Free family events 29 May-31 May 2015

One of the best things about living on the French Riviera is the number of free local festivals and events.   There are traditional festivals to discover such as Bataille des Fleurs, celebrations for national holidays, food festivals, sports events, music festivals and more.

Many of these are free of charge so you can visit for as long as you wish without pricey admission fees.

Here is a sample of some free family-friendly events in the region from 29 May – 31 May 2015:

Antibes

’50th Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur’ from Friday 29 May – Sunday 31 May 2015 – previously, this annual car rally departed from Juan les Pins but it will now leave from Pré des Pecheurs at Antibes port.  It’s a great free event to watch the rally cars, and get autographs on the Friday.

rallye_2015

Race leaves Antibes at 9.30am on Saturday 30 May with the circuit heading to Nice, then up to the picturesque Gréolières area and Col de Bleine.  Unless you’re an early bird you’ll have to get there for a 6.30am start on Sunday with the circuit heading to Nice, then Piera, Cava and Col de Turini before returning back to Antibes.

Race programme and map is available for download here: http://forum-rallye.com/index.php?/topic/1091-rallye-dantibes-c%C3%B4te-dazur-2015-2931-mai-cfa/

Cagnes sur Mer

Saturday 30 May 2015 from 10am-7pm – ‘Fête du Jeu’ at Parc des Bugadières, avenue Marcel Pagnol.

Free activities including:

  • Educational workshops
  • Dinosaur sandpit for fossil digs
  • Kite flying
  • Galaxy games with R2D2

Free carparking (including 4 disabled spaces), accessible pay toilets, snack kiosk.  Take a picnic as there are lots of grassy areas, and take mosquito repellent as the park is beside the river.

For programme details, head to these 2 sites (in French):

http://cagnes-sur-mer.info/agenda/50-fete-du-jeu-a-cagnes-sur-mer-samedi-30-mai-2015

http://www.cagnes-sur-mer.fr/fete-du-jeu/

Parc des Bugadières, Cagnes sur Mer

Parc des Bugadières, Cagnes sur Mer

Golfe Juan

Saturday 30 May 2015 from 10.30am-6pm – ‘Parc Exflora en Fête’ at Parc Exflora, avenue de Cannes

This event has an eco message with activities including:

  • Stands and workshops about recycling, planting herbs
  • Wooden games
  • Baby-gym
  • Face painting
  • Marionnettes shows
  • Quad bikes for kids (surcharge may apply) and entertainment from a jazz band

ParcExflora

Carparking is on avenue de Cannes, chemin des Eucalyptus or rue Dulys, or take bus 1 or 8 with Envibus as it stops across from Parc Exflora (the stop is called ‘Les Eucalyptus’).  The park doesn’t have toilet facilities, the nearest accessible public toilets are across the road at Square Henri Delaunay.   There is an underpass leading from the edge of the park to the sandy beach if you fancy a swim in the sea if it gets hot.  Also, the adjoining apartment complex has a few restaurants and 2 supermarkets if you get hungry.

Event information is quite limited but a few more details can be found at these 2 links (in French):

http://fr.calameo.com/read/002074504e17752244bd7

http://www.recreanice.fr/journee-exflora-antibes-animations-famille-environnement

Villeneuve Loubet

Saturday 30 May 2015 from 2pm-9pm- ‘Fête de la Culture’ at Pole Escoffier

Music, theatre, dance, songs, workshops for painting/ceramics/calligraphy

The programme can be downloaded here (in French): http://villeneuveloubet.fr/lagenda_du_moment/moment/article/fete-de-la-culture.html

 

 

 

 

Art Trails on the French Riviera

The French Riviera has fascinated painters, poets and artists for centuries who have been inspired by the beautiful landscapes and luminous light of the Mediterranean.

From Renoir to Chagall, from Picasso to Monet and Matisse the region is scattered with wonderful art museums and collections from the finest painters.

Follow my guide ‘Art Trails on the French Riviera’ for places to visit with an artistic influence including classic and contemporary art collections as well as off-the-beaten-track suggestions.

Antibes

Musée Peynet

Musée Picasso

Musée Picasso. Antibes

Musée Picasso. Antibes

Biot

Musée National Fernand Léger

Cagnes sur Mer

Chateau Musée Grimaldi

Musée Renoir

Cannes

Centre d’art La Malmaison

Musée de la Castre

Grasse

Musée d’art et d’histoire de Provence

Le Cannet

Musée Bonnard

Menton

Musée Jean Cocteau

Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton

Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton

Mouans Sartoux

L’espace de l’art concret at Château de Mouans Sartoux

Mougins

Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins

Photo-CACPAC0060000111-5

Nice

Galerie de la Marine

Galerie des Ponchettes

MAMAC

MAMAC, Nice

MAMAC, Nice

Monastre de Nôtre Dame de Cimiez (burial place of Raoul Dufy and Henri Matisse)

Musée des Arts Asiatiques

Musee des Beaux Arts

Musée Marc Chagall

Musée Massena

Musée Matisse

Musée Matisse, Nice

Musée Matisse, Nice

Hôtel Negresco

Hotel Villa La Tour

Hotel Windsor

Palais Lascaris

Villa Arson

Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Villa Santo Sospir

Saint Paul de Vence

La Colombe d’Or

Fondation Maeght

Fondation Maeght, St Paul de Vence

Fondation Maeght, St Paul de Vence

St Paul de Vence cemetery (burial place of Marc Chagall)

Vallauris

Musée National Picasso

Vence

Chapelle du Rosaire

Chapelle du Rosaire painted by Matisse

Chapelle du Rosaire painted by Matisse

Villefranche sur Mer

Chapelle St Pierre

Chapelle St Pierre, Villefranche sur Mer

Chapelle St Pierre, Villefranche sur Mer

La Citadelle (home to the Musée Volti, Collection Goetz-Boumeester and Collection Roux – to read more about these 3 museums read my previous blog post about Villefranche sur Mer here

To see a map of Access Riviera’s ‘Art Trails on the French Riviera’ locations, click on this link (thanks to Wanderant!) where you can click on each location to read more:

If you found this Art Guide informative, please share on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks!

