On a warm winter morning, the soft light of the French Riviera is streaming into the Cours Saleya Flower Market in the old section of Nice. Just a block back from the Mediterranean Sea, long rows of vendors are selling African daisies, violet anemones, pink irises and yellow marigolds. I look up and see housewives pulling back filigreed lace curtains in the windows of 19th century crimson villas to tend to their flower boxes.
It's here where you hook up with Rent A Classic Car for vintage car tours to scope out some of the less visited sites along the Riviera. You can either drive the car yourself or just enjoy the miraculous views.
Our convoy includes a sporty chartreuse 1968 E-Type Jaguar that handles the cliffside curves like a nimble cat, although the brakes leave something to be desired. There’s also a silver 1958 Porsche Speedster and red ’64 Mustang convertible.
While the girls in our group have silk scarves in their hair a la Grace Kelly, the men drive slowly with a relaxed air like they're Cary Grant in "To Catch a Thief." Six miles later, we pull off into Villefranche-sur Mer, a postcard harbor town filled with 14th century chapels. As we walk by the airy bistros along the promenade, waiters are adjusting Sevres china vases just so, like an Impressionist still life.
This is the kind of wharfside town where chefs meet local fishermen by their boats. A favorite of U2, who live nearby, try La Mère Germaine. It has served the area’s best bouillabaisse since 1938.