Halloween activities on the French Riviera

Halloween is becoming more popular in France and the Côte d’Azur has plenty of options for fun activities on and around the actual Halloween date, Thursday 31st October.

Trick-or-treating from house to house isn’t that popular here as overseas, with children mostly going around village shops and towns.

Halloween falls during the Toussaint school holidays so you can be sure of finding something to suit all ages.  The day after Halloween is Toussaint’s Day (All Saints Day), 1st November, and on this day French people visit cemeteries often taking chrysanthemums and pray for their deceased relatives and saints.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are a few options for Halloween on the French Riviera this year:

Antibes

Antibes usually has an informal trick-or-treat walkaround whereby local children wander around the old town stores on 31st October asking for candy.  Usually, early afternoon is best as the centre aère holiday programmes also do the rounds and by early evening the shop vendors are starting to get a bit tired and have run out of bonbons!

If you’re looking for something a bit different to do, artist Chris Cook will be running kids workshops where children can make eco-friendly Halloween decorations.

Details:

Kids Craft Workshops at Gallery Cook, 10 avenue Tournelli in Antibes

Wednesday 23rd October, Saturday 26th October or Wednesday 30th October from 2pm to 5pm

The craft workshops are recommended for ages 5 years and up.  Cost is €10 per hour

Tickets:  Reserve a place by phoning 06 16 59 31 64

Artist Chris Cook is running Halloween workshops where kids can make eco-friendly decorations

Cannes La Bocca

Fun City is an indoor play venue that’s perfect for rainy days or when your kids need to burn off energy. Their Cannes La Bocca venue is holding a Halloween night with magic show and disco.

Details:

Fun City Halloween 2019

Friday 25th October from 8pm to midnight

Kids: €20 each including entry to Fun City play zones, disco, magic show and kids menu (nuggets, crepe, candy)

Adults:  €22 each as above with adult food option being lasagna and tarte au citron

Tickets:  Pre-book by emailing them direct before 21st October at :  contact@fun-city.fr

Fun City Cannes La Bocca is throwing a number of Halloween animations, including a party on the evening of 25th October

Châteauneuf Grasse

The 16th edition of ‘Fete de la Courge’ will take place on Sunday 20th October at place Clemenceau from 10am to 6pm.  It’s a family-friendly day with live music, kids games and the place to see big courges!

More information is at: https://fr-fr.facebook.com/FeteDeLaCourge

Fête de la Courge will be held on 20th October in Châteauneuf

Le Rouret

Little monsters aged 5 to 12 years can head along to an afternoon Halloween party at the Thêatre du Rouret with facepainting, candy bar, and Halloween animations.

Details:

Le Rouret ‘Bal des Petits Monstres’ 2019

Wednesday 30th October from 3pm to 4.30pm

Kids: €5 each

Adults:  €3 each

Tickets:  Reserve your place with the Le Rouret Mairie on phone : 04 93 77 20 02

Bal des Petits Monstres in Le Rouret at Halloween

Monaco

Stars n Bars is well-known as being a good place to take kids if you’re in Monaco.  During Grand Prix and the Monaco Yacht Show it’s a lively business networking and socialising hub, but outside of those events it’s a fun location to take kids of all ages.

For Halloween, they’re throwing a Spooktacular evening with trick or treat, a candy treasure hunt, photo booth, magician, inflatable castles, fire jugglers, candy floss and more.   Fancy dress is prerequisite so take your kids along as vampires, mummies, zombies, skeletons etc!

Details:

Stars n Bars Halloween 2019

Thursday 31st October from 6pm to 9pm

Kids: 5-13 years are €27 each which includes animations and all-you-can-drink sodas/sirops.

Adults:  14 years upwards are €17 each which includes animations and all-you-can drink sodas/sirops.

There is a buffet on offer which is additional cost and will run on a ticket system.

Tickets:  It’s advisable to buy your ticket in advance for Stars n Bars Halloween party as it is expected to be busy!  Get your tickets here:  Stars n Bars Halloween Party 2019

Stars n Bars will have lots of fun stuff happening for Halloween

Mougins

Mougins is aiming to appeal to different age groups for Halloween this year with a range of activities.

Details:

Mougins Halloween 2019

Wednesday 30th October and Thursday 31st October – various times

Kids:  If you have young children, there are story sessions on Wednesday 30th October – babies to 3 years are at 10.30am and 3 years+ are held at 4pm.  The story sessions are free of charge and will be held at Médiathèque de Tournamy Mougins et Médiathèque et Espace Jeux de Mougins-le-Haut

Kids aged 6-10 years can join a treasure hunt in Mougins village on Thursday 31st October from 5pm-7pm with the Seven Dwarfs and Snow White.  The cost is €5 each and limited to 40 children.

Tweens and teenagers from 12 to 17 years are invited by the conseil municipal to a Halloween night ‘Soiree d’Enfer’ at the Salle de Courteline from 8pm to 11.30pm; there will be drinks and candy on offer.

Tickets:  To reserve a place for the baby/toddler reading sessions, contact phone: 04 93 75 33 82.  To reserve a place for the Seven Dwarfs treasure hunt, contact the Mougins Tourism Office on phone: 04 92 92 14 00. The teenagers ‘Soiree d’Enfer’ party is free entry.

