Best family-friendly walks with kids on the Côte d’Azur

One of the nicest things about living on the French Riviera is the amount of walking trails you can discover with your family. There’s plenty of trails that are perfect for all ages throughout the year.

The French Riviera has an incredible amount of history, so you can combine exercise with learning about places, people and the natural environment.

The main challenge I have as a parent is finding in-depth and accurate information in English. Typical information that I find comes in handy for planning:

  • What type of facilities are on or near the trail – are there picnic tables, toilets, water sources, observation points, bird watching huts, cafes or snack kiosks, rental suppliers for sports gear (e.g. at beaches, in the mountains).

 

 

  • Seasonal considerations – which months are the best for each trail. Some tracks are closed in summer due to fire risk, or are difficult to access in winter due to icy/snowy conditions.  Is there shade or is the entire trail in full sun?   Are there strong winds?

 

  • Safety aspects – are there potential dangers on the path such as wild animals or difficult terrain? We have definitely done hiking paths where I’d consider it too treacherous to take young children due to lack of fencing, steep drops or slippery rocks.  In general, the department pathways here are well maintained; coastal paths are closed in bad weather or if there’s rockfalls.  Other things to consider are fire risks in the forest zones in summer, and hunting season where you need to be aware of dates and hunt locations.

 

  • Age appropriateness and accessibility for families – when you have kids of different ages it’s useful to know if a walking trail is more suited to young kids/teens/all ages. A typical question I am asked often is ‘Can you take a baby stroller?’

  • Clear directions about car parking and start/finish point for the routes
  • Hike duration and level of ability needed for each walk – this region has everything from flat town promenades to difficult rock-strewn hinterland tracks. When you have kids you need to know these details.

  • General information and fun facts – I always like to know what art, wildlife or nature highlights you can expect to see in the area, as the kids get more excited if they know they have an opportunity to see a cool sculpture, specific animals or flowers. Also, fun facts about history come in handy such as details about château, fossils, knights, ancient trade routes, shipwrecks, ruins, military fortresses or prehistoric discoveries.

30 of the best child-friendly walking trails on the French Riviera

Generally, we prefer nature trails that have good views, easy walking with a maximum duration of 2 hours and a mix of scenery and points of interest. The last thing you want is to arrive somewhere and have your kids start to complain they’re bored or tired and want to head back to the car with the picnic goodies and day bags.

Since our boys were babies / toddlers, we have completed at least 100 regional walks that include a mix of urban strolls, coastal trails, mountain hikes or nature walks in forests, beside rivers or through gorges. So, we have tried and tested a lot of different options!

I will be writing a Five-Part Series that will showcase 30 of the best family-friendly walks on the French Riviera. In the series I’ll include useful tips and information about walks that are suitable for all types of outings whether you’re looking for a gentle town circuit suited to taking a baby stroller, or a scenic trek covering varying altitude and terrain.

My first post will be published next week so stay tuned!

The Show Must Go On: Club Vivanova Luxury Lifestyle Gala

Club Vivanova’s Luxury Lifestyle Gala will be held on Saturday 12th December from 1pm to 7pm.

The Club Vivanova Luxury Lifestyle Gala has updated their event timing to Saturday 12th December from 1pm to 7pm.

To ensure a positive, successful, well-attended and elegant gala and in consideration to local restrictions, they have opted for an early start at 1pm.

The agenda will not change, they will host their full event with a Champagne aperitif, four-course gourmet menu, premium wines, Aston Martin DBX launch, live entertainment, fashion show and their charity auction.
It’s going to be an exceptional day out!

Bradley Mitton and Club Vivanova are committed with the Fairmont Monte Carlo to make this one of the most memorable events of the year!
Their gala will be showcased with a personal welcome from Xavier Rugeroni, Regional Vice President and General Manager Fairmont Monte Carlo.

For the benefit of Chances for Children and The Animal Fund

1pm Champagne Aperitif

7pm Carriages


More agenda information at www.clubvivanova-luxurygala.com

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages Of France

In 1982 an independent association was created to list France’s most beautiful villages and promote picturesque French villages of quality heritage.

Today, the list for ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ includes 159 locations with strict criteria to be designated one of the chosen few from over 30,000 communes:

  • there must be some rural character with no more than 2,000 inhabitants
  • they must have two national heritage sites
  • there must be an on-site evaluation and
  • the application must have mass support from the town council.
Gordes is one of the Luberon’s most popular hilltop villages (Photo: Pixabay)

One of the major principles of the association is the protection of historical and cultural heritage. Labelled villages must show a real strategy to preserve and promote their heritage.

Naturally, this means there’s no great rush for the towns to implement modern conveniences that international tourists usually demand such as internet cafés or multiplex cinemas and shopping malls. Instead, you’ll find local markets, historic monuments and traditional festivals.

Roussillon is best known for its ochre quarries and red cliffs, but the town itself is colourful too! (Photo: French Moments)

Many of the villages are located off the beaten track so they are a great base for exploring rural France.

I had the pleasure of contributing my opinion about Gassin, a town in the Var department, in a blog post about the most beautiful villages in France curated by Phoebe Thomas. Phoebe runs a gite on the Côte d’Azur called Lou Messugo and she is a great source of travel advice for visitors to this region!

Gassin was a Moorish stronghold and occupies an elevated position overlooking vineyards and the gulf of Saint-Tropez (Photo: E Bertrand)

While this year has been a rollercoaster for travel planning, take a look at the roundup of suggestions from travel bloggers on which villages are worth visiting in the future. You can read Phoebe’s post here: https://loumessugo.com/plus-beaux-villages-france/?unapproved=18576&moderation-hash=29e2bfc96773fd323eccda168f5e801d#comment-18576

Monaco’s new port in Ventimiglia

Spectacular scenery, luxe amenities, legendary casinos and a lavish lifestyle have long been Monaco’s drawing cards. In addition, the prestigious principality on the Mediterranean Sea is also known as a premier destination for the world’s most luxurious superyachts. The city-state is home to the legendary port of Monaco, Port Hercules, Port Fontvieille, as well as a new port in Ventimiglia and the soon-to-be-completed Mareterra. Read on to learn more about the ports of Monaco.

A guide to the ports of Monaco

Port Hercules

Thousands of international yacht owners and industry executives make it a point to attend the annual Monaco Yacht Show, the world’s premier superyacht exhibition at Port Hercules, the largest port of Monaco. More than 100 superyachts are featured, along with some 600 vendors throughout 42,000 square metres of exhibition space.

For those arriving by yacht, whether for the show or as part of a luxury Mediterranean yacht charter, sailing into this famed Monaco port is an event in itself.

The port, just west of the new Mareterra (formerly Portier Cove) marina is one of the few deepwater ports on the French Riviera and serves as the gateway for yachts to the principality. The natural bay is at the foot of the majestic Rock of Monaco, which towers 62-metres above the sea and is the ancestral monolith of the princes of Monaco. Improvements to the port in recent years include a new sea wall, offering protection from eastern swells and providing the perfect berthing location for large pleasure craft.

Further south is the modern harbour of Port Fontvieille, which was built from reclaimed land in 1966. The Monaco port has berthing space for some 160 vessels up to 30-metres in length and with a maximum draft of three-meters

Port Fontvieille

Port Fontvieille offers a selection of amenities, including restaurants and shops, while its location is within striking distance of Monaco’s famed attractions. Adding extra convenience, this port of Monaco is also just a stone’s throw away from the Monaco heliport.

Monaco port Ventimiglia

Meanwhile, with the increasing lure of luxury sailing, Monaco has recently expanded its ability to host yachts with the opening of the port in Ventimiglia, just 79 nautical miles (15 to 20 minutes) from its sister marinas at the ports of Herculesand Fontvielle.

From Cala Del Forte Ventimiglia, yacht owners and guests will have easy and exclusive access to Monaco, where they are welcome to enjoy all that the principality has to offer.

The port in Ventimiglia hailed the arrival on Oct. 15 of the much-loved sailing yacht TUIGA, the flagship of the Yacht Club of Monaco. The marina’s official inauguration is scheduled for mid-2021, when construction work on land is completed. Meanwhile the waterfront is open, and the state-of-the-art marina is already taking berth reservations.

A new port at Mareterra

Additional berthing space will also be available at Monaco’s future marina at Mareterra, a port made possible by an ambitious eco-friendly $2.3 billion land reclamation project. The luxury development is scheduled for completion in 2025.

The new marina will be able to accommodate more than a dozen vessels of up to 18-metres, and will feature a host of restaurants and shops, ensuring plenty of opportunities for lively and entertaining outings. Overall, the 6-hectare eco-development will encompass luxury residences, expansive gardens, a promenade and recreational space.

Cruising to the welcoming ports of Monaco, whether it be Monaco’s port in Ventimiglia, Port Fontvieille, or famed Port Hercules is always a grand event.

Photo credits: All photos M. Penoty, except Cala del Forte photo from Ports de Monaco/Cala del Forte.