Image credits: Cimiez, Deluxe Drivers, France Culture, Oopartir, Panoramio

Free festival Sunday 24 May – Fête des Mai

Tomorrow, sees the last instalment of Fête des Mai at Cimiez – a free festival held each Sunday in May that celebrates Niçoise culture with traditional dances, local cuisine and folk music.

Take a picnic to the Fête des Mai

Take a picnic to the Fête des Mai

The festival is held at the Jardins des Arènes de Cimiez in Nice – a public park shaded by centuries-old olive trees where you’ll also find the Musée Matisse, the arena ruins of Cimiez and the monastery.

Fête des Mai, Nice

Fête des Mai, Nice

Some of the festival attractions include:

  • Free activity workshops for children
  • Free music and folk dancing performances
  • Food stands selling Niçoise specialities like socca, févette, pan-bagnat, pissaladiere
  • The park has a carousel (take coins, it costs €2 per ride) and accessible public pay toilets (50 centimes)
  • Picnics are permitted; there are also tables and chairs supplied for festival attendees
Traditional folk dancing at the Fête des Mai

Traditional folk dancing at the Fête des Mai

Access notes: The park is accessible for persons with restricted mobility, and there are accessible public pay toilets.

What:  Fête des Mai

Where:  Jardins des Arènes de Cimiez, 110 boulevard de Cimiez, 06600 Nice

When:  Sunday 24 May 2015

Time:  11.30am-7pm

Getting there:

There is free car parking at the entrance to the park

By bus: No. 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 25 with www.lignesazur.com (The stop is named ‘Arènes/Musée Matisse’)

 

 

Monaco Grand Prix 2015 – The Ultimate Guide

The last few weeks of May every year are quite chaotic on the French Riviera – you have two major events that cross over (The Cannes Film Festival, and Monaco Grand Prix) as well as numerous other local events such as Le Pain en Fête in Golfe Juan, Printemps Musical in Mouans-Sartoux and Fête ses Cultures in Vence.

Accommodation prices spike to coincide with the influx of visitors, and public transport is pushed to capacity.

However, while some residents despair about the month of May (and the craziness it brings to the region), I love it ! Both the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix are unrivalled for atmosphere, experience and thrills – and you don’t need a hefty credit card limit to enjoy them.

The Monaco Grand Prix runs from 21 May – 24 May in 2015, with the main race of 78 laps starting on Sunday at 2pm local time.

Monaco1car

Whether you’re a first time visitor or a regular race fan, Access Riviera presents ‘Monaco Grand Prix 2015 – The Ultimate Guide’ with free advice and local tips to help you get the most out of your visit.

Note: This guide features supplementary ‘Access Notes’ after many sections specifically giving information for persons with reduced mobility to enable them to enjoy Grand Prix. I hope you find this information useful and share it on social media.

Why visit the Monaco Grand Prix?

The Monaco Grand Prix is iconic and one of the most famous motor races in the world. Situated on a race circuit hugging Port Hercules and Monaco’s city streets, the race brings excitement, glamour and a huge dose of atmosphere to one of the world’s smallest principalities and it can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of your budget.

Traditional race fans of Grand Prix may find the Monaco circuit lacking – it is the slowest circuit of the Formula One championships. However, it is beyond exciting, and whilst there is rarely over-taking as the circuit width is narrow, the course has elevation shifts and tight bends and all of the driver’s skill is in negotiating the narrow and twisting roads. The longest period at full throttle is through the Fairmont tunnel, about 7.5 seconds.

Aerial view of Monaco GP / Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

Aerial view of Monaco GP / Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

There are 3 practice sessions at every Monaco Grand Prix to allow drivers to familiarize themselves with the circuit and for teams to set-up the cars for qualifying and the race. For Monaco 2015, the Formula 1 practice sessions are held on 21 May and 23 May – perfect for those spectators who want to experience some of the event, but not the full race day price tag.

The cheapest race day tickets – which invariably sell out – are the General Admission tickets for Le Rocher (Secteur Rocher) which is the grassy steep hillside leading up to the Palais. There are big screens to cover the action if you can’t see properly. The best spots are in the centre and on the face of the hillside because once you get near the top your view is obscured by trees. Secteur Rocher tickets are by no means luxurious – you’ll be camped out on the hillside for hours on end so wear comfy shoes, be prepared for all weather conditions, take a padded seat and snacks.

Monaco Grand Prix circuit layout (accessriviera.wordpress.com)

Monaco Grand Prix circuit layout (accessriviera.wordpress.com)

The proximity to the circuit for Grandstand spectators is excellent. My favourite spot is Grandstand T which is excellent for seeing the cars come down the short straight (by the swimming pool) then slow right down to take the corner before roaring past Grandstand T towards the Rascasse corner. Grandstand T is directly across from the pits so it is great for photo opportunities.   Grandstand K is also highly recommended to see the cars come out of the Fairmont tunnel and hit the piscine chicane and you get a wide view of the port.

At the end of each day, the race officials open the circuit to the public so you can walk on the actual tarmac (photo opportunities abound!).

Useful links for visitors to Monaco Grand Prix

For race tickets, check last minute availability at:

Automobile Club of Monaco for tickets www.acm.mc

http://www.formula1-grand-prix.com/redirticket.php?idgp=15&lang=en

There are ticket booths that are open on race days but you must get there early.

