Les Vendanges – getting to grips with the grape harvest in France

What is Les Vendanges?

Here’s a simple infographic to explain more about it:

infographic: Access Riviera

infographic: Access Riviera

During vendange months, French vineyards employ up to 300,000 workers with the highest proportion working in the Champagne and Rhone Alpes regions.

What are other factors that affect Les Vendanges?

The grape variety: white varieties usually ripen before reds.

The elevation and climate: in higher altitudes, grapes ripen later. Weather, soil and elevation of the vineyard are also influencers.

It is interesting to note that due to climate warming, the start dates of the harvest have moved forward a month over the last half century.

buckets of grapes during vendange (image: spdv.fr)

buckets of grapes during vendange (image: spdv.fr)

I notice the letters ‘AOC’ on French wine bottles all the time, what does it mean?

AOC translates to ‘Appellation d’origine contrôlée’ – in lay-mans terms this is labelling wines based on their geographical region and there are strict laws in place to protect the destinations winemaking and production. In the French Riviera region, the vineyards of Bellet are part of an AOC-classified area.

wine label for Château de Bellet showing classification as an 'Appellation controlée

wine label for Château de Bellet showing classification as an ‘Appellation côntrolée’

Where are the locations of vineyards I can visit on the French Riviera?

For a great overview of where to start on your wine-lovers tour on the French Riviera, Chrissie from Riviera Grapevine has done the research for you and compiled a nifty guide.

You can read her guide here.

Are there any French Riviera harvest festivals happening soon?

The perched village of Saint-Paul de Vence is holding a ‘Fête des Vendanges’ between 10am-7pm on Sunday 19 October 2014.

a day's bounty (image courtesy of St-Paul de Vence Tourism)

a day’s bounty (image courtesy of St-Paul de Vence Tourism)

The festival will celebrate the wine-growers of Saint-Paul, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, and Saint Jeannet with free wine tastings.

Also onsite will be market stalls with local produce growers and chestnut vendors – if you have never eaten roasted chestnuts, it’s a must-do!

Where can I get work picking grapes in France?

There are numerous places to start looking for work at French vineyards. The work may be arduous, but you usually receive meals and sometimes lodging. Having some knowledge of French language is a bonus, but not essential. Pickers during harvest time include local French residents, backpackers and viticulture students so you are certain to meet interesting people.

Here are a few websites to assist your search (I am not affilitated to any of these websites or companies and any third party information may be subject to change at any time):


www.pole-emploi.fr (under ‘Emploi recherché’, type ‘vendangeur’ which basically means ‘grape picker’.



I hope you learned something about Les Vendanges, or French wine.  If you have found this blog post informative it would be great if you could please share and retweet it.

As they say in France, ‘Santé’! so cheers to you all during Les Vendanges.


Cleaning up the French Riviera coastline with Paddling in Antibes

What are Ocean Initiatives?

Ocean Initiatives is an operation organised by Surfrider Foundation Europe to raise awareness of marine litter and the protection of lakes, rivers, the ocean and coastlines.

The public is encouraged to create awareness and action by organising clean-ups, to combat the effects that mankind has on the environment.

The clean-ups are held annually in March to coincide with media publicity, however organisers are also welcome to arrange them at any time during the year.

image:  initiativesoceanes.org

image: initiativesoceanes.org

Why get involved?

This is not just action to protect the marine environment for future generations – this is our environment we are living with right now and we can all play a part in becoming more ecologically responsible.

Where can I help on the French Riviera?

A French Riviera stand-up paddle boarding company, Paddling in Antibes, has organised a beach clean-up near Antibes for Saturday 18 October 2014.  The event starts from 8:00am.   There is no cost to participants, your only pre-requisites are time and a willing hand to help!

image: Paddling in Antibes

image: Paddling in Antibes

The clean-up meets at plage Garoupe and is focused on the Sentier du Littoral, a popular scenic coastal pathway on the Cap d’Antibes.

To register for this specific event, click here

All participants will be welcome including families – a good cause to get your kids away from their PS3’s and iPads and help the planet!

Join the event to clean up the Sentier du Littoral - the scenic Cap d'Antibes walk

Join the event to clean up the Sentier du Littoral – the scenic Cap d’Antibes walk

Are there other events I can attend?

If you are keen to organise or attend other Ocean Initiatives clean-ups throughout France (including the French Riviera) or Europe, visit their website here for locations and dates.