Eden Mill Gin Experience at BrewDog Nice : Enjoy After-Work Cocktails with Club Vivanova

In 2007 in North East Scotland, BrewDog came howling into the world. The launch of BrewDog Nice in 2019 was the brand’s 91st bar.

Image: BrewDog Nice

On Wednesday 5th August, Club Vivanova will host a special Eden Mill Gin Experience at BrewDog Nice.

The BrewDog team will create a selection of cocktails using the Eden Mill Original, Golf and Hop gins served with a selection of home-made appetisers and snacks.

Eden Mill Golf Gin will be just one of the selected gins at the Club Vivanova event at BrewDog Nice. (Image: NOTHS)

A perfect end to the day!

Date/time: Wednesday 5th August from 7pm to 9pm.

Location: BrewDog Nice, 4 Avenue des Phocéens, 06300 Nice.

Cost: Tickets will cost €30 per person and will include an Eden Mill Gin cocktail experience with hot and cold shared platters of BrewDog appetisers from 7pm to 9pm. (But you can stay and keep on partying for as long as you like).

You can book your ticket here: https://www.clubvivanova.com/events/05aug2020

ABOUT CLUB VIVANOVA

Club Vivanova offer three membership platforms; individual, corporate and platinum with international promotional and networking benefits plus complimentary VIP tickets to exclusive member-only events in Monaco and across Europe and a selection of premium wines delivered to your door. Find out more at their website http://www.clubvivanova.com

COMPETITION : Squibbles Giveaway

After a few months in confinement it’s great that my kids aren’t going bananas at home. We’ve powered through arts and crafts, dress-up dinner parties and finished every puzzle and board game within reach.

Just in time for summer I have two copies to give away of ‘Squibbles’.

Squibbles by Jay Stansfield

Wittily illustrated by UK-based creative artist Jay Stansfield and printed in Italy, Squibbles is just the remedy for enjoying sunny creative days.

Why we like Squibbles

• Squibbles is a fun, coloring book and journal packed with zany creatures, monsters, mermaids and doodles.

• The illustrations aren’t gender specific, so boys and girls will enjoy the book.

• The book is a soft cover but it’s super sturdy. My kids have dropped it, rolled it up and frisbee’d it (sorry Jay!) to each other and the pages or cover haven’t ripped at all.

My sons gave Squibbles a test drive and both gave it a thumbs up!

“ I like this colouring book because you can use your imagination to design what you want” – Lucas, 9 years

“ Squibbles is fun! I like all the drawings and I can use my own colours to make it look cool.” – Josh, 4 years

TO WIN a copy of Squibbles is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

1) ‘Like’ the Facebook page for Access Riviera : https://m.facebook.com/accessriviera/

2) ‘Like’ the Facebook page for Jay Stansfield : https://m.facebook.com/jaystansfieldmusic/

3) Leave a comment on Access Riviera’s Facebook page (or this blog post) telling me why you want to win Squibbles.

I have two copies to give away. The closing date is midday on Saturday June 27.

This competition is strictly for entries based in France. Winners will be chosen and contacted afterwards.

Squibbles by Jay Stansfield is also available to buy here: https://squibblesbook.myportfolio.com

2020 Club Vivanova Luxury Lifestyle Gala Postponement to Saturday 14th November 2020

Club Vivanova Charity Gala Postponement : Saturday 14th November 2020

In light of the current situation, Club Vivanova and the Fairmont Monte Carlo have decided that it would be in the best interests of their partners, members, guests and the event itself to postpone the Sixth Edition 2020 Luxury Lifestyle Charity Gala to Saturday 14th November 2020.

Club Vivanova’s annual charity gala night has been moved to Saturday 14th November 2020

All purchased partnerships, tickets and room bookings will be automatically transferred to this new date.

Event Information: www.clubvivanova-luxurygala.com

They expect that by this date, the event business will be back to normal and guests will all once again be able to celebrate the best things in life together!

Club Vivanova thanks their esteemed guests, the Fairmont Monte Carlo and their gala partners for the on-going support.

80+ Lockdown Activities For Kids

No one was prepared for France to close schools until May 11th.  Families have been tasked with home schooling and finding activities to do for kids at home.

The most challenging aspect we’re finding is maintaining social interaction and stimulation for our sons, while keeping on top of homework and our own day-to-day work.

My Big List of Activities, Games & Ideas for Kids in Lockdown

Children are isolated from their school friends and many are now away from structured classroom learning and social support from peers.  I know that the social and economic impact on many families will be significant, so I’ve tried to include as many free activities as possible in my list.

There is a mix of activities – some require access to devices and internet; others are old-fashioned traditional fun.

Also, there may be people who are running low on art materials, stationery, paper and other craft equipment so I’ve included ideas for creativity and learning where you can use what you may already have at home, or reuse/recycle packaging.

My list of lockdown resources includes games, crafts, fitness lessons and educational classroom lessons.

Some people are single parents, some have large spacious gardens and others are living in apartments,  some people do not have extended family networks here, some parents are feeling the increased burden of family responsibilities.  We are all coping in our own ways and will all look back on this time differently – as surreal, challenging, bonding or stressful.

The most important thing to remember is to look after your family’s physical and mental wellbeing.  That may mean allowing extra screen time occasionally, letting your kids set up a parkour course in the living room or giving in to a session of ‘The Floor Is Lava’.

I hope that by writing up this list I’ll give you some material in one place that will give you hope that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, whether that is one week or one month away.

Now, is the time to improvise, get silly, have fun – whatever you need to do to get through with some semblance of sanity!

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list because otherwise I’d have 5000 pages of content 🙂  I have looked into each resource listed here to check they are age-appropriate and not dodgy sites.  Here’s my list of resources to help entertain, educate or make things a bit more fun for your kids:

ART, CRAFT & DESIGN

BDnf is a fun French program where primary and secondary aged children can design their own comic book.  Bande dessinées (BDs) are popular in France, so it’s a good way for kids to create their own story and learn about design elements.  The download is available for Windows, MAC, iOS and Android.  Find out more information here:  BDnf, la fabrique à BD

With BDnf, children can design their own comic book.

Dinosaur obsession rules in our house with my youngest son!  Busy Bee Kids Crafts has great dinosaur activities for kids including colouring pages, dot-to-dot challenges and mazes.  They also have other craft ideas on the site too.  The dinosaur activities are best suited for children up to 7 years.  The link to their dinosaur-themed activities is here.

Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas is a great Facebook group with so many excellent ideas for arts and crafts, making things from recycled items and more!  Lots of inspiration for kids of all ages. Join the Facebook group here:  Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas 

Hello, Wonderful has a great list of ’50 easy indoor activities’ using materials you’re likely to already have at home such as toilet rolls, straws or pillows.  Suitable for toddler age upwards.  Find the activities here:  50 Plus Easy Indoor Activities by Hello, Wonderful

Scouts UK has a cool page called ‘The Great Indoors’ with lots of ideas for indoor activities.  Even better, at the bottom of the page you can click on ‘Find more activities’ to go to a gigantic list of fun ideas for all ages.  Find the ideas here:  The Great Indoors

Sparketh is offering 30-days free membership to their online art portal.  Children aged 6-18 can enjoy up to 1000 art tutorials for free ranging from animal drawing classes to manga lessons, painting classes, portrait lessons, cartoon drawing and more. The filter function is useful whereby you can search for lessons based on ability level, duration and even materials. e.g beginner, 10 minute lesson, ink drawing.  Click on this link for the Sparketh Art Courses.

Sparketh has a great selection of online art classes for children 6-18 years of age.

The Art of Dr. Seuss is a reference site for the history of the artist and digital collections of the Dr Seuss portfolio.  A good website for older kids interested in the crazy illustrations of Dr. Seuss!  I also checked out another recommended Dr. Seuss website, Seussville, but found this somewhat disappointing as it only has 3 games and is mostly just links to buy the Dr. Seuss books.  However, Seussville has a great gallery of the characters. Learn about The Art of Dr. Seuss here.

For beginner and intermediate level artists, kids can look at the Thrive Art School on YouTube.  Beginner tutorials include how to draw tropical fish, parrots and castles. Intermediate tutorials include how to draw an octopus, a water lily and sailing ship. Video instruction is found here:  Thrive Art School free art lessons

BAKING & COOKING

My kids have always enjoyed baking and helping out in the kitchen – measuring, tasting and stirring things!  Here’s a few easy recipes to try during confinement.  My youngest son is obsessed with baking, so all of these recipes are suitable for toddler age upwards (always supervised by an adult).

BBC Good Food is a great resource for easy recipes for kids.  Over 65 child-friendly recipes including rice paper wraps, simple iced biscuits, homemade fish fingers and easy banana pancakes.  BBC Good Food Kids Cooking

Jamie Oliver is a good resource website to get kids cooking.  The instructions are easy to follow and recipes don’t usually need lots of ingredients or fancy equipment.  Recipe suggestions include everything from snacks to family meals. Get kids cooking with Jamie Oliver.