Rascasse corner (accessriviera.wordpress.com)

Rascasse corner (accessriviera.wordpress.com)

** Special note for spectators with reduced mobility ** There is a Monaco association that assists wheelchair-bound spectators specifically for Monaco-based events. They have a designated viewing platform on Le Rocher (rue Philibert Florence) for Grand Prix as the Grandstands close to the circuit are inaccessible for persons who are wheelchair-bound.  Contact them at least 48 hours in advance of your arrival at the Grand Prix, there is an email link on their website home page, you must give evidence of your mobility to obtain free tickets. If arriving by car, the security personnel at avenue de la Porte Neuve will give you access up the road only if you have a disabled sticker on your car. There is disabled carparking near to the platform on rue Philibert Florence. Photos of the platform and more information is found on their website here: http://amhm.chez-alice.fr/Page/Nosevenements.htm  

Transport

My recommendation is to take the train as many roads are blocked for Grand Prix, and many vehicles have special permits to transport passengers to private events or the yachts.

Monaco is relatively compact but it is hilly. Don’t be put off though as it’s walkable, and the distance from the train station to the port and Grandstands is no more than 15-20 minutes walking from Monaco Monte Carlo train station.

There are also many escalators and elevators scattered throughout Monaco and any regional Tourist Office on the French Riviera can give you a map which details where they are.

Monaco Monte Carlo train station

The Monaco Monte Carlo train station (Gare de Monaco) is a modern station but it has multiple exit points so it’s quite possible to get confused if you aren’t familiar with the layout.

Monaco Monte Carlo train station (Gare de Monaco)

Monaco Monte Carlo train station (Gare de Monaco)

If arriving by train, buy a return ticket in advance at the station you leave from (e.g. Nice) as the trains post-race are always busy and ticket queues horrendous.

Monaco Monte Carlo train station has a newsagent selling newspapers, phone credit, cigarettes, snacks. There are toilet facilities, an information centre, caféterias and vending machines onsite.

Use the toilet facilities at the train station, at restaurants in La Condamine or before you enter your Grandstand because toilet facilities within the Grandstand areas are sparse and can have queues.

Here is a layout of the Monaco Monte Carlo train station which is handy for the location of elevators, travelators and toilets http://www.garedemonaco.com/plan-dacces

Access notes: Access Plus offer free assistance to passengers at Monaco Monte Carlo train station with reduced mobility. You must give 48 hours notice, email them accessplus@sncf.fr or phone 0890 640 650 (local call when in France).

Premier services

Heliair Monaco offer helicopter transfers between Nice Airport and Monaco. The trip duration is around 7 minutes, cost €165 oneway (€280 return) per passenger which includes a shuttle at Monaco from the heliport to your accommodation. Note: The shuttle does not run on Sunday for the main race due to road restrictions. Book via www.heliairmonaco.com

Heli Securite offer 8 daily helicopter transfers between Nice and Monaco, including direct landings at Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort and Vista Palace Hotel and Beach at Roquebrune Cap Martin, cost €130 oneway (€250 return) per passenger. Book via www.helicopter-saint-tropez.com

For VIP Grand Prix hospitality options including private balconies overlooking the circuit, and race-side berths on superyachts get in touch with Bespoke Yacht Charter and Experience the French Riviera.

VIPyacht

Where to find Wifi hotspots

Finding free Wifi in Monaco is harder than you realise. Most hotels offer basic, slow service (slowness is on a par with watching the race and returning and its still downloading one email) or you have to fork out for an expensive room to get an internet package with some oomph. If you’re searching for Wifi hotspots, here are some places to go:

  • Auditorium Rainier III, boulevard Louis II
  • Bilig Café, rue Princesse Caroline in La Condamine (last time their Wifi password was espresso, then it changed to Nutella1 so give it a try)
  • Café de Paris, place du Casino – pricey for food and drinks (around €10 for a glass of house wine and €16 for a beer) but a great spot for people-watching
  • Columbus Monte-Carlo, 23 avenue des Papalins – smile and make friends with reception and its possible they’ll give you a one-month login with no password needed. As a bonus, David Coulthard used to own this hotel so it’s still a favourite jaunt for F1 types especially the GP winners.
  • Grimaldi Forum, 10 avenue Princesse Grace
  • McDonald’s, 29 avenue Albert II – one thing you can always count on when you visit the Golden Arches – Wifi with your greasy burger

Where to wine and dine

Contrary to it’s reputation, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find well-priced food and drinks in Monaco during Grand Prix. Here are some of Access Riviera’s favourite places for budget-friendly food and drinks, atmosphere or a good Grand Prix experience:

Café Llorca, 10 avenue Princesse Grace

Located at the Grimaldi Forum and close to the Japanese Garden, Michelin-starred chef Alain Llorca’s bistro eatery has superb views over Larvotto and you can dine for less than €25 if you choose the set menu (entrée, main and dessert or glass of wine).

Access notes: Wheelchair accessible.

Café Llorca

Café Llorca

Slammers, 6 rue Suffren Reymond

Very popular during Grand Prix, happy hour between 5pm-8pm and live music / street parties every day during Grand Prix. If you want to party after Grand Prix, head here.

Access notes: Inside is flat with ground-floor toilets however there are 2 steps from street level to the bar entrance.

Slammers Bar, Monaco

Slammers Bar, Monaco

La Bionda, 7 rue Suffren Reymond

Carnivores would be well recommended to head here for steak and grilled meats; there are also salads and vegetables on the menu for those not partial to meat.

Marché de la Condamine, Place d’Armes

For a quick bite to eat, head to the indoor covered market at Place d’Armes where you can grab some socca, fougasse or truffle pasta.

Access notes: Fully accessible.

Marché de la Condamine at Place d'Armes, Monaco

Marché de la Condamine at Place d’Armes, Monaco

Monte Carlo Bar, 1 avenue Prince Pierre

Situated right across from Place d’Armes, Monte Carlo Bar is not pretentious at all and a great bistro for people-watching. A good bet for pizza or pasta.

La Rascasse, 1 quai Antoine 1er

A top spot for a drink post-race. Happy hour starts from 5pm. They have live bands and DJ’s every day during Grand Prix and post-race entertainment that varies from fire shows to stilt walkers ; be warned it gets busy.

