5 reasons why Condé Nast Traveler readers are wrong about Cannes


Cannes has been voted Number 10 place in the list of 2015’s unfriendliest cities of the world as rated by a Readers’ Choice Awards survey by Condé Nast Traveler (and in 2014 they did not fare much better; they claimed Number 2 spot of global unfriendly cities).

What did readers say about Cannes?

  • Bloated simply by the prestige of its famed film festival
  • Lots of lovely yachts and fancy hotels, but filled with very wealthy, thin snobby people
  • A tad rude
  • Cosmopolitan but too much glitz
  • Get out of town to find secret quiet places nearby
  • Ask for prices if they aren’t listed on menus. We ordered a two-pound lobster, which we shared, and the bill was €240.  It must have been made of solid gold!

Not exactly a glowing reference for regional tourism – which I might add is not down to my sterling efforts 🙂

I love Cannes so I’m wondering who actually voted in this survey.  Yes, there are snobby people and wait staff in Cannes – but there are in every city.  Paris has been labelled previously as having ‘dirty streets and rude people’ and Marseille as ‘a hotbed of crime and gang shootings’ so Cannes is not alone in the occasional lack of global love shown for French cities.

So, to show my support for the Cannes I know (and love) – the Cannes where the sunset over the Esterels seems to last forever some days, where the vendors at Marché Forville animatedly talk about their fruit harvest, where the ice cream along the Croisette tastes the best in summer etc – here is my open letter to Cannes to prove this city has a glass that’s half full, not half empty.

Dear Cannes,



Birthday of an Emperor today – 15 August

Today, is a significant day for birthday recognition in French history as it is Napoléon’s birthday.   Much debated for his military decisions he remains one of France’s iconic figures and today is the 246th anniversary of his birth in Ajaccio, Corsica.

Monument at Golfe Juan port marking Napoléon's place of landing / Column bust on Ave de la Liberté, Golfe Juan

Monument at Golfe Juan port marking Napoléon’s place of landing / Column bust on Ave de la Liberté, Golfe Juan

Far from Corsica and much closer to home, the town of Golfe Juan is marking his birthday today with free animations and parades with period costumes.

The day’s programme download (in French) is here: Napoleonbirthday

The English translation is:

11am Wreath laying at the Napoléon monument at the Vieux Port followed by a parade through town

11.30am Imperial Dance demonstrations on avenue de Verdun

8pm Parade from Théâtre de la Mer to the Vieux Port

9pm Imperial Dance demonstrations at the Vieux Port

9.30pm Open air ball with the Trilogy Orchestra at the Vieux Port

9.45pm  Imperial Dance demonstrations at Port Camille Rayon

Todays festivities are arranged by the Tourism Office of Vallauris Golfe-Juan who also organised the amazing Bicentennial back in March commemorating Napoléon’s landing at Golfe Juan which I had the pleasure to write about here Napoléon’sBicentenaire

Scenes from previous years of the historical re-enactment of Napoléon's landing at Golfe Juan beach

Scenes from previous years of the historical re-enactment of Napoléon’s landing at Golfe Juan beach


Chill for Charity – Friday 11 September

After the success of the first-ever “Chill for Charity” event, the team at Chances for Children are organizing a second event!


On Friday 11 September, please invite yourself to come relax, rejuvenate and recharge!

With summer coming to a close it’s time to chill amongst stunning surroundings.

Plan for the day:

There is a whole day planned of yoga, super foods workshops, massage, a delicious vegetarian lunch selection and much more. There will also be organic rose available!


9.30am to 4.30pm
There will be 2 different yoga workshops for anyone that can’t make the earlier one in the morning; with one taking place after lunch. (10am and 2pm)


The price for the day is 80 euros, payable by cash or cheque.

There will also be an opportunity to book in for treatments and consultations listed below, and the wonderful team is doing this ALL for free, so any donations will be very welcome.

