Ok listen LINDAA listen- soooo I know its taken me a while to complete this whole French excursion, experience whatever you want to call it, but a girl has been terribly busy. And as I often say, I would rather be busy than bored and so the full on French saga continues.
Now- to share about our time spent on the fabulous French Riviera. I am talking Monaco, Cannes, Saint Tropez, Nice, Monte Carlo- yes that Riviera. With all the laps of luxurious lusciousness you could imagine and we are definitely going back.
We arrived by train to the city of Nice (pronounced “niece” or “neese) around 2:30 pm that day and then trampled with our luggage down the road to the beautiful La MalMaison Hotel, which was only about a 10 minute walk from the train station and let me say that the weather was wonderful.
The streets were gorgeous and it was surrounded by places built with so much character, including other hotels.
I mean the sun was shining, the wind was not too brisk, the people were just beautiful and as we were walking to our hotel, I was reminded that the hubby needed a haircut.
Disclaimer- I am married to a male version of myself, heck probably worst than myself- who has a standing haircut appointment every other week and a half and so its safe to say he was on a mission to look nice.
Anyhow, while walking to our hotel, we passed a strip of hair care stores and salons, ironically black operated and owned. We happened to stumble upon a young Dominican barber who not only was able to cut Carlos’ hair but line me up as well, so it was a definite win win.
Not only did he squeeze both of us in for a 5pm SAME DAY appointment but he spent the afternoon sharing stories with us about how he had found and moved to France to be with his girlfriend and love of his life who of course, was French. If you know Carlos- he can make friends with just about anybody.
After our fresh cuts, we made our way back to our uber French hotel to relax and plan out our evening. When we finally arrived at our hotel, we had a real chance to take in the view and the beauty of the area.
And what I loved most was the double balcony with French doors and the staff’s attention to detail.
But also the fact that fashion is so big in France- that they even have a Fashion channel that plays nothing but past fashion shows and even highlights words from the Fashion dictionary.
Additionally, check out this retrospective on American designer and legend- Ralph Lauren, which you can also find on my IGTV channel. That’s InstagramTV for those not familiar. Follow me at @houseofdevereaux. for more.
After taking a moment to relax at the hotel, we decided to take a walk to the local beach promenade area for dinner to enjoy some pasta and take in a little of the local sites and then retired for the evening.
Next was day 2, and we decided to make it a beach day. Now be forewarned that most of the beaches of Nice and the Riviera, while incredibly picturesque are covered with large rocks and pebbles and unfortunately not pristine mounds of sand.
So being that Carlos is a total beach boy, I mean full on water baby, I set out to find the best beach for an afternoon of fun in the sun. After a little research- we came across the city of Villafranche Sur Mer with a local cove style setting, marina filled with massive yachts and the only beach with partial sand for miles where you could find sunbathers, a little bistro and all for free.
Located about 45 minutes South away from Nice by train, we packed up our bathing suits and set out to navigate the local train station. Now note that alot of train station information is in French as well as English, but can be pretty easy to decipher and if you can’t, then always ask for help- even if it means asking 3-4 people, although at times they don’t even know.
We arrived at Villafranche around 11am and found the perfect place to park our bags, beach towels and bodies and then decided to go for a dip. Another disclaimer- that when going to the “sandy” beaches- there are still a fair amount of rocks and pebbles to endure but then the sand appears at your feet and the water is the perfect warmth to wade in.
We took turns getting in and out with light naps here and there and Carlos was in complete heaven and it didn’t hurt that the views were gorgeous.
Post beach afternoon we decided to retire back to Nice, but not before stopping at a little beach spot for a light lunch and cocktail. This was a cute little nook to people watch and take in the beauty of the beach just one last time and the owner was incredibly attentive in asking us about our stay thus far.
Have a little look at my beach style fashion and essentials below.
We returned to Nice by train, showered and then decided to set out for a late dinner that certainly didn’t disappoint. I mean can you beat a restaurant that serves authentic sangria by the personalized jug. Nothing like having an entire one or two all to yourself.
