New Years Eve ideas on the French Riviera

Tomorrow, New Years Eve, marks a traditionally large celebration for Anglophone residents around the world.

In France, I have seen the occurrence of New Years Eve parties, special dinners and events increase each year.

Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre (New Years Eve) image: stpauldevence.com

Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre (New Years Eve) image: stpauldevence.com

New Year traditions in France

As with the tradition of Christmas cards that is more widespread in the USA or United Kingdom, in France is it more customary to send best wishes for the New Year in January.

New Years Eve in France is marked with a feast – le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre – with dinner items very similar to what is eaten on Christmas Day including goose, turkey or hen, foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon and of course, champagne.  At midnight, you kiss under the mistletoe (which is usually done at Christmas in other cultures) and give best wishes for the coming year.

Interestingly, if you intending to be in France for New Years Eve many restaurants put on events such as special dinners or themed dances – it’s a good time to splash out the wallet on a dinner date as the chefs are all trying to outdo each other with the best celebration menus.

The first of January, New Year’s Day (le jour de l’an) is a bank holiday in France, and is a day of family celebration with a large lunch, traditionally featuring seafood of various kinds.

Here are my suggestions for things to do on New Years Eve on the French Riviera:

ANTIBES

La Cantina, has a New Years Eve menu with DJ and electro/pop band https://www.facebook.com/lacantina06600

Restaurant Le Figuier de Saint-Espirit near the old remparts has special New Years Eve and New Years Day menus. http://www.restaurant-figuier-saint-esprit.com/

Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit, Antibes (image: FranceVoyage)

Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit, Antibes (image: FranceVoyage)

Le Jardin restaurant has a New Years Eve menu www.restaurant-lejardin.fr

Marineland has a special New Years Eve event including dinner and show www.marineland.fr/fr/reveillon/le-reveillon-2014

CANNES

Free fireworks display on the Croisette.  Music from 11pm, followed by fireworks in the Baie de Cannes at midnight set to ‘James Bond’ theme music.

Fireworks in the Baie de Cannes (image: cannesdestination)

Fireworks in the Baie de Cannes (image: cannesdestination)

JW Marriott Cannes has New Years Eve menus www.jwmarriottcannes.fr

Majestic Barriere has New Years Eve menus www.hotels-barriere.com

New York New York opposite the Cannes port has a New Years Eve menu www.nynycannes.com

CAP D’AIL

Hotel Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco has a New Years Eve dinner menu and accommodation offers. www.marriott.com/mcmcd

LA COLLE SUR LOUP

Chef Alain Llorca has New Years Eve and New Years Day festive menus available at www.alainllorca.com

JUAN LES PINS

AC Ambassadeur Hotel has a New Years Eve dinner with kids menus also available http://www.achoteljuanlespins.fr

Hotel Belle Rives has a circus themed New Years Eve ‘Diner du Réveillon’ menu (and also a New Years Day menu) www.bellesrives.com

New Years Eve 2014 -Hotel Belle Rives, Juan les Pins

New Years Eve 2014 -Hotel Belle Rives, Juan les Pins

Hotel Juana has a DJ for New Years Eve, as well as special New Years Eve and New Years Day menus and accommodation packages.  www.hotel-juana.com

New Years Eve 2014 - Hotel Juana, Juan les Pins

New Years Eve 2014 – Hotel Juana, Juan les Pins

The View Restaurant Club in the Palais des Congrés is having a ‘Great Gatsby’ themed party. More details on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/theviewjuanlespins/info?tab=overview

LE CANNET

Bastide Bruno Oger has New Years Eve and New Years Day lunch menus www.bruno-oger.com

MONACO

Entertainment from 9pm with DJ, Christmas market, ice-skating followed by a free fireworks display on quai Albert 1er.

