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September 12, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Mougins, France

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Bonjour from the south of France! Last week, I wrote about my incredible weeklong stay in Cannes and this week, we leave the flashy beachside community to visit nearby Antibes and the villages in the Provencal countryside. If youíre up for a little fun in the sun, plus a tour of the perfume capital of the world, where I had the opportunity to create my own sweet-smelling fragrance called "Jet69", then do yourself a favor ... grab your overnight bag and get ready for your senses to be overloaded! If you don't have time to sit back, relax, have a glass of wine and read the story, don't worry! There's a two-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week's story. If you've had your fill of France, join Marcela Swenson as she wraps up her own European jaunt in Amsterdam.

This was my second visit to the charming medieval village of Mougins. It's a 15-minute, four-mile (7 km) drive from Cannes and is famous for its food. In fact, Mougins is known for having the most Michelin-rated restaurants of any region in France. I wrote about my lovely dinner here a few weeks ago, at a place called Place des Patriots; hereís their business card and a link to my review. But this was my first chance to see the village, which has jaw-dropping vistas, during the day. Mougins is so quaint that youíll want to take a special someone on that romantic trip youíve been putting off. The village is full of narrow alleys, cobblestone streets, colorful flowers and of course, its fair share of boutiques and cafťs. Thereís even a small photography museum, which I popped into, to see some portraits of Picasso who spent the last 15 years of his life living in Mougins. Although Mougins is picturesque during the day, I believe it really comes to life at night when everything is all lit up and the streets are filled with diners walking off the calories theyíve just put into their bursting bellies. If you canít spend a night or two, visit for dinner at the very least. You wonít be disappointed.

If youíve got beaucoup bucks, the swankiest hotel in Mougins is Le Mas Candille. Itís a seven-minute walk down the hill from the village and nine miles (15 km) from the Nice Airport. Originally an 18th-century farmhouse, Le Mas Candille is a five-star, luxury hotel. Itís surrounded by 40,000 square meters of Provencal parkland, filled with cypress trees and has an old olive grove. I wasnít there to sleep in the 40-room hotel (thank God; they charge 30 euro a day for wireless Internet access!), but instead, to have lunch at the hotelís acclaimed restaurant, which has been awarded the coveted three Michelin stars. It goes without saying that the food was as wonderful as the views that spread before me, across the Mougins Valley to the Pre-Alps.

Chef Serge Gouloumes incorporates exotic flavors into his Italian- and Provencal-based cooking and his dishes demonstrate a real artistic flair. For starters, there was a choice of Candille tatin of foie gras or a baby artichoke salad. For the main dish, I chose the tournedos of simmental beef with summer truffles. Dessert was divine and was presented as if it were Picassoís paint palette. A special treat from the chef, macaroons were served with our coffee. The macaroons were so delicate, they melted in your mouth. The service was just okay ... one of our waiters gave us a bit of attitude when we asked for more bread and wine. The man was prompt but we could tell he wasnít fond of obnoxious Americans. The restaurant is open to the public (reservations are highly recommended) and the dress code is smart casual. Open for lunch from 12pm to 2:15pm and for dinner from 7pm to 10 pm.

Most of the hotelís guests hail from France or England. Of those guests, about 85% of them supposedly use the hotelís Shiseido Spa. I paid the spa a visit, too but I wasnít very fond of my experience. To begin with, thereís only one dressing room. So you have to wait while someone of the other sex changes. Then, I had to put on a pair of that uncomfortable, scratchy paper underwear, which, I might add, Iíve seen way too much of lately. Seriously, Iíd rather be naked than wear these ridiculous things. But the worst part was what was waiting for me inside. The massage room was uncomfortably hot and the hole in massage table, where youíre supposed to put your face, was covered with a towel, making it difficult to breathe. When I turned my head sideways, gasping for air, my neck cramped. To finish me off, like a boxer going for the knockout punch in the 12th round, the pretty masseuse turned me over, put a steaming hot towel on my back, then sprayed some Shiseido Spa product on my wrists. In her cute French accent she said it would energize me but instead, it induced my allergies. When I finally stopped coughing, I ran down to the pool with my robe on and shed it like Superman in midair, as I leaped into the pool. What was supposed to be a graceful dive ended up being an explosive belly flop! And yes, now I know that paper underwear does not hold up so well to water and high impact. I felt bad for the romantic couple that I splashed and flashed when I got out. I was too embarrassed to apologize so I ran back to the change room like an escaped prisoner. Le Mas Candille, for all reservations, call +33 (0)4 92 28 43 43.

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


View of Mougins




Mougins Center


Le Mas Candille Driveway


Le Mas Candille Pool






Shiseido Spa




Infamous Pool


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