Treatments are:
– Massage/osteopathy
– Reflexology
– Dietary consultations

Lucy Coote will also be offering Ayurvedic massage in Monaco (all proceeds in aid of Chances for Children) so for anyone that can’t make it up to Valbonne, if you would like to book in with her, please simply contact the event organisers.

For those who would like to pop in for lunch – the price is 40 euros, do let them know ahead of time.

If you have not been to the house there is parking but a limited number of spaces, so please RSVP before 8th September. There is also have a 7 seater coming up from Monaco for anyone that needs a lift!

RSVP via email to rustyandgabs@gmail.com if you would like to attend, and feel free to bring your friends!

Warm regards and thank you on behalf of the Team at Chances for Children and the 58 children in the orphanage in Uganda! You can follow their story via their Facebook page to see how your donations will make a tangible difference in these young people’s lives.

With the funds raised from the last event they have run the orphanage for almost 2 months!

They look forward to seeing you on 11th September!

Participant links:

Naomi’s Kitchen

Pure Flow Coco

Kerri Beaumont

Nice Life Café

Bluetree Massage

Justin Gage Photo Studio

Credits:  Chances for Children logo and photos courtesy of event organisers.

Pilates and wine tasting weekends – ST TROPEZ

If you’re looking to refresh and refocus after summer, head to St Tropez where there are two high-demand Pilates and wine tasting weekends scheduled at a stunning villa.
Villa Margaret 045
The villa is in L’Escalet, which is about 20 minutes from St Tropez centre and in the gorgeous national park area of Ramatuelle – also just 10 minutes from the infamous Pampelonne beach.
The dates are:
  • Friday 9th October – Monday 12th (3 nights) and
  • Friday 16th – Monday 19th October (3 nights).
Each weekend will include two Pilates classes a day (either in the villa or on the beach) taught by Ruth Tongue (www.ruthtongue.com), a wine tasting and bicycle/walking tour, hike and picnic and optional other activities (paddle boarding, kayaking, beauty treatments, massage, cookery).

Villa Margaret 049

All meals will be healthy and nutritious, yet by no means a detox. When in the south of France who doesn’t want to enjoy a little bread, cheese and wine?! (Hence why it’s called a holiday not a retreat!). If you are keen to have a healthier weekend though there will always be lighter options available and special diets can be catered for.
Villa Margaret 055
The villa sleeps 10 (5 double bedrooms). Prices are £495 per person (based on sharing a double room) or £565 for a double room with single supplement.
This includes brunch each day, picnic on two days and three dinners. Flights and transfers not included.
Villa Margaret 058
There are just two rooms left for the first weekend, and the second weekend is also booking up quickly so if you’d like any more info contact Ruth as soon as you can via email ruth@ruthtongue.com
About Ruth: Ruth is an MSc qualified Nutritionist, health writer and online editor with a background in Sport and Exercise Science and dance. She has worked in the health and wellbeing industry for over ten years, providing health coaching and nutrition and fitness advice to a range of clients. She is a qualified STOTT Pilates instructor and regularly runs retreats in Mallorca, the south of France and the UK as well as teaching across London.

FREE August concerts on the French Riviera

I love a good concert – and even better when it’s free!  Who could resist compiling a summary of some of the free concerts happening in the region during August?

This isn’t an  exhaustive list but I hope you find the time to attend some of these.  Enjoy!


12 August: Brazilian music, 7pm at place Marinoni

19 August: Pop rock, 7pm at place Marinoni

26 August: Gipsy concert, 7pm at place Marinoni


14 August:  DJ’s and bands at promenade de la Plage, 8.30pm onwards followed by fireworks at 10.15pm in the bay by Cros-de-Cagnes


14 August: Janysett McPherson Trio, 9pm at place du Château (Haut-de-Cagnes)

21 August: Spongefingers band, 9pm at place du Château (Haut-de-Cagnes)

22 August: Benty Brothers, 6pm-7.30pm at place de Gaulle

28 August: La Bande à Bruzzo, 9pm at place du Château (Haut-de-Cagnes)

29 August: Sandra & Nicolas, 6pm-7.30pm at place de Gaulle



12 August:  South-West traditional chants, 9pm at place de l’Église


Regular weekly concerts including jazz and covers bands. Programme here La Colle sur Loup