Additionally, the Musée d’Art Classique Mougins is having Halloween tours at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm and 6pm on Thursday 31st October – you will meet the mummy and explore the museum in the dark!   The cost is €7 per person including bon bons for kids in costume; there are limited places so you have to pre-book via email: reservations@mouginsmusee.com  or phone: 04 93 75 18 22

You can visit the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins in the dark on Halloween! Pre-booking necessary.

Nice

While the music industry memorabilia at their Nice restaurant may be lost on some younger kids (James Brown’s suit, a drum kit from Guns n Roses, Michael Jackson’s fedora from Smooth Criminal etc), nevertheless The Hard Rock Café is a good option for families with lots of neon and cool stuff to look at and plenty of room for groups.

They’ll be throwing a ‘Fantastic Beasts (Les Créatures Fantastiques) Halloween party on 26th and 27th October with American buffet breakfast, spooky touch wall, ‘decorate-your-own’ Halloween donut session, create a magic book craft session and a Fantastic Beasts magic show (magic show lasts for 45 minutes).

Details:

Hard Rock Café ‘Les Créatures Fantastiques’ Halloween 2019

Saturday 26th or Sunday 27th October from 9.30am to midday

Kids:  2 years and under are free. 10 years and younger are €14.95 each

Adults:  €19.95 each

Note:  In my opinion, I think it’s pretty rubbish to charge an 11-year old an adult price as they’re not technically adults.  It reminds me of the travel industry where children are charged adult fares from 12 years up….regardless, the price is decent for 2.5 hours including breakfast and animations.

Tickets:  You can buy tickets in advance for the Hard Rock Café Halloween breakfast events – note, the booking portal adds a €1 fee to each ticket. Tickets here: Hard Rock Café Halloween 2019

St Martin Vésubie

Parc Alpha is very good at organising events to attract visitors to the area and will be hosting Halloween animations for the whole of Toussaint school holidays.   The park has picnic areas and food onsite, and they have 3 wolf packs that you can watch being fed three times a day (look on the Parc Alpha website for feeding times).

Every day during school holidays from 2pm to 4pm, kids can meet witches and join craft workshops to make a spooky lollipop, magic potion or bewitched puppet.

On 31st October, there will be witches and Little Red Riding Hood and a show at 3pm.

Parc Alpha is running Halloween activities the whole Toussaint school holidays

Details:

Parc Alpha Halloween 2019

Saturday 19th October to Sunday 3rd November open every day from 10am to 5pm

Tickets:

Kids:  On 31st October only, kids under 12 years will receive free entry if they are dressed in Halloween costume – note, it must be a proper costume not just a scary hat or face paint!

Outside of 31st October, if you visit any other day of the school holidays then kids under 4 are free, kids 4-12 years are €10 each and adults are €12 each.  They also have family deals (2 adults + 2 kids) available on their website.

More info about tickets is here:  Parc Alpha tickets

Valbonne

Valbonne is highly recommended for trick or treating action.  Families stroll around the village around 5pm with both kids and adults dressed in costume.  It’s busy and people end up at Place des Arcades to meet friends.  Many families take extra candy to give to the shop owners.

Valbonne / Vallauris / Villeneuve Loubet

Kidooland is hosting stages during Toussaint school holidays with various Halloween activities on offer for kids aged 4 to 16 years at their locations at the Hotel Golden Tulip in Valbonne Sophia, Vallauris and Villeneuve Loubet.

As well, all locations will also host Halloween parties on the 31st October.

Inscriptions are necessary, for more information visit here: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/d66ca3_c9d0f6b98a3f49e9992b91c792a1eff0.pdf

Kidooland will host stages and Halloween animations during Toussaint school holidays

Villeneuve Loubet

There will be a Halloween party including a treasure hunt on Thursday 31st October at Valbonne Village.

Details:

Villeneuve Loubet ‘jeu de piste’ & Halloween party 2019

Thursday 31st October from 2pm to 4pm (treasure hunt departs every 15 minutes)

Families:  €7 for 4-5 people, or €5 for 1 adult + 1 child

Tickets: Reservations are necessary, phone 04 92 02 66 16

Where to find Halloween decorations and kids costumes on the French Riviera

I’m becoming more conscious of waste during festive events, so I’m really trying to cut down on buying plastic accessories and individually-wrapped candy.  There are plenty of stores such as Carrefour, MaxiBazaar, Destock, GiFi, La Foir’ Fouille and Maximart on the Côte d’Azur that will be cranking out plastic Halloween items such as tridents, cauldrons or skeletons – so I’m hoping that people will consider their purchases long-term and try and reuse their costumes more than one season or make them from recycled items.

If you want to make your own eco-friendly Halloween decorations and costumes instead, refer to Pinterest, Good Housekeeping, Instagram or A Clean Bee for ideas.

For carving pumpkins, head to the Fête de la Courge in Châteauneuf on 20th October or try your luck at Grand Frais, Nice Carrefour TNL or LIDL.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!  Thank you!  

 

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Journées Européennes du Patrimoine : 21 and 22 September

This weekend throughout France, you can visit many monuments, museums and places of interest for free or at reduced cost as part of the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).

For families, it’s a great way to introduce your children to history, art and culture with lots of activities on offer and guided tours, seminars or workshops.

As well as well-known tourist attractions such as the Matisse Museum in Nice, many of the locations are only open on these special European Heritage Days so you can visit historic villas or places that don’t often have public access.

The French Ministry of Culture hosts a website especially for the Journées de Patrimoine so you can search for what’s on.