NICE

AC Hotel by Marriott, has a New Years Eve menu with entertainment by DJ. www.achotelnice.fr

Hotel Splendid & Spa has New Years Eve packages which include accommodation, dinner and hot buffet breakfast. http://www.splendid-nice.com/en/new-years-eve-package-2014/

OPIO

Château Begude has a New Years Eve menu www.chateau-begude.com

SAINT PAUL DE VENCE

Restaurant La Caruso has a New Years Eve menu www.lecarusodesaintpaul.fr

Bonne année 2015 !

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Father Christmas and his French post office

There’s only a few days until Christmas so tell your kids to get in quick to post their last minute letters and drawings to Father Christmas (Père Noël) in France.

(image: mespetitsbonheurs)

(image: mespetitsbonheurs)

Each year, Père Noël’s secretaries – all 60+ of them – work tirelessly in the post office in Libourne, in the département of Gironde and they definitely deserve a break after the Christmas rush – last year (2013) saw close to 1.7 million letters and 200,000 parcels delivered by La Poste to his post office.

What is the address to send letters to?

If your children would like to write to Père Noël in France, the various accepted addresses are:

– Père Noël au Pôle Nord – 33500 Libourne – France

– Le Père Noël – 33500 Libourne – France

– Père Noël au pays des jouets – 33500 Libourne – France

– Papa Noël au rue des étoiles filantes au ciel – 33500 Libourne – France

Do I need a stamp for my letter?

All mail to Père Noël is free to send (no stamp needed).  Don’t forget to include your child’s full name and address on the letter and envelope to ensure a reply.

Send a message to Père Noël online via the internet

For impatient kids who don’t want to wait for a written reply, they can also write to Père Noël online via La Poste’s website (French  language): http://www.laposte.fr/pere-noel/

Post a letter in Père Noël’s mailboxes on the French Riviera

If you can’t reach a La Poste office to send your letter, look for the ‘boites aux lettres’ (pop-up mailboxes) for Père Noël that are located at the Christmas markets in Antibes, Cannes, La Gaude, Mandelieu-La Napoule, Mougins and Nice.

Boite aux lettres du Père Noel (Santa's mailbox)

Boite aux lettres du Père Noel (Santa’s mailbox)

Joyeux Noël !

EU Air Passenger Rights – do you know what they are?

Who loves legal regulations and aviation law?

(Cough splutter cough I hear you all say)

OK, I agree 99% of tourists don’t ever read the small print on their travel insurance policy, or the fare conditions for their airfares – BUT, are you aware of your air passenger rights within the European Union (EU)?

I have only had to exercise legal jargon once, at Heathrow International Airport, many years ago after an engine malfunction left my long-haul flight delayed by 10 hours.  Consequently, I was the only passenger who knew the regulations within the EU and the airline wasn’t happy when I requested meal vouchers for the entire plane after a wait of a few hours….

Why knowing your passenger rights is important

Many people will be taking flights over the festive season so I thought it was a prime opportunity to remind readers of your air passenger rights within the EU.

I have two passenger groups I am particularly interested in providing this information for:

1)  Persons with reduced mobility (PMR)

2)  Musicians traveling with instruments

PMR passengers are often unaware or overwhelmed about their rights for carriage, so if I can help ease the travel process my job is done. New regulations have been updated that full compensation will be permitted for damage to mobility equipment, which is great news as it means passengers will no longer be left out of pocket by airline thresholds on equipment value.

Musicians have been given a tough ride over the years by airlines, with valuable instruments being denied on-board carriage.  Mobility is absolutely vital to individual musicians, orchestras, bands and music ensembles whose careers rely largely on tours and concerts abroad for theatre productions, opera houses, ballet and dance companies, festivals, comedy events and even circus performances.

A vote was held by the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament, in December 2013, for amendments to the “Revised Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air’.

