New company, Bébé à broad, eases stress of family travel on the French Riviera

The challenges of family travel with little ones

A few years ago, I flew long-haul with my baby son and due to a change of airline I had to collect our belongings from the luggage carousel in Melbourne, Australia before checking in again for our next flight.

The airport queues were long. The luggage carousels were busy. There were no luggage trolleys left, and no airport staff to assist.

It was a nightmare for a parent flying solo with a baby.

Eventually, I found a luggage trolley and had all of our belongings – 1 large suitcase, 1 large duffel bag, a pushchair, plus carry-on bag with diapers, baby food, clothing.

flying solo with my 4.5 month-old son, this was my nightmare at Melbourne airport

flying solo with my 4.5 month-old son, this was my nightmare at Melbourne airport

A helpful airport employee – who told me she was a mother too – helped me haul all our stuff through immigration and to the next check-in counter with 15 minutes to spare. I never knew her name, but whoever she is she saved my sanity that day.

Things don’t always go to plan

I thought my ‘flying with kids’ experience would improve – until a year later I flew from Singapore to France with everything destination-labelled, stacked and labelled again and my son’s pushchair never appeared at all on the carousel.

After an endless lengthy wait and with no staff available who spoke English to lodge a missing item report, we had no option but to leave the airport without our pushchair.

With these two examples, in hindsight, I didn’t need to travel with our car seat (a family member hired one locally) and our regular pushchair was more a burden than a saviour when transiting multiple international airports.

Being a parent can be hard work and things don’t always go to plan so if I can eliminate any stress with family travel it’s a winner for me.

Let Bébé à broad do the hard work for you

I’m pleased the French Riviera has a new company – Bébé à broad – that offers solutions to ease the travel burden for other families visiting this region.

In a nutshell, Bébé à broad is a baby equipment and toy hire company so whether you are traveling for the holidays or visiting family, rather than you bring your own childcare items for feeding, sleeping, bath time, playtime and transport they will rent it to you for the duration of your holiday.

bébé à broad offers baby equipment and toy hire on the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera)

bébé à broad offers baby equipment and toy hire on the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera)

Why should you hire childcare equipment?

Travel light: With Bébe à broad, you eliminate the need to pay excess baggage costs and having less luggage with you means it saves time and effort for your family, especially at French Riviera train stations that have lots of stairs or busy airport luggage carousels.

Convenience: Pre-booking your equipment means more time to enjoy your family time, whether you are here for one week or one month.  Your order will be delivered and collected from your holiday address whether it be a self-catering apartment, a villa or yacht.

Stress-free: No driving around an unfamiliar country sourcing stores that sell age-appropriate toys, or wondering whether your own car seat is legal under European regulations. Bébé à broad will have everything ready to go on your arrival, customised to your child’s age.

Last-minute emergencies: If you have ever arrived at your destination and realised you have forgotten to pack that one special toy, or checked-in to your accommodation and realise there’s no baby cot then Bébé à broad can help with a selection of age-appropriate toys, baby cots and other forgotten items.

5 top reasons why you should choose Bébé à broad:

1.   Bébé à broad’s owner is a mother herself of two children so you are not just hiring from any company – you are hiring from someone who is familiar with the preparation required and challenges of traveling with kids.

2. Clean and safe baby equipment including:

  • Travel cots and mattresses
  • Pushchairs and strollers
  • Car seats and booster seats
  • High chairs
  • Baby baths
  • Baby monitors
  • Safety gates
  • Play pens
  • Toy boxes
  • Beach packs

3. Delivery and collection of your hired equipment across the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) from Saint-Tropez to Monaco means you can stay where you want and get what you need

bébé à broad rents baby equipment between Saint-Tropez and Monaco

bébé à broad rents baby equipment between Saint-Tropez and Monaco

4. Cost-effective rental rates means there’s no need to purchase large expensive items or toys on your holiday that never get played with again