Stars ‘n’ Bars, 6 quai Antoine 1er

The portside stretch where Stars n Bars is located is a hive of activity during the Grand Prix. This year, race teams Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari are parked adjacent, so there’s a high chance you’ll get a photo of one of the drivers wandering past (though access to the trailers is fenced off).

Stars ‘n’ Bars is extremely popular during Grand Prix and it’s no wonder – they have lots of sports memorabilia, a kids play area, games arcade, outdoor terrace and upstairs lounge bar with views of the port. Try their cocktails too! The menu is expansive and includes buffalo wings, sushi, and salads and they have recently partnered with Superfood advocates The Clever Kitchen to bring vegetarian and vegan-friendly options to the digital menu.

Access notes: Wheelchair accessible.

Stars 'n' Bars Monaco

Stars ‘n’ Bars Monaco

Can you watch Monaco Grand Prix for free?

This is the number one internet search query my blog links to related to Grand Prix!   Well, the answer is no and yes.

NO – If you want to sneak a peek up close to the race circuit you are out of luck – grandstand security is tight, fencing around the circuit is colossal and views are very restricted unless you have a ticket.

YES – If you’re fortunate enough to have friends with an apartment or yacht berth overlooking the race circuit, grovel as much as possible for a place on their balcony terrace or aft deck.   For everyone else without a purchased ticket, it is sometimes possible to watch a snippet of the race from Rampe Major (the Le Rocher ramp up to the Palais), or there are free public screens at Place d’Armes relaying live race action.

If you’re not adverse to walking, I have previously watched the race for free from a small restaurant situated above the port at the Fort Antoine gardens – to find it, walk from the Palace square along rue Basse, then rue Psse-Marie de Lorraine and you will see the restaurant on the corner of avenue des Pins and avenue de la Porte Neuve.   There is a small garden terrace and they sell beer for around €6 a pint. Take binoculars as you won’t be able to see much of the circuit but you’ll get a view of the cars coming out of the Fairmont tunnel and heading to the chicanes before the piscine (swimming pool). Accessible toilets are 1 minute away on avenue St Martin. Below are some photos taken from this location:

Where to watch Monaco Grand Prix for free?  (accessriviera.wordpress.com)

Where to watch Monaco Grand Prix for free? (accessriviera.wordpress.com)

Things to see and do in Monaco

Whether you have a ticket for the races or not, you can still enjoy Monaco and the atmosphere at the Grand Prix for free (or a low budget). It’s important to note that many attractions in Monaco are closed during the F1 races including the Monaco Oceanarium so don’t base your entire visit around attractions and places of interest being open – the Grand Prix is the main attraction!   Access Riviera has many tips and snippets of advice:

La Condamine

La Condamine is the heart and soul of the Grand Prix action. This is where you will find bars and restaurants with tables spilling onto the pavement, and much of the atmosphere is centred here.

Rue Suffren Raymond has many tents selling race souvenirs (you can pick up a cap for around €10 and t-shirt for about €15 unless you head for the official merchandise tents where the prices quadruple). You’ll also find beer in ample supply and food trucks selling everything from baguette sandwiches and hotdogs to crepes.

Rue Princess Caroline also has restaurants, bars and souvenir stands. Place d’Armes is a great place to check out during Grand Prix – there are big screen TV’s relaying the circuit, car simulators, entertainment, lots of bars and cafeterias around the square, the indoor Marché de la Condamine with food vendors and accessible toilets across the road.

Access notes: La Condamine is paved and mostly flat – other than crowds, you shouldn’t have any issues getting around. Avoid stairs at the port end of rue de Milo.

Japanese Garden (Jardin Japonais de Monaco), avenue Princesse Grace

Situated in the Larvotto area, the Japanese Garden is a relaxed place to visit with a man-made lake, bridges and rock gardens. Free entry and open from 9am until 5pm drop by here if you need a break from racing action.

Japanese Garden, Monaco (Jardin Japonais de Monaco) - a relaxing spot from the Grand Prix bustle

Japanese Garden, Monaco (Jardin Japonais de Monaco) – a relaxing spot from the Grand Prix bustle

Monaco Port, Fontvieille Port, Fontvieille Park and Princess Grace Rose Garden

Unless you have a pass to get onto the yachts, walking the length of Monaco Port during race days is off-limits for the general public excluding quai Antoine 1er. You can also head over to the other side of the Rock, to see Fontvieille Port and there are lots of restaurants along the quay. Follow the sculpture path with over 100 sculptures from Fontvieille Park to the Princess Grace Rose Gardens which is a nice place to sit on benches beside the rose gardens.

Access notes: Accessible on paved surfaces.

ROSE-GARDEN

Monaco-Ville

Monaco-Ville is Monaco’s old town and sits on the rocky headland known as Le Rocher (the Rock).

The Prince’s Palace (Palais Princier de Monaco) is the private residence of the ruling Prince and the main attraction of Monaco-Ville. You can visit the State Apartments (entrance fee applies) year round, tickets can be purchased from the Palace website www.palais.mc There is also a free Changing of the Guards ceremony in front of the Palace at 11.55am daily.

Palais Princier, Monaco (Prince's Palace)

Palais Princier de Monaco (Prince’s Palace)

The Cathedral is a free attraction in Monaco-Ville. It is located on rue Colonel-Bellando-de-Castro, and is the burial place of the Princes of Monaco as well as holding the tombs of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.

One of Monaco’s most popular tourist attractions, the Monaco Oceanarium is closed during Grand Prix weekend.

Access notes: Families with baby strollers can head up to the Palace square via the Rampe Major (it’s a gradual uphill climb but the stairs are a large width so its manageable).

Rampe Major, Monaco

Rampe Major, Monaco

Wheelchair bound or tourists with reduced mobility can still visit Monaco-Ville by using the elevator from the carpark underneath the Monaco Oceanarium, the streets are paved and the Palace square is paved and flat. Bear in mind that the actual State Apartments are not accessible by wheelchair.