To book stand-up paddle boarding lessons, contact them via their website Paddling in Antibes  or connect with them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/paddling.antibes

Surfrider Foundation Europe

Ocean Initiatives

If you have an interest in our environment and waterways, please share this blog post on Facebook, or retweet on Twitter.  Thank you

Snapping up end-of-season treats in the sales – Juan les Pins

The annual ‘braderie’ (street market) of Juan les Pins is starting tomorrow and finishes on Monday 29 September.

The braderie will have over 100 retailers of Juan les Pins participate and offer discounts on clothing, accessories, jewellery and shoes.

The retail stores ply their wares outside on the streets of Juan les Pins, with shoppers, tables, boxes and hanging rails jostling for position on the pavements.

the annual Grande Braderie de Juan les Pins (image: antibesjuanlespins.com)

the annual Grande Braderie de Juan les Pins (image: antibesjuanlespins.com)

In past years, I have bought a pair of winter boots discounted from €80 to just €10, and merino sweaters for €15.

Be there early for the first bargains of each day, or visit just before the close of business to snap up the last specials of the day.

From 10am onwards.

Panoramic views at Napoleon’s prison in Antibes

The history of Fort Carré

Antibes was founded by the Greeks and settled by the Romans and was known as the town of Antipolis.

In the 14th century, Savoy’s possession of the town was contended by France until it fell to them in 1481, after which Fort Carré was built and the port, today one of the busiest on the Mediterranean coast, was fortified by Vauban.

The Fort is star-shaped, with entry via a small bridge and heavy wooden door.  Inside, are barracks for officers and a chapel, cantine and kitchen quarters.  The remparts are 43 metres high, and allow 360 degree views across to Nice, Antibes and the Cap d’Antibes.

The Fort is surrounded by 4 hectares of forest with typical Mediterranean shrubs and trees. There is also a pleasant walkway that follows the perimeter of the Fort from Antibes port back to the main road (duration approximately 15-20 minutes).

Did you know? During the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned here for 10 days.  I doubt he was entitled to enjoy the sea views, he was more likely to have been made to sit starving while the smells of the Fort kitchen wafted next to his prison cell as was so common for French fortresses in those days.

It is interesting to note that Fort Carré was never conquered.

Fort Carré, Antibes

Fort Carré, Antibes

When can you visit?

Visits to the Fort are in guided groups only that depart every 30 minutes. The guided tour is included in the entry fee, and is in French however there are printed leaflets with tourist information in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.

In July and August: Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 6pm

Other months: Open Tuesday to Friday: 12:30pm – 4:00pm and Saturday and most Sundays: 10am to 4:00pm
Last tour begins at 3:30pm.

Closed on public holidays: 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and 25th December.

Double check all opening times on www.antibes-juanlespins.com

How do you get there?

The Fort is located on the edge of Antibes port (Port Vauban), and is just 10 minutes easy stroll from Antibes train station.  If you are driving, free public carparks are located on avenue du 11 novembre across from the athletics fields.  Note: There is a gravel driveway beside the amphitheatre that leads to the Fort entrance and then you must walk 300 metres through the surrounding parkland across rocky ground.

The pathway for entrance to Fort Carré is beside the amphitheatre on the Nice side of the Fort

The pathway for entrance to Fort Carré is beside the amphitheatre on the Nice side of the Fort

What is the entrance fee?

– €3 per adult

– €1,50 for students/persons  65+ years and upwards/teachers (must all provide I.D)

– Free entry for children under 18 years, persons of disability and their accompanying companion, war veterans, journalists, students of art and archaeology.  Unaccompanied children are not allowed to enter the Fort.

There is free entry for everyone on the annual weekends of Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).

Fort Carré, Antibes

Fort Carré, Antibes

Miscellaneous information

  • The Fort is not particularly accessible for persons with restricted mobility as there are steep stairs of uneven surface inside the Fort, and the grounds around the Fort are very rocky.
  • Baby strollers would also pose some difficulty due to the terrain.
  • There is a free public toilet near the entrance to the Fort.
  • No food facilities are here.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather – take a sunhat and water for hot weather as the remparts at the top of the Fort are very exposed.

I hope you find this blog post helpful if you are planning to visit Antibes or Fort Carré. Bon voyage!



France at a glance – Guest blog post by Mike Sannitti

Before you focus on the French Riviera, you need to know a little about France as a country if you plan on moving here.

Nice, French Riviera (image: pixabay)

Nice, French Riviera (image: pixabay)

Population: 65 million

Language: French is the official language and is spoken almost exclusively throughout the country – nearly 100% of French residents speak French. There are a few dying dialects and languages such as Creole and Flemish, but French is the language you need to learn to fully understand everything.

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euros, formerly francs

*** FRANCS ARE NOW WORTHLESS. If you have francs that were never exchanged for euros, it is too late to convert them, as the deadline passed in 2012. Just save them as collector’s items.

