Updated: Jun 8, 2020
Peter Mackley takes us on a tour of twelve of the French Riviera’s most stunning venues, with a personal view on why each one is special. You can contact him here for a free personalised recommendation for your own event.
VILLA EPHRUSSI DE ROTHSCHILD
For first impressions, nothing can beat the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Most private parties start with a saunter through the Spanish and Florentine gardens, then a view over the Bay Of Villefranche which TripAdvisor once rated as the most beautiful on the planet. Then, the event experience just gets better! The first view of the French Gardens and the magnificent Italian-styled palace is taken onto another level with the villa’s own dancing fountains. Add some live music, and I defy anyone not to have goose-pimples.
The Villa has a serene yet sophisticated energy and as the sun goes down the whole setting comes alive with the most beautiful lighting. The venue lends itself to the most spectacular shows - some personal favourites are the bespoke video-mapping or the mesmerising “flying moon” heliosphere. Even better than watching the shows is watching the reactions of the guests who are experiencing them for the first time.
Take your time to savour dinner in the French gardens. Some clients have a tendency to want to rush this to get on with the party - but it has to be one of the most amazing settings in the world so enjoy every moment.
Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild was an eccentric lover of art and she filled the mansion with antiques furniture, old master painters, sculptures, and extension collection of rare porcelain. Among her collection is a games table that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, and a rug commissioned by Louis 14th.
Riviera Organisation is an official events partner with the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and you can visit our dedicated events website for this venue here.
CHATEAU DE LA NAPOULE
This is magnificent castle right on the water’s edge near Cannes, and it has a completely different vibe to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild even though both make it to the short list of many clients. Its main purpose is as an Arts Foundation, and the vibe is much more cultured and relaxed.
It makes sense to discover the beauty of the castle zone per zone. For example, for wedding ceremonies, there’s a hidden garden around the back then take the long walk round to take in the full splendour of the setting. The back terrace overlooking the sea has the most amazing view of the bay of Cannes, especially at sunset and then dinner in the courtyard in full view of the towers.
The castle lends itself to a number of themes for corporate events - a Taste of Provence, or a Medieval Tale are a couple of popular ones. A personal favourite is when we have opera singers disguised as the castles most famous owners, Marie & Henry Clews. They’ll welcome guests with lots of fun facts about the venue, then later during dinner, they’ll reveal themselves as superb singers.
For corporate events or for glamorous weddings, we can project a logo or emblem onto one of the towers.
The castle was originally constructed in the 14th century, but it has been rebuilt several times. In the 19th century, it was actually a glass factory before being purchased by the Americans, Henry & Marie Clews who restored the castle to how we know it today.
CHATEAU DE CASTELLARAS
If I was to choose a venue for a personal celebration on the French Riviera then it would definitely be here at the Chateau de Castellaras. Sure, it’s close to my home and office, but there are many more reasons why this has always been my favourite. It has a more intimate, personal vibe compared to some of its more illustrious competitors, and events just flow seamlessly from one zone to the next. Often, we’ve organised events on national bank holidays and you can see the firework’s displays simultaneously across the entire Riviera, including the 30-minute extravaganza in Cannes. The view stretches along the entire Côte d’Azur with the perched village of Mougins in the foreground.
It’s a popular choice for both private and corporate events. The Lord of The Rings launch party was held here once during the Cannes Film Festival. For weddings, there’s even a small chapel on-site for the ceremony, and 18 charming rooms where guests can stay.
There are some stylish marquees from local companies that complement the castle perfectly. It’s like have one stunning venue inside another.
The chateau was built in less than a year in the 1920’s. The architect, Jaques Couëlle, took inspiration from assembled architectural elements from the 12th, 15th and 16th centuries.
I’ve seen my fair share of stunning venues, but Le Beauvallon blew me away right from my first visit. It’s the last remaining Belle Epoque building in the St Tropez area, and now completely renovated with such impeccable taste and attention to detail. The owner has collected together the most incredible art collection and the theme of contemporary beauty with a backdrop of timeless elegance runs through the entire venue. I also really appreciate the owner’s commitment to eco-friendly events, so everything that happens at Beauvallon considers our wider responsibility to the environment.