Some of the participating locations on the Côte d’Azur include:

Musée Picasso in Antibes

Musée Renoir at Cagnes-sur-Mer

Moulin Forville – Musée Victor Tuby in Cannes

Musée de la Castre in Le Suquet in Cannes

Abbey de Lérins on Isle Saint-Honorat

Abbey de Lérins is participating in the European Heritage Days 2019 (image: Ministry of Culture)

Musée Bonnard in Le Cannet

Les Jardins du Musée International de la Parfumerie in Mouans-Sartoux 

Musée Matisse in Nice
Château de Vaugrenier at Villeneuve Loubet
For the full programme throughout France, go to the official Ministère de la Culture website where you can geo-localise your area to find what’s happening:  Journées Éuropéennes du Patrimoine

 

French Riviera Beaches

French Riviera has a mixture of public or private beaches, sandy beaches, rocky coves and pebble beaches so there really is something for everyone.

As well as a huge variety of beaches to suit all ages and preferences, there’s a few helpful tips I can share that may help you on your next visit.

The Côte d’Azur is known for sunny days and a rather glam image of sun loungers, crisp glasses of beachside rosé and long lunches.  This is partially true as not everyone can spend 2 weeks hiring beach loungers and drinking Champagne in St Tropez!

Pampelonne’s beach clubs are changing from 2019 onwards (pic: Shutterstock)

Municipal beaches

For visitors to the French Riviera, one of the best tips I can share is to look for ‘plages en régie communale’ (or municipale).  These are beaches managed by the town that offer equipment for rent at reduced prices than what the private beaches offer; the downside is you won’t have access to that wonderful beach service where a server brings you food and ice cold buckets of drinks  🙂

In Cannes, Plage Zamenhoff on the Croisette is a municipal beach.  It’s located next to the Square du Mai 1945 park at the Port Canto end of Cannes.

You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and of course there are lifeguards (from 01 Jul-31 Aug) a first aid post, lockers, shower and toilet facilities.  BYO Sandwiches and non-alcoholic drinks are accepted.

© Radio France – Laurent Vareille

Hours:  Saturday 15 June to Sunday 15 September, open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 6.30pm.

Price:  A full day chair rental is €8.

Also in Cannes, Plage Macé is a public beach and situated right near the Palais des Festivals.  There are public toilets nearby as well as plenty of snack kiosks and food options.

Plage Richelieu in Juan les Pins is one of the municipal beaches in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area.  This sandy beach is accessed via the Pinède Gould (where the Jazz à Juan Festival is held), on the end of Juan les Pins closest to the Provençal and Hotel Belles Rives.  

The water is relatively shallow so fine for families with kids (the bonus is the local playground is just across the road) and nearby are hire options for water sports. 

Plage Richelieu has 118 loungers for hire, plus there are 6 loungers reserved for people with disabilities and their accompanying carer.

Tip:  Look for the yellow and green sign, and the blue and white beach umbrellas.

On the Cap d’Antibes, La Garoupe is the other municipal beach in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area.  A lovely setting for a day at the beach, this small beach area is a great place and the coastal walkway is fantastic.

There are a few great beach restaurants here including the popular spots Plage Keller and Plage Joseph, plus Le Rocher snack kiosk is right by the loungers.  There are 78 loungers for rent, plus 3 for people with disabilities and their carer.

Plage La Garoupe has loungers for rent for €11 per day.

Hours for both beaches:  Saturday 01 June to Sunday 15 September, open 7 days a week from 10am to 7pm

Price:  €10 for walk-ups / €11 pre-booked online.  There is a limit of 2 loungers per online booking.

For these two beaches, you can just arrive on the day and try your luck with the sun loungers though be warned that it is very busy in summer and they only allocate a limited number of loungers for walk-up customers, plus the locals are there early!

It’s best to pay in advance and reserve your loungers for these 2 public beaches on the Antibes Juan les Pins tourism website. Note:  You can’t reserve the loungers online for people with mobility problems.  For all other loungers, I’ve included the link to book because it’s not particularly clear to tourists how to do it.  Go to https://ticketing.antibesjuanlespins.com/ and click on ‘Plages en Regie’ and follow the instructions.

Beach updates

Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan:  You may notice there is a fresh crop of new beach restaurants which came about from a law regulation for zoning of public beaches.  I’m yet to try them all out, so feel free to comment if you have any you recommend!   Sadly, some of the older establishments have been demolished such as Moorea and Tetou.

Monaco:  Visitors to Monaco usually stop by Plage Larvotto at some stage.  However, from October 2019 until June 2021, Larvotto beach will be closed for a multi-million euro redevelopment which will include new shaded areas, a bike pathway to the new Anse du Portier district and a children’s playground.  Larvotto beach will temporarily open in summer next year (July and August 2020) with restaurants and shops set to reopen in 2021.

Saint-Tropez : The infamous beach scene at Pampelonne has also been reworked this summer. There are now 23 beach clubs (previously 27) with 5 new ones opening.  All 23 clubs have to be collapsible set-ups; so think those flat-pack, IKEA-style designs to meet the coastal laws.

The concessions extend to 2030 therefore the new clubs have a commitment to stay.  Gone will be some historic spots – Key West, Bagatelle, Plage les Jumeaux (sad for families!), Eden Plage, Pago Pago, Manoah, Shellona, Maison Bianca and Tabou.

