One of the best-known faces and voices in British broadcasting, Angela Rippon reveals why she loves having a holiday home on the French Riviera and the other celebrities who live nearby
There’s one very special spot which holds a place in your heart…
Yes, I’ve had a home in Juan-les-Pins for the last 15 years and get there as often as I can – though that’s never enough! I go for my main summer holiday and again at New Year. In between, I go whenever I have a spare few days.
Why did you plump for Juan-les-Pins?
I’ve been going to the south of France for nearly 30 years and when I was looking for something permanent for myself, there was no question that it would be anywhere but the area around Cannes. I have a great many friends who live there and I’m very familiar with the whole area. It’s very much become a second home.
Could you describe your property?
I have a small, one-bedroom apartment in a fairly new complex. We have beautiful gardens, a swimming pool and tennis courts – everything I need when I’m ready to ‘chill out’ from my work. I have a lovely, large patio, which I have filled with pots to take plants in the summer. I installed the automatic watering system myself, to make sure that nothing suffers when I’m not there. It’s a perfect space for entertaining. I love cooking and three years ago I treated myself to a brand new kitchen.
How did you go about finding the property?
It was all very simple. It previously belonged to a very dear friend who was moving back to England. As the property was in the perfect location for me, and it ticked all the boxes, I bought it!
Do you have any tips for readers thinking about purchasing property in France?
Get to know the area you’re interested in first. Don’t just go on a whim or someone else’s recommendation. Holiday there, out of season… it can all look quite different on a grey day in February.
What are your favourite things to do there?
My favourite pastimes are sitting on my terrace with a good book, pottering in my small terrace garden, playing tennis and meeting friends for lunch or dinner. Generally, doing as little as possible. I keep a car there and visit friends along the south coast. I also enjoy taking the train, especially from Juan to Monaco, or to the market at Ventimiglia. The route along the coastline, with the sea on your right, is quite magical.
Any favourite beaches?
Most of the time, I stay at home, either on my terrace or around the pool. When I do visit the beach, I like to go to any of those in Juan-les-Pins that are attached to a restaurant, especially Le Ruban Bleu or Les Pirates.
Do you ever attend the famous Juan-les-Pins jazz festival?
I sometimes go to the concerts. Other times, I sit on my terrace with friends, listening to the music in the background, or we go to one of the beach restaurants underneath the staging area and enjoy good food, along with some great music.
The area’s long been de rigueur for the jetset. Do you socialise with any other famous faces when you’re there?
Quite a few of my friends and colleagues also have homes in the area, including Gloria Hunniford, one of my co¬-presenters on Rip Off Britain, who has a home in a village in the hills above Nice, and Elaine Paige, with whom I play tennis. She’s just up the road in Cannes.
When it comes to shopping and nights on the town, where do you head for ‘bargains’ as well as those exclusive spots?
For beachwear, underwear and shoes, Juan and Cannes are hard to beat. There are lots of great restaurants in the area, in Biot, Cannes, Juan and on Cap d’Antibes. Les Pêcheurs is very close to my home, as is the Hôtel Belles Rives.
Do you feel fully integrated there?
I wouldn’t aim to be a ‘local’ but I do tend to use the market and small local shops much more than the big supermarkets, so I’ve got to know a lot of the local traders and they recognise me whenever I’m in the area. My local newsagent is a gem and, if I need to, I buy the English newspapers from him.
What do you love about the gastronomy in France?
I love the simple way it’s prepared and, in the summer, the fact that all the dishes are prepared around what is fresh and local in the markets. I enjoy entertaining and have the perfect space for it on my terrace. In the summer, I practically live outdoors. Evening meals outdoors, in the warm, summer night air, are one of the joys of living in the south. The local markets are wonderful places to shop for really fresh fruit and vegetables, fabulous cheeses and local honey and olive oil. We also have a terrific fishmonger in Juan. I enjoy my trips to the huge Carrefour supermarket there, too, and usually head there on my first day to stock up on lots of basic things, like bottled water, wine, yoghurts and household stuff.
What about the lingo?
Yes, I do speak French. Not fluently, but I’m working at it!
Have you noticed many changes over the years?
I suppose the only thing I’ve really noticed is the way in which the world and national economies affect so many holiday areas, not just in France. Last summer there seemed to be fewer tourists at the very height of the season, and the season was very short. As a result, a number of businesses disappeared. Do you get recognised there?
I sometimes do, but not often. I tend to keep a very low profile when I’m on holiday.
Which are your other favourite areas of France to visit?
Paris. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world, and so easy to reach from London. You can go there (and I sometimes do) just for lunch with a friend. But whenever I’m in the city, I always make time to visit the Musée d’Orsay to look at the Impressionist Gallery. I adore the Vincent van Gogh paintings. The shopping is wonderful, of course, and there is a shop on the Left Bank that sells the most amazing jackets – I buy one every time I visit the city.
What would be your perfect day in France?
A run along the coast of the Cap at around 7.30am, breakfast on the terrace, a morning game of tennis, lunch with friends, then the afternoon by the pool or on the terrace with a book. I’d have a late dinner so that I can enjoy the sunset and balmy evening air.
Finally, when it’s time to throw in the towel, do you think you will retire to France?
I would like to think that when I retire I’ll be able to spend most of the winter in the south of France, away from the cold of a British January and February. It’s my ‘bolt hole’ and my escape route to relaxation and sanity!