Shopping

If you fancy shopping while in Monaco, the big shopping complex is Centre Commercial de Fontvieille where you’ll find major brands and boutiques, McDonalds and a Carrefour supermarket. Le Metropole, near the Casino has restaurants, boutiques and a money exchanger. For luxury shopping, head to the streets closest to the Casino, avenue de la Costa and on avenue Princesse Grace by Larvotto beach.

Things to avoid

Not being prepared for all weather conditions – Monaco has it’s own micro-climate and the weather can change quickly. The Grandstands are not covered, so you must prepare for hot sunshine and/or rain.

Driving – avoid driving if at all possible, especially anywhere near La Condamine. During Grand Prix, there are many road blockages and unannounced road diversions. Park at Cap d’Ail, find a car park on the outer rim of Monaco or catch a train.

Partying till late if you’re not staying in Monaco – The atmosphere during Grand Prix is fantastic and many spectators hit the bars and restaurants after the races for a drink or two. However be aware that if you decide to stay for a drink to double check the train timetables – even though Grand Prix is one of the largest events in the region, the trains don’t run all night. Taxis are expensive on the French Riviera and a cab from Monaco to western destinations such as Nice or Antibes will set you back between €60-€150 depending on distance plus night time surcharges.

champagne

Enjoy the post-race parties but don’t forget to check the train schedules!

FEATURED COMPANY BIO

In the lead-up to Monaco Grand Prix I have the privilege to chat to many forward-thinking companies based along the French Riviera. One of these is The Clever Kitchen who will be collaborating with Stars ‘n’ Bars, one of Access Riviera’s recommended Grand Prix restaurants.

The Clever Kitchen offers an inspirational and realistic approach to healthy living in the real world. We know it’s not always easy to make the right eating choices thanks to our busy lives and constant exposure to the temptations of convenience foods – not to mention the confusion surrounding what we should eat and what we shouldn’t!  Our aim is to make it easier to be healthy by offering nutritional enlightenment and healthy recipes based on fresh, seasonal produce and nutrient dense Superfoods.

Healthy food options on the French Riviera with The Clever Kitchen (http://clever.kitchen)

Healthy food options on the French Riviera with The Clever Kitchen (http://theclever.kitchen)

Professional Nutritionist Susan Tomassini is the ‘brains’ of the kitchen, bringing scientific knowledge and experience as a certified Nutritionist to The Clever Kitchen and explaining how different foods benefit and nourish our body and mind. Melanie Gulliver is a finance expert who is also passionate about healthy eating and recipe creator for The Clever Kitchen.

The Clever Kitchen is delighted to be collaborating with Stars ’n’ Bars to introduce nutrient-rich vegetarian and vegan options on their brand new digital menu. In the words of Kate and Didier – co-founders of Stars ’n’ Bars – “It has always been about giving our customers choices. We cook great steaks but a vegetarian will never go hungry in our restaurant. Now with TCK’s involvement as professional nutritionists, SNBs can also introduce and spotlight a recognized brand of ‘healthy’ dishes independent of our own efforts. Our partnership with the Clever Kitchen is a natural next step.”

To find out more about The Clever Kitchen, connect with them via:

Website:             http://theclever.kitchen (Subscribe to their newsletter or purchase some healthy goodies via their shop)

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/clever_kitchen

Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/thecleverkitchen1/

Instagram:         http://instagram.com/thecleverkitchen

Google+:            https://plus.google.com/115822412199734975884/posts

Thank you to Melanie and Susan from The Clever Kitchen for their time and insights for this article.

If you found this Monaco Grand Prix 2015 guide useful please share it on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you!

Image credits: Amber Lounge, Artdevivreparmacha, Biletto, Visit Monaco, Stars n Bars, Grimaldi Forum, Palais Princier website, James Bond locations, Panoramio, Cornucopia Events, ExecFlyer

Logo: The Clever Kitchen logo used courtesy of TCK

 

 

amfAR Cinema against AIDS 22nd Gala – Thursday 21 May 2015

Undeniably the hottest event in town during Cannes Film Festival, the amfAR Cinema against AIDS charity gala is being held this evening at the beautiful Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the Cap d’Antibes.

The beautiful Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc (image: yelp)

The beautiful Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc (image: yelp)

One of the most successful annual benefit events, to date the event has raised more than $140 million for amfAR’s life-saving research programs and has helped keep the fight against AIDS in the global media spotlight.

Celebrities and top industry stars who will attend include Harvey Weinstein,  Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Lewis Hamilton, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kenneth Cole, Milla Jovovich, Diane Kruger, John C. Reilly, Carine Roitfeld,  Isabella Rossellini and more.

Event highlights include:

– A black and white-themed fashion show featuring top models Karlie Kloss, Karolina Kurkova and Adriana Lima who will wear designs from Tom Ford, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Prada.  The one-off pieces will then be auctioned off to the VIP crowd.

– Music from DJ Mark Ronson, the Imagine Dragons, Mary J Blige and Charli XCX

– Gala auction including a bespoke ‘Epic Cluster’ Harry Winston necklace, and artist Jeff Koon’s sculpture ‘Coloring Book’.

Harry Winston's 'Epic Cluster' necklace up for auction at amfAR Cinema against AIDS 22 (image: @HarryWinston)

Harry Winston’s ‘Epic Cluster’ necklace up for auction at amfAR Cinema against AIDS 22 (image: @HarryWinston)

Who is amfAR?

amfAR is the Foundation for AIDS Research and plays a vital role in research, support and education of HIV and AIDS.  Their aim is to fund research to breakthrough a cure, and benefit events are held globally.

Did you know?