Little chefs can try their hand at making cookies and cupcakes, thanks to easy recipes from Nicolas Baygourry, the Pastry Chef at Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo.  Get the recipes here:  Nicolas Baygourry’s Cookies & Cupcakes Recipes

Making cookies and cupcakes is relatively simple, even for young children. Follow Nicolas’ recipes to make your own sweet treats.

Raddish usually delivers monthly cooking kits, however they have set up a website section for families who want free online cooking classes. Recipes include guacamole, blueberry pancakes and gluten-free cinnamon buns.  Get cooking here with Raddish Kids.

My kids love pizza!  Local French Riviera blogger Your Guardian Chef has easy pizza recipes for kids to make at home.  Use your imagination for toppings!   Your Guardian Chef’s Child-Friendly Pizza Recipes

EBOOKS

Audible has an amazing selection of audio books that you can listen to for free and stream them on desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet.  Titles include collections for Little Listeners up to Teens.  Popular themes are included such as Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, Little Red Riding Hood, Dr Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, Beatrix Potter. Most of the audio books are narrated in English, however there’s a small selection available in Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese.  Listen to the books here:  Audible Stories: Free Audiobooks

Audible has a great selection of free audio books to stream with collections for all ages from Little Listeners to Teens.

FNAC has a large catalogue of children’s ebooks available for free download.  Titles include classics such as ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘The Jungle Book’, through to French animated stories, novels and fantasy.  The selection covers all ages from kindergarten to teens.  See FNAC’s book list here:  FNAC Livre Jeunesse Ebook gratuit

Funbrain has pages of resources for ages 3 to 13.  While the website has games and videos, I’ve included it here as an online reading resource with book titles including ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’, ‘Stink and The Great Guinea Pig Express’ and more.  Find the online books for kids here:  Funbrain Books

For a range of ebooks that suit ages 3-11 years, visit Oxford Owl‘s library.  You have to set up an account first to access the downloads.  Titles include ‘The Frog Prince and other tales’, ‘Downhill Racers’ and ‘Treasure Island’.  Register here for Oxford Owl.

Oxford Owl has a free ebook library with books for kids aged 3-11 years.

Celebrities are jumping on the reading train and lending their faces and voices to narrating children’s books with Storyline Online.  Titles include ‘A Bad Case of Stripes’ read by Lord of the Rings actor Sean Astin, ‘The Hula Hoopin’ Queen’ read by Oprah Winfrey, and ‘Arnie the Doughnut’ read by Chris O’Dowd.  Suitable for ages 5 upwards, find the library here:  Storyline Online

ENVIRONMENT & NATURE

Blue Marine Foundation has a whole section of educational activities including a marine conservation app, underwater quiz, a ‘get drastic with plastic’ work sheet and a geography challenge.  Click on the link to find the info: BLUE Digital Education

Explore.org have a number of live cam feeds for children that are interested in wildlife, nature and the environment.  Live web cams feature African wildlife, birds, cats, rainforest cameras in Central America, jellyfish, seals, orcas, penguins and polar bears.  Watch the planet’s wildlife here:  Explore Wildlife Webcams

Explore.org has lots of live cams for wildlife, including this one watching birds feeding in Panama.

If you’ve ever wanted to see the aurora, Lights over Lapland and Explore.org have Northern Lights webcams and Aurora virtual tours set up so you can sky gaze from wherever you are in the world.  See the aurora here:  Lights over Lapland Virtual Tours and Explore’s Aurora Borealis webcam

NASA Climate Kids has games, videos and activities so kids can learn more about plants, the weather, water and energy.  Best suited for kids from primary school age up to teens. Visit their page here:  NASA Climate Kids Earth Science Page

National Geographic Kids is a wonderful resource with games, fun facts and videos about nature and wildlife.  Best suited for kids from primary school age up to 12.  Explore the resources here:  National Geographic Kids – Animal World

National Geographic Kids has free online games for kids

Switch Zoo is a really cool resource for learning about wildlife and habitats – we love it!  Also available as an app which has bigger animations and more selection of animals.  I recommend the ‘Build a Biome’ section for younger kids as it’s a short duration and great for teaching younger kids about animals, plants and different climates for habitats.  There’s also other cool features such as making new animals by switching animal bodies, sorting animals by what food they eat and memory games.  The only downside is the pop-up ads on the online website, but if you can look beyond those then Switch Zoo gets a thumbs up in our house!

Switch Zoo get a thumbs up in our house for fun interactive activities based on wildlife and their habitats.

FRENCH & ENGLISH CLASSROOM RESOURCES

While most schools have given children homework to see them through the confinement, here’s a few additional sites to refer to if you need them.

Arcademic has tons of online games to improve skills and knowledge with language, maths and geography. While it has a lot of US-based content, there’s enough to keep any child aged 5-11 years engaged and interesting in learning via games.  Arcademic Online Skill Builders 

BBC Bitesize is aimed at students following the UK curriculum, so is best suited for those families who want to keep up English language and UK lessons.  It has a ton of free online lessons covering ages 3 to 16+ and every subject you could think of such as maths, English, language learning, music, geography, history, physical education, art, design and science.  New lessons are added daily.  Get the daily lesson plans here:  BBC Bitesize : Homeschooling

BBC Bitesize has daily lessons for homeschooling covering ages 3 to 16+ and a variety of subjects.

Editions Rosace has released a free 48-page cahier d’activitiés (PDF download) for children aged 3-6 years that covers handwriting, maths, drawing etc.  French language.  Download here:  Editions Rosace Cahier Activitiés Maternelle

Editions Rosace has a free 48-page PDF download for maternelle age.

Fiche Maternelle is an educational resource aimed at maternelle-aged children, with the occasional work sheet for CP age.  There are plenty of free downloadable work sheets that cover handwriting practice for the alphabet and numbers, basic maths, phonics and science.  All sheets are in French language.  The best aspect of the work sheets is that they are visually fun, so younger kids stay engaged.  Download the free work sheets here:  Fiche Maternelle learning pages

Fiche Maternelle has lots of free French language work sheets for maths, writing and phonics aimed at maternelle age.

KidooLand is a well-known company on the French Riviera for their English and French play groups, as well as their holiday programmes.  Refer to their Facebook page for regular activity ideas and fun workshops that include song, dance, crafts and fitness.  KidooLand on Facebook

Ma Médiathèque has a large database of digital French learning resources available via the ToutApprendre app including over 100,000 classroom exercises for primary age upwards, language learning, gaming, first aid tutorials and pedagogic lessons for kids aged 4-12.  Download the Toutapprendre.com app on the AppStore or Google Play.

Outschool offers live online classes for youth aged 3-18 years.  Classes cost $USD5 upwards and cover subjects such as maths, health and wellness, science and nature, coding and tech and more.  The search functionality is excellent, so you can filter down to your own needs such as age, one-time classes or a short course, subject or duration.  You need internet access to join the classes. Check it out here: Outschool Online Classes

Papa Positive is a popular website with educational activities for children covering a range of topics.  The site has everything from origami tutorials to colouring pages, links to learning resources and suggestions for home play and development.  French language.  Get the Papa Positive archives and activity links here.

Aimed at ages 3 to 15, Scholastic has launched a learn-at-home site with 20 days+ of video learning and hands-on projects to keep kids active and thinking.  Topics include life science, nature, communication skills, gaming and technology.  All lessons are in English language.  Find the remote lessons here:  Scholastic Learn At Home

For preschool age to 8 years, Starfall is targeted at an American audience (therefore in English language).  It’s a useful website to help teach kids to read, learn basic maths concepts and have fun with songs and holiday-themed lessons.  It doesn’t have tons of resources, but it’s bright and colourful so particularly good for younger kids with short attention spans.  Find Starfall’s Online Learning here.

Starfall is a colourful website to help teach kids to read, and learn basic maths.

SplashLearn is a maths tool for ages 3 to 10 years.  Based on an American curriculum, kids can practise their maths skills for geometry, addition, multiplication, algebra and more via exciting game challenges.  SplashLearn can be accessed by parents registering an account for free. 

Turtle Diary is another American site with activities for kids aged 3-10 years.  Interactive games in English language and hundreds of downloadable work sheets cover world knowledge, word games, maths, social studies, animals, science, puzzles.  Fun challenges include sorting recycling, money games, geography quizzes.  The downside is the online site has a few pop-up ads, but nothing too annoying to stop using the site.  Get the Turtle Diary Online Learning here.

Turtle Diary has free English language games and work sheets to educate and entertain kids learning at home.

Worksheetfun has lots of printable sheets for kids to practise maths, handwriting, phonics, spelling, pattern recognition and more.  I find these are most suited to younger kids at preschool and kindergarten age.  All in English language, find the sheets here:  Worksheetfun FREE printable worksheets

GEOGRAPHY, CULTURE & HISTORY

For free online history resources, turn to BBC History for Kids (their Hands on History and History for Kids section have information about Romans, Vikings, archaeology and world history), History for Kids has cool stuff about the Middle Ages, Egypt and Ancient Greece, and

Google Arts & Culture has always been a winner in my books.  Travel around the world and visit museums and landmarks such as the British Museum in London, Palais of Versailles in France, Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Taj Mahal in India and the Colosseum in Rome.  Explore here with Google Arts & Culture.