5. English-speaking company means you can avoid any miscommunication or errors in translations of baby equipment, sizes or ages in French

If you are visiting the French Riviera, you can pre-book directly with them via:

Website: www.bebeabroad.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bebeabroad

Or follow them on Twitter @bebeabroad

What is your best (or worst) travel experience with children? Share your story by leaving me a comment, message me about it http://www.facebook.com/accessriviera, or tweet me @accessriviera

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5 original places on the French Riviera to pop the question

Why visit the French Riviera

The Côte d’Azur – or French Riviera as it is commonly referred to by non-French people – is famous for epitomising an image of fabulous, sun-filled days.

It is true that the French Riviera tempts tourists with promises of cocktails on sun loungers, French cuisine and strolling through cobblestoned villages but there is so much more to the region than this.

Where to propose on the French Riviera

The region is a popular choice for weddings with venues ranging from luxury villas, castles, vineyards, private beaches, hotels and restaurants.

But what about before the big day? Where would you go to pop the question on the French Riviera?

Forget about a clichéd luxury hotel or yacht, or the Michelin-starred restaurants – here are Access Riviera’s picks for 5 original places on the French Riviera to pop the question:

1.   Orion Treehouses in Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the most visited villages on the French Riviera, and this area is home to the Orion Treehouses.

Orion Treehouses, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Orion Treehouses, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

A unique bed-and-breakfast resort, the treehouses blend into the surrounding forest and have a view to Saint-Paul-de-Vence village.

Oriontable

One of the distinctive features of the resort is a natural swimming pool that is chlorine and chemical-free.

natural swimming pool at Orion Treehouses

natural swimming pool at Orion Treehouses

They also offer an eco-friendly sauna, massage with essential oils and yoga lessons to ensure your well-being and relaxation.   www.orionbb.com

2. Circuit d’Aiguille

The Massif de l’Esterel owes it’s rust-red hue to rhyolite, an igneous volcanic rock, and the contrast of the red rock to the turquoise ocean is stunning along the N98 coastal road.

Esterel rocks on the N98 coastal road

Esterel rocks on the N98 coastal road

At the edge of the Esterel mountains, near Théoule-sur-Mer you will find the Circuit d’Aiguille, an easy hiking trail that leads past the red rocks to sheltered pebble beaches.

secluded beaches on the Circuit d'Aiguille

secluded beaches on the Circuit d’Aiguille

The path continues up through a forest track past mimosas and fragrant lavender ending at lookout spots most tourists don’t venture to for some seclusion and a birds-eye view over the Gulf of La Napoule.

3. Batterie de la Convention on Île Sainte-Marguerite

The Lérins Islands off the coast of Cannes are a popular tourist destination on the French Riviera.

Île Sainte-Marguerite, the larger of the two islands, is frequently visited for trips to the Musée de la Mer in Fort Royal, where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned.

But few people wander over to the lesser known (and less visited) ruins at the other end of this island. You reach them by following the eucalyptus and pine-fringed Route de la Convention that dissects the middle of the island.

eucalyptus and pine-fringed pathways dissect Île Sainte-Marguerite

eucalyptus and pine-fringed pathways dissect Île Sainte-Marguerite

Take a bottle of champagne and a picnic and sit beside your own private French ruins.

A photo of me trying  to break into Batterie de la Convention

A photo of me trying to break into Batterie de la Convention

4. Col de Vence

Situated between the towns of Vence and Coursegoules, the Col de Vence is an alpine hill that is popular for hiking, cyclists and pony schools.

Col de Vence in winter

Col de Vence in winter

The Col de Vence’s main attractions are the panoramic views across the French Riviera and the rocky terrain similar to being on the moon.

Barren and under-populated, it’s a great place for quiet moments and stargazing at the Riviera sky due to it’s light pollution.

Col de Vence moonscape

Col de Vence moonscape

It’s also a reputed area for UFO sightings so chances are you’ll end up with a great engagement story regardless.