14 August:  Brazilian concert, 8.45pm at place Bellevue

21 August: Jazz concert, 8.45pm at place Bellevue

29 August:  Variety concert, 8.45pm at place Foch


16 August: Organ concert (Korean musician Shin Young Lee & French musician Olivier Latry), 5pm at Cathédrale de Monaco

29 August:  The Little Soul Club from 7.30pm at Restaurant La Marée, and Charles Pasi and Mika, from 9pm at place du Casino


13 August: White Party with DJ Max, 8.30pm at place des Patriotes



15 and 28 August: Prom Party with 7 stages, 9.30pm-11.30pm at promenade des Anglais


15 August: Soul music (covers of Aretha Franklin by Kristaa Williams), 9pm at Théâtre sur la mer


14 August:  Amy Winehouse tribute concert, 9.30pm at Théâtre de Verdure St Georges

15 August: Stevie Wonder covers  concert, 9.30pm at Marina Baie des Angess

21 August: Ray Charles covers concert, 9.30pm at Théâtre de Verdure St Georges

5 original places to propose on the French Riviera

Today, I’m joining in with my first contribution to the ‘All About France’ Blog Link Up.

All About France is a monthly Blog Link Up that started for the first time in February 2015 and takes place every 1st Thursday of the month.  Each link-up lasts a week.

The idea is to link up any posts about France, old or new, as long as there’s something French about the subject. The idea then is that participants and readers will have fun hopping around different blogs reading and learning about France, and discovering lots of new interesting blogs along the way.

The All About France Blog Link Up is overseen by Phoebe Thomas who runs a gite in the region and writes an informative blog called Lou Messugo with tips on travel, French culture and snippets about life here as an expat.   You can subscribe to Phoebe’s blog via the link, ‘Like’ her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Why visit the French Riviera

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

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

Where to propose on the French Riviera

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

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

Forget about a clichéd luxury hotel or Michelin-starred restaurant – here are Access Riviera’s picks for 5 original places to propose on the French Riviera:

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

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

Orion Treehouses, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

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


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

natural swimming pool at Orion Treehouses

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


2. Circuit de  l’Aiguille, Théoule-sur-Mer

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

Esterel rocks on the N98 coastal road

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

secluded beaches on the Circuit d'Aiguille

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


3. Batterie de la Convention, Île Sainte-Marguerite

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

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

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

eucalyptus and pine-fringed pathways dissect Île Sainte-Marguerite

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

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

4. Col de Vence

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

Col de Vence in winter

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

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

Col de Vence moonscape

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

5. A Mongolian yurt, Villars sur Var

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

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

Yurts of Domette, Villars sur Var

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


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


Lou Messugo

Fête de la Renaissance – 03 and 04 August – Villeneuve Loubet

I really enjoy all the traditional festivals in France and it doesn’t matter when you visit the French Riviera you will always find some type of celebration or traditional event to attend.

Traditional festivals here are based on historical re-enactments, patron saints, food (including chocolate, bread, chestnuts), the wine harvest, flowers, agriculture, the ocean, and more.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, head along to Villeneuve Loubet village on Monday 03 August and Tuesday 04 August because it is the Fête de la Renaissance.

(images: villeneuve-renaissance)

(images: villeneuve-renaissance)

This event is a re-enactment of the arrival of King Francois 1 in Villeneuve Loubet in 1538 for the signing of the Nice truce with Charles Quint and Villeneuve Loubet morphs into a 16th-century village complete with taverns, music, parades, medieval games, workshops about medieval cooking, iron forgery, calligraphy, art and more.

The event starts at 6pm with animations lasting until midnight.

More information is at the official website www.villeneuve-renaissance.com