We had nearly 1,000 clients staying across Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo this year; the majority of our clients stay in Nice, but on my 4th year of doing this trip, I was based out in Cannes where we had clients across two large 4 and 5* hotels.
After our charter flights left Gatwick (the less said about Gatwick, the better – thanks BA and Easyjet!), Manchester and Luton Airports, all clients arrived in Nice to blazing hot sunshine. Those clients that booked with us via Telegraph Travel were in for a treat! First up was an event at the infamous Stars n Bars hosted by Telegraph correspondent Oliver Brown, followed by an event featuring David Coulthard, Martin Brundle, Lee Mackenzie, Alan McNish and Paul di Resta at the majestic Hotel de Paris. Other clients who had Grandstand tickets were able to walk the circuit and through the pitlane, whereas others took more leisurely options in Nice or Cannes.
With it being the 70th Cannes Film Festival as well as the 75th Monaco Grand Prix, it certainly was a special time to be in Cannes. Usually the Film Festival finishes before the Grand Prix weekend. The celebrities were out in full force, along with plenty of film fans, star spotters and paparazzi! Cannes is a great alternative to Nice on a Grand Prix weekend – it is smaller than Nice and has more of a resort feel. One of our hotels was based just outside a pretty village on the southern outskirts of Cannes called Mandelieu, full of quaint French bistros, a small castle and a lovely intimate beach.
Qualifying day beckoned, and clients either took our coach transfers or got the train to Monaco. Those on the coaches from Nice experienced the beautiful Bass Corniche, a picturesque drive along the coastline. Hamilton disappointed, but Ferrari took the front row, with Raikonnen’s first pole in 129 races – a great race will be guaranteed! Saturday night was a great opportunity to sample French cuisine and wine in one of the many restaurants in the French Riveria. The Old Town is especially great in Nice for good value, delicious food.
Onto race day, and the sun continued to shine, with temperatures already reaching 20 degrees when we got on the buses at 7.30am! You could feel the buzz on the coaches on the way to the circuit and after a short walk up to the Place d’Arms where the Fan Zone is situated, we directed our clients off to their seats and most caught the Porsche Supercup, the Renault 2.0 Race before the Driver’s Parade.
Ferrari ended its 16 years wait for a win at Monaco, with a 1-2 for Vettel and Raikonnen. Raikonnen led from the start, but several blistering laps from Vettel saw him pass Raikonnen for the lead of the race in the round of pitstops, which he then held to the end – extending his lead in the championship.
Ricciardo did the same, passing Bottas and Verstappen in the pitstops, to take the final step on the podium. Jenson Button’s one race return ended in retirement following a clash with Wehrlien in the Sauber. And as for Alonso in the US at Indianapolis, his lack of fortune continued with an engine failure…!
Monaco really comes alive after the race. The track opens up and you can walk it. If you’re lucky enough to find any debris such as tyres or bits of car, you can keep it! Lots of bands and bars line the area from Rascasse corner – not for the faint hearted if you stay there all night. The parties on the yachts are a sight to behold.
Departure came, sadly, back to reality in the UK where we were greeted by mist and rain – but nothing could dampen our spirits from the fantastic weekend staff and clients alike experienced. See you next year!