5. A Mongolian yurt in Villars sur Var

Villars sur Var is 45 minutes from Nice and a favoured destination for hiking, canoeing and rock climbing.

If that sounds like your idea of bliss, Yurts of Domettte rent two Mongolian yurts in a wooded park overlooking the Var river.

Yurts of Domette, Villars sur Var

Yurts of Domette, Villars sur Var

It’s glamour-free but secluded, and a perfect place to swim in the Var river, and listen to birdsong while swinging in a hammock. www.yourtes-de-domette.com

Disclosure: Access Riviera does not act on behalf or have any sales or marketing affiliations to any of the companies mentioned in this article.  All opinions are my own, if you like them share on Facebook or retweet this on Twitter

 

2 reasons to visit the French Riviera at any time of the year

Reason 1:   Large-scale events

The French Riviera is known internationally for large-scale events, and in particular February, May and July are ‘festival’ months here.

Some of the major large-scale events with international television and print media coverage include:

Cannes Film Festival  https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/sightseeing-cannes-film-festival-on-a-budget-14-25-may-2014/

Monaco Grand Prix https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/activities-monaco-monaco-grand-prix-22may-25may-2014/

Jazz à Juan (Juan les Pins Jazz Festival)  https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/mojitos-music-at-the-juan-les-pins-jazz-festival/

Other main events on the French Riviera include:

  • Nice Carnival
  • Nice Jazz Festival
  • Mimosa Festival (Fête du Mimosa)
  • Lemon Festival (Fête du Citron)
  • Monte-Carlo Circus Festival
  • Antibes/Cannes/Monaco Yacht shows
  • Pantiero festival
  • Events at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes such as MIPEM, ILTM, Cannes Lions.

Reason 2:  Small local events and festivals

Whether you are interested in art, history, music or sports there are plenty of free local events and festivals throughout the year.

One of our favourites is Biot and the Templars (Biot et Les Templiers), a medieval weekend with jousting displays and traditional workshops. https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/sightseeing-biot-biot-les-templiers/

There are also many fireworks displays, also known as Festival Pyromélodique, on the French Riviera in summer months, including https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/fireworks-in-juan-les-pins-and-antibes-2014/

The French Riviera has many cultural festivals celebrating their traditions including:

  • Bataille des Fleurs parades (Battle of the Flowers)
  • Fête Napoleon (re-enactment of Napoleon’s landing at Golfe Juan)
  • Fête de la Saint-Pierre (a festival to honour the patron saint of fishermen and the sea)
  • Fête de la Châtaigne (a festival celebrating chestnuts including tastings of delicious roasted chestnuts)
  • Journées du Patrimoine (held in September 2014, free entrance to museums and other cultural/historical sites. For the French Riviera region, click on this link to see where to go) http://www.journees-du-patrimoine-2014.com/DEPARTEMENT/journees-patrimoine-06-alpes-maritimes.htm

Did you find this blog post helpful?  Share on Facebook, retweet this on Twitter and leave your comments.

Villa Kerylos: A Greek dream in southern France

How a Greek dream began in southern France

Built in 1908 by archaeologist Théodore Reinach, Villa Kérylos is a reproduction of a wealthy 5th century BC Athenian home.

Villa Kerylos, Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Villa Kerylos, Beaulieu-sur-Mer

The Villa has a prime location overlooking the Bay of Beaulieu, Baie des Fourmis and St Jean Cap Ferrat with sea views from most rooms.

view across to St Jean Cap Ferrat

view across to St Jean Cap Ferrat

The gardens have herbs and Mediterranean plant and flower specimens, and are signposted with plant names.

The Villa is a time-capsule of Greece transplanted on the French Riviera – there are great examples of mosaics, ironworks including chandeliers, marble, ivory and bronze statues.