This rule amendment includes provisions which allow musicians to take under clearly described conditions musical instruments on airplanes, and to not have their carriage in the cabin denied unless for safety or technical reasons.  Of course, a violin is a small instrument that can be stowed in cabin storage (as is a guitar in a soft case), however a cello is much larger and you may have to pay for an extra seat.   Tip: If you are unsure if your musical instrument with fit the aircrafts cabin specifications, you can look at the aircraft type on your itinerary and check out the plane’s specifications on Seat Guru.  Naturally, a small regional jet will have less cabin storage than a Boeing 747 or Airbus 🙂

Here are the relevant links to the EU Passenger Regulations:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-203_en.htm

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P7-TA-2014-0092+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

I hope you find this blog article useful if you experience any airline delays, cancellations, baggage mishandling or you are a PMR passenger or touring musician.  Please share this post on Facebook, and retweet on Twitter. Thanks!

13 Ideas for Non-Toy Gifts for Kids

Christmas is creeping closer and I can already see the stress in the faces of many parents who battle their consciences and budgets to make Christmas enjoyable for their children.

All parents want to make Christmas fun for their kids, but what are some suggestions of gifts for children that won’t create more clutter in your house, break your bank balance and/or are educational or sustainable?

I’m a big fan of recycled toys from charity shops or vide greniers (boot sales, flea markets), and we have donated many bags of good quality clothing, books and puzzles to various local charities but this blog post is intended as a suggestion for parents who may be trying to minimise the toy clutter.

Here are some suggestions for non-toy gifts for kids:

1.  Memberships

Gift your child a yearly membership – an art gallery, animal park etc.  On the French Riviera, the Médiathèques offer annual subscription with access to books, films and kids workshops.  You can also buy an annual pass which includes Aquasplash water park, Kids Island, Adventure Golf and Marineland (conditions apply)

Annual pass for entry to 4 French Riviera theme parks

Annual pass for entry to 4 French Riviera theme parks

2.  Events

Gift your child a movie or theatre ticket, or a ticket to a sports match. Having an event to look forward to is exciting!  Azur Arena, Anthea Theatre, Info Concert for regional event details and Grimaldi Forum in Monaco are a few places to start looking.

AzurArena at night (image: antibesjuanlespins.com)

AzurArena at night (image: antibesjuanlespins.com)

3.  Classes

Gifting classes is a great way to let kids know you are paying attention to their interests.  Music, sailing, dance, horse-riding, art and drawing, karate – choose something they enjoy.  Check with your local mairie (town hall) for available classes in your area.

4.  Recipes, baking and cooking

My son loves helping in the kitchen, and we have weekly baking sessions.  You could choose a special recipe together, print it out and go shopping for the ingredients.  Or, put all recipe ingredients in a jar with instructions and a cute gift tag as a gift idea. One of my super-simple rainy day recipes we make is here

5. Arts and crafts supplies

Make a simple arts and crafts discovery box filled with wooden ice-cream sticks, glitter, old cardboard rolls (toilet paper rolls are fine!), paints, crayons, pipe cleaners, feathers, glue, pom-poms, stick-on adornments like googly eyes, felt, Velcro.  You can pick up super-cheap craft supplies from €2 stores, or for an excellent selection head to La Grand Récre or Cultura.

Create an arts & crafts discovery box (image: imgarcade)

Create an arts & crafts discovery box (image: imgarcade)

6. Restaurant gift voucher

Make a simple voucher to gift your child for a restaurant outing.  They can go to a restaurant for ice-cream, cake, dinner etc and they get to choose a friend to come along. Stick to a budget so it doesn’t get out of hand and you end up ordering from the whole menu (example €10 for both children).

7. Outdoor equipment

Most children love outdoor activities.  Gift them a fishing rod, hiking shoes, tennis racquet, butterfly net, kite, scooter. Decathlon is great for outdoor equipment, or head to one of the local vide greniers.

8.  Science and discovery

If your child is interested in science and/or discovery, how about a small torch, compass, telescope, binoculars, barometer, magnifying glass, bug catcher, solar powered light. Nature et Decouvertes are great shops for science and discovery.

