After spending a day in Nice searching for film locations, I decided to travel to the village of Eze in style, namely a 1965 Porsche 365 Speedster, the same model once owned by Steve McQueen…
The Côte d’Azur isn’t all about getting from A to Z via trains and buses. Rent A Classic Car is a small company in Nice owned by car enthusiast Fabrice Le Roy, who is able to make a classic car available for visitors when they arrive at the airport or at their hotel.
« We started out with four cars and now we have 25, » says Fabrice. « We’ll organise rallies with 10 or 15 cars and take them up to the stage of the Monte Carlo rally and it’s a lot of fun. »
According to Fabrice, the cars also make appearances in films, TV series and adverts.
« This Porsche 356 was once booked for three days by filmmakers from the Netherlands who were making an advert. Six months later I started to get enquiries asking if this was the car from the advert. It turned out it was on every wall in Holland! We also have a red Mustang ’65 convertible which was used by French actor Claude Brasseur in a 2012 film.
« What we offer is an experience. It’s not easy for people to own a car that’s 50 years old. It’s a nice way to discover the French Riviera – you can’t drive fast anymore but you can drive in style! »
The reason I needed the car was to head to the small village of Eze, located just a few miles east of Nice and famous for once being the home of philosopher Nietzsche. It’s better known to film fans for appearing in the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film, To Catch a Thief.
Cary Grant can be seen driving across Eze Bridge (see below) and along La Moyenne Corniche, with the village sitting atop the mountain to the left. Filming for To Catch a Thief took place in the Summer of 1954 around the Côte d’Azur and the bridge can be seen in the opening moments of the film’s trailer:
After roaring along the Corniche in the open-topped car, feeling every inch the movie star, I arrived at Eze, a gorgeous medieval village built around the ruins of a 12th century castle. One of the most famous locations in Eze is La Chèvre d’Or, a hotel and restaurant established in 1953 which has welcomed such names as Lauren Bacall, Marléne Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart and Clint Eastwood through its doors and along its narrow streets.
Eze was also a favourite haunt for Walt Disney, who arrived in the village in 1957.
Scenes from the 2002 action film, The Transporter, were also shot in Eze village.
On entering through the gates, I was guided through the winding streets and up the mountain side, passing by the doors of hotel rooms and holiday homes which were once inhabited by locals as we made our way to the restaurant and the famous Jardin d’Eze at the top.
The restaurant can also be seen in the 2007 film, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Le Jardin was established just after World War II and it features many types of cactus which are tended throughout the year.
Although I was visiting in January, meaning I wasn’t enjoying quite the same blue sky as might be seen later in the year, the views from La Chèvre d’Or were still impressive. The cliffs stretch down more than 400 metres to the Mediterranean sea, a heady sight while standing on the balcony of the restaurant, which is bustling in the summer.
After the giddy heights of Eze it was back to the Porsche for the next stage of the trip, this time further along the coast to Roquebrune Cap Martin, though not before trying to discover another To Catch a Thief location…
The Côte d‘Azur, within three hours of over 30 European destinations, offers a wide range of themed stays all year round. With France’s second airport, Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, the French Riviera is within reach of over 33 countries, 103 destinations and served by 56 airlines. The 2013 schedule is available at www.nice.aeroport.fr. Visit the Côte d’Azur Tourist Board website for more information on the region.
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Top image: © CRT Riviera Côte d’Azur – Photographe : Georges Veran