Three of the new beach clubs are run by upmarket hotels La Reserve, Byblos and Hotel de Paris, one is run by Christopher Artis and the other is Loulou Beach (a collaboration between the owners of Hotel Ermitage and Loulou restaurant in Paris).  This map below from St Tropez House shows the line-up:


Looking for more information about French Riviera beaches?  Take a look at some of these resources below:

 

 

 

Anjuna Beach at Eze

 

  • Crab in the Air travel blog includes their pick of 7 top French Riviera beaches which has a mix of busy spots such as Larvotto in Monaco and off-the-tourist track locations such as the Esterel beach.

 

  • For information about accessible beaches on the French Riviera and throughout France, refer to the Handiplage site.   Plage Salis and Plage le Ponteil in Antibes have onsite staff in summer months to assist people with motor, visual, intellectual or auditory problems.  There are accessible toilets, showers and adapted equipment for water access.  Plage le Ponteil also offers a transmitting bracelet for beach goers with hearing difficulties.

 

  • Plages.tv is one of my favourite resources to find out more about beaches in France including the Alpes-Maritimes region – the site has useful advice such as photos, maps, parking, recreation, facilities.   Visit their website here:  Plages.tv

What do you think of these beach suggestions?  What is your favourite beach on the French Riviera and why? 

 

Jazz à Juan 2019 : What To Expect

Jazz à Juan is one of the loveliest music festivals here on the Côte d’Azur because the location itself is fantastic with a setting overlooking the sea, and it has an excellent yearly programme that includes both classic and contemporary musicians and bands.   It really is a special venue for watching local and international music as the sun sets!

pinede gould juan les pins

Pinède Gould is a picturesque setting beside the sea in Juan les Pins (image credit ©Vertige Photos)

The 59th edition of Jazz à Juan will be hosted from Friday 12 July to Sunday 21 July 2019 at the seaside venue at Pinède Gould in Juan les Pins.

The 2019 programme features some diverse acts including George Benson, Ekram, Electro Deluxe, Delgrès, Magma, Snarky Puppy, Jamiroquai, Pink Martini, Thomas Dutronc and Les Esprits Manouches.

Jazz à Juan 2019 Programme  

The festival kicks off with ‘Jazz en Fête’ on Friday 12 July with free concerts in the streets of Antibes from 7pm-8pm and in Juan les Pins from 9.30pm-10.30pm.  Bands will roam various locations including Place Nationale, rue James Close, Marché Provençal/Cours Massena, Promenade du Soleil and the square in front of the Palais in Juan les Pins.

Saturday 13 July sees The Steve Gadd Band and George Benson take to the stage from 8.30pm onwards.

Sunday 14 July, also Fête Nationale/Bastille Day, starts at 8.30pm with performances from Omri Mor, Ekram and the funky tunes from Electro Deluxe.

Monday 15 July will feature the créole / blues sound from Delgrès followed by the well-known sounds from Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals – a mix of rock, blues and folk with incredible guitaring from Ben Harper.

Formed in 1969, MAGMA is a band who will bring their rock energy to the Pinède Gould on Tuesday 16 July in tribute to the album ‘ZESS’ for their 50th anniversary.  Their performance at Jazz à Juan is part of their international tour which will also see them perform in Finland, Japan, Sweden and England.  The same evening, concert goers can enjoy the dynamic vibe from King Crimson who infuse jazz with progressive rock and elements of grunge and gamelan.

Louis Cole and Snarky Puppy are 2 funky acts who will take to the stage on Wednesday 17 July from 8.30pm.  LA-based Cole is best known for his electro/funk tunes, such as ‘Bank Account’ which has had over 2 million hits and the crazy credit music for the Lego Ninjago Movie.  Snarky Puppy are a triple Grammy Award-winning band – expect to see a colossal amount of around 19 musicians! – who will amplify the atmosphere and cool factor at Jazz à Juan with a mix of trumpets, drums, saxophones, violins and percussion.

Snarky Puppy will bring the cool factor to Jazz à Juan

Thursday 18 July  Kittin will get the beat going from 8.30pm, followed by a performance from Jamiroquai, one of the headliners and better known acts for the Juan les Pin Jazz Festival.  With over 35 million albums sold, expect a high-energy funky fusion of jazz and electronic music.

The remaining three nights of the festival will host a variety of bands and musicians including Eli Degribi Quarter, Diana Krall and Pink Martini featuring Storm Large.

FOR THE FULL PROGRAMME, GO HERE:  Juan Les Pins Jazz Festival 2019 Programme

Jazz à la Petite Pinede | Jazz at the Kiosque | Royal Jazz Lounge

During the Festival, free mini concerts will be held:

  • From 7.30pm-8.30pm at Petite Pinède in Juan les Pins (Petite Pinède is located beside the main park in Juan les Pins, opposite Sweet Caffé and the Garden Beach Hotel).
  • From 7pm at Place Nationale kiosque (band rotunda) in Antibes (from 14-19 July only).
  • From Monday to Saturday between 7pm-11pm at Hotel Royal on boulevard Maréchal Leclerc in Antibes

The schedule and band list for these sessions are:

Jazz à la Petite Pinède

Jazz at the kiosque

Royal Jazz Lounge

Jazz à Juan free concert at Petite Pinède / Macha Gharibian

Jazz à Juan Facilities

The main venue for Jazz à Jazz is Pinède Gould, the famous pine tree grove in Juan les Pins overlooking the bay of Juan les Pins.