Seterra is a huge site with all sorts of free geography quizzes covering topics such as capital cities, islands, latitudes and longitudes, countries and the solar system.  Best suited to age range of older primary school kids and upwards. Get the link here; Seterra is also available as apps:  Seterra Geography: Free Maps & Quiz Games

Street Art with Google is a glimpse into street art with audio descriptions for global cities, and over 5000 examples of graffiti and street art around the world from Portugal to Argentina, France to the United States.  More suited to teenagers than younger children. See Google’s Street Art gallery.

Street Art with Google is a brilliant look at graffiti and street art at over 5000 global locations

Children can test their geography knowledge with World Geography Games, a free online site with quizzes relating to continents, world capitals, world flags, seas, mountain ranges and more.  Test yourself here:  World Geography Games : Online Geography Quizzes

YouVisit has a virtual tour that is narrated and offers a cool experience for visiting Machu Picchu while based at home.  Visit one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage sites here:  YouVisit Virtual Tour of Machu Picchu 

Take a virtual tour of Machu Picchu from home thanks to YouVisit.

HEALTH & FITNESS

Captain Fantastic is hosting daily online fitness classes each morning, followed by dancing and singing in the afternoons.  Tune in here:  Captain Fantastic online children’s fitness & entertainment

We have been loving Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube!  Jamie has fun themed yoga sessions that are suitable for toddler age upwards.  Themes include Pokémon, Harry Potter, Frozen, Minecraft, Spiderman, Trolls and more.  Check out Cosmic Kids Yoga here.

Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube is a fun channel with themed yoga tutorials.

I know everyone has been raving about Joe Wick’s fitness classes, however Get Kids Moving is so much cooler!  Created by Glenn Higgins, the YouTube videos combine exercise with superhero moves.  If you’ve got THAT child who wants to sleep in their superhero outfit, this is the one to tune into!  Who doesn’t want to do a fun fitness class with Jedi training, the Avengers, Fortnite or Spiderman?  Workouts average 5-10 minutes so are great for short attention spans.  Check the sessions out here:  Get Kids Moving:  Free Kids Workouts

GoNoodle is a combination dance and exercise YouTube channel, however they incorporate so many movements into each video that I’m listing it under the Health & Fitness category.  Fun and contemporary, it’s a great way to get toddler age to older primary school kids up and moving.  Get moving here with GoNoodle.

For relaxation and mindfulness meditation for kids, YouTube has lots of fantastic resources ranging from short guided meditation sessions to marathon 8-hour videos with soothing music to encourage children to relax or sleep.  Try New Horizon’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation for Kids, or 321 Relaxing who post soothing music with underwater scenes of fish and coral reefs.

MISCELLANEOUS RESOURCES

Kids who love puzzles can jump onto the Lovatt’s Puzzles website where there are online puzzles such as Sudoku, word searches and crosswords.

Oceanco has a series of online puzzles to solve including some of their latest yacht fleet.  Challenge your family here:  Oceanco Fleet Puzzles

PBS Kids has a lot of online games for kids ranging from pure fun games to educational challenges that involve concepts for science, nature, maths, emotional skills and language learning.  Here’s the link:  PBS Kids Games

The RNLI has a good database of education resources with colouring pages, interactive quizzes and posters that teach kids about water safety and lifeboat rescue.  Suited for youth aged 3-18 years.  Head here for the downloads:  RNLI Youth Education

RNLI has a dedicated youth education section with activities based around water safety and learning about lifeboats/sea rescue.

Comedian, actor, writer and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams has a whole host of free fun activities on his website, The World of David Walliams.  The free downloadable activity sheets are all inspired by his books.  Check them out here:  The World of David Walliams Activities & Resources

Unicef’s Distance Learning Solutions has a big list of educational resources for language learning, history, STEM subjects, earth sciences and digital storybooks. Check it out here:  Unicef Distance Learning Solutions

If you have a child who always asks ‘But, why?’, then Wonderopolis is the website for you!   Aiming to spark curiosity in children, the site is aimed at kids of all ages.  They have a ‘Wonder of the Day’ and kids can ask questions that get answered around various topics such as science, arts and culture, maths, technology and social studies.  Join the world of wonders here:  Wonderopolis

Wonderopolis is the ideal website for the curious child who always ask ‘But, why?’

PERFORMING ARTS

If you have older children who are interested in music, Berklee Online has a collection of free music resources including 12 sample lessons that cover everything from guitar ensemble techniques to film scoring, music theory and vocal production. You can also get free mini lessons and handbooks with theory about songwriting, music publishing and more.  You have to create an account to access the free resources:  Berklee Online Free Music Resources 

Berklee Online has free music resources including sample lessons and handbooks for music theory.

Funky Moves offers online dance classes for kids, teens and families for just £5 per class. Classes are run via Zoom so you need an internet connection.  Kids classes have different sessions for children aged 2-12 years.  Teens classes are hip hop only.  More information is here:  Funky Moves Online Dance Classes

Buddy magicians will love ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic‘ based on the British Library exhibition from 2017.  It’s available through Google Arts & Culture and features manuscripts and drawings by J.K Rowling, illustrations by Jim Kay from the Harry Potter series and sections about subjects taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry such as Potions, Alchemy, Charms and Care of Magical Creatures.  Explore Harry Potter’s online exhibition here.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic is available online via Google Arts & Culture.

The Haschak Sisters are four teen sisters who are hugely popular with 7.8 million subscribers on their YouTube channel.  They sing and break down dance steps in their videos.  Tune in if you have a tween/teen daughter who likes pop music:  Haschak Sisters 

Kidz Bop is a YouTube channel by kids for kids with fun dance tutorials.  Easy to follow for both genders and dance along to, most of the videos are 5 minutes or less in duration so kids don’t get bored.  Dance along here:  Kidz Bop 

Theatre fans can get active with Official London Theatre who are hosting #WestEndWarmUp every Monday and Wednesday, led by West End performers.  Follow them on Instagram to see the west end moves:  Official London Theatre : WestEndWarmUp

Strictly Come Dancing star Oti Mabuse has uploaded themed dance classes for kids on her YouTube channel.  Classes are better suited to older primary kids as the duration is 25 minutes-plus for most lessons.  Themes include Frozen, Trolls, The Greatest Showman and Moana. Get your groove on here:  Oti Mabuse Kids Dance

TeachRock is one of those cool sites that you wish was around when you were a kid!  They have free files for all age groups covering music history and music exploration for subjects such as The Beatles, the birth of rock, hip hop and more.  Rock out here: TeachRock Distance Learning

TeachRock is a modern site with free music resources for distance learning.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Primary and secondary school children who are interested in coding and computer science, can get free virtual coding sessions via Amazon Future Engineer.  My 9-year old loves the simple instructions for the Hour of Code: Dance Party (make sure your child watches the short instruction videos first that explain how to set the codes).  Go to Amazon Future Engineer’s free online coding for kids.

Amazon Future Engineer has free online coding programmes – your child can set a code to teach a cat to disco!

But Why is a child-friendly podcast where inquisitive kids can send in a question to be answered.  Previous questions (just the type of questions that every parent has heard before) have been “Why do baby teeth fall out?” and “Are llamas ticklish?”.  Listen in on Apple Podcasts.

The Cosmic Shambles Network creates digital content, podcasts and fun stuff exploring science concepts, art, music and more.  If your child has a curious mind, check out their ‘Stay at Home Festival’ that can be viewed on their website or see it on YouTube. More details here:  The Stay At Home Festival by Cosmic Shambles

Sydney Krawiec is a US-based youth services librarian who has created a digital Harry Potters Escape Room, inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.  The game can be played individually or as a group with puzzles to solve to get out of the room; best suited to older primary aged children to early teens.  Here is the link to Hogwarts Digital Escape Room.

NASA Space Play has games and crafts where kids can learn more about Earth, the Sun and the solar system.

National Geographic Kids has easy science experiments for kids to try at home – how about a colour explosion using food colouring, milk and dishwashing liquid?  Get the instructions here:  Easy Science Experiment for Kids

Science Kids has fun experiments, games, quizzes and facts about science and technology.  The science experiments are simple and use items you may already have at home.  The quizzes are aimed at primary school age.  Recommended for toddler age to early teens (all experiments should be done with adult supervision).  Science Kids: Online Science Experiments

Science Kids is an awesome site with easy experiements, quizzes and fun facts.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

While I don’t intend to give professional advice about special education, many students with special needs are now facing new challenges with schools being closed, routine changes due to isolation and no accessibility to teacher aides.  Here are a few recommended resources and tools; however customised learning is recommended dependent on your child’s individual needs.

