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Published On: Fri, May 29th, 2015

Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015

South African businessman, avid global traveler and luxury travel company owner, Norman Peires, recommends his top three European hot spots for summer…

Côte d’Azur, France

Arriving on the Côte d’Azur, the sky is somehow bluer, the temperatures are hot, but rarely humid, and the good life is everywhere in the air, lifting the spirits. Palm trees give a subliminal feeling of paradise, the sea sparkles in the soft light – and if you avoid the middle of August, when the rest of France decamp to the south, there is nowhere more alluring for a Mediterranean summer break.

For many, this stretch of southeastern French coastline is characterized by the brash; places such as St. Tropez, Cannes and Monaco shout loud with their Bentleys, bodyguards and Euro party feel. But it’s the quieter Provençal harbors, bays and hilltop towns such as medieval Eze and ‘perfume capital’ Grasse (go for the glorious Fête du Jasmin at the beginning of August and rose exhibition in May) that offer up the best of the area.

The lighthouse of Nice, on the Mediterranean coast (French Riviera). 2010 photo/ Myrabella via wikimedia commons

The lighthouse of Nice, on the Mediterranean coast (French Riviera). 2010 photo/ Myrabella via wikimedia commons

The Rivera coastline itself is a ribbon of bays created by ‘caps’, hard rock spits that rise out of the deep blue-green water. The most famous is Cap d’Antibes, a four-mile peninsula of wild greenery and pine trees – and a great place for a day’s sailing. Stay in a gite or villa anywhere outside the main towns and you’ll plug into a gentle, traditional Mediterranean tempo redolent of the shushing waves on the shoreline.

In a fast-paced, connected world it suits the soul to have to say Bonjour, madame” before you order your baguette. A model of this traditional charm is the seaside village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, between Nice and Monaco, where life goes on as it has done for decades, structured around a food market three times a week. Join locals squeezing and sniffing the local produce as they browse stalls, then follow their lead to a long lunch over some crisp Provence rosé wine in the sun.

Mykonos, Greece

When most people think of the Greek islands, the Cyclades are the images that usually come to mind. Whitewashed houses on hillsides, offset by azure waters, perhaps with a windmill or a church dome in view. And if you want idyllic then Mykonos, at the tourist heart of this island group, is a great choice. Excellent hotels and restaurants (even Nobu has a restaurant here in the Belvedere hotel) rub shoulders with traditional crafts, modern art galleries and trendy clothing stores.

This vibrancy is in part due to a big gay holiday demographic and this liberalism sets a tone, marking Mykonos out as one of the most sophisticated of the Greek islands. Young travelers should stay in the dazzling white old town, where traditional tavernas dot shady squares and you can get water taxis to beaches all over the island. Sadly, the only downside is that amid all this refinement, the local sands are a bit coarse. But when the stretches are well served, dotted with sun loungers and drinks service everyone copes okay.

Sunset from Seabourn Spirit, Mykonos, Greece. 2007 photo/ Tim via wikimedia commons

Sunset from Seabourn Spirit, Mykonos, Greece. 2007 photo/ Tim via wikimedia commons

Platys Gialos, south of Mykonos Town, is the busiest family beach, but if you want a quieter experience then head for Agios Sostis or watersports at Kalafati beach. A splash in the refreshing Med sea and you might not feel like exploring any further, but it’s great to hire a car for the day and travel through the barren, moon-like interior to see a different side of things.

And of course, being an island, a bit of island hopping should definitely be on your agenda somewhere. The island of Delos, a mile west of Mykonos, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of a myriad ancient landmarks. Catch the ferry boat from Mykonos Harbor and in 20 minutes you’re in the land of the Odyssey, surrounded by the ancient ruins of the Doric Temple of Isis, Minoan Fountain and the Temple of Delians.

Mallorca, Spain

The largest of Spain’s Balearic islands, Mallorca is sometimes overshadowed by the party atmosphere of its neighbor, Ibiza. But while the crowds are dancing til dawn over the water, Mallorca still retains a low-key quality that makes it perfect for a relaxed getaway. Of course, the island has its built up areas – the south is where the big resorts are, and if you’re searching for traditional Mallorca you’ll be searching in vain.

But on the north west coast, things are very different. The village of Deia is one of the island’s most beautiful spots, a clutch of little houses and a church hugging the coastline at the top of a hill in the Sierra Tramuntana mountain range. Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca’s most luxurious hotel is here, with a tennis club (overseen by local legend, coach Ozzie) used by both celebrity guests and locals alike.

The village itself has long been a colony for artists, literary types and off-duty stars with second homes, the most famous being Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas. Small wonder you can eat local Michelin-starred food at Es Raco de’s Teix if you want. But a more relaxed way is to dine – late into the evening – at small traditional restaurants, serving tapas and the classic Spanish tastes, creamy garlic aioli, spicy pimentos – and slow cooked lamb, a Mallorquín specialty.