The setting in and around Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc may look familiar even if you have never been there – it is a popular location for film and television. Some filming highlights:

– The opening scene for 1971 Bond film ‘Diamonds are Forever’. As a small local bit of trivia, the French actress who featured in this uncredited role with Sean Connery was a previous Miss World winner and her father was the mayor of nearby Nice.

Sean Connery and Denise Perrier in 1971 James Bond film 'Diamonds are Forever' (image: Youtube)

Sean Connery and Denise Perrier in 1971 James Bond film ‘Diamonds are Forever’ (image: Youtube)

– The Miss Dior film starring Natalie Portman who is attending the gala tonight.  See the advertisement here:

Links:

www.amfar.org

www.hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com

 

 

 

5 things Batman can teach you about family travel

1. Choose a Sidekick – something or someone to back you up in tough times

Batman has Robin to back him up in tough times.

Batman and his sidekick Robin (image: comicsalliance)

Here are Access Riviera’s tips for getting the best from your back-up plan:

Travel tech

Use a private window when booking flights online so airfare search engines don’t remember you and bump up prices.

If you forget your USB plug, charge devices through the USB on a television.

Try sites such as www.free-hotspot.com to locate hotspots, and services such as Tunnelbear, ComfortWay or Tep Wireless when travelling.

Useful apps

GateGuru is an awesome app that gives information on airport facilities, security line wait lines and flight delays.

(image: Gate Guru)

Use TripIt or TripCase to consolidate your itineraries..  I still take hard copes of my itineraries with me (I know!), but these apps are helpful so you can still access all your itinerary information when you are without internet.

TrailWallet for expense tracking and budgeting help with your travel costs.

I’d be lying if I said translation apps are a waste of time. I highly recommend TripLingo – it has basic survival phrases, flash card lessons for language learning, a slang tool, a tip calculator, currency convertor and cultural tips.

(image: TripLingo)

Another one of my favourites – Word Lens – for translating signs, has transitioned over to Google Translate. There’s still a few hiccups with the voice recognition translation, and also some formats (it doesn’t recognise handwritten text) but it’s still handy to have.

Offline tips

Turn your phone to airplane mode and turn off data to use GPS without internet. Load up your Google map before leaving your accommodation and you can use it to navigate at your destination. To use Google maps offline, type ‘OK Maps’ and the visible area will save for future reference.

Sometimes if you’re at a location (e.g a cafeteria) with free Wifi, they can be annoyed if you don’t purchase something. I usually buy a coffee at a minimum out of courtesy, but if you’re really on a budget sometimes a location’s Wifi password may be on FourSquare.

2.  Source advice – research all the information you need, or have someone available who knows already

Batman has Alfred Pennyworth for advice.

There are many options you can use yourself to source advice prior to a trip with your family:

  • Forums such as Virtual Tourist, Lonely Planet, Frommers and Fodors are helpful for destination advice
  • Internet reviews for specific companies using Trustpilot for reviews
  • Social media channels showcase cool new products and keep you updated with travel blogs
  • TripAdvisor is user-friendly for destination-specific reviews. I like TripAdvisor because you get a broad spectrum of reviewers from across the globe
  • Travel agents and tourist boards

Reference websites such as:

Wanderant is an easy-to-use trip planner for help creating custom itineraries and suggestions on things to do at each destination.

(image: Wanderant)

(image: Wanderant)

excuseme-whereis.com is super useful if you’re travelling to Paris, south-eastern France or major cities in Italy. It gives good information about location of public toilets, supermarkets, post offices etc

WikiVoyage for directions and destination information

PlanMy.Travel and LocalFu use local experts and travellers who have ‘been there done that’ for customised itineraries (pay option)

Komoot is an Android app for cycling/hiking trails in Europe

www.travelbydrone.com is a fun (and addictive!) website with drone-videos at global locations including French Riviera spots so you can check out your destination before you get there

3. Being anonymous is OK too

We all know Batman’s true identity is Bruce Wayne, his comfort zone for anonymity.

Don’t feel the need to put yourself on show to family and friends with constant photo posts to Instagram, or status updates and tweets about every moment of your trip.

Go offline from Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter/emails/Skype/technology and enjoy the experience of your destination.

4.  Be prepared for sticky situations

Batman’s ready for signs of trouble, and he gets prompted from the Bat signal when there’s a sticky situation.

The Bat signal lets Batman know when there's signs of trouble (image: comicsalliance)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a patent for a global Bat signal but I have more tips to prepare for sticky situations you may encounter:

Copy important travel documents

Make photocopies of your passport, itinerary, and any other important documents and store them in a different location than the originals in case the originals are stolen.   I have an extra hard copy in my luggage, and also a scanned copy of everything on a USB memory stick.

(image: notonthehighstreet.com)

Medical

Research a country’s prohibited items rules prior to travel, and take a copy of your doctor’s prescription if you travel with medications (I’m asthmatic and while preventative inhalers are usually permitted as a drug at most airports, don’t assume your own medication will be accepted as legal in another country).

If you have any food allergies or intolerances, print out translations of foods to give to local restaurants or research companies that sell dining cards online. If you have a dairy intolerance and are visiting France, print out this handy translation in French https://www.brokerfish.com/food-allergy-translation-cards/dairy-French

Triumph Dining has dining cards for gluten-free travellers that have translations in 10 languages.

Travel insurance

Always buy travel insurance. Look at benefits, and policy inclusions and exclusions, not just the initial cost.

Working in the travel industry for over 10 years, I have heard good and bad stories of choosing to buy travel insurance or not.

Good = A colleague purchased travel insurance and ended up with altitude sickness in Kathmandu, medical costs were well over $100K. Bad = A family went on an island holiday to Fiji, one of the children received a nasty coral cut which resulted in infection and eventuated in surgery and a lengthy hospital stay costing them thousands of dollars in medical treatment. Cost of a policy that would have prevented this: $120

Change of clothes and basic essentials

Ever since I lost a large suitcase after an international flight, I now carry a spare change of clothes and basic essentials (toothbrush & paste, deodorant, moisturiser) in my carry-on bag so at least I can feel human until my stuff is found (P.S. my suitcase was returned to me within 3 hours, thank you Air France).