Not only were the drinks delightful, but the food was to die for with gluten free bruschetta and the perfect pasta foie gras. If you haven’t noticed by now- I go fantastically crazy over a good foie gras, while Carlos had the mango salad and salmon. Such an island boy.
The meal was finished with a berry tiramisu, which I actually found much better than your traditional style as it was sweet yet tart. It was the perfect Summertime treat and the server offered to end our night with complimentary raspberry liquor aperitifs.
That’s one thing I noticed that in Europe- its absolutely customary to complete your meal with some sort of after dinner drink or “aperitif” and our palates were thankful and pleased.
As we walked the scenic route back to hotel to prepare for our grand anniversary, the next day, Carlos and I mulled over where to go as to what would be the most appropriate city to spend our 3rd anniversary and there were literally signs everywhere. As we mulled and mulled, we wanted something memorable and so opted for a day in Monaco- which was purely magical. I still cannot believe its been three years of marriage already.
So, the next day- August 7th to be exact, we woke up and made our way to the train station for our anniversary adventure. While waiting for our train to arrive, we felt it getting warm, even indoors, so I found this adorably vintage style fan in a train shop.
Just look at how perfectly it paired with my maxi dress from H&M and picked out by my big sister, Adrienne.
Additionally, while making my way down the magazine aisle, I came to notice a cute little package and it was a Vogue Magazine with an uber cute graphic tee by Isabel Marant inside for only 8 Euros and I just had to have it. Stay tuned to the final installment to see how styled it.
Fast forward and within 45 minutes we were there and the scenery was sooo worth it. As we reached Monaco, it was bustling with people, everyone seemed to be on a mission and minding their business which we liked.
The only thing I didn’t like was that there was limited public transportation i.e. Uber or taxis and so you either had to walk or take the bus, which on any other day and place would not bother me, however Monaco is incredibly hilly, and considering the gorgeous scenery, it was well worth the exploration.
In true awesomeness and fashion- Carlos asked me what did I want to do first and as 1000 ideas swirled through my head, I began to look all around for our first stop when something cool caught my eye.
It was a giant carousel in the middle of the promenade and being that I am one big a** kid, I couldn’t pass this opportunity by. I mean come on….to ride…a giant carousel…in the middle of MONACO!!! And what I love most about Carlos is his kind ability to allow me the freedom to be a wild child when I want to.
After my ride, we walked the local city centre and made a stop for some local French desserts at L’epi D’or and took a break to people watch.
Who doesn’t love a good people watching session along with a wide spread selection of local desserts.
And then it was time for the uphill trek of our lives.
Now- if you have been following me, then you know that I am inspired by incredibly strong and influential women of entertainment and pop culture and while in Paris, I learned that the incomparable Josephine Baker is buried in the Monaco Cemetery.
A bit of history about that. its not just any cemetary and not just anyone can be buried here even though its the only cemetary in Monaco. This is a place where members of wealthy families and famous come to rest and on August 27, 2015 Albert II, Prince of Monaco dedicated a memorial stele in honour of foreign Jews who were taken from Monegasque hotels by the Nazis during the night of 27–28 August 1942. This was a place of history and I thought it would be incredible to visit and pay tribute to a woman who has meant so much to my career and served as such inspiration.
While it’s called Monaco Cemetary, it sits close to Monte Carlo and so often times the signs became confusing which made for a much longer walk to locate it, but Carlos was a trooper.
Little did we know how difficult it would be to not only walk the 35 minute (really 45) uphill walk but to then locate her gravesite. I will admit that once we arrived, I was slightly disheartened to learn that she, one of the defining dignitaries of American AND French culture couldn’t easily be found in the onsite electronic registry and Carlos and I were forced to pound the pavement and granite to find this great one ourselves. But that just made it all the more adventurous.
