There are so many beautiful locations and venues in France to get married in, if you have no pre-existing ties in France how do you choose where to start?
Hotel La Voile D'Or is located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, slice of paradise on the French Riviera.
La Voile d’Or is all about location. On a bougainvillea-laced promontory, with elevated views in three directions, the establishment was conceived by an Englishman, Captain T.W. Powell, in 1925. It was known then as Hotel du Parc and it’s said that when locals and tourists “gathered to gawk” at celebrity guests, the captain drove the stickybeaks out of the gates with a garden hose. W. Somerset Maugham stayed in 1946, just as the hotel reopened after World War II, and was enchanted with the views from the terrace and “the friendly village with its red roofs … and the noble line of the mountains”.
After Hotel La Voile d’Or (the Golden Veil) was bought from Powell’s estate by restaurateur Jean Lorenzi and his brother Francis, it reopened in 1966 with 45 ensuite guestrooms “in the Florentine style” — a nod to their Italian heritage. The Lorenzis added a swimming pool, meandering pathways, olive trees and terraced gardens, and filled Hotel La Voile d’Or with valuable paintings and pieces from Jean’s antiques shop. The likes of David Niven, Peter Sellers and Rod Stewart soon dropped by. The four-star hotel is still owned by the Lorenzi family and is run with the care and courtesy you would imagine was extended with old-fashioned ease in Powell’s day.
The recently released movie Grace of Monaco, with Nicole Kidman in the title role, hasn’t had rave reviews but it is sparking renewed interest in the “Grace trail” along the Cote d’Azur coastline from Monaco to Cannes. The scenery on celluloid is ravishing but the real thing is breathtaking. The ToursbyLocals company, and other regional operators, organise escorted excursions that include some of the locations used in the 1955 Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief, and visits in Monaco to the state apartments at the Grimaldi Palace, the refurbished Princess Grace Rose Garden, with 4000 fragrant bushes, and the lesser-known Princess Grace Irish Library.
The hotel has a private beach and second (seawater) pool that is open from mid-April to early October; its location is not instantly apparent when you stroll about the flourishing gardens, so ask a staff member for directions. There are cushioned sunlounges on the sand and a casual restaurant with tables set under a pergola and shade-sail — all very Riviera chic.
It could be false economy to choose a garden-view room or the confusing category of Avenue “contemplating the village rooftops”. You’ve come this far, so why not splurge on a harbour view.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is on a peninsula near Nice, on the Cote d’Azur, and the slender strip of coastal settlements is backed by the snow-topped Alpes-Maritimes. Within a short driving distance are the promenades and belle-epoque hotels of the big seaside towns and all the see-and-be-seen action of Monaco. The concierge can organise water sports and touring; in the village on the hotel doorstep, there are cafes with outdoor seating, galleries, cheerful restaurants and boutiques.
Hotel La Voile d’Or, 7 Avenue Jean-Mermoz, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France. Phone + 33 4 93 011 313; lavoiledor.fr. Prices zoom up in summer (mid-June to end of August) and during the Monaco Grand Prix each May; out-of-season rooms from about €395 ($580) for two with breakfast.