet sometimes tragic of the beautiful people of the Twenties.  The hotel is a step back in time, with its bold Art Deco glamour filling the 43 sea-view rooms and the lapping waves a lovely soundtrack to its view. It’s a feeling of bygone days and a tribute to this nostalgic time I would have loved to have been part of. The hotel’s typical French Riviera atmosphere has all the charm of a historical hotel of this era from bold striped and patterned wall coverings, an original cage elevator and flowered terraces.

In the summer, the popular Beach Club boasts its own private beach for guests and you can imagine the beautiful people lazily working on their golden tans. Even though it’s now early December, it’s still a lovely time to be here in the south of France for a refreshing escape. Dinner was exquisite and flavorful at the restaurant with a menu brimming of fresh seafood and local flavors including lemons, artichokes and truffles; the Chef will be one Michelin-starred in the new year. Bar Fitzgerald is the hotel’s famous piano bar and is a popular place to enjoy an apertif while enjoying the most spectacular sunsets.

Hôtel Belles Rives has been privately owned by the Estène family since 1927 and is now run by Marianne Estène-Chauvin who became its owner in 1970. The hotel is a member of Virtuoso and Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is truly a gem of the French Riviera. It’s no surprise it continues to be popular with the fashionable and extravagant, after all, its storied guests have included Rudolf Valentino and even the Hemingways.

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