Every year in February, the classic mimosa festival in Mandelieu, in the Alpes-Maritimes, keeps up the tradition with floral floats, each telling a story. This year, the theme was "Olympics on the run.

France. Mandelieu. Mimosa festival. Flower parade.
France. Mandelieu. Mimosa festival. Flower parade.

Ah! the fragrant scent of mimosa! Parades, flower corsos, children's carnivals, streets and markets in bloom, all accompany the inevitable election of Miss Mandelieu. Dieu sur le Massif du Tanneron is too much! More than 1,100 hectares, the largest mimosa forest in Europe... the bright yellow pom-pom flowers light up the hills of Mandelieu-La Napoule. From the heights, you can take in the bay of Cannes, the golf course at La Napoule and the Lérins islands.

Just a stone's throw from the Place de Capitou, paths lead directly into the heart of the mimosa forest. The mayor, Sébastien Leroy, doesn't want any trouble in this Virgilian setting: no burkini on the beaches, no stone embroidery rising to the sky with a pansy bulb. The mirage is becoming clearer: Mandelieu is the only commune in France where there is no inter-communal tax. Even the car parks are free! This mayor is an exceptional man, an adventurer of European history. An inspired delicacy slips into the history of the town.

Château de La Napoule

France. Château de La Napoule. Mandelieu.
France. Château de La Napoule. Mandelieu. Michèle Lasseur.

France. Mandelieu. Château de La Napoule.
France. Mandelieu. Château de La Napoule by the sea © Michèle Lasseur.

Facing the Bay of Cannes, this medieval fortress with its ochre stones and towers occupies a seafront site already known to the Romans over 2,000 years ago. It was once the home of a wealthy American couple, Henry and Marie Clews. In the 1920s, Henry Clews, the son of a Wall Street financial magnate, devoted himself to the architecture of the château, while his wife designed the gardens. The atmosphere of the Belle Époque pervades every corner of Château de la Napoule. The couple spent seventeen years restoring the premises, which today house the Henry Clews sculpture collection and also host international art projects. One curiosity leads to another, and their great-grandson, who is just passing through, knows how to keep things simple: "it all sounds like a cinematic epic"..

Whether Venetian, Moorish or Roman, the art of gardening takes pride of place, with water features and topiary. Come and stroll under the cedars and pines. Beyond the Saracen Tower, a small garden overlooks the Mediterranean and completes the mausoleum in which the Clews couple are still united, beyond time. Today, the gardens of Château de la Napoule have been classified as "Jardins Remarquables" and are home to works by visual artists.

Old Course Golf: an 18-hole course

France. Mandelieu. Old Golf Club.
France. Mandelieu. Old Golf Club. © Michèle Lasseur.

130 years of golf in Mandelieu-La Napoule: the Old Course was the first golf course on the Côte d'Azur. It was created in 1891 by the Grand Duke Michel of Russia. Open every day of the year, the Old Course is one of the Côte d'Azur's legendary venues. It lies opposite the Lérins Islands, in the heart of a century-old pine forest between the sea and the foothills of the hinterland. The total distance is 2,118 metres for a Par 33.

France. Mandelieu. Old Golf Club.
France. Mandelieu. Old Golf Club. © Sylvain Grandadam.

The Grand Duke also designed the 9-hole course nicknamed "The Little Prince".
I always listen to my golfing friends. Because their golfing mastery reassures me and I like to believe them. Even if I don't always succeed. So I follow them to the 12th green. A bunker with crossbars has been installed. You cross the river La Siagne on a ferry that takes you between holes 2 and 3 and holes 12 and 13. The sea breeze blends with the pine and mimosa trees. The Old Course is one of the most popular golf courses in Europe, and remains number one in France with over 50,000 visits a year. It is the second largest golf course in the world after St Andrews in Scotland.


Mandelieu's Sports Department organises family mimosed walks in the area.

A legendary golf course a stone's throw from the sea.
3 courses for every level of play, set in 74 hectares planted with 4,000 umbrella pines.

HOTEL 4* ÎLOT DU GOLF : between sea and golf

France. Mandelieu. Hôtel Ilot du Golf and its terrace planted with a centuries-old olive tree.
France. Mandelieu. Hôtel Ilot du Golf and its terrace planted with a centuries-old olive tree. Hôtel Ilot du Golf.

Just a stone's throw from the Mandelieu-la Napoule marina, the hotel is perched on one of the arms of the river, La Siagne. So you can take a boat directly from the hotel pontoon to the sea via the Siagne! Then read under the hundred-year-old olive tree in the patio.
39 rooms (including 2 suites) decorated in a nautical spirit. In the Le K restaurant, the chef offers cuisine with a hint of Italy and Provence.
Best Western hotels & resorts
Hôtel Îlot du Golf**** BW Premier Collection
681 Avenue de la Mer
06210 Mandelieu-la-Napoule

Text : Michèle Lasseur
Report produced by Michèle Lasseur and Sylvain Grandadam.

Photo opening Camille Moirenc
Other photos : Mandelieu Tourist Office unless otherwise stated.