Flamingo Chicks offers free online inclusive classes for children with special needs to explore dance and movement with their peers.  They also have sensory activities and suggestions for play at home.  Find their virtual classes on YouTube or at this link: Flamingo Chicks at home

LetterSchool is offering a free trial for their literacy programme.  It encourages letter recognition by tapping and tracing colourful animations.  See the site here:  LetterSchool 

SoundingBoard is only available from the AppStore, however it’s a free app (with in-app purchases).  This app is aimed at children who are unable to speak (or have limited speech), persons on the autism spectrum and adults with special needs. This augmentive and alternative communication (AAC) app has preloaded boards; you can also customise symbol boards with your own messages; users press on the images to prompt a verbal message.  Go to the AppStore link for SoundingBoard here. 

SoundingBoard is an app designed to help non-verbal people communicate using preloaded boards.

Teach.com has a detailed list of digital resources for students with autism.  English language only.  Find the list here:  Digital Resources for Students with Autism 

Text-to-speech (TTS) is an assistive technology that may help special needs students learning at home, because it reads digital text aloud.  Here’s some links where you can go to activate features like this on your desktop or smartphone:

For Android, text-to-speech needs to be activated under Settings.  The steps are here:  Android text-to-speech

For Chromebook accessibility features such as text-to-speech, go to Settings:  Turn on Chromebook Accessibility Features

For Windows 10,  under ‘Control Panel’ then ‘Ease of Access’:  More about Windows 10 Accessibility Features.

For voice control, vision and hearing accessibility for MAC and iPhone, iPad, iTouch, refer here:  Accessibility Support Apple

It’s taken me hours of research to create this list and check each individual link – I would love it if you could please leave a comment if you found this useful, and please share this post with your family and friends!   Thank you for supporting my blog.

Club Vivanova turns luxury into charity for Chances for Children

On Saturday 6th June, Club Vivanova, a Monaco-based leading business networking and premium gourmet wine club, will host their 6th annual Luxury Lifestyle Charity Gala Dinner at the Fairmont Monte Carlo.

This epic event – “Turning Luxury Into Charity” – brings together more than 400 international guests, all to help raise funds for worthy causes. This year, funds will be split between the Chances for Children (C4C) Foundation and The Animal Fund (TAF).

Charitable causes

Chances for Children has been one of the event’s beneficiary charities since 2017. Founded in 2011, the Monaco and UK-registered charity cares for abandoned children in a dedicated orphanage in Kampala (Uganda). Here the children have access to parental care, a balanced diet, education, and healthcare. Gabrielle Crump, President of Chances For Children has been humbled by the generosity seen from Gala attendees over the last few years and notes how:

“The ongoing support that Club Vivanova offers Chances for Children is priceless. As our charity grows, so do the running costs and the annual Club Vivanova Charity Gala raises vital finances that support and to help to pay for quality education, maintenance and the support of a growing number of sponsored children. The club’s members now sponsor six children in the Chances for Children Foundation family all-year round. We truly value this partnership which goes from strength to strength – and as a grass roots charity, donors can rest assured that every Euro donated goes directly to the children.”

Listed in Monaco, France and the UK, The Animal Fund is a non-profit marine conservation association dedicated to protecting and saving dolphins and whales from pollution, maltreatment and overfishing.

A distinguished event

The glittering fundraising event attracts distinguished international business leaders from across the world, Club Vivanova members, and VIP Partners who will all enjoy a beautifully prepared gourmet meal in addition to live entertainment by ‘High On Heels’, a Haute Couture fashion show, a Contemporary Art Exhibition, a charity auction, and Champagne and Vodka after party, offering a fantastic social night with a purpose.

The event kicks-off at 7 p.m. with a Premier Cru Champagne Aperitif, followed by a welcome speech at 8 p.m.

Monaco based digital marketing agency, Relevance, is a sponsor of the charitable gala evening.

“We are delighted to once again support the annual Luxury Lifestyle Charity Gala Dinner,” Rumble Romagnoli, CEO of Relevance said. “This fabulous annual event raises funds for a number of charities, including Chances for Children, a cause that remains very dear to our hearts. We have supported this charity for some four years, offering a wide range of digital marketing support to ensure this fantastic charity can help more young orphaned children in Uganda, by providing critical parental care, education, healthcare, and more.”

Bradley Mitton – Club Vivanova Founder

“We only achieve great things in life by giving back and our Sixth Edition Luxury Lifestyle Charity Gala is organised annually to appreciate the best things in life, whilst offering attendees the chance to donate; raising important and life-changing funding for the Chances for Children Foundation and The Animal Fund and we need your support.”

Ticket details

There are still tickets available for this year’s event.  Tickets are €200 per person, €300 for VIP tickets, or €2,800 for a gala partner table for 10. Tickets can be purchased online at clubvivanova-luxurygala.com

For a video presentation of the Luxury Lifestyle Charity Gala Dinner, see below:

Press Contact

To find out more information about Chances for Children or the 2020 Club Vivanova Luxury Lifestyle Gala Dinner, or for additional images, contact : muriel@relevance.digital or telephone +377 99 90 73 52

Please note:  The event was originally advertised as being scheduled for Saturday, April 4; Saturday, June 6 is the new postponed date. All purchased partnerships, tickets and room package bookings from the original date are automatically transferred to the new date.  Club Vivanova thanks all their guests, the Fairmont Monte Carlo and their gala partners for the on-going support.

Train information update for the Côte d’Azur

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic, SNCF may have to adapt its train schedules from Monday, March 16, 2020.

Information on the next day’s trains is available every day at 5 p.m on all of their information channels:

  • Via the website TER SUD Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • On the ‘SNCF Assistant’ app
  • For your TER journeys in the region, phone TER on 0800 11 40 23 (Free call: Monday to Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m; service in French language)
  • For your other trips including outside the region: 0805 90 36 35 (Free call from a landline; service in French language)
  • On the Twitter account @TERSUD_SNCF (Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday and public holidays from 12 noon to 8 p.m.)

Ticket Changes / Postponements / Refunds

If you want to exchange your tickets or postpone your trip due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, SNCF is allowing passengers to take advantage of free exchange and reimbursement costs for all TGV INOUI, Intercités, OUIGO and TER trains in correspondence running until April 30.

Your request for a free exchange or refund can be made:

  • Up until the departure of your INOUI and Intercités TGV train
  • Until 1h30 before the departure of your OUIGO

Passengers can carry out these procedures on all the usual sales channels (including the website oui.sncf and SNCF approved online agencies).

Reinforced cleaning and sanitation measures for all trains 

If you would like to find out the measures that are taken for cleaning of the trains, please refer here (in French): https://www.sncf.com/fr/offres-voyageurs/voyager-en-train/coronavirus-nos-mesures-exceptionnelles

I’m expecting more transportation updates in the near future so will update any information as much as I can.

Top 4 : The Best February Festivals On The French Riviera

There are plenty of reasons a festival might make your bucket list, however when you have children you often need to compromise with schedules, facilities and transport.

One of the best ways for kids to experience arts, music and culture is to join in on the festival atmosphere at local events.

From big-hitting carnivals to small traditional celebrations, the French Riviera has plenty of festivals for all ages and attention spans!   Here’s my pick of the Top 4 family-friendly festivals happening during February on the French Riviera.

  1. Nice Carnival  :  15 February – 29 February 2020

One of the world’s biggest carnivals, the 2020 theme for this annual event is ‘King of Fashion (Roi de la Mode)’.  Fabulous flower battles, afternoon and night time parades with floats, lights, costumed actors and animations ensure a family-friendly event with plenty of entertainment.

The Bataille des Fleurs takes place at the same location as the main parades; at Place Massena and around Jardin Albert 1er gardens.

The parades are spectacular, with floats taking hundreds of hours of work to create.  Parades last around 1.5 hours.

My top tips: 

To get access to your seats, be sure to use the correct entrance number which is shown on your ticket or else you will be diverted elsewhere.

Before you go to Nice, check the road restrictions on the official website because there are many roads closed 3 hours prior to the parades as well as restrictions on parking zones.  You can find the information under ‘Practical Information – Access, Transport and Parking’ on the Nice Carnival website.  Some parking zones including Port Lympia and Nice Etoile have a special parking offer where you pay just €5 for 5 hours parking.

Don’t forget if you dress in fancy dress, you get FREE standing entry in Zones A and B for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.   Persons with disabilities also get FREE entry for standing Zone B for the Flower Parades, Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.

Children aged 0-10 get FREE entry in Zone B (Standing around Jardin Albert 1er) for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights which is excellent for families to be able to enjoy the festivities!

For the official carnival programme, go here:  Nice Carnival 2020 

Watch a video below of one of last year’s Corso carnivalesque illuminé below (courtesy of Nice Côte d’Azur Tourism) showing what to expect during this 2-week party:

2. Fête du Citron : 15 February – 03 March 2020

The 87th edition of Menton’s wonderful Fête du Citron kicks off the same day as the opening of Nice Carnival, running from 15th February to 3rd March 2020.