The venue can accommodate up to 88 guests in 44 suites and rooms, so it’s ideal for those celebrations where privacy and discretion are paramount - and there can be a different style to the celebrations every day: a welcome drink on the North terrace, a gala dinner in the ball room, brunch by the pool … and how about clubbing in the famous Ito Pavillion, which is itself a work of art. On-site, there’s a gym, a cinema and even a dedicated karaoke room with plenty of accessories including real instruments. It’s impossible to get bored, but if you do - St Tropez with all its beaches, watersports and glitzy nightlife is just a short drive away.
You won't regret arranging a fireworks display. There is a perfect viewing point down at the beach club. The fireworks will illuminate the skies above the bay of St Tropez with the iconic village twinkling in the background.
The summer pavilion is designed by the Pritzker prize-winning Japanese architect Toyo Ito with Cecil Balmond.
This for me is the true French Riviera experience, and the perfect setting to party in style. The Hotel Belles Rives is an art-deco hotel in the style of the classic French Riviera Belle Epoque, perched right on the water’s edge. It’s the perfect setting for a ceremony, a drinks reception by the sea, dining under the stars and dancing in the moonlight!
It takes pride of its illustrious past including the association with F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer of Great Gatsby. I’ve lost count of how many Belle Epoque and Gatsby themed parties I’ve seen here. It’s always a challenge getting everything set-up and ready for a party as it’s busy by day for the resident sun tanners and water-skiers, but I can’t think of a better location to party in style right by the sea.
Check the dates of the Juan Les Pins jazz festival. Even if it makes the deliveries and logistics a little more complicated, it’s worth savouring the music by the stage of Le Pinede, which over the years has celebrated some of music’s most illustrious stars while uncovering some unknown gems.
F Scott Fitzgerald made the Belles Rives his home in the 1920’s and it’s here where he took inspiration for many of his masterpieces. He also hosted many illustrious parties inviting celebrities from around the world for nights of champagne and extravagance. It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald who is credited with turning Juan Les Pins, and in some ways, the French Riviera into such a fashionable destination during the Belle Epoque period.
It seems like the term “spectacular views” is over-used when talking about venues on the French Riviera, but it’s difficult to find a superlative that does enough justice to the breath-taking setting of the Chèvre d’Or.
First of all, the village of Eze is itself a jewel of the Riviera, a beautiful perched village that’s just a stone’s through from Monaco - and what a contrast. As for the venue itself, it’s a refined luxury hotel with a 2 Michelin-starred restaurant, lush fragrant gardens and, I have to say it again, the most amazing views. It’s almost criminal not to visit Le Chèvre d’Or at some point during your visit to the French Riviera.
As for events here, it’s difficult to think of a better setting for a wedding ceremony anywhere, followed by drinks on the panoramic terrace then dinner either in the gastronomic restaurant or on the terrace, Les Remparts. Take your pick.
For musical entertainment, we recommend one of our acoustic strolling bands. They have the repertoire and the vibe to complement each stage of the event without intefering with the hotel’s strict music policy.
The view stretches to the Italian Riviera on the east, and to the peninsulas just past St Tropez on the west. On a clear day, you can see as far as Corsica.
The recent renovations of the celebrated Hotel de Paris are stunning, and the famous old building is now immaculate standing proudly over the newly restyled Casino Square - and that’s just the outside. Inside the Salle Empire is the most ornately decorated room on the Riviera with such precision and detail that it’s like sitting in a work of art.
Of course, many of Monaco’s most glamorous events are held right here in the presence of Monagasque dignitaries and celebrities, and it’s the first choice for gala dinners for corporate events in the Principality. It is possible to host your own private casino here as a taster for visiting the most famous casino in Europe right after.
For something truly exceptional, we can propose the most exquisite indoor mapping show that highlights all the beauty of the venue and traces all the minute details.
Several James Bond movies have been filmed here, it’s a popular choice for Bond style themed events and all the drama that goes with them.
Cap Estel is a five-star hotel 10 minutes away from Monaco and Nice. It’s hidden away on the water’s edge which gives it a very exclusive luxury feel. It’s the only venue I know where you can get married on a chess board! How symbolic could that be?
It’s a beautiful mini peninsula with water on three sides and lush botanical gardens. Its family owned and retains its homely feel. It’s like hosting an event in your own billion-dollar luxury mansion. Cap Estel is truly a unique experience. It’s difficult to imagine this level of luxury and privacy right on the water’s edge so close to Monaco.
