The word “Riviera” still has the power to summon all the glamour of travel. Which is odd in a way because nearly everyone knows that the Côte d'Azur, from Cannes to Monte Carlo, has been disastrously overbuilt. True, there are enclaves, like Cap Ferrat, that retain much of their 1950s allure, but in general the concrete was poured with much too free a hand.
Fortunately, there is another south of France, one less well known to foreign visitors but intimately familiar to the French themselves. This seductive and surprisingly unspoiled littoral runs from Marseille to Saint-Raphaël, along the coastline of the Var. In this issue, I describe a memorable journey that got off to an auspicious start at Le Petit Nice, a 16-room villa-hotel with a superlative three-star restaurant, set on a rocky outcrop overlooking an expanse of blue topaz Mediterranean, a 10-minute drive from the center of Marseille. My wanderings ended a week later on the beach at the admirable and newly fashionable Hôtel Les Roches Rouges in Saint-Raphaël. Along the way, I enjoyed predictably delicious seafood, as well as fine local wines from Cassis and Bandol.