Moving to south-east France – specifically the French Riviera

Moving to the French Riviera from another country? The French Riviera, locally known as the Côte d’Azur, is a popular destination for international travellers due to its natural beauty and the variety of available activities.

There are beaches, museums, restaurants, and snowy slopes to visit all in one area. Nice is the main city in the area and has a population of just under 400,000 residents.

You should be familiar with Nice Cote d’Azur Airport and the Port of Marseille if you are moving into this beautiful part of France. These international hubs provide the most direct route into the French Riviera for both you and your household goods.

The Port of Marseille (Marseille-Fos Port)

Marseille port (image: pixabay)

Marseille port (image: pixabay)

The Port of Marseille is the ideal port for shipping your household items to the French Riviera.

This major port is close to the Cote d’Azur and is a huge international port that accepts both commercial and personal shipments. Be sure to contact them if you are using their services directly. Most international moving companies will ship into Marseille anyway if they were given good information about your destination, so it is a good idea to know their policies even if you don’t have to contact them yourself.

Tips for shipping to the French Riviera

  • Try to get a pre-move survey so someone from the moving company can accurately assess your household.  The survey should give you a good idea what the cost of your shipment will be.
  • You will be charged for the volume of your shipment, so make sure that you choose wisely when determining what to bring with you.
  • There are different sized containers that will determine the cost of your shipment (40 ft. long containers are standard) so if you are around the borderline of a larger size, try to downscale your shipment to fit in the smaller container to save money.
  • Remember that you may arrive in France before your shipment does. Most seafaring international shipments take several weeks to reach their destination. Carry what you will need right away with you on your plane to the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport.
  • The rules for shipping items into the port are the same as rules for shipping anything into France. You can review the limitations and restrictions in the following customs regulation lists below. NOTE: All of these listed regulations are subject to change and you should always contact the French consulate in your country if you have any questions regarding immigration, visas, or customs.

Limits on Imports

France has several limitations on the quantity of certain items you can import. Here is a list of most, but not all, limited items (rules are subject to change at any time without prior notice):

  • Cigarettes: 200 units
  • Cigarillos: 100 units
  • Cigars: 50 units
  • Still wines: 4 litres
  • Beer: 16 litres
  • Spirits over 22 degrees volume: 1 litre
  • Fortified wines, 22 degrees volume or less: 2 litres
  • Medications: Depends on the nature of the traveller’s need for them, travel with proof of your prescription
  • Motor fuel: 10 litres or less

 Things to keep in mind when importing

  • Duty and tax exemptions can apply to individuals, but not groups.
  • High value items worth more than the maximum exempt amount will be subject to duties and taxes.
  • You can bring personal items like guitars or bicycles into France and not be charged any taxes or fees as long as they are for personal use and not sold or thrown away in France.
  • All personal items declared at customs when you arrive in France must be taken back with you when you leave.

Prohibited Items 

Be aware of what is classed as a prohibited item when importing to France (image: pixamag)

Be aware of what is classed as a prohibited item when importing to France (image: pixabay)

Regular citizens are not allowed to import the following prohibited items into France:

  • Paints, polishes, and cleaning chemicals
  • Illegal or undocumented drugs and narcotics
  • Live plants
  • Ivory and all animal skins
  • Pornographic materials
  • Explosives, matches
  • Counterfeit goods or currency

Restricted Items

Some articles require special authorisation or the payments of duties and taxes to clear French customs. These items include, but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol: must be inventoried separate from the rest of the shipment with brand name, type, amount, number of bottles, and value indicated (Import License or liquor license may also be required)
  • Tobacco products: subject to a duty or tax based on quantity
  • Medications: may be limited to personal use amounts and require proof of prescription
  • New items (less than six months old): subject to just tax if arriving from EEC countries or tax and duties if coming from other countries. They must also be documented with sales invoices
  • Works of Art, oil paintings, sculptures, antiques, etc: need a Certificate of Authenticity
  • Video tapes, fax machines, telex machines and books: will be held temporarily by customs until necessary authorisation is obtained for each item
  • Coats, fur and leather shoes made of protected animals: will need special authorisation
  • Meat and dairy products: France has complex requirements, restrictions, and limits that apply to importing food. Meat and dairy products require particular attention due to their short shelf life
  • Plant products: may require permits or inspection at port of entry by the Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Guns, weapons and ammunition: highly regulated and require various registrations and certificates. They also require authorisation from the French Defence Ministry (which needs to register the make, calibre, serial number and purpose)
    • Some weapons are strictly prohibited (firearms which have no legitimate sporting or recreational use are not permitted into France)
    • May not be shipped with household goods