If you can privatise the whole venue, your event experience will be transformed. Firstly, there will be so much more potential to what you can do, but more importantly, it will feel like you are inviting guests into your own home.
The Beatles often resided at Cap Estel. Paul McCartney used to play his acoustic guitar by the pool. Inspired by the magical surroundings, they wrote one of their most famous songs “Michelle” during one of their stays at Cap Estel.
There’s no guarantee that Chateau Diter will still be hosting events by the time you read this, but, for the time-being, it’s still defiantly hosting the most illustrious parties despite a high-profile court case that is ordering its demolition.
The venue is a spectacular Tuscan Renaissance-style villa estimated to be worth €57M. It’s been built up from nothing by a French architect, Patrick Diter, inspired both most grandiose Italian palaces. It’s hidden away on the outskirts of Grasse, so it’s quite a trek getting there - but wow, it’s worth the journey.
For events, you’re spoilt for choice with so many splendid zones. The challenge is somehow guiding guests through all of them. There are several beautiful renaissance influenced gardens and a permanent Orangerie marquee for dining. Loud music will have to be inside, to avoid disturbing the volatile neighbours but that’s the case with most venues these days.
The advice is to get in there quick while you still can. It might not be around for much longer.
Some of the sights might seem familiar from the controversial Sky TV "Riviera" series telling some of the darker sides of the region, but this probably fits well as, like the venue, many of the parties here have been decadent and ostentatious.
When I first worked at the site now known as Mont Leuze, it was still the Canadian University. Now it’s been restyled as an immaculate venue perched high on the Grande Corniche, so you’ll feel on top of the world overlooking the beautiful bay of Villefranche and surrounding locations.
There are 3 terraces, each with a different charm, so it’s important to include all of them in the event experience. The Vista terrace is ideal for a wedding ceremony, the Terrazzita lends itself for welcome drinks or cocktails, and the suitably named “Roof of the World” can seat up to 400 guests for dinner.
Mont Leuze has managed to maintain a homely feel, so somehow, you’ll feel like you are inviting friends to your own property even if it is just for a weekend.
You’ll want to add some lighting if you’re dining outside on the terrace, and our festoon “stringed” lights will work a treat.
SALLE DES ETOILES
The iconic Salles des Etoiles is, without doubt, the most prestigious venue for events in Monaco and on the French Riviera. The “room of the stars” has hosted most of the world’s most famous celebrities in some capacity. For many years it was the home of the World Music Awards, and now it hosts the Summer Sporting Festival every year with an impressive line-up of music talent covering many different genres over 2 months. It’s also the venue for Monaco’s most extravagant fund raisers like the Bay de la Rose or the Monaco Red Cross Ball.
It’s defining feature is is roof which can open-up in minutes, so all of a sudden, you’re literally dining under the stars or watching the skies light up with a huge fireworks extravaganza. The stars on stage mix with the stars in the sky
Monaco’s most famous nightclub Jimmy’z is in the same building, so any partying can be extended through to the following morning - but make sure you book your table in advance.
The first celebrity to perform at the Salles des Etoiles was Josephine Baker in 1974. This year, all being well, there’s be performances from legendary groups Simple Minds and the Black-Eyed Peas.
The Negresco is, for many, the defining symbol of the Cote d’Azur - an iconic Belle Epoque building which symbolises the Golden Age of the French Riviera. It was also the venue of from of my favourite events from the hundreds I’ve been involved in when we brought over one of my childhood heroes, Roger Daltrey, to perform for a private birthday party.
The venue has the most beautiful ballroom, that some say was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself, and several adjacent function rooms meaning it can adapt to different needs. It also houses an impressive art collection built up by its recent owner Jeanne Augier. As one of my clients said recently, “it’s like dining in an art gallery”.
The creator of this iconic Riviera landmark, Henri Negresco, was actually Romanian. He built the hotel in 1912 to attract the wealthiest of clients to the nearby casino.
The main ballroom with its huge glass dome is beautiful, but the acoustics are challenging. You’ll need a multi-diffusion sound system to spread the sound evenly around the venue.
It was at the Negresco that Louis Armstrong first heard the French song “C’est Si Bon”. He was so inspired that he went on to record his own version turning the song into a worldwide success.