The beautiful bubble of Deia is hypnotic, but there are other pretty spots within easy reach if you can drag yourself away. Sóller with it’s small 18th century tramway linking the inland town to Port de Sóller, makes for a nice afternoon stroll, while elegant Mallorcan capital Palma is only a 50-minute drive, with the beautiful La Seu cathedral, Modernista architecture and great shopping. The Es Baluard contemporary art museum here with its Picassos and Miros is worth the city visit alone.

Guest Author: Keith Sullivan

 

 Village in the island of Mallorca  2015 photo/ Paasikivi via wikimedia commons

Village in the island of Mallorca 2015 photo/ Paasikivi via wikimedia commons

 

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  1. Norman Peires’ tips for finding peace on the French Riviera | Travel Tips says:

    […] also when! The number one rule of visiting the French Riviera is to time it well. And that means never coming in late July or in August when the French decamp […]

  2. Norman Peires’ tips for finding peace on the French Riviera | Travel Blog says:

    […] also when! The number one rule of visiting the French Riviera is to time it well. And that means never coming in late July or in August when the French decamp […]

  3. Norman Peires | Gallavanting around Corsica says:

    […] wife and I have spent a lot of time in the South of France. With a house being renovated here and a mooring for our boat as well, we’ve got plenty of reason […]

  4. Thinking about our next charity adventure - Norman Peires says:

    […] doing hours of walking each day in preparation. Even when we were on holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos we were doing 8 hours of walking a day to try and prepare. We kept saying it’s just footsteps! […]

  5. Norman Peires - Boating in the South of France says:

    […] a beautiful part of the world. It’s often said that the marina here is the prettiest on the Cote d’Azur, and it’s got some fantastic restaurants along its sea front. If you haven’t been before, I […]

  6. Top European Destinations for 2015 | Norman Peires - Avid Traveller says:

    […] For many, this stretch of southeastern French coastline is characterized by the brash; places such as St. Tropez, Cannes and Monaco shout loud with their Bentleys, bodyguards and Euro party feel. But it’s the quieter Provençal harbors, bays and hilltop towns such as medieval Eze and ‘perfume capital’ Grasse (go for the glorious Fête du Jasmin at the beginning of August and rose exhibition in May) that offer up the best of the area….read more at http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/norman-peires-top-european-destinations-for-summer-20… […]

  7. The 20 best Mediterranean islands | iGaytrip.com says:

    […] Norman Peires' Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 This vibrancy is in part due to a big gay holiday demographic and this liberalism sets a tone, marking Mykonos out as one of the most sophisticated of the Greek islands. Young travelers should stay in the dazzling white old town, where traditional … Read more on The Global Dispatch […]

  8. Maspalomas Spanish Holiday Villas Europe - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – Stay in a gite or villa anywhere outside the main towns and you’ll plug … This vibrancy is in part due to a big gay holiday demographic and this liberalism sets a tone, marking Mykonos out as one of the most … […]

  9. Popular Holiday Destinations 2015 - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – But it’s the quieter Provençal harbors, bays and hilltop towns such as medieval Eze and ‘perfume capital’ Grasse (go for the glorious Fête du Jasmin at the beginning of August and rose exhibition in May) that … […]

  10. Artenara Spanish Holiday Villas 2015 - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – Stay in a gite or villa anywhere outside the main towns and you’ll plug … This vibrancy is in part due to a big gay holiday demographic and this liberalism sets a tone, marking Mykonos out as one of the most … […]

  11. Maspalomas Spanish Holiday Villa Hotel - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – Stay in a gite or villa … hotels and restaurants (even Nobu has a restaurant here in the Belvedere hotel) rub shoulders with traditional crafts, modern art galleries and trendy clothing stores. This vibrancy is in part due to … […]

  12. Family Holiday Villages Europe - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – This vibrancy is in part due to a big gay holiday demographic and this liberalism sets a tone … Platys Gialos, south of Mykonos Town, is the busiest family beach, but if you want a quieter experience then head for Agios … […]

  13. La Solana Family Villa Holidays Ibiza - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – Stay in a gite or villa anywhere outside the main towns and you’ll plug … This vibrancy is in part due to a big gay holiday demographic and this liberalism sets a tone, marking Mykonos out as one of the most … […]

  14. Maspalomas Best Holiday Villas Europe - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – But it’s the quieter Provençal harbors, bays and hilltop towns such as medieval Eze and ‘perfume capital’ Grasse (go for the glorious Fête du Jasmin at the beginning of August and rose exhibition in May) that … […]

  15. La Solana Spanish Villa Holidays France - My holiday places advice says:

    […] Norman Peires’ Top European Destinations for Summer 2015 – Palm trees give a subliminal feeling of paradise, the sea sparkles in the soft light – and if you avoid the middle of August, when the rest of France decamp to the south … Stay in a gite or villa anywhere outside the main … […]

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