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Layout and accessibility of the Villa

  • Entrance for ticket purchase: Contains a small gift shop and is flat, ground level and accessible.
  • Entrance to the Villa: This is via 5 large steps, see photo below
Entrance to Villa Kerylos - this photo is reproduced from paca.culture.gouv site as my own photos cropped out the stairs!

Entrance to Villa Kerylos – this photo is reproduced from paca.culture.gouv site as my own photos cropped out the stairs!

  • Interior of the Villa: The interior is laid out over a few levels. Ground level has the marble bathroom with sunken bath with mosaics, courtyard, library and salons and is entirely accessible for persons with reduced mobility.
sunken mosaic bath at Villa Kerylos

sunken mosaic bath at Villa Kerylos

patio / interior courtyard, Villa Kerylos

patio / interior courtyard, Villa Kerylos

  • There is a first floor which unfortunately is accessed via stairs only so not accessible for persons with restricted mobility, and this contains bedrooms, bathroom etc.

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  • The basement level has an antiquities gallery and is used for ceramic workshops; once again accessed via stairs.

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  • Villa grounds: The outdoor areas are flat (excluding a small area of steps by the garden to a lookout area over the adjacent port), and the ground surface is gravel chip so bear this in mind. The ground surface is manageable with baby strollers, but may be harder to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.

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How to get to Villa Kérylos

  • By car: There is no onsite carparking at Villa Kérylos, and very limited carparking on rue Gustave Eiffel as it is used by residents in that street. The best option is to park at the nearest public carpark named ‘Place de la Batterie’ located on boulevard Maréchal Leclerc, and the Villa is then less than 5 minutes walking distance.
  • By bus: From Nice, with Lignes Azur take bus number 81 (click here for timetable ligne 81 current at July 2014) – there is a designated bus stop to get off at named ‘Kérylos’. From Monaco or Menton, bus number 100 (click here for timetable, Bus 100 Menton-Monaco-Nice current at July 2014), get off at bus stop ‘Gare SNCF Beaulieu’. You can also take bus 100 from Nice but get off at stop ‘Kérylos’ as the routing is different in both directions.
  • By train: Villa Kérylos is located less than 10 minutes easy stroll from the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station.

DSC03854

My tips for visiting Villa Kérylos

  • Beaulieu Tourist Office is located right outside the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station if you require maps or local information.
  • When you purchase your entry ticket at the Villa, ensure you receive the free audioguide (it is available in 7 languages.). It is excellent for providing history about the exhibits and rooms at the Villa and brings the Villa to life. The audioguide is a hand-held unit and it’s easy to use for any techno-phobes not confident with technology, and the best part is you can wander the Villa in your own time and listen to only the commentaries of exhibits you like or skip to the next commentary if a particular item is not interesting enough for you.

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  • There is no onsite restaurant at the Villa so take your own food/beverages. There is however a coin-operated vending machine selling drinks at the entrance. The Villa has seating outside overlooking the bay, but please respect the Villa grounds and take any rubbish away with you.
  • If you are arriving by train, there is a Casino supermarket (a French-chain) on the way from the train station to the Villa that sells sandwiches, fruit, cold drinks. It is located on avenue des Hellènes.

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  • There are accessible ground-level toilets at the entrance to the Villa. These are the only toilets at the Villa.
  • For families, there is a public playground located 5 minutes from Villa Kérylos at the park on avenue Fernand Dunan .
  • For a discounted entry price to Villa Kerylos, take advantage of 2 options:

1.  If you also intending to visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild you can purchase a combined entry ticket for both Villas at the ticket office which gives you a discount, it is called ‘2 Pass Villas’.

2. If you have arrived to Beaulieu by train using a local train (TER SNCF) from any origin along the Côte d’Azur using either an unlimited daily ‘Zou pass’, or a stand alone sector ticket, show them your validated train ticket at the Villa’s ticket counter and ask for the discounted entry price. You must visit the Villa on the same day as your train travel. More info here: http://www.ter.sncf.com/paca/loisirs/promos-bons-plans/villas-kerylos-ephrussi

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Have you visited Villa Kérylos before? If not, have you found my blog article useful for insider tips and local knowledge? Share these tips on Facebook, retweet on Twitter and leave your comments with your own travel stories.