Looking at one grave after another and although the cemetary isn’t massive, the trek alone to the top of the hill where it sits was alot. So much so, I almost gave up looking but then thought to myself, we made it this far and she is necessary to my journey so I need to find her, I MUST find her and I am so happy that I did. Buried near her are two of her adopted children, as Miss Baker was the mother of what she called the “Rainbow Tribe”- of children adopted from all over the world from Morocco to Venezuela to Finland.
As I approached the gravesite, I began to have goosebumps, because while I have never met her and may not until we meet on the other side, I felt so connected to this woman. I think it was knowing that I was in the presence of such greatness that gave me chills and though I couldn’t physically touch her, I was THAT close to Miss Josephine Baker. An innovator of her own rules and the definition of what Devereaux stands for- a philosophy of “my life-my style“. Additonally, she was the only American EVER buried with full honors from the French military because of her contributions to the French Legion.
After a few solemn and meaningful moments with Miss Baker, we began to make our trek downhill and decided to make a detour for an afternoon delight at the local marina- Port Cap d’Ail.
It was so peaceful and relaxing, listening to the waves as they whacked against the rocks and enjoying our anniversary together. A peach bellini for me and a glass of white wine for him and we were ready to see a little more action.
So as we walked past the marina and around the bend, until we stumbled upon the most breathtaking scenery we had experienced while in Monaco and that was the gardens of Princess Grace, also a source of inspiration for my latest collection- BETA.
Little known fact that Princess Grace was a huge fan and friend of Josephine Baker and when Miss Baker wanted to return to the stage- Princess Grace purchased her an apartment in Monaco. This was after Josephine Baker’s visit to the famous Stork Club in New York when the “staff refused service to the famous dancer. Being a witness to the outrageous scene, Grace Kelly unceremoniously left the restaurant with the black star and never returned there. Since then, two Americans became close friends.” , according to HelloMonaco.com.
Their friendship flourished as Grace also financed Baker’s final return to the stage with a 50th Anniversary Celebration Revue along with Prince Rainier and Jackie Kennedy-Onassis.
On opening night- April 8, 1975, the front row included the likes of Diana Ross, Mick Jagger and my other BETA beauty, Sofia Loren. Josephine Baker would pass away just 4 days later on April 12th, 1975 from a brain hemmorhage.
So see there is no coincedence, when it comes to the connection that the ladies of my ALPHA and BETA Collections share with one another, as a continuous reminder of women empowering women. They are more than muses but movers and shakers of the world and how women possess so much of the change it must have to succeed.
Now back to the gardens of Grace of Monaco. There were birds flying over tiny bridges and ponds filled with ducks, swans and turtles like the most perfect live Disney film.
It truly was a garden created for a Princess.
There were rows and rows of flowers and wired green gates overlooking the rolling hills of Monaco that were marked with her signature monogram.
This anniversary trip was something that I would never forget. As we left the gardens, we were a bit famished from the walk and decided to grab a quick lunch of pizza and parked ourselves right near the carousel where we first began, but not before a little shopping.
As we were walking back to the main promenade, Carlos mentioned that he hadn’t gotten me an anniversary present and I immediately told him- look around you- we are celebrating in Monaco, one of the most amazingly luxurious places in the world and this makes for a damn good gift, but in true fashion, he thought it just wasn’t enough.
So we stopped in to browse at a few French pocketsquares for him- but nothing really caught his eye and so we moved along to some genuine leather sandals for me and the owner of the shop was so kind.
He made several recommendations on different styles, but I of course kept coming back to this light camel colored pair with none other than leopard print pony hair detail at the toe.
The shop was called Les Tropeziennes and while their flagship is in Saint Tropez, they have several stores throughout France including Monaco and even offer a small selection in Dubai,.
Not only are my sandals quality but they are incredibly comfortable, supportive at the ankle and also very very cute as I have gotten compliments when I debuted them this year at my first ever Formula One Weekend. Plus they came with the perfect little dustbag tote to carry them home.
After purchasing my sandals, we grabbed a couple of souvenirs from a local shop near the train.