It’s a unique festival attracting around 200,000 visitors annually who visit to see around 140 tons of citrus fruit in sculptures and parade floats.

We particularly love seeing the large-scale citrus sculptures in the Jardins Biovès which are 5-10 metres in height and engineered from wire framing and thousands of oranges and lemons.  It’s a good outing for families as the exhibition zone isn’t too big, nor do you have to wait too long for the action to start.  The gardens are open during the day, and there is evening admission when the sculptures are illuminated with sound.

Adjacent to the gardens is the Palais de l’Europe which has an artisan market selling things such as limoncello or Provençal linen decorated with lemons, alongside an orchid display.

The parades include street performers, dancers, confetti and bands with the night time parades having lanterns or fireworks as well.

This year the theme is ‘Les Fêtes du Monde’.

My top tips:

Taking the train is a good option because the Jardins Biovès and the parade circuit is about 5 minutes walk from the main train station.  Menton has 2 train stations so you need to get off at Gare de Menton and NOT Menton Garavan station.

If you drive, beware that streets in and near the festival are closed to traffic and if you are going to the Sunday Golden Fruits parades to arrive before midday.  There are 3 carparks available to use on Sundays (Golden Fruits parade days) – they are located near the Italian border (Rondelli Stadium), at the Intermarché car park near the Vallée du Carei motorway exit and the Val d’Anaud Stadium.  These carparks are free and shuttle buses run to/from the festival zones. Check the shuttle information here:  Fête du Citron shuttle buses

Wheelchair users can access the garden display, as well there is a designated viewing area for the parades at Place Saint Roch which is the eastern end of the parade route.  If you have restricted mobility and want to access the beach, go opposite the Belle Époque Hotel Royal Westminster – the entire seafront of Promenade du Soleil is wheelchair accessible.

Visit the official Lemon Festival website here:  Fête du Citron 2020

If you have never visited the Fête du Citron before, you may be wondering what happens to the incredible amount of fruit that is used!  A lot of it is thrown away due to rot or composted after the festival, however once the main sculptures are disassembled the remaining fruit is sold publicly.  You can buy bags of oranges and lemons for less than €1 – there is no limit.

You can see some of my photos from previous festivals below:

Things to see and do in Menton

Menton is a lovely destination to visit year round with a backdrop of mountains, an Italianate Old Town and a promenade stretching to Cap Martin.

Other things to do when you’re in Menton include discovering the Musée Jean Cocteau, visiting the churches Basilique Saint Michel and Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, exploring the gardens such as Serre de la Madonne or Jardin Fontana Rosa and taking in the panoramic view from the Cimetière du Vieux Château, high above Menton.

If you want to do a day trip while you’re visiting Menton, you can head over the border to the Italian towns of Ventimiglia or Sanremo that have great food markets, or read more on Christie from Scribbles and Smiles blog and add Sainte-Agnès to your itinerary.

Sainte-Agnès is off the beaten track but worth visiting (photo: menton.fr)

3. Fête du Mimosa : 19 February – 26 February 2020

The mimosa is already flowering and is a welcome end to winter days.  The annual Fête du Mimosa is held in the streets of Mandelieu-La Napoule where the golden bloom is celebrated with flower battles, music and activities.

For more information about the Mimosa Festival programme and tickets, visit the Office de Tourism website here:  Fête du Mimosa 2020

Fête du Mimosa in Mandelieu-La-Napoule (pic: Mondoramas)

As well as the main festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule, other towns host mimosa festivities and parades including Pegomas, St Maxime and Tanneron.

Route du Mimosa walking trails

You can also do a variety of walking trails if you want to see mimosa forests – the best family-friendly trails we’ve found are between Mandelieu-Tanneron-Auribeau-Pégomas.

If you start at Mandelieu, take Boulevard Paul Tarascon, then Boulevard des Termes, heading towards Tanneron on the Route de Tanneron (D92).  After driving about 10 minutes from Mandelieu, you reach the Circuit du Grand Duc and there is an easy walking trail with great views of the hills covered in mimosa.  This trail is super popular at weekends and there is limited carparking, so go early!  Here is the map:  Circuit du Grand Duc.

For other mimosa trail options, refer to ‘La Route du Mimosa’ for more information.

4. Festival International des Jeux : 21 February – 23 February 2020

A fun festival for families with all types of activities, games and toys to try out.  You can find everything from classic and contemporary board games, Cosplay, video games, escape games, simulators, toys, sci-fi and fantasy games, wooden games, models, trading cards and more.

Entrance is free, however they also have a payable VIP option where you get fast access entry and a free game.

My top tips: 

There are a few restrictions for this festival for items that you can and can’t take into the venue.  For example, you can’t take your own food into the Palais, unless it’s vacuum sealed sandwiches/crisps etc and a plastic water bottle up to 50cl.  There are food outlets inside the Palais; prices are OK for an event venue.

You also can’t take baby prams or large backpacks inside; last year there was a luggage check facility to leave these items and it cost €2. I couldn’t find any more information on their website if the luggage facility is chargeable this year?

Find out the full programme and list of exhibitors here:  Festival International des Jeux

Note:  Last year, getting into the Palais was a bit of a mission as the entrance queues were long and there was only one person on the first security bag check (!!).  I hope they rectify this for this year, because there were lots of families with small children who waited a long time.  Regardless, the festival is worth checking out over the 3 days that it takes place.

Have you been to any of these festivals?  Which one is your favourite?  Like or comment on this post. 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! We’re closed over Christmas and New Year

I will be in the UK for Christmas and New Year, therefore Access Riviera will be quiet until early January.

One thing I’ve learned through blogging is that it is OK to step away from time to time and reenergise your mind and body.  In the beginning, I was learning new things and trying to express my thoughts here – now, I can do things in my own time and not feel obligated to post every week because I have a family and other projects on the go.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned this year running Access Riviera:

  1. That the message matters more than the medium.  This year, there’s been a pull towards jumping onto the latest tools and trendy social media such as TikTok, but I’ve learned to gravitate to what works best – for Access Riviera’s audience that is maintaining a presence via my subscriber list, on Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Good images and good storytelling still rule.
  3. Blog analytics are so valuable for defining what posts are doing well (and also what content is a complete flop) so I can create more of those winning posts.
  4. That there is no trickery in running a top blog.  This year, I’ve had a big part of my time taken by client projects, so regular posts onto my blog have been neglected and this has definitely reflected in the drop of visitors to my blog.  Blogging isn’t ‘easy’ because it demands consistency and fresh content.
  5. That whatever I blog about can still be relevant months and years later.

Thank you for all your support this year – Merry Christmas and best wishes!

Ultimately, Access Riviera is part of my life.  It grew from a hobby to a business, and I’ll continue to enjoy the experience of it.

I have some incredible client and personal projects launching in 2020, so I hope this little community I’ve built through my blog writing sticks around!

What were my most popular blog posts in 2019?

My 5 most popular blog posts by views this year are below – interestingly, two were published this year, two were from 2017 and one I wrote way back in 2014 proving that old content can still do well! :

35 Family-friendly Things To See And Do For Christmas 2019 On The Côte d’Azur

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

Secret French Riviera:  Hidden Spots Worth Visiting 

7 Reasons Not To Visit The Côte d’Azur In Winter

And my most popular blog post?  A guide about car parts and mechanical terms in French !  I’m not sure why people love this as a reference source, but it’s very popular in searches and 5 years after going live this is still my highly-visited post each year by thousands of views.  Take a look here:  Car Parts & Mechanical Terms in French 

Thank you to all my followers who have liked, commented or shared my posts throughout the year – I see every comment and your support is greatly appreciated!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

See you in 2020!

35 Family-friendly Ideas : Christmas Holidays 2019 on the French Riviera

The French Riviera is the ideal destination to soak up the holiday season with everything happening including Christmas markets dressed in their finest decorations and lights, food festivals and winter activities.

There’s plenty for families to see and do, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune – here are 35 of my best suggestions to get into the festive spirit on the French Riviera:

Admire the illuminated light shows

As well as the Christmas markets with beautiful light garlands and displays, there are a few worthy mentions for places to go to see spectacular lights at night during these Christmas school holidays.

Saint-Laurent du Var projected video show

On Wednesday 18 December, a free sound and light show will be projected at 6.30pm on the facade of the Hôtel de Ville in Saint-Laurent du Var.   At 6.45pm, the Enchanted Forest displays will be opened along with mulled wine and hot chocolate offered by the municipality.

(photo: Recreanice)

Nice, baie des lumières

Nice, baie des lumières is being hosted at Parc Phoenix in Nice until 23 February 2020.  It comprises of around 550 illuminated Chinese lanterns, including a Great Wall, pandas and dragons.  The festival also includes kung fu demonstrations, tea ceremonies and traditional dance performances.

See Chinese lanterns at the ‘Nice, baie des lumières’ display at Parc Phoenix until February 2020 (photos: baiedeslumieres on Instagram)

Note:  Nice, baie des lumières displays are only on from Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesdays).  It is open every day during Christmas school holidays, including Christmas Day and New Years Day.