Rome2rio – why I’m willing to give them a second chance

I am a big fan of travel tools that enhance our travel experience, save us time and money and earn us brownie points in recommending the ‘coolness’ factor to friends and family.

acrylic-world-globe-23319416

Being an ex-travel agent, I have used many booking systems and methods over the years to secure reservations or source destination information including face-to-face meetings, paper forms, electronic, telephone, fax.   Fax!   Can you believe it?

I come from the era of paper airline tickets, filing cabinets to store client itineraries and hard-cover atlas books.

8913341-opened-old-atlas-book-on-the-spread-map-background

I’m not a technophobe, but I’m also not super-knowledgeable with technology so I find great benefit in advances in technology that simplify your life, not complicate it.

One thing I do know is that people prefer systems that are simple to use, and accurate.

Enter Rome2rio.

An Australian-based company, they offer a travel search engine that professes to return itineraries for air, train, coach, ferry, mass-transit and driving to and from any location. Genius I thought!   This could replace airline route searches, Google maps, Waze, ViaMichelin road directions, and all those other websites and apps we as consumers use.

Five things Rome2rio does well:

1. Fast results – Every search I completed was quick.

2. Transport icons easy to understand – You don’t need to be clued up to realise a plane icon symbolises an air sector, a train symbolises a train journey and so on

3. Calendar for airfares – Great idea as airfares fluctuate depending on seasonality and special deals. This could improve to also show ‘cheapest’ airfare for the departure month as sometimes the price difference between consecutive days is immense.

4. Ability to access suppliers from search results – Book direct with airline, coach, train operators and save time searching for suppliers who operate those routes.

5. Free mobile application – Handy to have for travellers who get flustered on the move

Five things Rome2rio could improve:

1. Tips n Tricks – Only 3 Tips n Tricks to save my time/money/patience using this tool – really?

2. Not everyone wants to tweet or email their search result – however, they are working on a print feature for search results

3. The regional coverage maps with Transport/Road/Satellite views – what are they delivering me that is a function I can’t get somewhere else already? Road/Satellite views can already be found on Google Maps.

To be honest, the Transport view looks like a hash of spiderwebs and could be very intimidating to the average traveller. I travel solo, and with my family and if I looked at the Transport view trying to ascertain the best transport route for my family it would scare the bejesus out of me.

It would be beneficial if you could click point-to-point on this map view and highlight all the sectors you do need.

Transport view on Rome2rio - scares the bejesus out of me organising family travel

Transport view on Rome2rio – scares the bejesus out of me organising family travel

4. The ‘Airlines’ page – The airline icons are displayed in order by ‘2-letter airline code’ e.g. Great Lakes (ZK), Monarch Air (ZB) etc. However, the average consumer has no idea about airline codes, IATA codes or industry classifications and will read this page alphabetically by airline name. Make the airline links easy to find or readers will leave the page.

5. Landmarks or attractions should be location-specific in the search – In one of my searches, I typed ‘Musée Picasso’ (2 words only) intending to return a result for the Musée Picasso in Antibes, France. The result directed me to ‘Musée Picasso’ in Paris, resulting in me running another more specific search for ‘Musée Picasso, Antibes, France’.

My feedback on Rome2rio search results:

I decided to test some basic point-to-point searches e.g. Point A to Point B, sticking to journeys in one country only (I haven’t included my opinion on their affiliation commissions as I ran these searches as a ‘consumer’ looking for travel route information).

How difficult can it be to get from A to B?

How difficult can it be to get from A to B?