Motor Vehicle Regulations

If you plan on importing your car, read up on the Motor Vehicle Regulations for France (image: Pixamag)

If you plan on importing your car, read up on the Motor Vehicle Regulations for France (image: pixabay)

Your car is going to need to meet the following requirements if you want to take it to France:

  • Expatriates who plan on remaining in France for an extended period of time can import one vehicle duty-free and claim it as a personal effect
  • Foreigners can import an automobile duty-free if the owner has been living abroad for more than one year, the car has been owned for six months prior to the import date, and if it is registered as a commercial vehicle
  • You may not get rid of your car within two years of importing it into France
  • The vehicle’s information should be written in your inventory: its year, make, model, engine, horse power, and registration numbers
  • Certain makes of cars are not allowed in France
  • Vehicles must pass French standards inspection and must be road-ready.  A road-worthiness certificate in France is called a ‘contrôle technique’ (CT).

Documents required for auto shipping:

  • Purchase Invoice (original)
  • Original title showing owner’s name and vehicle serial number
  • Insurance Certificate from a French insurer
  • Registration Card (original)
  • Plate numbers

Pets and Animal Regulations

You can bring a pet into France only if you follow these rules:

  • Every pet must be identified by a microchip or a tattoo. The tattoo should be legible and applied before July of 2011
  • No pets under three months old are allowed
  • You should be with your pet at customs
  • The pet needs proof of its rabies vaccine and a medical certificate that says it is healthy
  • Endangered species and exotic animals are not allowed to be imported
  • All pets may be quarantined if they seem diseased or dangerous

Nice Cote d’Azur Airport

Nice Airport is the main airport hub on the French Riviera. You need to be wary of which airline you are flying in on, however.

Nice Airport, like many other EU airports, bans certain airlines that do not meet its safety standards. Most carriers from Afghanistan, for instance, will not be allowed to fly to Nice Airport. Be sure to check to see if your local carriercan fly to Europe. Most of the restricted airlines are from war-torn countries, so if you are travelling from a dangerous country, you may need to search for a foreign airline.

Family friendly Airport

Once you do get to the airport, you should be pleased with how family friendly it is. It is the first airport in France to be certified under the Famille Plus label. This certifies that all aspects of the airport are family friendly.

This means that all of the restaurants and shops in the airport are family friendly, the bathrooms have baby changing stations, and on weekends and school holidays, there is a dedicated security line for families only.

Nice Airport also has an unaccompanied minor (UM) policy that will help families. Children under 12 and over four can travel without an adult as an unaccompanied minor. As long as the child has official identification, the staff of the airport will accompany them and make sure they are looked after and headed to the correct terminal. UM children receive a pouch containing all of their identification and their ticket.

You can pick up your UM child with your luggage, you just need to show some photo ID. There is a designated child-friendly area where the children wait for their guardians to pick them up.

Please note that children over the age of 15 need to have their own Identification papers and an individual passport.

Passengers with reduced mobility

The airport also makes allowances for passengers with reduced mobility, as per European regulations.

You need to inform the airline or travel agency of your needs at least two days before departure.

Let the airport know that you need assistance as you arrive, also there are service kiosks outside of the airport.

You can also request assistance at the regular check in area. You should give yourself an extra hour or two for reduced mobility services.

French Customs Regulations

You will need some documentation when you come into the airport. Here are documents you will need to get yourself and your shipment into France:

  • Valid Passport
  • Visa
  • Work permit
  • Certificate of Change of Residence which is obtained from the French Consulate which includes the dates of your stay
  • Proof of residence in France (if you are returning)
  • Transfer letter from employer that indicates when you were employed abroad
  • Three copies of your valued inventory (which needs to be in French)
  • Electronics need to be listed separately with brand names and serial numbers
  • Delivery address for your items

Still have some questions? Head over to the Nice Airport FAQ section for more information about your flight.

I hope this information can help you and your family enjoy your move or trip to the French Riviera. I’d like to thank Access Riviera for letting me share this information with you. Safe travels!

About the author of this guest blog

Mike Sannitti is a content writer for Internationalmoving.com, Topmoving.ca, and Movers.com where he writes about all aspects of moving.

He also podcasts and posts on allyoucangeek.net

He is based in New Jersey, USA


Manga festival in Vallauris – Sat 27 and Sun 28 Sept

What is Manga?

Manga is a Japanese word that refers to comics and cartoons. Outside of Japan, it specifically refers to comics created in Japan or the Japanese language covering genres including sci-fi, fantasy, romance, action-adventure and more.

image: kfumazuki

image: kfumazuki

The manga industry is huge globally, and I was not surprised to learn that manga accounts for around one-third of all comic book sales in France as the French have a big tradition with bande dessinée (BD) here.

