by Maarten Hoffmann, Features Editor, Absolute Business Magazine
Naturally, my perfect weekend would be spent with my children. Oh, who am l kidding – my perfect weekend would be spent without the children for once, so my heart was all a flutter when my wife announced that she was off to Devon with the girls to see some friends.
I was immediately on the phone and following their departure the next day, l was at Gatwick within the hour and aboard my EasyJet flight to Nice. I have a long love affair with the South of France since l was a kid and it is also home to my oldest friend, artiste Lionel Dumas. Lionel is a phenomenal artiste in the vein of Tamara de Lempicka and is well known in the SoF.
Upon arrival on Saturday morning, we drove down to the Promenade des Anglais, parked up and went for lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, La Terrasse, owned by my friend Maurice Greco. which has views to die for right across the croissant.
As always, l started with the finest Onion Soup on the planet, followed by Red Mullet Tartare with Ginger and Lemon Grass with a few delicious Bay Scallops on the side followed by a superb Millefeuille, and all washed down with two bottles of a fine Chablis Grand Cru.
Sated, we strolled along to the Gallerie San Voit, where Lionel was showing a few pieces of his work. The Gallerie owner, Michelle Hollande, was charm personified and merrily stated that all of Lionel’s work had been sold and then proceeded to crack open a bottle of vintage Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne in celebration and we duly obliged and consumed first that bottle and then assisted her with the next three – well, she had just made a fortune in commission and it would have been rude not to!
By now the sun was disappearing over the yardarm and we accepted an invitation from Lionel’s good friend Patrice, to join him at St. Tropez’ top nightclub, Papagayo on Route Residence du Port, which has been going strong for over 40 years and is known, in some quarters, for ‘illicit behaviour and dirty deeds’. I have no idea what this means of course, but when the first bottle of Silver Patron 100% de Agave Tequila arrived at the table with some noisy chap called P Diddy at the next table, l started to get an inkling.
As much as l would love to regale you with stories of the rest of the evening, l remember nothing except for this P Diddy chap sending over another bottle of Patron (apparently we had polished off the first two), an odd encounter with Kate Moss, dancing to a DJ set by Boy George and being poured into a cab as the sun peeped it’s painfully bright head over the distant horizon.
Having woken slightly the worse for wear but famished, we headed off to Monaco to one of my all-time favourite restaurants on the planet, Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo’s Casino Square. Alain, and Executive Chef Franck Cerutti, have created an astonishing menu that invades the senses and stuns the palate and with a cellar consisting of over 600,000 bottles of the finest French plonk, the day was starting to pick up.
After Gnocchi de Pommes de Terre aux Courgettes, Veau fermier cuisine en Cocotte and Vacherin glace Vanilla, Abricot et Peche a Notre Facon and one of the finest bottles of Pinot Noir ever to have graced by tongue, it was time to dash to the airport for my flight home.
I awoke with considerable confusion that refused to dissipate until an eight year old jumped on me and with an eerily accurate knee, got me full in the groin and left me doubled up in agony. More pain was to follow as tears of pain from my throbbing crotch were followed by tears of disappointment, as l had just had my Bobby Ewing shower moment and realised it was all a dream and l was in bed, in Rottingdean, with a painful groin and a bunch of kids screaming at me to get up and entertain them. I guess my perfect weekend will indeed be with my children – reluctantly.