Sightseeing – CAP d’ANTIBES (Jardin Thuret)

I find the coastal area of the French Riviera groans with concrete, construction cranes, and high-rise apartments so a short visit to any area of greenery is always welcomed.

Today, because it was a lovely sunny autumn day I decided to push my son in his baby stroller to Jardin Thuret – a renown local attraction.

From central Juan les Pins (if walking), it takes approximately 20-25 minutes via the quickest and less strenuous route – walk up the gradual hill of avenue Saramartel, then turn left onto chemin du Crouton. Follow chemin du Crouton for 5 minutes then turn right onto boulevard du Cap and the garden is a leisurely 5 minutes from there on the right. Don’t be fooled by Google maps; it seems as though you can take a shortcut through avenue du Soleil Saramartel but you can’t as this is a private road for a gated residence. The garden also has numerous entry gates on chemin du Tamisier, but the only accessible public entrance that isn’t chained or locked is on chemin Raymond.

Once on boulevard du Cap you turn right onto chemin Raymond, a narrow road, and the entrance to the garden is halfway down this road. There are a few carpark spaces on this road but otherwise no parking area so bear this in mind in peak summer season. If you are traveling from central Antibes, you can also take Envibus number 2 (Eden Roc line) and it stops at ‘Chemin de la Salis’ stop near to the garden.

The garden itself is on 3.5 hectares and has over 2,500 trees and shrubs. There is the main building Villa Thuret which was closed as botanical researchers use it, also a greenhouse and a small gardien’s building with public toilet (no baby changing facility). A statue bust of Gustave Thuret (a French botanist who created the garden) casts a watchful eye from under the canopy of pine trees.

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Villa Thuret

Most trees have signage with their latin names, species and place of origin.  It was nice to see Mediterranean species, also trees from Chile, Australasia and south-east Asia.

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Jardin Thuret

We saw cyclads, pine trees, conifers, palms, eucalyptus trees, cypress trees, water lilies and there is even a small bamboo forest.

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pond with water lilies

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bamboo forest

As you meander along the paths, keep alert for wildlife – birds, insects, lizards and squirrels. And mosquitoes, so bring insect repellent. The paths are made of small gravel chip so it is accessible for baby strollers/buggies though it’s suited for sturdier off-road types of buggy. There are no stairs in the garden but wheelchair visitors may struggle as there are big rocks occasionally in the path, and also the site is on a slight incline.

The upsides:
– Relatively quiet botanical garden with huge variety of trees and shrubs
– Easily accessible from Antibes or Juan les Pins, and suitable for a short visit of 30 minutes – 1 hour.  I wouldn’t recommend it for a longer visit unless you have a particular interest in botany as there are no facilities onsite (e.g. cafeteria, playground, boutique)
– Free entry
– Stroller/buggy accessible (though it is not paved, it is doable)
– Onsite public toilet

The downsides are:
– Carparking may be difficult in summer
– Nowhere to sit! there are no park benches, only a handful of seats made from tree trunks so it lacks somewhere to rest or enjoy a snack or the view
– Mosquitoes

As I find with many attractions in France, they don’t capitalise on tourism potential. This would be a lovely site for a tearooms in the Villa Thuret! or even a shaded terrace to eat an ice-cream and enjoy the green view.  We enjoyed our visit to Jardin Thuret and I appreciate and understand they probably would like it to remain unspoiled, it has an almost overgrown, unkempt feel about it and perhaps that is one of it’s charms.

Villa Thuret, 90 chemin Raymond, Cap d’Antibes
Open: Monday-Friday 08:30am-5:30pm (winter), 08:30am-6pm (summer) (year-round it is closed weekends and public holidays)
Free entry (excluding large groups who must prebook and pay a nominal fee)

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Activities – VILLENEUVE LOUBET (Rives du Loup river walk)

It is great to find a nature walk that is accessible if you have a baby stroller/buggy, or you are wheelchair bound. Even better if it is uncrowded and has little noise from traffic. Keep reading for details on a lovely riverside walk that is only 10 minutes from the coast on the French Riviera.