For concert goers, you’ll find an intimate open-air concert site that is wheelchair accessible and located on flat ground, excluding the Tribunes/Gallery Seats with stair access.

I have found that in previous years (including last year’s Jazz à Juan) there are always been plenty of ushers, first aid staff and security staff.

Every year, I pay attention to staff working there so I have first-hand knowledge that the site support for the Festival is overall excellent – this includes assistance for concert goers with special needs and/or first aid help.  Festival facilities include:

  • Plenty of bilingual (French & English language) helpful ushers, first aid staff and security staff
  • Accessible toilets are situated at the rear of the Tribunes and Gallery seating closest to Boulevard Baudoin (beside the Pinède playground)
  • A special car parking offer at the underground parking at nearby Palais des Congrès. This is valid from 12 to 21 July from 6pm to 2am; simply show your concert ticket at the parking office on level -2 and receive a special parking rate €10,50.  There is also other pay parking situated at Port Gallice, Hotel Ambassadeurs and Garden Beach Hotel, all open 24 hours.
  • Designated concert viewing area for wheelchair users located in front of Category 2 seats
  • Press zone with Wifi, seating and tables.  Note:  The Press Zone is not located in close proximity to the stage but you have a partial view of the stage from there.   The Festival press team are always readily available daily during the Festival.
  • A souvenir boutique selling merchandise such as postcards, caps, t-shirts, mugs, beach bags and Panama hats
  • Food and drink outlets each side of the stage selling water, soft drinks, snacks, draught beer and Champagne.
  • Jazz on the Beach is a VIP experience at neighbouring Plage Ambassadeur.  Must have a minumum of 10 per table and includes a personalized welcome from 7pm, dinner at the beach (from 7pm to 10.30pm) and private box seats enabling you to see the concert of your choice as a privileged guest.
stands jazz a juan

Map of seating and layout at Jazz à Juan / Juan les Pins Jazz Festival 2019 (map: Jazz à Juan)

Jazz à Juan 2019 Tickets

As per the map above, if you want to sit directly in front of the stage and enjoy the main acts less than 20 metres away, the optimal tickets to buy are Carré d’Or.  The next best seat category are Category 1. 

The Juan les Pins Jazz Festival offer a variety of tickets with different price brackets including standing tickets (zone debout), Category 4, Category 3, Category 2, Category 1 and Carré d’Or.

Ticket Notes: The ‘Standing Only’ (Zone Debout) tickets are not sold until Category 4 tickets are sold out.  The Festival has some hugely popular acts this year – Electro Deluxe, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Diana Krall, Jamiroquai to name a few – so get your tickets far in advance to avoid disappointment!

To buy your tickets for the 2019 Festival, go to the official website www.jazzajuan.com or visit the Juan les Pins Tourist Office located in the Palais des Congrès, 60 chemin des Sables, 06160 Juan les Pins.  There is also a ticket office at the venue which sells tickets one hour prior to the concerts with limited availability each night.

 

Children’s Book Review: My Very First Animals Book

I’ve read a number of notable books over the past year – mostly about the French Riviera and its history – but today I’m teaming up with two tough critics aged 3 years and 8 years of age to review the Usborne book title, ‘My Very First Animals Book’.

Reading a book with your children is excellent for literacy development but most importantly it’s a great bonding activity, something that can’t be replicated by plonking your children in front of a screen. We try and read each night and I’d much prefer my boys spend their time reading a book than watching TV or sitting on their iPad, however reality isn’t always cohesive to parenting 🙂   

The great thing about Usborne Books is older kids think it’s cool to read to their younger siblings because the books are FUN to read, so kids don’t think it’s a geeky thing to do.

My Very First Animals : Usborne

My Very First Animals is written by Alice James and illustrated by Lee Cosgrove with animal expert Dr Owen Lewis adding to the creation of a fantastic book filled with colourful illustrations and facts about the animal world.

A key feature of this book is that each section is spread across two pages, meaning it’s easy to grasp the concepts and simple to understand.   Sections include:

A place to live highlighting the various homes where animals live in

Wings and feathers with facts about birds

Deadly weapons with information about the different ways that animals defend themselves or hunt for food

Hot or cold shows children the various geographic environments animals exist such as the desert or Arctic

Sending messages gives facts about the sounds and smells animals use to communicate such as dolphin clicks, skunks spraying or birds singing

Animal journeys shows how animals move around to find food, better climates or to lay their eggs

My son’s favourite bits in this Usborne book were :

My favourite part is the Growing Up section which has drawings about animals as they get older – Lucas, 8 years

I like the Patterns page with the colours animals use to hide, and I like the map where you learn where animals come from in the world – Josh, 3 years

Why we love Usborne Books?

We’ve purchased many Usborne Books over the years and have always found them to be great quality with durable card-like pages and easy to clean surfaces.  Here’s a breakdown why we love them:

  • The prices are reasonable for the quality and content.
  • As a parent, I particularly love their range for ages between preschool and primary school because the illustrations are always excellent and the text is educational without being mind-numbingly overpacked with facts!
  • The books encourage little readers to explore words, vocabulary and conversation via fun elements such as textures to touch, questions, quizzes about how things work or spot the difference challenges.
  • For older kids, the books have the right amount of educational snippets that boost literacy and questioning the world around them – in fact, my 8-year old recalls amazing facts about the world, particularly animals a lot!