Fun fact about Carlos- he hates cliche souvenirs and yet collects refrigerator magnets from all the places he has visited- IRONIC much? But at least this time he opted for functionality as well and got a Monaco magnet that doubles as a bottle opener and I am all here for dual use.
As for me grabbed a gorgeous pink embroidered Monaco cap that actually fits my giant head to wear with my “From Champagne With Love” t-shirt bought earlier in the trip in Epernay and we were on our way.
As we walked towards the train station, you could hear American music being played throughout the tiny cafes which was quite the laugh.
We returned to Nice via train to relax a bit and then began getting ready for dinner. Once we arrived at our hotel, I walked into the room and found the most gorgeous set of red roses waiting for me along with a Happy Anniversary note from the hotel!
I rushed to get dressed for our anniversary dinner as Carlos insisted that we make our reservation on time and I had the perfect dress in mind.
Knowing him, I knew our anniversary dinner would be somewhere nice and so I paired a lovely reddish raspberry pink organza mini dress with an oversized bow detail at the collar and paired it with some rose gold high heeled sandals from Nicole Miller and a floral print Ted Baker bag from graduation and then made my way to the balcony because let’s admit- nothing beats the balconies in Nice at sunset.
Then we rushed our the door as we were running a bit late and as we walked outside and Carlos said we are here. I was slightly confused because we were still at the hotel. It just so happens that our hotel- has one of the most exclusive luxury restaurants in the entire city and set aside space just for us to enjoy our anniversary. Thank you NESPO.
Our dinner began with a classic white wine followed by a feast of black ink pasta and lobster fettucini and then topped off with my favorite- a king sized celebratory creme brulee and 2 glasses of complimentary champagne.
It was romantic and the absolute grand ending of an evening to a great day. As we left, I made note of a limited edition Chanel rolling trolley suitcase in the corner and jokingly hinted “that must be my anniversary gift” while Carlos just laughed hysterically.
While we thought about walking the streets for a night stroll after, we were both incredibly tired from the long day and the beauty of it being OUR special day is that we could end it however WE wanted and we did just that.
We made a quick stop by the hotel bar which was so swanky and cool and even had a bible of cocktails.
And then we retired upstairs, showered, threw on our bathrobes, opened the double French doors to our balcony to feel the night breeze and rented “A Star is Born” starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, which we watched until we fell asleep.
The next day- we got up early and decided we wanted to spend the day exploring Nice and so we grabbed breakfast at a local spot and set off to explore and do a bit of sight seeing and shopping.
Carlos wanted to double back to a chapeau shop that he had seen earlier in the trip called La Chapellerie, where we both bought clever hats from the kindest shop owner who let us try on as many as we liked and even sent us home with several collapsible hat cases and forms to keep our hats in good condition. The shop owner was so friendly, offering advice on additional things to do. Side Note: I really don’t know why people say the French are rude as that certainly was not our experience.
I opted for the yacht style Captains hat because I’m quirky while Carlos decided on a dapper dandy style.
Needless to say the hat case came in handy especially for me, as below are all the chapeaus I collected while in France from berets and a bright yellow number in Paris, to my pink cap in Monaco and my new Captain’s club style.
And then we stopped by a local consignment shop called Mademoiselle Depot Vente Luxe that made my day.
Filled with vintage Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and more, Carlos encouraged me to grab a piece for myself, but there was so much I wanted and I knew we had a few more days in France and didn’t want to settle for the first thing I saw- but boy oh boy- that wasn’t easy at all.
We walked around a bit more and watched everyone with their little lapdogs in tow as we made our way to a local lounge for some light lunch and St Germain’s Punch- my absolute fave next to a French 75 and Grand Marnier.
This lounge was incredibly colorful and unique all the way to the ceiling which resembled a floor.
After our afternoon delight, Carlos decided to return to the hotel for a nap while I opted to explore Nice on my own and found some the coolest and quaint places along the way.
I started at the local water promenade or “Promenade de Anglais” and watched as the people poured onto the beaches or “la plages” in French.