In my opinion, I think €17 for adults and €12 for children (5-17 yrs) is quite pricey for a static festival, especially when I’ve experienced free Chinese lantern festivals overseas, however it’s worth visiting as it’s not something that happens regularly in this region and kids can get a glimpse into another culture.  My top tips are to buy a Family Pass, or visit on Wednesday or Thursday when admission is at a reduced price.

More information about Nice, baie des lumières is here: https://www.baiedeslumieres.com/index_en.html . There is also a similar Chinese lantern festival being hosted in Marseille until 19 January 2020, details are at this link for Les Lumières Légendaires de Chine.

Take advantage of the great outdoors

The Côte d’Azur is blessed with mild weather year-round, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get outdoors.  Even if the temperature is a bit cooler, you will still experience mostly blue skies and be able to soak up the beauty of nature.

Mountain life

Head to the mountains where you’ll find over 30 ski resorts just a few hours drive from the coast, catering for everyone from novices to expert.  Most ski resorts have rental shops where you can hire skis, helmets, snowboards, boots or toboggans/sleds.

If you don’t have a toboggan/sled, you can hire one for around €10.

There are also group or private ski lessons available, as well as the addition of kids clubs so you can have qualified carers mind your little ones while you get in a few runs and a post-ski vin chaud.

Ventes flash:  Don’t miss the opportunity for discounted adult ski passes for Auron and Isola 2000 – look for the flash sales online on Tuesday nights at 8pm where you can buy an adult ski pass for 50% off.  Stock is limited and basically runs until the last one sells.  Be ready to buy one!  Go here for the flash pass links:  Auron and Isola 2000 Flash Sales

100% Neige ski buses:  Ski buses run to and from Nice to selected mountain resorts during winter season.

I’ve previously used them and they are great if you want to avoid driving winding roads or for a half-day trip to the mountain without worrying about parking, petrol costs etc.  The downside is that the ski buses times don’t really sync if you have group ski lessons booked (morning and afternoon sessions), but you can always reserve a private lesson at a time that suits you best.

The 100% Neige ski buses serve :

  • La Colmiane, with a navette to Boréon : Bus #90; was previously known as bus number 730; daily service until the close of the ski season.
  • Auron, with a navette to Roubion :  Bus #91; was previously number 740; daily service until 19 April 2020.
  • Isola 2000 : Bus #92; was previously number 750; daily service until the close of the season.
  • Valberg :  Bus 770; daily service until 9 March 2020.

The cost for the ski buses is €6 oneway per person with pre-booking, €12 return.  (Note: There are also regular bus lines that service the mountain towns).

The best stop to get on the ski buses in Nice is right outside the Nice Ville train station, opposite the post office; the name of the bus stop is ‘Poste Thiers – SNCF’.  You must book online and you are sent an e-ticket to print and give the bus driver.

For ski buses to La Colmiane, Auron, Isola 2000, book online at www.lignesazur.com

For ski buses to Valberg, book online at zou.maregionsud.fr

The 100% Neige ski bus timetables are here: Valberg ski bus and Bus 100% Neige – Auron, Isola 2000, La Colmiane

Other attractions in the mountains include Parc Alpha Loup, Vesubia Mountain Park and Via Ferrata at Lantosque.

If you’re visiting the ski resorts during Christmas 2019 school holidays, there’s loads of activities and events happening such as torchlight mountain descents (24th and 27th December and 3 January in Valberg), Santa arriving by various modes of transport including skis, husky dog sled or zipline, fireworks displays, free concerts and cinema screenings such as Frozen 2 which will be screened in Auron, Valberg and Valdeblore.

(photo: Auron)

Family-friendly walking trails

Winter is a fantastic time to experience many of the region’s walking trails, without the crowds from summer.  Three family-friendly walks are:

Cap d’Antibes loop walk : nice coastal scenery, toddler age will need supervision as there are some steep sections and uneven surfaces, the pathway has some stairs so it’s not suitable for prams/baby strollers.  The full walk from Plage Garoupe past Villa Eilenroc is around 1.25-1.5 hours; the mini loop walk from the side track opposite Château de la Croe takes about 25 minutes and is ideal for families with small children.

The Cap d’Antibes coastal walk, also know as the Sentier Littoral, is a scenic coastal pathway for families to discover.

Villeneuve Loubet seafront : flat seafront walkway from Marina Baie des Anges towards Cagnes sur Mer with cafeterias along the way, plenty of carparking at Marina Baie des Anges and accessible toilets.

There is plenty of carparking at Marina Baie des Anges if you want to walk along the seafront at Villeneuve Loubet towards Cagnes sur Mer.

Parc du Paradou between Golfe Juan and Cannes : Has limited carparking but lots of great views across the sea, wear comfortable footwear as the path can be rocky in places, take a picnic as there’s no food outlets nearby, lots of trees and chances to see birds and other wildlife. Great location for dog walking too! For directions, click here:  Parc du Paradou map

Parc du Paradou is never crowded and offers a local nature walk with views of trees and the sea.

Cycle trails

Cycling is a wonderful activity where all the family can participate.  The variety of cycling routes on the Côte d’Azur is excellent, ranging from flat coastal pathways to hilly climbs for more experienced cyclists. Interest in cycling is steady year-round with events such as Nice Ironman and Tour de France 2020 helping boost the profile of cycling.

Expert cyclists can take on hill climbs such as Col de Vence and Col de la Madone, but in general family-friendly cycle options are most accessible near to the coast.

Families can avoid traffic by using the region’s coastal cycle paths – the routes are usually paved, smooth and pot-hole free!  They are also near to restaurants, snack kiosks or picnic areas so you don’t have to cycle too far if you have small children.

Here’s three fun places to go cycling en famille:

Cagnes sur Mer : The seafront has a marked cycleway, also the Jardin de la Villette playground at 7 Maréchal Juin in the centre of Cagnes sur Mer has a mini roadway marked out so younger cyclists can practise their riding or play on their scooters in a fenced, safe environment.

The playground at Jardin de la Villette in Cagnes sur Mer has a separate mini road zone so kids can ride in safety.

Nice : A cycle journey on the French Riviera can’t be done without discovering Nice by bike!  Did you know that Nice has over 125km of cycleway paths and dedicated parking for anyone on 2 wheels?   Hire a Vélo Bleu bike, or take your own.

Casual cyclists can pedal along the Promenade des Anglais enjoying the view across the turquoise sea, while serious cyclists may opt to stop in at Café du Cycliste at Nice Port which retails cycle gear, rents bikes and serves pedal-worthy coffee.

Café du Cycliste in Nice

Sanremo:  OK, not exactly the French Riviera I know, however the Pista Ciclabile / Ponente Ligure cycle path is worth mentioning if you fancy a day trip just over the border in Italy.  The cycleway follows an old railway line and covers 24 kilometres from San Lorenzo al Mare to Sanremo (Ospedaletti).  You can stop and start wherever you like!

Along the way, the route is a mix of quality paved coastal path and tunnels with plenty of locations to rent bikes, stop at beaches, sit on benches to admire the view and grab a drink at pretty Italian villages.  Highly recommended.  For the route map and more information, you can click on this link to Pista Ciclabile.

(images: viagginbici and Pista Ciclabile)

Get creative

School holidays are a great time to get creative with Christmas-themed craft workshops, fun events and kids cooking classes.

Kids cooking classes

Until Saturday 21 December, Jacobs Création in Nice is running kids patissier classes.  Classes from 18 December onwards include making reindeer popcakes, emoji cookies, bûche de Noel and a special themed workshop on 21 December based on Disney’s Frozen with cooking and craft sessions. Reserve a place via Jacobs Création.

Jacobs Création in Nice is hosting kids cooking classes over Christmas school holidays (photo: Jacobs Création)

Christmas craft workshop

On Sunday 22 December, the Médiathèque in Vence is hosting a Christmas craft workshop from 10am to 4pm with origami, card making and other activities.  Reserve a place by telephone:  04 93 58 02 12

The Médiathèque in Vence is holding a Christmas craft workshop

BrickLive Monaco / BrickLive Christmas

Last year, we had a fantastic day at the BrickLive Monaco event at the Grimaldi Forum where the kids got to play in different Lego®-style zones making their own creations out of mini bricks for Star Wars, Friends, animals, cities and more.

Last year’s BrickLive Monaco was awesome – I wonder what this year’s event will be like?

The good news is that BrickLive Monaco is returning!   Head along to the Grimaldi Forum from 21 December 2019 to 5 January 2020 for more interactive, hands-on construction.   Don’t miss the special displays featuring ocean creatures and a life-size Lego® version of Felipe Massa’s Formula E car. 

Watch the promo video here:  https://tv.grimaldiforum.com/video-413-bricklive-2019-2020#embed270

My tip is to ask for the special combination ticket deal at Grimaldi Forum where you can get entry to BrickLive Monaco AND the Monaco Oceanarium for great prices.