A backpack is handy for hands-free travelling (image: Amazon)

If you’re traveling with kids, carry extra food and diapers to allow for delays and a change of clothes for your kids and yourself – I’ll never forget the poor man who half an hour into a 13-hour flight was covered in his baby’s vomit….the smell lingered that’s for sure.

I usually travel with my carry-on as a backpack if I travel with my son so I have my hands free.

Extra food

Taking extra snacks or food can counteract the limited variety in train station vending machines, or overpriced airport food.

I’ve fallen into the ‘no food’ trap before and paid the princely sum of €90 for 2 lunches and snacks at Singapore Airport.

I have beaten off my son’s hunger many times by taking extra food on my travels – snacks such as nuts, pretzels, cereal bars.  Avoid bananas (squishy), chocolate (it melts) or dried fruit (it acts like a laxative).  Parents need to be aware there may not be any options to heat food or baby bottles on delays.

Cereal bars are great for snacks on flights

Also, be aware of customs regulations for food when entering different countries – France doesn’t permit you taking any meat from wild animals on-board so leave that deer carpaccio at home. Every country has different rules – Did you know you can’t take fresh fruit or raw unroasted nuts into Australia (without an Import Permit)?

Variety of payment methods

It pays (excuse the pun) to have a variety of options to pay for items when you travel. Credit and debit cards, cash, travellers cheques, money cards.

In France, I have found many tourists have had problems with ticket machines not reading their foreign-issued credit cards so take coins for ticket machines. Most towns (and certainly the main cities) all have banks and ATM’s, though currency exchange providers are usually only found in more populated areas.

Don’t wear a visible money belt (fanny pack) when you travel – that is a sure-fire advertisement for theft ‘Hey look at my bag containing money, passport and other valuables!’.

Local delays

If you are travelling in France, check out Bisonfute for road traffic delays, www.easytravelreport.com for transport strikes, and ViaMichelin for traffic conditions and toll costs.

Learn a few phrases in the local language

It’s not essential, but it’s helpful to learn a few polite greetings or relevant phrases to your situation (car hire, child-related terms, transport and accommodation queries).

bonjour

5.  Use what you have to your best advantage

Batman is well versed in utilising the Batmobile and his bat tools to best advantage.

Family travel is no different – there are ways you can use what you already have to maximise your holiday experience.

Family discounts

Take advantage of group or family discounts on entry admissions for attractions, restaurant deals (buy one adult meal, get one kids meal free) and transport tickets.

A useful one to know for the French Riviera is the ‘Pass Isabelle Famille’ that costs €35 for one days unlimited train travel along the French Riviera for 2 adults and 2 children under 16 years of age; you purchase them at the train station counters or online via TER SNCF website under ’Loisirs & Tourisme’ then ‘Offres loisirs’.

Flying with kids

Parenting.com has a great list of family-friendly information at lots of global airports,  read more in their link here http://www.parenting.com/article/fun-things-to-do-at-the-major-airports

Also, check out my previous blog post for more tips about Flying with Kids

Not keen on paying for expensive Wifi at airports? Get free Wifi at airports but adding /?.jpg or &.jpg to the end of any URL (for networks that allow images to download without redirecting).

Whoever thought of fast-track queues for families for airport processing is a genius. G-E-N-I-U-S. The last thing you want is to queue behind 500 people at security/immigration with an over- tired toddler who’s barely slept on a 12-hour long-haul flight. Didn’t happen to me, honest 🙂

What are your best tips for family travel?   Please comment, or share this post on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks

Cannes Film Festival 2015 Supplier List

It’s been a cracking start to Cannes Film Festival 2015 with film premieres, fashion and plenty of flashiness over the past 3 days and Access Riviera is lapping it up!

Understandably, my top posts this week for views include An Advanced Guide to Cannes Film Festival and Cinéma de la Plage so I am fielding lots of reader enquiries for more information.

Due to these requests, I have curated a list of Cannes Film Festival suppliers that Access Riviera recommends if you need to ensure your event or Cannes promotion is a success while here.

Disclaimer:  None of these companies have paid to appear on this list; I’m not a sales person for any of them or a booking agent – I’m recommending them because they have local knowledge and high standards of service and/or products.  If you use them, please mention you saw them on Access Riviera.  Happy Festival!

Sunset from Cannes (French Riviera Wedding Photographer - Abbie Spencer - www.belovedlovephotography.com)

Sunset from Cannes (French Riviera Wedding Photographer – Abbie Spencer – http://www.belovedlovephotography.com)

Accommodation

For villa rentals, holiday accommodation and luxury hotels, get in touch with Experience the French Riviera

For holiday apartment rentals across the French Riviera, contact Sunlight Properties.  Their website also has useful city guides and tourist information.

Airport Transfers

Dan Shuttle Drivers – bilingual French-English airport transfers

Riviera Transfer – bilingual French-English airport transfers

Catering

Customised catering menus for private events including on board yachts, get in touch with Adams & Adams

For prime meat cuts including Wagyu beef, drop a line to the oldest butchers shop in the south of France based right in Cannes, Boucherie Fabre

Top grade meat supplier French Riviera - Boucherie Fabre, Cannes (image: Boucherie Fabre)

Top grade meat supplier French Riviera – Boucherie Fabre, Cannes (image: Boucherie Fabre)

For superb bespoke catering, contact Bridie Roberts

Drone filming

For luxury film production and drone helicopter videos, contact Jocelyn Passeron (Yacht Photographer)

For aerial photos and videos, contact MLV Drone to discuss.

Florist

Beautiful floral arrangement for parties (yachts, villas, product and film releases) contact Tasha at Azur Flowers

Hair and Beauty

If you’re looking for a professional beautician to glam you up for Festival, contact Natalie Williams (mobile beautician) offering eyelash extensions, manicures, pedicures, waxing and spray tans.