Additionally, I’d like to mention that Usborne’s ‘That’s not my….’ series and their ‘Lift-the-Flap‘ books are super sturdy and long-lasting compared to many brands.  The flaps are hard-wearing – we have tried and tested many ‘lift the flap’ books in our household and to be honest with many books on the market the quality is lacking. It’s disappointing to buy a book and the flaps are opened and closed a few times then rip or fall off (or is that just in our household!).  Pretty embarrassing if you give a book as a gift for a kids birthday and it disintegrates.  So, keep that in mind if you’re looking to buy or gift a ‘lift the flap’ book to purchase one that can withstand constant repetitive opening and closing like the Usborne ones can!

Usborne books are a hit in our house!

I’m happy to recommend the Usborne range as our books have survived grubby toddler fingers, being used as construction bases for figurine action play, book battles being dropped from bunk beds and various other tests that my active boys have unknowingly put them through.

Disclaimer:  Access Riviera was gifted the Usborne book ‘My Very First Animals Book’, however all opinions are my own.  Thank you to Carys’ Little Bookshop for providing such a fun book!

Carys Little Bookshop is an independent Usborne organiser and has plenty of age-specific books for babies, toddlers and older kids so get in touch with her if you’re on the French Riviera or in France and looking for gift ideas or to boost your own child/ren’s library.  You can ‘Like’ her page on Facebook here, or ‘Follow’ her updates on Instagram at www.instagram.com/carys_little_bookshop

Notre-Dame de Paris : Point Zero, Gargoyles and Wine

What a sad day yesterday to watch the news last night and see the beautiful Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral on fire.

We sat in shock watching one of France’s iconic monuments in flames and felt sadness for the loss of history and an impressive example of Gothic architecture.

I’ve watched news footage of the spire and roof collapsing many times in the past 24 hours and it’s still incredible to think a legacy of French history has been partially damaged overnight.

Rather than share a video of the fire, I thought I’d share a few lesser known facts about the historic landmark best known as Notre-Dame de Paris:

Point Zero

If you visit Notre-Dame, on the Parvis (square) at the entrance you can see a compass star set into the paving stones.

It’s not particularly famous (considering the millions of tourists who visit the Île de la Cité to see Notre-Dame each year!) and it’s not very noticeable.  However, this small marker stone is very important to Paris and France.

Engraved in the circular stone are the words:  POINT – ZERO – DES ROUTES – DE FRANCE

Point Zero Paris outside Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral

What does this mean?  This stands for ‘Point Zero’ or Kilometre Zero, which is a particular location (often found in the capital city) from which distances are traditionally measured.

The most famous Point Zero/Kilometre Zero relic worldwide is Millarium Aureum (Golden Milestone) which was erected by Emperor Augustus in the central Forum in Rome.  All distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to this monument and it is where the phrase ‘all roads lead to Rome’ is believed to have originated.

The metal octagonal plate seen at Notre-Dame today was laid in 1924. It marks the official centre of Paris and  signifies the exact spot from which all distances throughout France are measured from Paris, including GPS French systems.  Notre-Dame’s function as a central hub plays an important historical role in French transport, politics and Parisian administration.

So, indeed, Notre-Dame de Paris is regarded as the true heart of Paris and this respect for one of France’s greatest landmarks is evident.

Notre-Dame de Paris’ Gargoyles

The stone gargoyles located on the exterior of the cathedral have been the subject of many tourist photos!

These fantastic beasts at Notre-Dame de Paris are very famous, appearing in postcards, films and tourism promotions.

Gargoyle at sunset at Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris (photo: Dominique Lacaze)

Although the cathedral construction began in the 12th-century, these gargoyles weren’t added until the 19th-century and were sculpted to look as though they had originated in the Middle Ages.

Gargoyles were thought to ward off bad spirits and remind church-goers of the evil that the church could protect them from.

Interestingly, you won’t see all gargoyles with a closed mouth – they are placed on the rooftops and sides of churches to prevent water erosion and their open mouths function as rain spouts.

Interesting Fact:   Completely unrelated to Notre-Dame, the Chapelle de Bethléem (Bethlehem Chapel) which is located in Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau in France was renovated between 1993 and 1995.  At this time, the stone mason decided to add gargoyles from pop culture so you’ll find a few crazy additions to the stone work including Gizmo and a gremlin from the Gremlins movie and an alien from Aliens.

Gizmo from the Gremlins, interesting stone sculpture at a French church (photo: Vebests, Flickr)

A Temple of Reason – and wine!

After Catholicism was banned in 1792 during the French Revolution, Notre-Dame de Paris was turned into a Temple of Reason in 1793.

A Temple of Reason was a place to spread the ideas of a new atheistic belief system, the Cult of Reason.

Notably, there are a few ‘cult-like’ symbols found on pillars along the side aisles where the chapels are located.  Don’t get too excited that you’ve spotted some secret Da Vinci Code – the artisans who helped build the cathedral engraved their own symbols into the stone work putting the cathedral coffers to the test by ensuring they were rightfully paid for each item they laid.  Think of it as an ancient invoicing system before online banking was invented!

Interesting Fact:  By the 18th-century, limestone and gypsum mining was the main industrial activity in Paris.  Most of Paris’ monuments and churches are made from local stone and experts can trace the stone used in structures to a specific quarry.  For example, the statues at Notre-Dame all came from the limestone under Hospital Cochin in the 5th arrondissement.  The quarry pits of Paris are now subterranean, with miles of underground tunnels and sewer galleries which can be visited on various tours.