(image: Nature et Decouvertes)

(image: Nature et Decouvertes)

9.  Games and puzzles

This one may be disputed as a ‘toy’, but games and puzzles are a great gift for encouraging problem-solving and concentration.  You can pick up good quality second hand puzzles in the classified sections on Angloinfo, Le Bon Coin or Facebook groups such as ‘Baby and children’s items for sale on the French Riviera’.

10.  Gardening equipment

Encourage the ‘green fingers’ in your child, by gifting them a flower, plant, seeds or shrub of their choice, or a watering can and child-friendly gardening tools.  Carrefour has basic pot plants, and Villa Verde has an extensive gardening selection.

11.  A gift for someone less fortunate

Make a budget of €5-€10 which your child can spend to buy a small gift intended for someone less fortunate.

Explain how not all children are as fortunate to receive gifts every birthday or Christmas, and involve them in the process of buying the gift and choosing wrapping paper, and they get to deliver it to the charity store or homeless shelter.

Vinci holds annual toy collections on the autoroutes near Nice St-Isidore and Antibes, and Century 21 real estate agents also hold toy collections every year (both collections this year have now finished).

Another option, is to donate a few canned (non-perishable) goods to the local mission or food bank as they often hold Christmas lunches for the less fortunate.

Give a gift to someone less fortunate (image: itd.gov)

Give a gift to someone less fortunate (image: itd.gov)

12.  Bedroom redecoration

Tell your child their gift can be a bedroom redecoration to a theme of their choice. Again, rather than a complete overhaul of the décor (walls, soft furnishings, storage) stick to one or two new items.  Pinterest has great ideas for updating your interior decor on the cheap.  Whether they love pirates or princesses they will be excited to see the changes!

13. Books

Books are a lovely gift. We often give books with a preference for books with an educational tone.

Good quality childrens books can be found on local Facebook groups – ‘Antibes Books Buy Sell or Swap’,  or ‘Baby and children’s items for sale on the French Riviera’.

Some brilliant website for free e-books to download to your Kindle, tablet, iPad etc are Oxford Owl, Loyal Books, and Robert Munsch.

I hope you have found my list inspiring!  If so, please share your comments or like this article on Facebook. Thank you

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated to or a saleperson for any of these websites or products mentioned in my blog article. All opinions are my own, and information is provided as a resource only and I hold no responsibility for 3rd-party links not working correctly.

Festival International de l’Image sous-marine & de l’Aventure – Juan les Pins

Starting today, and finishing on Sunday 07 December, the International Festival of Underwater Images and Adventure is a family-friendly event about promotion and preservation of marine and undersea life.

image: festival-mediterranea.com

image: festival-mediterranea.com

The theme this year is ‘The shark: Dangerous or in danger?’ and there are various attractions including film screenings, photography exhibitions (including competition photos), information stands, conferences and fossil collections.  Special displays will include the Red Sea and Marco Polo’s journey.

image: festival-mediterranea.com

image: festival-mediterranea.com

The film and photo competitions attract entrants from around the world, and local schools are invited to the event to discover and learn about the ocean and it’s preservation.

There will be around 200 photos in competition at the event (image: festival-mediterranea.com)

There will be around 200 photos in competition at the event (image: festival-mediterranea.com)

How to get to the Festival International de l’Image sous-marine & de l’Aventure

The main 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 Juan les Pins train station is an easy 5-minute walk from the venue.  From Antibes, you can travel via Envibus numbers 30 or 31 that stop outside the Palais.

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.

Fossil display (image: festival-mediterranea.com)

Fossil display (image: festival-mediterranea.com)

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

Friday 05 December: Opening hours are 10am-8pm.

Saturday 06 and Sunday 07 December:  Opening hours are 10am-6pm.

Admission fee is  €8 per adult (or €10 for 2 days entry)/ €6 for kids 6-15 years, tourism professionals, and family rates applicable for 2 adults and minimum of one child / Free entry for kids under 6 years of age

Official website:  www.festival-mediterranea.com

Facebook page: https://fr-fr.facebook.com/FestivalImageSousMarineEtAventureMediterranea

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