Happy New Year / Bonne Année 2016 – French Riviera

Access Riviera would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year / Bonne Année and best wishes for a prosperous 2016!   Thank you for all the likes, comments and shares this year and I hope your coming year is filled with success and smiles.

Happy New Year / Bonne Année from Access Riviera

Happy New Year / Bonne Année from Access Riviera

If you are still not sure what to do for New Years Eve tonight, or New Years Day (Jour de l’an) tomorrow which is a bank holiday, here are a few suggestions:

NEW YEARS EVE

The following hotels or restaurants all have New Years Eve (Saint-Sylvestre) menus, and/or New Year Day brunch or lunch menus:-

  • Alain Llorca, La Colle sur Loup
  • Bruno Oger, Le Cannet
  • Grand Hyatt Hôtel Martinez Cannes
  • Hôtel Belles Rives, Juan les Pins
  • Hôtel Juana, Juan les Pins
  • Hôtel Negresco, Nice

Impression

  • L’authentic Restaurant, Nice
  • Le Mas Candille, Mougins
  • Majestic Barriere, Cannes
  • News Caffé, Juan les Pins
  • Splendid Hôtel & Spa, Nice

Zazen Bar in Antibes has New Years Eve DJ’s and salmon and foie gras on offer

The Wine Pier in Villefranche has live music

– Cannes will have a free fireworks display in the Bay of Cannes at midnight based around a Star Wars theme

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– Monaco will have a free fireworks display at midnight, with DJ’s from 9.30pm at the Christmas Market

NEW YEARS DAY

– The Antibes Cathedral has a New Year’s Day service from 11am

– There is a New Years Day swim (bain du jour de l’an) at Golfe Juan beach at 11am with free mulled wine for the participants

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– Juan les Pins has a fireworks display in the bay at 6pm

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL / BONNE ANNÉE À TOUS from Access Riviera!

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#Coffee4Charity: Swapping coffee beans for classroom supplies

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Chances for Children’s President Gabrielle Crump, and photographer Justin Gage who had recently visited Uganda to check progress on the Chances for Children orphanage.

The orphanage is home for 58 former street children who have been rescued from the streets in Uganda and given a fresh start in life. Regular fundraising events aim to improve the day-to-day running of the orphanage and provide essential supplies for the children such as clothing, school equipment and medication.

Gabrielle, her husband Russell, Justin, General Secretary Laetitia Zwaans, plus a Juan Les Pins-based dentist Pierre Seneca provided vital support, planning and direction on their recent visit – Pierre even undertook dental treatment to all of the children at the orphanage at his own expense which is wonderful as this treatment is very expensive in Uganda. They are also planning to start looking for land to build the Chances for Children school campus, which is one of several projects for 2016.

#Coffee4Charity: Why donate your coffee money to charity?

#Coffee4Charity is an initiative that will run from 01 January 2016 to 31 January 2016 with the aim to raise money for the Chances for Children orphanage in Uganda.

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Giving up your coffee for a day, a week or the entire month of January is a novel way to contribute funds towards the people that need it most – the children at the orphanage.

Whether you choose to forgo your cup of morning decaf or your regular Starbucks, your coffee money will support a project of hope and could feed a child, contribute to sports equipment or buy school supplies.

Gain moral support from fellow coffee addicts and share your challenge by using the dedicated event hashtag #Coffee4Charity on social media.

About Chances for Children

Chances for Children is a Monaco registered charity and an Ugandan NGO that raises money which goes to supporting, running and financing a children’s orphanage in Uganda.

Every single euro raised through fundraisers on the French Riviera and in Monaco goes directly to the children at the orphanage. The team all work free of charge and any administration costs come out of their own pockets rather from money raised for the orphanage.

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How to donate

It’s very simple to donate via the use of their online donation platform. In just a few clicks you can donate through a totally secure website from anywhere in the world.

For #Coffee4Charity donations, simply donate your coffee money for January via the ‘Donate Now’ button on the Chances 4 Children website www.c4c.mc or contact Access Riviera via email accessriviera06@gmail.com for further information (Access Riviera can facilitate Paypal donations and will cover the small expense of any Paypal fees for receiving your donation).