France is the second largest manga market internationally behind Japan, and accounts for 50% of the European market.

What is the Manga festival about?

The Manga festival, Japan Aurea, will be the 7th Festival manga et culture asiatique, and will be officially opened by the Consul Général of Japan.

There will be many attractions for visitors to the festival that have an interest in manga, comics, animation, video games, roleplay costumes (cosplay) or cartooning but of course, it has a strong focus on Manga and Japanese style.

  • Stands selling books, comics, video games, Japanese items (katanas, kimonos), calligraphy
  • Food stalls selling sushi, tea and Japanese food
image: wholefooddiary

image: wholefooddiary

  • Workshops for origami, calligraphy, Manga design
  • Karaoke on the big screen
  • Tiny Japanese theatre
  • Sumo suits for children and adults
image: vancouversumo

image: vancouversumo

  • Martial arts demonstrations – karate, judo, aikido, and kick-boxing
  • Cosplay is a big part of Manga where participants dress up as their favourite characters from the comics or video games – there will be Manga animations with prizes for best costume (note: you must register here if you want to be part of this )
  • Video game competitions
  • Film screenings (entry fee applies)

How do I get there?   

The festival is at Espace Loisirs Francis Huger, Boulevard Docteur Jacques Ugo, 06220 Vallauris.

From Antibes central bus station, bus number 8 with Envibus takes you to Vallauris.

From Cannes train station, bus number 18 with Envibus takes you to Vallauris.

From Golfe Juan train station, you can walk to the main road and take bus number 8 from Square Nabonnand.

Envibus timetables are found here.

If arriving by car, there is free carparking for all participants, just ask for your ticket at the entrance.

When is it open?

The festival is open Saturday 27 September and Sunday 28 September from 10am-6.30pm both days.

What does it cost?

Entry is just €2 per person

Film admission (per film) is €5 per adult / €3 for children 16 years and under

Where can I find the festival programme?

You can download the programme here dossier_de_presse (pdf format)

Who do I contact for more information?

The Vallauris-Golfe Juan website has helpful information about the area. Their website is www.vallauris-golfe-juan.com

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Precious gems, crystals and fossils in Juan les Pins – Salon des Minéraux

I have always had an affinity with stones and crystals having collected them not for their reputed healing benefits, but for their beauty.

I have been given polished rose quartz and hematite necklaces, rough-cut amethyst which sat on my desk at work, and a plate-shaped sliver of Tiger’s Eye with it’s own ornamental stand.  One of my favourites is turquoise with it’s bright blue and coppery hue.

beautiful blue of turquoise (image: Wikipedia)

beautiful blue of turquoise (image: Wikipedia)

What is the difference between a crystal and a gemstone?

Crystals are scientifically a solid substance in which the molecules, atoms or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending to all three spatial dimensions.

Gemstones are pieces of attractive minerals (often called semi-precious or precious stones) which when cut or polished are used to make jewellery and other items.  Some rocks (lapis-lazuli) and organic materials (amber) are not minerals but are often considered as gemstones as they are also used to make jewellery.

Confused?  Don’t be – because from 19 September – 21 September 2014, you can admire many precious gems, crystals and even fossils at the Salon des Minéraux in Juan les Pins.

vibrant amethyst (image: mineral.net)

vibrant amethyst (image: mineral.net)

What is the Salon des Minéraux?

The Salon des Minéraux in Juan les Pins (in French it has the very descriptive official name of ‘9ème Bourse aux Minéraux Fossiles Gemmes et Bijoux’) will bring together scientists, gem experts and collectors for a public display that includes:

  • Fossils dating 300 million years
  • Jewellery-making
  • Displays and sales of precious gems and stones including diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds
  • Pedagogic workshops

How do I get to the Salon des Minéraux?

The exposition is at the Palais des Congrès, 60 chemin des Sables, 06160 Juan les Pins.

The venue has underground carparking (pay parking with Interparking) and there is a large hotel next door with around 340 carpark spaces also. Or you can try your luck on the surrounding streets.

The Palais venue is accessible for persons with reduced mobility, and the underground carpark has designated reduced mobility spaces and elevators to the ground level.

location map of Palais des Congrès, Juan les Pins

location map of Palais des Congrès, Juan les Pins (map copyright antibesjuanlespins-congres.com)

What time does it open?  How much does it cost?

Opening hours are 10am-6pm.

Admission fee is  €6 per adult / €3 per child

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