More info about BrickLive Monaco is here: https://www.grimaldiforum.com/fr/agenda-manifestations-monaco/bricklive-monaco#.XfZxpG5FzIV

Bricklive Monaco will have a life-size replica of Felipe Massa’s Formula E car made entirely of Lego. (image: Grimaldi Forum)

Visit the French Riviera Christmas markets

I love taking the kids to the Christmas markets on the Côte d’Azur.  Each one is different and has anything on offer from theme park rides, music, face painting and magic shows, artisan stalls, kids craft workshops, Santa visits and food outlets selling things such as pretzels, gingerbread, hot chocolate, vin chaud or cookies.

French Riviera Christmas markets have food chalets, entertainment and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Where do you take your kids for ice skating?  Head to the Christmas markets at Antibes, Auron, Cannes, Golfe Juan (at Theatre de la Mer), Grasse, Monaco, Mougins, Nice and Saint-Martin-Vesubie which all have pop-up ice skating rinks for school holidays.

Looking for something a bit different? Here’s 6 more ideas:

  • Watch the free show ‘Moscow Circus on Ice’ at Monaco Christmas Market on Saturday 21 December from 5.30pm-8.30pm.
  • See Santa water skiing in Juan les Pins at 10.30am on Sunday 22 December.
  • Visit the Enchanted Forest at Parc Layet during Saint-Laurent du Var’s Christmas market.
  • Get up close to farm animals at the mini farm experiences during school holidays at Pinède Gould in Juan les Pins, Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and Théoule sur Mer.
  • Take a free zipline ride on Christmas Eve from 2.30pm-5pm – the zipline goes from the second floor at the Mairie in Saint-Martin-Vesubie!
  • Check out the traditional santon and crèche displays at Roquebrune Village or Lucéram over the festive period.

Experience a seasonal food festival

Whether you join in on local festivities such as the Fête de la Buche de Noel tradition that’s hosted by the Commune de Safranier in Antibes each December, or head to a truffle market, you’re sure to find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Top family-friendly picks over the holiday season are breakfast with Santa at the Hard Rock Café Nice on Saturday 21 December, the truffle market at Saint-Paul de Vence on Sunday 22 December complete with live music and truffling dogs, or head a little bit further to Aix-en-Provence for the ‘Market of 13 Desserts‘ from 17 to 24 December to sample goodies that are traditionally enjoyed at Christmas time.

Treize desserts de Noël (photo © REY Jerome / Maxppp)

Highly recommended is a visit to the southern France truffle markets that are open until March – Aups is held on Thursday morning, Carpentras is Friday morning and Richerenches is Saturday morning.  Visit https://www.richerenches.fr/ for more information.

Thanks for reading my post.  Please share it on social media and have a safe and enjoyable festive season!  

More information : Grève / Strikes today! Thursday 5th December

Life in France means you need to be prepared for regular grève (strike) action.  Most often, this affects transport, commerce and schools.

There is a strike happening today, Thursday 5th December.

SNCF has announced that only one in 10 trains on the TGV route will operate, 55% of strikers are expected among primary school teachers and air traffic will also be affected.

See below for current information about schedule changes and service disruptions on the French Riviera. This is current as at 7am today; it’s not an exhaustive list but all I can find:

Buses

Envibus : No urban buses will circulate today.

Lignes d’Azur (Nice region):  

  • Lines under normal service:
  • * 22, 44, 59, 65, 67, 68, 69, 73, 77, 78, 85, 86, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 706, Express Lines 1 and 2, CADAM North , School K, T School Gilette, School of Cap d’Ail, School Lines 510a, 510b, 510c, 510d, Lines C4, C6, C7, C8, C10 and High Country.

 

  • Lines with no service today:  
  • Tram lines L1, L2, and L3 : the lines will not work from the beginning to the end of the service.
  • The bus lines 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 87, express line 3, CADAM (East and Semi Direct) will not flow from the beginning to the end of the service.
  • School lines : A, C, E, F, L, M, P, R, S, V, W, School School of the Castle, 51C, 51D, 75D, School Saint Laurent du Var SLV1 to SVL5, School Cagnes-sur -G, H, I, O, Q, T / Y will not flow from the beginning to the end of the service .
  • Line Charts C1, C2, C3, C5 and C9 will not flow from the beginning to the end of the service .
  • The public transport service for people with reduced mobility, Mobil’Azur, will not work from the beginning to the end of the service.

In addition, the Lignes d’Azur commercial agencies will be closed. The presence of the Infobus planned in the schedule will not take place.

All PARCAZUR (P + R) will also be closed.

Flights

The DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) has requested airlines to reduce their flight program to and from Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux airports for 5 December 2019.   This will also affect Nice Côte d’Azur Airport because of the national disruption.

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport

I always get enquiries on strike days, because Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is terrible at giving information about the status of what’s happening at the airport.  Their Twitter account is usually always late for announcements – currently they have not put anything up on Twitter about a strike today – and the ‘News’ feed on their website is always behind (latest news is dated 29 November…..)

After years of telling them the importance of up-to-date information, one of France’s busiest airports finally has a home page notification on their website for passengers with basic strike information. Hooray!   Note: if you search for ‘grève’ on their website, you will not find anything!

Today, 20% of arriving and departing flights for Nice will be cancelled.  The best I can suggest is to contact your airline directly, then look at the live flight information on a flight tracker or the airport’s website:   https://en.nice.aeroport.fr/Passengers/FLIGHT-INFO/Live-flight-information

Air France:

Air France’s flight schedule is up to date. On 5 December they expect to operate:
– all long-haul flights
– 85% of their medium-haul flights
– Almost 70% of their domestic flights

Last-minute delays and cancelations cannot be excluded.

Disruptions are also possible for 6 and 7 December, and their flight schedules will be adjusted the day before, following DGAC recommendations.

To get updates on your Air France flight, go to http://www.airfrance.com – Informations – Infos vols & aéroports – Tous les Horaires – Actualisation des vols en temps reel.

Easyjet:

Easyjet has cancelled 200+ domestic and medium-haul flights today.   To get updates on your flight, go to www.easyjet.com/fr/flight-tracker.

(photo: LP/Guy Gios)

Ryanair:

There have been a number of a cancellations today and Ryanair have advised that they have sent text messages or emails to all affected passengers.

Volotea:

There are a number of cancellations and reschedules from 5 to 7 December, but it seems only a few flights to and from Nice are affected.  Here is the list of cancelled/rescheduled Volotea flights:   https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=fr&sp=nmt4&u=https://www.volotea.com/en/information/5th-7th-december-affected-flights-by-the-french-national-strike/&xid=17259,15700021,15700186,15700190,15700256,15700259,15700262,15700265,15700271,15700283&usg=ALkJrhj1z9ZkEx-BwVWhRph3LATqb8jHXQ

Vueling:

Vueling has cancelled a number of flights today, but it affects Paris airports only.  See the list here:   https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=fr&sp=nmt4&u=http://vuelingnews.com/%3Flang%3Dfr&xid=17259,15700021,15700186,15700190,15700256,15700259,15700262,15700265,15700271,15700283&usg=ALkJrhjDht89UYykWQPqKScx6GomqmjsXQ

Schools

Many schools on the French Riviera will be closed entirely, or have cantine and accueil reception unavailable.

Here is the updated list by town, thanks to Nice Matin: https://www.nicematin.com/greve-mouvements-sociaux/ecoles-cantines-creches-le-point-ville-par-ville-sur-les-perturbations-pendant-la-greve-dans-les-alpes-maritimes-437054?fbclid=IwAR3wWNI9_acmfEHZq4PMhOLeAGNj5lHuzJtVkDLFYYy5AXVPSq4UncE_DGI

Trains

Here is the updated train schedule for trains between Les Arcs and Ventimiglia. This includes the trains stopping in Cannes, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins, Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer, Nice, Monaco, Menton.

Today’s TER SNCF timetable (PDF format):   https://cdn.ter.sncf.com/medias/PDF/sud_provence_alpes_cote_d_azur/Affiche%20grève%20MR08%20LES%20ARCS%20-%20CANNES%20-%20NICE%20-%20VINTIMILLE%20du%2005%2012%202019_tcm65-182164_tcm65-234839.pdf

Did you know?

Interestingly, it seems France ranks highest in the number of days of strike action per year, according to this graph from Statista.  For all the lost days of productivity, the economic effects are great.

France is the world champion of strike action (graph: Statista)

 

Have you attended Le Dîner en Blanc ? Find out more via A French Collection

Annette Charlton from A French Collection explains more about Le Dîner Blanc, a wonderful meet-up now hosted in over 30 countries.

An intimate French inspired picnic with over 5,000 guests all dressed in white meeting at a secret location for an evening of dining, music and dancing is the Le Dîner en Blanc. Le Dîner en Blanc started in Paris by François Pasquier in 1988 and has taken the world by storm for those that love…

via Le Dîner en Blanc – French White Dinner — A French Collection