The river Loup runs beside the village of Villeneuve Loubet to La Colle sur Loup, and has numerous spots for quiet walking, picnics, cycling and fishing. This walk departs from near to Villeneuve Loubet:

– From the A8 highway, take exit 47 and get onto the D2D road, avenue des Plan. Follow this road for 5 minutes in the direction of ‘Villeneuve Loubet village’ and you will come to a rond point (roundabout) intersection where an arched bridge on the right goes over the river (D2085 road, avenue de la Libération) to Villeneuve Loubet village.

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bridge over River Loup to Villeneuve Loubet

– Cross the bridge and take the first road on the left (avenue de la Liberté) and you will see a large carpark on the left beside the river that you can park your car at.

– Cross the river at the small pedestrian bridge at the end of the carpark.

– As you cross the bridge, you will notice the riverside path goes both left and right directions. To the left, just out of sight by the roundabout is the entrance to adventure park Pitchoun Forest (admission payable). There are free public picnic tables in a small grassed area under the bridge, and also accessible public eco-toilets here for walkers along the riverside. To the right, is a flat pathway that follows beside the River Loup for many kilometres.

– The walking path is wide enough for strollers, wheelchairs, cycles, dog-walkers, runners to share. It is occasionally used as a vehicle track so be aware. You may see groups of cyclists from the nearby Pitchoun Forest park cycling to the start of their rope-climbing adventure.

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Rives du Loup river walk

– It is shaded along the pathway, there are also numerous spots to access the river and we saw many families with dogs splashing in the water, and toddlers sitting in shallow pools. There were lots of fish to look at (I’m not sure what type of fish? it looks like trout but I’m not an expert!).

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Rives du Loup river walk

– Because the pathway is so long, you have flexibility on the distance of your walk – it was certainly manageable for us to keep our 2-year old son entertained with walking and looking at the trees, insects, river.  And afterwards, you could picnic beside the river or visit Villeneuve Loubet for an ice-cream or pizza.

– I would recommend this nature walk for a family-friendly free activity.

How to write a French cheque

A blog for tourists and expats

I started this blog as a travel advisory resource for families holidaying in the region and travellers who have limited mobility, however I receive comments from many readers who live here permanently that they find my blog helpful.  I’m pleased that people are finding my blog a source of information and inspiration!

Paperwork in France

As an ex-pat living in France, one of the main struggles I have is with paperwork.  Filling in forms everywhere you go in France.  And having to provide the same information constantly to different companies and departments, who in most other countries could just accept a scanned copy, right? WRONG!  Send the original…..with copies….and proof of your address….and copies of your identification etc  etc etc…If you manage to get away with just one visit to any official department or office, you are either lucky or they will wait 6 months and then contact you to advise you to bring something else for ‘their dossier’.

Communication in French

My partner’s French is terrible.  Not in the sense of his pronunciation or grammar; just terrible in his efforts to be understood.

Visiting the bank, syndicate office, insurance company makes him nervous as he has lived here for many years but struggles past single-sentence conversations with French people.

I accompanied him to his bank to arrange an important meeting for a new business account and all went well – until he received a new French cheque book in the post.  His face turned to stone with the realisation he would have to write French numbers and words.

The difference between a French cheque and what you may be used to elsewhere

Writing a French cheque is simple, there are just six spaces to complete but accuracy is key.

If you are American, the main thing to remember is the French put the day before the month when writing dates.

Another of the main differences is that the top space is for the amount of the cheque written in words (French), not the beneficiary.

Top tip: There is a handy website www.euro-cheque.com where you type the numbers in and it translates from English to French the exact words to write on your cheque. Example:  Type in 35,12 and it translates ‘trente-cinq euros et douze centimes’.   I’m sure this website has saved many cheques being ripped up and thrown away.

Free downloadable cheat-sheet on writing a French cheque

So, to help make life easier for my partner (and for myself, by eliminating the nagging questions whenever he raises a French cheque!), I created a cheat-sheet reminder which my partner printed out.  He placed one copy into his banking folder, and the other copy is proudly fixed to the inside cover of his cheque book to take everywhere with him and remind him ‘how to write a French cheque’.

Here is my free downloadable example, click on the link Frenchcheque

Have you had any cheque-writing disasters in France?  Ever struggled with the English to French translation of numbers like my partner?  Hopefully other non-French expats find my cheat-sheet useful as well !   Please share on Facebook and retweet on Twitter if you think this blog post could help others