Mobile beautician French Riviera - Natalie Williams www.estheticiennemobile.com

Mobile beautician French Riviera – Natalie Williams http://www.estheticiennemobile.com

Looking for a mobile hairdresser?  Book an appointment with Kellee MacDonald (mobile hairdresser, 15+ years experience)

If you require a make up artist for a special event, Nice-based make up artist Irina Awad can help you.

Media consultancy

If you require local press releases or copy writing including promotion to Festival sites, email Becks to discuss accessriviera06@gmail.com

Photographers

For destination images, events and portraits, contact French Riviera Wedding Photographer

French Riviera Wedding Photographer - Abbie Spencer (www.belovedlovephotography.com)

French Riviera Wedding Photographer – Abbie Spencer (www.belovedlovephotography.com)

For yachting photography and events, contact Jocelyn Passeron (Yacht Photographer)

For events, fashion and product photography, contact Justin Gage from Justin Gage Photo Studio

For events, fashion, music and portraits, contact Naneen Rossi from Naneen Photography

Sightseeing / Tours

For Harley Davidson and scooter rental, book via Riviera Touring

Scooter and Harley Davidson hire French Riviera - Riviera Touring (image: TripAdvisor)

Scooter and Harley Davidson hire French Riviera – Riviera Touring (image: TripAdvisor)

Join a wine tour to local vineyards with Riviera Wine Tours – customised group tours also available by request

Cruise on the Mediterranean with Trans Côte d’Azur  including short ferry trips to the Lerin Islands or day trips to St Tropez and Monaco

Boat trips French Riviera - Trans Côte d'Azur (map: Trans Côte d'Azur)

Boat trips French Riviera – Trans Côte d’Azur (map: Trans Côte d’Azur)

Jump on board a Tuk Tuk for a sightseeing trip with a difference with Tuk Tuk Azur

Specialised transport

Classic car hire including a Mustang, Morgan 4/4, Triumph T3 with Riviera Classic Car Hire

Helicopter transfers between Nice and Cannes with Uber and Hélipass

UberCopter (image: lesnewseco.fr)

UberCopter (image: lesnewseco.fr)

Sport, health and wellness

Osteopath treatments via recommended osteopaths – English Osteopath or Riviera Osteo

Professional sports massage or massage for events, contact Massage Goldfinger

Massage for events French Riviera - Massage Goldfinger (image: massagegoldfinger.fr)

Massage for events French Riviera – Massage Goldfinger (image: massagegoldfinger.fr)

For homeopathic and naturopathy consultations, contact Julia at Vie for Vitality

Yoga sessions including on board yachts, book via Revitalize

Yoga sessions French Riviera (image: revitalize.fr)

Yoga sessions French Riviera (image: revitalize.fr)

Yacht charter

Yacht charter between St Tropez and Monaco, contact Experience the French Riviera

Yacht charter for French Riviera including Cannes and Monaco, contact Bespoke Yacht Charter

FEATURED SUPPLIER

Access Riviera loves to mention other Riviera-based companies who strive to promote this beautiful region in the best light.  I was lucky enough to grab some time recently to interview Jameson Farn, owner of bespoke company Experience the French Riviera  who are featured in this Cannes Film Festival 2015 Supplier List:

Jet and yacht charter, villas, liaison advisors - Experience the French Riviera

Jet and yacht charter, villas, liaison advisors – Experience the French Riviera

1. What is your number one tip for first-time visitors to the French Riviera on how to source the best travel information?

Many people I have spoken to from around the world seem to go through TripAdvisor first, which is an excellent source. Another very good option is to go through the numerous local tourism websites as they not only provide information but offer deals on museum passes and such too. We also make it our job to know what is happening locally because we want a first-time visitor to have the best experience ever.

2. Can you share your best hidden secret for Cannes? For example – the name of a little-known bar with great atmosphere/drinks, a less visited-tourist attraction, etc.

I enjoy the Mantel Restaurant in Le Suquet. It’s intimate for both meetings and gatherings with friends and the service, food and wine are always excellent! To get a break from all the excitement in Cannes during the film festival, I would suggest going to Vieux Cannet where you can wander through the narrow streets, visit some shops and find more wonderful restaurants. Many tourists do not seem to know of the area and it has a real community atmosphere.

3. What sets Experience The French Riviera apart from the other local companies?

I believe what sets us apart is we want to work with other companies, not as a competitor. We want to continue to build business partnerships (at the moment we have 26 partners) throughout the region for everything a visitor or investor may potentially require once they arrive. Through working with each other and bringing clients to one another that keeps the work flow and economy moving and then each business can grow and become stronger for the long haul. We also want visitors to feel this region is there second home so that they keep coming back to the place they were best treated.

Biography

Experience The French Riviera is a boutique style of service offering custom detail-oriented travel resource planning to this most beautiful part of the world.

We believe in going to the source. Consider the team at Experience The French Riviera your personal informed liaison advisors. We are passionate about everything that makes up the region and it is our work mission to help individuals get the most out of their time and money so they can expand upon their stay and truly Experience The French Riviera.

In the French Riviera, we work with and continually develop a large number of trusted partnerships to help bring you the best of services available in most any industry imaginable.

If you have an idea of what you would like your time in the region to be about, we can work with you privately to bring your thoughts to fruition, whether you require a holiday apartment for your family or hidden beach side villa, the chartering of a luxury yacht or have an interest in the real estate market, our contacts are here to help.

We will call on our extensive network of local insiders and tourism professionals to guarantee that you have the most unique (and repeat) visit ever, bridging the gap between local and global.

www.experiencethefrenchriviera.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/experiencethefrenchriviera

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ExperienceFR

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/experiencethefrenchriviera

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/experiencefr

Thank you to Jameson for his time and knowledge contributing to this article.