Sorry it’s not the Da Vinci Code – just an ancient payment system at the Notre-Dame! (photo: Corey Frye)

Anyhow during the Revolution, the cathedral spire was destroyed, as well, the 28 statues of the horizontal freize of the Kings of Judah above the Notre-Dame portal were decapitated by French revolutionaries who believed they represented the kings of France.  The cathedral then ended up as a warehouse for wine!

The Kings Gallery at Notre-Dame (image: Geni)

In the late 1970’s, 21 of these statue heads were found buried in a wall at a mansion courtyard in Paris and are now displayed at Musée Cluny (National Museum of the Middle Ages).

Notre-Dame’s historic link with wine continues – tomorrow, 17 April, Sotheby’s in London will auction limited-edition cases of Château Mouton Rothschild wine with proceeds going toward the rebuilding of Notre-Dame de Paris and the restoration of the Royal Apartments and Trianon Gardens at the Palace of Versailles.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new about the Notre-Dame de Paris!  Please share it if you found it interesting. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amber Lounge Monaco 2019 : Unlock The Excitement

Amber Lounge Monaco’s events are the highlight of the social calendar during the legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

In 2019, Amber Lounge will host VIP race viewing and celebrity yachts, a one-of-a-kind F1™ Driver Fashion Show, fine dining, live Charity Auction, and three nights of euphoric after parties with unforgettable live entertainment.

The most exhilarating experience into the glamour and excitement of Formula 1’s most anticipated Grand Prix.

“Every Formula 1 driver has Amber Lounge on speed dial after a race; it’s the only place to celebrate with friends and team members.” – Kimi Räikkönen, Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Driver

A World of VIP Parties during Monaco Grand Prix

Plunge deep into the heart of Formula 1 and discover Amber Lounge, where a world of glamour and luxury awaits. Made in Monaco, for over 15 years Amber Lounge has affirmed its infamous reputation as the most vibrant, sexy, star-studded party with great networking opportunities. The original and most exclusive Grand Prix parties that will take your breath away.

Friday 24 May :  Fashion & U*NITE / White Ice Theme

Kick off the Monaco Grand Prix weekend in style with the innovative clubbing concept U*NITE. Combining the prestigious Amber Lounge Fashion Show featuring F1 drivers, charity auctions, gourmet dining and Fashion After Party.

Guests are encouraged to dress to impress as Amber Lounge brings a white/ice theme for the first time! Step into another world in the Arctic Lounge hosted by Arctic Blue Gin where Ice Queens will serve the new Finnish beverage, which was Spirit of the Year 2018.

Sigma, world-renown popular UK act will spin an iconic DJ set at the Amber Lounge Monaco Fashion Show After Party, Friday May 24th.   Sigma have received two Brit Award nominations, landed two Platinum records and attracted over 300 million YouTube views.

They are best known for their infectious tunes from collaborations with top music personalities including their huge dance/pop tune Nobody to Love hit No.1 in 15 countries, while Changing (their catchy collaboration with Paloma Faith), Higher (with Labrinth) and Coming Home (featuring Rita Ora) are played in households across the globe.

Having entertained crowds of up to 100,000 at Glastonbury Festival, Creamfields, Amnesia Ibiza, V Festival and Sziget, Amber Lounge guests can expect an ultra-high energy performance from Sigma on the Friday night.

sigma amber lounge

Sigma is bringing their popular tunes to Amber Lounge Monaco 2019

Saturday 25 May

A brand new concept will be announced in the near future!

Sunday 26 May :  Monaco Grand Prix After Party

The F1™ driver post-race party is the most anticipated night of the weekend where F1 drivers and teams gather for celebrations after the Monaco Grand Prix weekend with iconic live acts, DJ’s and unlimited Champagne.

Experience live headline performances by an iconic international artist and spectacular feature acts.

Previous live acts have included:  Chris Willis, Justin Jesso, Sigala, Jason Derulo, Labrinth, Taio Cruz, Sugarbabes, Pixie Lott, John Newman, Flawless, Pete Tong, Gary Barlow, Big Ali, Nikki Belle.

“An amazing race, an amazing night, at Amber Lounge of course. Where else?” -Daniel Ricciardo, Renault Sport F1 Driver

Amber Lounge Charity Fashion Show

I have attended the Amber Lounge Charity Fashion Show on the Friday night for the past few years as a press guest, and it has always been an amazing time!

amber lounge charity fashion show

Amber Lounge Charity Fashion Show

Amber Lounge’s ground-breaking charity auction at the Fashion Show has raised more than USD 5 million for charitable organisations and it’s the only event in the world to feature Formula 1 drivers on the catwalk.

Sir Jackie Stewart, H.S.H. Albert II Prince of Monaco, and Sonia Irvine attend the Amber Lounge Fashion Monaco 2017 at Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel on May 26, 2017 in Monaco.
Photo: Dave Benett

Past Amber Lounge F1 models : Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, and Valtteri Bottas.

amber lounge drivers fashion show

Amber Lounge – F1 Drivers on the catwalk

This year, award-winning Canadian designer Christopher Bates will be dressing the Formula 1 drivers, as international models will showcase Ladyship swimwear by Lady Victoria Hervey. Amber Lounge Monaco Fashion Show has been chosen as the European launch of the designer, model and socialite’s new collection.

christopher bates Brands that Amber Lounge has worked with : Jimmy Choo, Ted Baker, Hervé Léger, Missoni, Crisoni, Melissa Odabash, Julien Macdonald, Vionett and Osman.