As I walked along the promenades taking in the sights of parasailers and made my way all along the city, I took notice of the blue and white striped parasols that you often times only see in pictures and had to pinch myself as a reminder that I really was walking the French Riviera.
I dipped in my toes for a bit and then went on my way and it was quite busy and incredibly rocky.
A few more stops led to some uniquely flavored gelato along the way like Honey and Violette and I even passed by a shop that offered genuine French luxury designer fabrics, however they were closed and away for a long holiday.
Before I knew it, it was time to wake Carlos and get ready for dinner but not before taking the scenic route.
And stopping by a local pharmacy and grabbing some rollerballs of real and natural French perfume for my sisters and I. Now only f I could remember where I unpacked them to once we retured to Abu Dhabi.
Once I returned to the hotel, I found someone sleeping so peacefully with the balcony doors wide open-as that definitely was the best way
Before dinner, we wanted to take in the local sunset from the rooftop of a neighboring hotel- Splendid Hotel and Spa, which was said to have one of the best sunset view of the city and splendid it was.
The views were multilevel and there were not a lot of people so it was perfect. Plus throw in happy hour specials until 8pm and the fact that they were playing throwback songs by B2K with a little “Bump Bump Bump” and we were both sold. It couldn’t have been any cooler.
I kept it cute and casual in a leopard midi dress with leather fanny pack and coordinating leopard print sandals as we walked for dinner to a local night market area that was open to midnight.
Like most European places- Nice doesn’t come alive until nighttime and so we headed out to local area and nighttime market where people filled the pubs and live performers filled the streets. We even ran across a local band playing our wedding song- how coincedental is that?
We stopped a bustling bistro in the center of it all as it seemed popular and you can’t go wrong when a place for dinner is crowded. The most memorable dish was perhaps the garlic and basil covered mussels that melted in your mouth.
After dinner, I decided to walk the night market in search of something memorable to take back with me and took notice of a local leather bracelet maker. As I moved closer and closer to his stall, I began to read all the names listed on his rows and rows of leatherworks and low and behold, there it was in pure black with perfect spelling- my name of course- DOMINIQUE.
I just had to have it, because rarely do I find my name at any of this handmade shops- but after all this was France. He took it off his board and made it to custom fit my very tiny wrist. My night was made and for only 8 Euros.
I wandered and roamed the city and yes grabbed another cone of Violette gelato on the way back. It’s velvety texture was too good to pass by. Then returned to the hotel while Carlos made his way to the casino.
Enjoying the hotel room all to myself, I opened the French Doors on the balcony (that was our thing every night), ran myself an extra warm bubble bath, turned on some Maxwell and made use of my bouquet of red roses from our anniversary night before. It made for the softest bath and the most relaxing night of the entire trip.
Sadly, the next day was our last and so I let Carlos rest while I was up extra early at 7am for a trip down to the beach before it became bombarded with people. I grabbed a complimentary beach towel, mat and parasol from the hotel and got my happy self on down to the promenade.
I parked right at the water’s edge and just watched and listened as the waves slowly came in. This was the perfect way to end this most amazing trip to the Riviera and needless to say I wasn’t quite ready to leave. I stayed about an hour or so playing some soft RnB tunes as not to disturb those around me and then made my way back to the hotel.
Check out my Nice beach look compliments of a Sam Edelman bikini from Brands For Less at only 49 AED ($15), paired with my new YSL scarf and bright yellow chapeau from Paris and $5 sunnies from Texas.
The day would not have be complete without enjoying my final breakfast feast from the hotel that was warm and filling. From the fresh Madelienes to the mini crepes, I personally thanked all the staff for what was the most enjoyable and unforgettable stay.
While this trip to the French Riviera may have been my first, it most ceratinly won’t be our last. I am looking forward to returning to visit Cannes as well as Saint Tropez and even making it down to the Italian Riviera for a couple of days.
It was everything I needed and didn’t know I needed and the trip of my dreams, but it wasn’t quite over yet. We had 2 more days to enjoy in Paris so stay tuned for the final installment of my Summer adventures in France.