That luxury belongs to the savoir vivre of the Côte D’Azur, tobacco stores like to demonstrate with the Cohiba Behike 56. Here, the Habanos star brand goes to a clientele that likes to spend its nights in casinos.
This city lies like a glittering diamond in the Mediterranean. Cannes, a stronghold of cineastes as well as the international jet-set, is a place of longing. No other place on the French Riviera has as many fireworks above the majestically tall palms as here. That luxury belongs to the savoir vivre of the Côte D’Azur, tobacco stores like to demonstrate with the Cohiba Behike 56. Here, the Habanos star brand goes in boxes of ten (410 Euros) to a clientele that likes to spend its nights in casinos.
Monsieur Allaoua from the tobacco shop La Civette Carlton gives me a tour of his well-stocked walk-in humidor. He tells me about his four-figure purchase sales with American basketball player Michael Jordan, and admires the actress Charlotte Rampling. “She likes to smoke the Montecristo No. 4 (7.90 Euros) – but in private.”
Then Monsieur Allaoua urgently says to me: “Gabriela, smoke a cigar in the wonderful cigar bar of La Rotonde ‘François André’ by the pool of the Grand Hotel Majestic Barrière. There, you’ll be close to the Palais des Festivals, where 200 film stars have had their hand prints immortalized on our legendary boulevard.”
I thank Monsieur Allaoua for his tip. Luck is on my side; in the Majestic Barrière tonight, a Champagne event is planned. So I experience the glitz and glamour of Cannes at its best. Have you ever entered a cigar bar via a golden-lit staircase? Perfectly staged illumination art makes it possible: welcome to fine smoking in the royal garden palais. Once I’m comfortably situated on an ivory-colored designer couch, a Pléiades Antares (13 Euros) beckons to me from the cigar menu.
The fine Longfiller from the Dominican Republic with its planet-world emblem fits to Cannes, with all its stars and starlets. Head waiter Dimitri Vankerm hands me my cigar of choice from the stylish humidor serving trolley from the 1920s; it has its place of honor in front of historic film posters in the brasserie Fouquet’s right next door. At the latest, when scallops and coconut cream with gold flecks are served, all the guests finally have the opportunity to look Marylin Monroe deep in the eyes.
Nice with Italian Flair
That the Majestic Barrière, despite very strict French anti-smoking laws, became a refuge for cigar lovers is thanks to an old-school bon vivant. “Our cigar bar is an homage to François André, founding father of our hotel group,” Dimitri explains to me while serving a mojito Champagne. “He loved cigars, gambling and fine spirits.”
The next day, in Nice, the Mediterranean metropolis with Italian flair, I saunter down the Promenade des Anglais, where sophisticated cafés on the beach entice for a fine smoke. The only remarkable indoor cigar lounge on the Côte D’Azur I discover in the tobacco store Flamme et Fumée opposite Place Masséna. Patrick Medioni takes me into his walk-in humidor and stresses, “Davidoff cigars make up almost half of my range. I have a good selection from Nicaragua and carry all the Habanos classics – they’re a great magnet for American tourists.”
Davidoff is a good seller in our store and when it comes to Habanos, our best sellers are the Cohiba Behike 54
I choose an Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown (9 Euros), which I enjoy in the company of Christian Bousidan. The perfume designer from Nice tells me about his scent creations that are dominated by Habanos aromas. That the American actor Bruce Willis recently puffed away on a Davidoff Grand Cru doesn’t impress him much.
In just a short car ride along the coast, I’m already in Monaco. Because I want to experience a parcour of luxury limousines, I head towards Café de Paris. The Belle-Époque-style restaurant trumps with its terrace opposite the historic casino. Cigar passionados are welcome here, and specialty shops with excellent service offer premium wares of all provenances. In the elegant Boutique Davidoff, the proprietor Patrick Padovani informs me freely and candidly, “Davidoff is a good seller in our store and when it comes to Habanos, our best sellers are the Cohiba Behike 54 (box of ten: 362 Euros) and the Montecristo Edmundo (14.80 Euros).
For dinner, Padovani recommends his passionados the Fairmont Monte Carlo with the new gourmet restaurant of star chef Nobu. “His Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine is unique,” admonishes Padovani. “In addition, the Fairmont opened a panorama balcony with a smoking section.” I’m impressed by the rooftop terrace of the Fairmont Monte Carlo, where live music is played by the pool in the evenings.
Good news for cigar smokers: the billionaire Sunset Lounge looks forward to your visit and during the Formula 1 Grand Prix offers privileged seating. That’s an insider tip – because, from the Fairmont Monte Carlo, you can enjoy the best view of the most exciting bend of the race.