Below are four searches I conducted on Rome2rio for regions familiar to me, and all of them did not display optimal results from my perspective as having local knowledge and previous travel-booking experience in both travel retail and wholesale industries. See my findings below:

Search One:

Searched Gare de Juan-les-Pins – Musée Picasso on @rome2rio: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Gare-de-Juan-les-Pins/Mus%C3%A9e-Picasso-Place-Mariejol-06600-Antibes-France

1.   I wanted to search from the Juan les Pins train station in southern France to the Picasso Museum in Antibes, France. Note:   Juan les Pins train station and Picasso Museum are both English search phrases, so my search did not function until I entered the correct local terms in French ‘Gare de Juan les Pins’ and ‘Musée Picasso’. Be specific in the local language. Musée Picasso had to also be location-specific to avoid a result diverting to the Musée Picasso in Paris.

Musée Picasso, Antibes (image antibes.ca)

Musée Picasso, Antibes (image antibes.ca)

2. The search result showed Bus 250 as optimal. This is not the optimal bus route, as Bus 250 requires a 5- minute walk from the station and then 10-minutes walk from the stop in Antibes to Musée Picasso. The optimal bus route is not shown at all – Bus 30/31 has a stop that is 2 minutes from the station, and 5 minutes walk from the Musée.

Search Two:

Searched Lérins Islands – Château de la Napoule on @rome2rio: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/L%C3%A9rins-Islands/Ch%C3%A2teau-de-la-Napoule

1. I wanted to search how to get from the Lérins Islands (off the coast of Cannes) to Château de la Napoule, a tourist location in Mandelieu-La Napoule on the mainland.

2. A complete fail. The search results failed to link the islands to the mainland in Cannes in any way, even though there is a ferry company that travels between Isle St-Honorat and Cannes.

Ile St-Honorat (image: cannes.com)

Ile St-Honorat (image: cannes.com)

Search Three:

Searched Juan-les-Pins – St Paul de Vence on @rome2rio: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Juan-les-Pins/St-Paul-de-Vence

1. I ran a search from Juan les Pins, France to St Paul de Vence, a popular tourist village in south-east France. I chose St Paul de Vence as a destination as I have local knowledge that it is not easy to get to from Juan les Pins using public transport as it is inland, and also there is no train station in the vicinity.

St Paul de Vence (image spdv.com)

St Paul de Vence (image spdv.com)

2. Search result #1 (train + bus) is accurate by routing, transport operator and price, and is the best option. Search result #2 (taxi) is correct, but I’m surprised a taxi option features before a self-drive option. Search result #3 is completely unrealistic and herein lies one of Rome2rio’s major flaws in my opinion – why would a traveller take a train from Juan les Pins to Monaco past the next city (Nice) with transport that could get them to their destination faster then fly back to Nice to take a bus to their final destination? A traveller who chooses to fly from Monaco to Nice (the options being private jet or helicopter) is not the same person who would also travel by local train and public bus all on the same itinerary.

If you think St Paul de Vence sounds like a lovely place to visit – it is – click on the link for my free walking tour itineraries of St Paul de Vence https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/sightseeing-saint-paul-de-vence/

After three decidedly average search results, I was beginning to think my France-based searches with Rome2rio were doomed. So, I thought I’d conduct a search for a journey somewhere on the other side of the world…

Search Four:

Searched Opua – Russell on @rome2rio: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Opua/Russell-New-Zealand

1. I conducted a search for travel itinerary advice in one of the most popular tourist regions in New Zealand – the Bay of Islands. I wanted to get from Opua, a small harbour town to Russell, another small tourist town located across the harbour.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand (image: awesomenz)

Bay of Islands, New Zealand (image: awesomenz)

2. The first search result was quite good, though the driving time of 4 minutes from Opua Hill to Paihia ferry terminal is completely unachievable unless there is no road traffic and you are driving a Porsche. The journey route is correct though (drive and ferry).