Alternatively, you can also purchase wall calendars for €15.99 + shipping each, available by pre-order by emailing Justin Gage at justin@hypefashions.com

Chances for Children fundraising calendar

Chances for Children fundraising calendar

2016 Fundraising Events

Stay tuned for further fundraising events to be held throughout 2016 that include:

  • ‘Game of Rhones’ wine tasting night
  • Monster March (family-event with sponsored fancy dress walk)
  • Teddy Bears Picnic
  • Skate park day (DJ’s, food trucks, raffle with prizes from surf shops)

Web Links:

Please visit the Chances 4 Children website http://www.c4c.mc

Please ‘Like’ their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Chances-For-Children-Foundation-874833302548228/timeline/

Read Justin Gage’s heart felt blog about their last visit to Uganda here: http://www.justingagephotostudio.com/new-blog/2015/11/6/mzungo-photographer-in-uganda

Image credits:

Logo courtesy of Chances for Children; all images credited to Justin Gage from Justin Gage Photo Studio.

Don’t forget to share your progress throughout January on social media using the hashtag #Coffee4Charity.  

Thank you to Charity News UK, Charity Sharer, Coffee Drinkers Gear, Coffee Nut Staff, Coffee Crew UK  and Experience the French Riviera for their promotion of this fundraising project!

 

French Riviera volunteers needed for UEFA Euro 2016

The city of Nice has launched a recruitment drive to find volunteers for UEFA Euro 2016 which will be held in France from 10 June to 10 July 2016.

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The role of volunteers

There is a need for around 560 volunteers to help across 17 sectors including spectator services, media relations, VIP services, transport, marketing, ticketing etc.

Volunteers will welcome, inform and direct supporters and tourists with a big focus on the Fan Zones in the heart of Nice.

Where are the Fan Zones in Nice for Euro 2016?

There are 2 dedicated Fan Zones – one is situated between Théatre de Verdure and Jardins Albert 1er and has a capacity to host 10,000 people on the evenings of the matches with 2 giant screens relaying live coverage and restaurants onsite.  The other Fan Zone is a 8000sqm area on quai des États-Unis.

What are the dates of the matches in Nice?

There will be 4 matches played in Nice at Stade de Nice / Allianz Riviera (CAPACITY: 36,000).  The dates are:

  • 12 June 2016
  • 17 June 2016
  • 22 June 2016
  • 27 June 2016

5 Facts about UEFA Euro 2016

  1. There will be 54 teams at qualifying, with 24 teams in the final stages.
  2. The mascot is called Super Victor and is a small boy with a cape and magic shoes – keep a look out for #MascotteDay events leading up to the matches. You can also follow him on Twitter @SuperVictor
  3. Around 2.5 million spectators will watch the matches in the stadiums in France, with each match estimated to attract 150 million television viewers from 230 countries.
  4. Nice is one of 10 cities that will host the final phase matches. The other host cities are Bordeaux, Lens Agglo, Lille Métropole, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Étienne and Toulouse.
  5. The Ambassador for Nice is Daniel Bravo, winner of UEFA EURO 1984.

Did you know?

Cannes will be a team base camp and training location. See here: https://teambasecampseuro2016.uefa.ch/team-base-camps/cannes/training-ground#top

Criteria to become a volunteer:

  1. You must be aged 18 as at 01 April 2016.
  2. You must be available for the 4 Nice match dates
  3. You must be fluent in French with a good level of English

Important steps to become a volunteer:

  1. Pre-register your interest by sending an  email to benevoles.nice2016@ville-nice.fr
  2. Attend the Volunteers Meeting at MAMAC (Musée d’art modern et d’art contemporain) in Nice on 15 January 2016.
  3. After the Volunteers Meeting, if you are still interested reconfirm your interest by sending another email to benevoles.nice2016@ville-nice.fr

Important note for persons with reduced mobility:

All matches will be accessible for all spectators under criteria from UEFA and CAFE (Centre pour l’access au football en Europe).  If you need specific advice regarding accessibility in Nice for the matches, transport, accommodation or Fan Zones please contact me via email: accessriviera06@gmail.com

Weblink: UEFA Euro 2016 – Nice info

Star Wars Giveaway with Access Riviera

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released in France!
For any Jedis out there, the French Riviera cinemas screening it in Version Originale (English) are:
Antibes (in 3D)
Cap’Cinéma at the Polygone shopping centre in Cagnes-sur-Mer
Cinémas Variétiés, blvd Victor Hugo in Nice (3D and normal)
Pathé Massena in Nice (3D)
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS GIVEAWAY
In conjunction with the French movie release, Access Riviera is giving away 3 Limited Edition Star Wars Stamp Collector Sets courtesy of La Poste.
Each set has 4 stamps depicting Darth Vader, Yoda, R2D2 and C3PO and a Stormtrooper.
There is a circulation of just 80,000 sets worldwide so don’t miss your chance to enter my giveaway!
StarWars
 TO ENTER:
1.  ‘Like‘ and then ‘Share‘ the Access Riviera Facebook Page
2.  Comment on the Star Wars post on the Access Riviera Facebook Page – Who is your favourite Star Wars character from any of the Star Wars films?
3. That’s it!  I’ll draw 3 winners at random on the morning of Wednesday 23 December 2015 with each Collector Set being posted out that day.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the 7th instalment of the Star Wars franchise, and is directed by J. J Abrams, produced by Lucasfilm Ltd/Bad Robot Productions with distribution by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.  Large elements were filmed in Ireland, England and Abu Dhabi. The film premiered in Los Angeles 14 December 2015, had its public release in France yesterday and is scheduled for North American release 18 December 2015.
The Force Awakens is set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, where the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire have become the Resistance and the First Order respectively, and follows new leads Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron alongside characters returning from previous Star Wars films.
Images: All images copyright and reproduced – La Poste and Lucasfilm Ltd/Bad Robot Productions/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Please share this post – May the Force be with you!

12 Days of Christmas on the French Riviera

Ho ho ho! The festive season has crept up on me once again and I’ve been so busy with my kids picking up every cough or virus found on a school playground, and juggling lots of Christmas events that I didn’t get around to compiling my annual Christmas Market list.

Not to worry, I have put my candy cane-where-my-mouth-is and have been inspired to write a new post. If you are visiting the French  Riviera during the festive season, here is Access Riviera’s take on ‘12 Days of Christmas’ with travel tips, things I like and a few sneaky gift ideas (I promise there will be no partridges in pear trees, or geese-a-laying!).

Joyeux Noel!

1.  Visit the Christmas Markets (Marchés du Noel)

I was slow off the mark in compiling my Christmas Market list this year, however most towns will have a Christmas Market leading up to Christmas Day and some even extend until early January.

We usually visit Antibes and Cannes; other impressive markets are held at Nice and Monaco. For next year, if you want to visit a more traditional market head to Le Rouret (which has already passed a few weeks ago).

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Christmas Markets are great for the whole family with wooden chalets selling everything from tree decorations to candy floss and woollen scarves. There are often amusement rides for children, ice skating rinks or luges.

This link has an overview of some of the region’s best markets:

http://sortircotedazur.com/agenda/les-marches-de-noel-sur-la-cote-dazur/

  1. Buy some delicious macarons in Cagnes-sur-Mer

Macarons are quintessentially French, and the flavour combinations can be quite surprising. I have to quickly walk past one of our local patisseries because every time we pass by the shop assistant shouts out ‘Bonjour’ to my eldest son who dashes in and immediately starts ordering ‘une fraise et vanille macaron, s’il vous plait’. You know you spend too much time in a patisserie when they are on a first name basis with your child 🙂

If you love macarons, don’t fight the temptation any more – head along to Mic Mac Macaron in Cagnes-sur-Mer for amazing creations from Bruno Laffargue.