Where Stars enjoy
It only takes me 15 minutes to drive from Monaco to Èze Village. With its defiant castle ruins, the medieval artists’ village, a top address for gourmets, is located 400 meters above the Riviera. My first stop is the Château de la Chèvre D’Or, where I’m received by hotel director Thierry Naidu on the spectacular panorama terrace of the two-star Michelin restaurant. Naidu likes to smoke Cohibas and shows me the wine cellar, where hotel guests store their cigars. “Look,” he says, “our humidor is next to exquisite Champagne bottles. And, incidentally, for an ideal place to enjoy a cigar I recommend the look-out point next to our bar with the suit of armor. Hollywood stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman filmed an exciting scene there in The Bucket List.”
In the Èze village another luxury domicile has been implanted. Once the summer residence of the Swedish royal family, today Château Eza is an Eldorado for cigar lovers looking for intimate seclusion with the best comfort. In the starred restaurant there, the German chef Axel Wagner surprises with an exquisite fusion of Mediterranean and French cuisine. With Daniel Wedel, the Canadian assistant general hotel manager, I finally sit in front of the fire of the pretty, little Salon Royal, which is open to cigar smokers and has a balcony, the view from which over the Côte D’Azur even leaves Leonardo Di Caprio speechless. “Once a year, the American film star is our guest; each time he retires to the Salon Royal as if it were a meditation room,” says Wedel and puffs contemplatively on his finely spicy Flor de Selva Tempo from Honduras.
I find out from Jacques Chibois in Grasse that the grand-seigneur of the cigar branch, Zino Davidoff (1906–1994), liked to holiday on the Côte D’Azur. The starred chef Chibois heads the exclusive country hotel La Bastide Saint Antoine in the world capital of perfume. The 18th-century estate is surrounded by over 1,500 olive trees. Chibois smokes his Montecristo there to relax.
With a view of the bay of Cannes, he remembers his time as France’s youngest star chef. “I cooked in Hotel Gray d’Albion, where Zino Davidoff consorted. It was he who introduced me to the fascinating world of taste of cigars.” It is no coincidence that Chibois later utilized the aromas of Davidoff tobacco in his cooking, which was then even turned into chocolate by specialists.
Chibois, also a truffle specialist, is certain that “with their maturation cycle, black mushrooms teach us endless patience, which, in a similar way, is also demanded by tobacco, before we enjoy harmoniously balanced cigars.” The Grand Maître himself has proven staying power, and revolutionized the cuisine of France by making olive oil socially acceptable for modern cuisine with new recipes. Upon his fabulous gourmet table, there is always a small bowl of the glittering golden essence from his own organic olives to taste. Those wanting to explore exceptional Mediterranean new worlds will reach culinary heaven with Maître Jacques.
93, rue d’Antibes, Cannes
T +33 4 93 39 55 07
63, rue Félix-Faure, Cannes
T +33 4 93 39 48 19
Flamme & Fumée
16, av. Félix-Faure, Nice
T +33 4 93 62 18 31
19, promenade des Anglais, Nice
T +33 4 93 87 58 27
17, av. des Spélugues, Monaco
T +377 97 77 55 66
Flamme & Fumée
16, av. Félix-Faure, Nice
T +33 4 93 62 18 31
17, av. des Spéluges, Monaco
T +377 93 25 20 30
La Bastide Saint Antoine
Provence specials by star chef Jacques Chibois
48, av. Henri Dunant, Grasse
T +33 4 93 70 94 94
La Chèvre D’Or
French cuisine with two Michelin stars
6, rue du Barri, Eze Village
T +33 4 92 10 66 66
10, La Croisette, Cannes
T +33 4 92 98 77 05
12, av. des Spélugues, Monte Carlo
T +377 93 50 65 00
Fine Seafood on the beach
La Croisette, Cannes
T +33 4 93 94 23 15
Ile Saint Honorat, Cannes
La Bastide Saint Antoine
Best boutique hotel in France, historic
estate in the middle of olive groves;
Château de la Chèvre D’Or
Castle feeling high above the Riviera, two-star
restaurant and terrace gardens with a fantastic pool;
12 noble rooms in a centuries-old residence,
Fairmont Monte Carlo
Spectacular deluxe resort near the casino
on stilts above the sea
Traditional luxury hotel with film-festival flair
on the glamorous beach promenade of Cannes
Comfortable roof-top-terrace rooms for smokers,
near the Old Town and boulevard on the sea;
Lufthansa offers comfortable
connections to Nice
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Autumn Edition 2014. Read more