3. The second search option (by taxi) is ridiculous. It leads the traveller to believe there is only one route to get from Opua to Russell via car and that journey would take them 2 hours 23 minutes (not to mention expensive if you travelled by taxi!). In fact, Opua has a vehicle ferry that travels a short trip across the bay to Okiato and from there you can drive to Russell in 10 minutes.

Why I’m willing to give Rome2Rio a second chance:

Delivering a one-stop shop for information on transport operators, driving options and routings is a big ask. It’s not unachievable, but it’s hard to maintain yourself as a source of information when so much of your offering (i.e. travel information) relies on accuracy from other places including the websites of the transport operators.

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Factor into this the potential for airline delays, transport strikes (very common here in France), internet connection problems, grumpy kids on long journeys, adverse weather conditions, bank holidays, local languages and that static and seemingly simple Point A-to-Point B via Options 1, 2 and 3 suddenly becomes a pipedream.

Why am I willing to give Rome2rio a second chance? I believe they have potential to improve what is essentially helpful information. There is a lot I see in their system that has been designed from a software point-of-view, but maybe they need to take a step back and reconsider how people across a range of ages, backgrounds and nationalities would use this website. A multi-destination young backpacker on a RTW itinerary would use this website differently than a pensioner in the UK who wants to book a simple coach trip from Brighton to Manchester.

But I look at a hash of spiderwebs on a map and have the bejesus scared out of me, so who am I to comment?

Have you used Rome2rio and found it useful for your travel planning? Have your Rome2rio search results been accurate and helped you on your journeys? Have your Rome2rio search results lead you astray on your travels? Share my article on Facebook, retweet it and leave some comments!

 

Fireworks in Juan les Pins and Antibes 2014

The Chinese are globally known for their amazing fireworks displays, and major cities around the world including London, New York and Sydney throw huge fireworks displays each year – notably to ring in New Years Eve – but did you know Antibes and Juan les Pins have free public fireworks displays every year?

Here are the dates and locations for 2014:

ANTIBES FIREWORKS

13 July 2014 – 10pm, plage du Ponteil (Salis beach)

24 August 2014 – 10pm, plage de la Brague between La Siesta and Fort Carré

JUAN LES PINS FIREWORKS

14 July 2014 (Fête Nationale) – 10pm, promenade du Soleil

01 August 2014  – 10pm, as above

08 August 2014 10pm, as above

15 August 2014 – 10pm, as above

My tip:  For the Juan les Pins fireworks, the best spot to watch is anywhere on the seafront stretch between Le Ruban Bleu restaurant and Sun7 restaurant.

Festival Pyromélodique, Juan les Pins fireworks

Festival Pyromélodique, Juan les Pins fireworks

 

Mojitos & music at the Juan les Pins Jazz Festival

Today, I visited the concert venue for the popular Jazz à Juan (Juan les Pins Jazz Festival) which begins this Friday (11 July) and has nightly concerts until 20 July 2014.

Jazz à Juan (logo image reproduced by official website)

Jazz à Juan (logo image reproduced by official website)

The concert location at Pinede Gould is a lovely setting under the pine trees looking out across the Mediterranean towards Île St-Marguerite and towards Cannes and the Esterel mountains. It’s a magic place for listening to music as the sun sets.

Pinede Gould, Juan les Pins Jazz Festival

Pinede Gould, Juan les Pins Jazz Festival

The festival line-up this year includes:

  • Nile Rodgers who is scheduled to appear the opening night with The Family Stone so get your dancing shoes ready!
  • George Benson
  • Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke duet
  • Booker T Jones
  • Joss Stone is no stranger to these shores and brings her powerful, soulful voice to the Pinede Gould on Wednesday 16 July.
  • Saturday 19 July will be another night to get your dancing shoes out. Start with a Cuban mojito at one of the nearby bars then head to the festival as Pedrito Martinez and Orquesta Aragon are sure to inject a little Cuban spice to your night.
  • My personal favourite, Jamie Cullum is making a return to Juan les Pins, and I highly recommend him as a live performer, he is energetic and interacts with the audience.  The French are renown for clapping when they enjoy music; let’s change this, this man deserves no-holds barred dancing.
  • The most anticipated concert night is Gregory Porter and Stevie Wonder – tickets sold like hot cakes! Did you manage to secure a ticket?

