Two elderly ladies swan down the Promenade de la Croisette in precarious bejewelled stilettos, matching leopard-print dresses and lashings of bubblegum-pink lipstick. Elsewhere, they might attract some odd looks, but in Cannes, they melt into a sea of sun-kissed skin, slicked-back hair and designer swimwear.
The moment I step out of the airport, I am confronted by that signature South of France welcome: the faint scent of pine and sea salt, and the predictably grouchy Cannois taxi driver. We speed along the winding roads and come to an abrupt halt outside the Tiara Yaksta (00 33 4 92 28 60 30; tiara-hotels.com), where he tosses my luggage unceremoniously on to the doorstep of this boutique bolthole and vanishes in a puff of tobacco smoke.
Perched on the red rocks of Théoule-sur-Mer and overlooking the picture-perfect Baie de Cannes, Tiara Yaksta's manicured garden stretches out on several levels, dotted generously with large white Balinese beds. Disturbed only by a chorus of cicadas, this is a welcome alternative to Cannes' film-festival hang-out Hotel du Cap Eden Roc across the bay in Antibes (00 33 4 93 61 39 01; hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com). Stepping into the cool hallway, I am escorted through rose scented corridors with a distinct Moroccan influence. Wide terracotta tiles and coloured glass lamps encasing candles light the steps. My room is just as I had imagined – bright and airy with a four-poster bed draped in silks – and I can make out a half-moon balcony through the windows.
Then, after a sublime violet-infused martini in a paper-thin glass, I find myself wandering along the Croisette, admiring the flashy beachfront hotels and pristine designer shops. I contemplate Caffè Roma (00 33 4 93 38 05 04; cafferoma.fr) for a moment, where plates of gnocchi bubble with fresh tomato sauce and oozing molten mozzarella. However, I settle for the more traditional surroundings of Pastis (00 33 4 92 98 95 40; pastis-cannes.com), a brasserie where long-suffering French husbands gather to swig liquor while their wives brandish credit cards in expensive boutiques. One filet de boeuf (rare) and half a carafe of rosé later, temptation gets the better of me and I head to chic Italian Cinquanta (00 33 4 93 39 00 01) for a creamy strawberry tiramisu accompanied by amaretto-soaked biscuits.
Onwards, in search of the glitzier side of Cannes: a collection of bars nestled in the backstreets of the rue d'Antibes. I weave my way in the company of a couple of friendly locals past the whirlwind of crisp shirts and diamonds spilling out of trendy lounge bar Cosy Box (00 33 6 11 83 37 29; cosy-box.com), then make a necessary pit-stop at tiny cocktail bar called Le Sun7 (lesun7.com), where we demolish a bottle of tequila.
In no time, we're whisked away by a couple of charming French gentlemen who own a rather powerful car. We race up to Le Bâoli (00 33 4 93 43 03 43; www.baoli-group.com) where the evening terrace – all flowing silk and languid lounge music – is given over to house beats, sequined dresses and a never-ending supply of champagne. Dawn is about to break when we pile on to a pristine yacht for front row seats of the sunrise. Then, minutes later, I collapse on to an enormous cream mattress on deck, my four-poster bed long forgotten.
In Cannes, a hotel room is all very well, but waking up on a private yacht is definitely preferable.
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