The Fashion Show is combined with exquisite dining and the famous Amber Lounge after party, all at the same venue for the U*NITE package for an all-inclusive world-class event.

Amber Lounge Table Packages

Where else during Monaco Grand Prix can you experience VIP hospitality that gives you the opportunity to relax, watch, listen, dance and party with the stars?  Amber Lounge Table Packages include:

Ultimate Weekend Package

The most desirable, tailor made weekend package. Enquire for more details.

Methusalem Tables

Simply THE best tables in the house with dance floor position. Tables receive unrivalled service as well as a three course dinner, followed by a 6L Methusalem bottle of Champagne and 3L Jeroboam bottles of premium Vodka throughout the whole night.

Jeroboam Tables

Located in a prime position and surrounded by celebrities and VIPs, guests are served with a 3L Jeroboam bottle of Champagne and unlimited bottle service throughout the night.

VIP Tables

Are well positioned and served with unlimited bottle service including premium Champagne throughout the night.

Classic Tables

Include unlimited bottle service with house Champagne and all other drinks throughout the evening.

Shared Tables

Reserved seating on a shared table in Dining followed by the club which includes unlimited bottle service throughout the whole night.

Individual Passes

Gives access to all areas in the club, open bar including house Champagne and free seating on the chill-out terrace.

Amber Lounge Monaco interior

Amber Lounge Celebrity Yacht

Monaco Grand Prix would not be complete without a luxury yacht experience and Amber Lounge offers trackside yachts which offer unrivalled race viewing and F1 driver appearances. Mix business and pleasure while enjoying exceptional hospitality and dining with free-flowing Champagne and premium spirits.

On Saturday watch the hair-raising F1 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying play out on the tight, twisting Circuit de Monaco.

Then on Sunday, be trackside in the centre of the euphoric atmosphere that the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix has become famous for – an incredible adrenalin rush as the F1 cars speed by at lightning speed just metres away through the challenging street circuit!

amber lounge yacht

Experience the thrill of watching the Monaco Grand Prix trackside on a luxury yacht with Amber Lounge

Previous F1 Driver Appearances:  Sergio Perez, Nico Hülkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz, Stoffel Vandoorne, David Coulthard, Mika Häkkinen, Eddie Irvine, Marcus Ericsson, Esteban Ocon, Felipe Massa amongst others.

Previous Guests:  Pamela Anderson, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Labrinth, Gareth Bale, Pixie Lott, John Newman, Casey Stoner, Taio Cruz, Rachel Hunter, Pete Tong, DJ Sigala, Lindsay Lohan.

  • Amber Lounge’s VIP 2-day Package includes:
    -Saturday & Sunday race viewing
    -Trackside mooring with the view of the giant TV screen and on-board screens
    -F1 driver appearances, exclusive interviews & autograph signing
    -Luxurious tender transfers
    -Continental breakfast
    -Mouth-watering gourmet buffet lunch
    -Afternoon Tea
    -All-day open bar including unlimited Champagne
    -VIP gift bags with official team merchandise
    -Program and earplugs
    -DJ

KEY INFORMATION

DATES: 24th, 25th, 26th May 2019

TIMES:

Friday Fashion show: 18:30 – 20:30; After Party: 23:00 – 4:00
Saturday After Party: 23:00 – 4:00
Sunday After Party: 23:00 – 5:00

VENUE: Amber Lounge, Sea Club, Le Méridien Beach Plaza, 22, Avenue Princesse Grâce, 98000 Monaco

MORE INFORMATION AND BOOKINGS:

www.amber-lounge.com/monaco 
Bookings: monaco@amber-lounge.com or call +33607934625 

ABOUT AMBER LOUNGE

Amber Lounge was founded by Sonia Irvine, who has worked in F1 for two decades. Sonia is regarded as a pioneer of F1 nightlife experiences and continues to create the most sought-after events on the F1 calendar.

The Amber Lounge experience consists of Formula 1 race viewing hospitality options as well as post-race afterparties, dining, charity, fashion and tailor-made events throughout the year. In 2019 it will take place in Monaco, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. http://amber-lounge.com/index.php/tickets/

AMBER LOUNGE 2019/ 2020 EVENT SCHEDULE :

Monaco 24/25/26 May 2019

Singapore 21/22 September 2019

Abu Dhabi November 30/1 December 2019

SPONSORS & PARTNERS

GLOBEAIR – Official Private Jet Partner of Amber Lounge Monaco
ARCTIC BLUE GIN – Official Gin Partner of Amber Lounge Monaco & Singapore
CUVÉE SENSORIUM – Official Methusalem Champagne Partner of Amber Lounge and Amber Lounge Hospitality Monaco 2019
CHRISTOPHER BATES – Male Designer for Amber Lounge Monaco
INMANN – Official Hairstylist of Amber Lounge Monaco
GLOBAL HAIR & MAKEUP – Official makeup of Amber Lounge Monaco
LADYSHIP – Official Swimwear Designer for Amber Lounge Monaco
FIJI WATER – Official Still Water of Amber Lounge Monaco & Abu Dhabi
SPARKLING VAN
Q YACHTS – Official e-tender of Amber Hospitality

Video & Photo Credits:  Amber Lounge / Christopher Bates (Maxime Thibodeau / Rai Allen)