My Jazz à Juan tips:

– First visit to the festival and/or Juan les Pins? There is a Jazz Walk-of-Fame outside the concert venue set into the pavement where stars who have played at the festival over the years have left their handprints in the concrete. Includes: B.B King, Ray Charles, Keith Jarrett, Little Richard and more. Do the tourist thing and line up your own paws for size comparison. I can confirm mine are smaller than B.B. Kings.

Jazz Walk-of-Fame, Juan les Pins (image: Wikimedia)

Jazz Walk-of-Fame, Juan les Pins (image: Wikimedia)

– Take cash in small denominations for the bar at the concert venue. You can buy a beer or wine to enjoy during the concert. There are food vendors but unless they have upgraded the selection then you are limited to hot dogs, paninis and baguettes.

– There are accessible toilets at the concert (Portaloos), or before the concert stop for a drink and use the bathroom at one of the many adjacent bars or restaurants. The Pinede park also has an automated accessible public pay toilet (50 centimes) that you can use prior/after the concert.

– If you have restricted mobility, the ground surface at the concert venue is flat. The ticket booth and entrances are flat and concrete-paved, and inside the venue the ground surface is hard dirt so it’s manoeuvrable for wheelchairs.

– In conjunction with the main concerts at the Pinede Gould, Thursday 17 July sees a series of multiple free jazz concerts throughout Antibes and Juan les Pins. Over 200 musicians will take to the streets and emphasise why being in the region during Jazz Festival time is so exciting. Antibes locations for the free concerts are place de Gaulle and boulevard d’Aiguillon. Juan les Pins locations include petite Pinede near the main concert venue and the seafront promenade du Soleil.

Juan les Pins Jazz Festival

Juan les Pins Jazz Festival

How to get to the Juan les Pins Jazz Festival:

By car: Coming from Antibes, travel down boulevard Président Wilson and Juan les Pins is easy to locate. The nearest pay carpark to the venue is under the Palais des Congrès.

By bus:

  1. Bus 200 from Nice or Cannes direction: Alight at stop ‘La Regence’ in Juan les Pins, and then follow avenue Amiral Courbet to the seafront; at the seafront continue walking left to the venue.
  2. Bus 30 or 31: Alight at stop ‘Palais des Congrès’ in Juan les Pins, cross the road and walk across the park with the pine trees to the venue.
  3. Bus 1: Alight at stop ‘Pin Doré’, follow boulevard Baptistin Ardisson until you pass the Palais des Congrès, then you can cross the road and walk through the park with the pine trees to the venue.

The best spots for a pre-concert drink:

  • Le Crystal – A Juan les Pins institution, great for people-watching
  • Le New Orleans – Jazz-themed bar across from the Pinede park
  • News Caffé – Newly opened at the Palais des Congrès with plenty of outside seating. They have Wifi too.
Le New Orleans jazz bar, Juan les Pins

Le New Orleans jazz bar, Juan les Pins

Looking for something fun to do before a concert?

  • Tuk Tuk Azur can customise a sightseeing tour for you. Take in the scenery on the Cap d’Antibes, then stop at a bar in Juan les Pins for a cocktail before the concert. Book in advance to secure your spot as availability is in demand to the popularity of the festival. Bookings via www.tuktukazur.com

(I have no sales or commission affiliation with any of these companies, all opinions are my own)

Official Festival website: www.jazzajuan.com

Like what you see here? Please share my blog post on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, comment below etc and I’ll share the love back. There may be a mojito involved or I may potentially bribe you for a Jamie Cullum or Stevie Wonder ticket but I’ll appreciate it anyway.