Flavours include the classics such as lemon, vanilla, salted caramel and passionfruit through to the more exciting combinations of licorice, apple and cinnamon and chestnut and litchee. Monsieur Laffargue even whips up savoury macarons with notes of truffle and parmesan.

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  1. Relax in Juan les Pins

Winter is quiet season in Juan les Pins; if there were tumbleweeds available you would definitely see them rolling down the street. So, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of having the seafront promenade, parks and restaurants all to yourself.

I recommend a meal at the beautiful La Passagère at the Hôtel Belles Rives, and if you return to Juan les Pins and want a low-key suggestion for somewhere to stay in warmer months that has good hospitality, book a room at La Villa. La Villa is within walking distance to Port Gallice and Juan les Pins and has modern rooms, free Wifi and free carparking. Don’t forget to ask to buy a bottle of champagne as the hotel owner Vincent is originally from the Champagne region and he and his brother own 2 vineyards there and sell the champagne to hotel guests.

  1. Art and indulgence in Mougins

Mougins is filled with top notch restaurants and interesting art galleries and has attracted many creative types – it has been a visiting place for Cocteau, Leger, Man Rey and most famously Pablo Picasso who spent the last 12 years of his life there.

My suggestion is to roam the streets as there are plenty of galleries to see just walking around, or if you prefer a more structured tour visit this link courtesy of the Mougins Tourist Office website here for directions to the town’s galleries and workshops.

I recommend any art / history enthusiast visit the excellent Mougins Museum of Classical Art – highly under rated as an attraction in this region with eclectic collections of Greek and Roman coins and busts, armoury and contemporary art including Damien Hirst’s ‘Happy Head’ skull, ‘Birth of Venus’ by Andy Warhol and ‘Venue Bleue’, the striking blue torso by Yves Klein who is buried in La Colle sur Loup.

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After a morning of art overload, head to the 5-star surrounds of Le Mas Candille where you can enjoy a meal at Le Candille overlooking the Mougins valley, or be pampered at their Shiseido Spa with facials or a massage. Check their website prior to booking as they have special offers for the Spa, hotel and restaurant.

  1. Scents of France

The French are renowned for perfume creation, and if you have a tendency for olfactory purchases you’ll find it difficult to visit the French Riviera without acquiring a bottle of parfum or two.

Most tourists make a bee line for Grasse, the historic perfume-making centre where you can visit the Musée International de la Parfumerie, or tour one of the perfume factories to learn the process and perhaps join a workshop to blend your very own scent.

If you want to buy perfume you don’t have to look far anywhere on the French Riviera for shelves stocked with major brands as well as limited edition fragrances from exclusive perfume houses. While I know it’s perfectly fine to buy off the shelf at Fragonard, Molinard, Marionnaud and Galeries Lafayette, here are my shopping suggestions if you want something a bit special:

  • Parfums Gaglewski is a small perfume shop located on a cobblestoned Grasse street, non-descript it could be a boutique in any French town but the difference lies in the man who owns it. Didier Gaglewski is beyond passionate about perfume and if you’re seeking an authentic and personal experience, this is a good place to start.
  • Parfumerie Tanagra on rue Alphonse Kerr in Nice is part of an Institut de Beauté that retails cosmetics, jewellery and leather goods as well as major brands and rare brands of perfumes.
  • In Monaco, the chic Paris8 retails all the luxury perfume brands you may need (Chanel, Guerlain, Hermes, D&G etc) as well as rare fragrances (they also have gift sets and gift cards if you need to buy a birthday, Valentines or Christmas present for your significant other). They are also a stockist for the Arquiste Parfumeur range, so if you can grab a bottle of their Fleur de Louis perfume do it before word gets out.
  1. Dine in a historic abbey in La Colle sur Loup

Open daily (except Monday and Tuesday in winter), Le 541 is the restaurant of the Hôtel l’Abbaye La Colle sur Loup and is a perfect place to dine in the cloister on a crisp winters day or by the fireplace when the temperature cools down.

This historically-listed monument (formerly known as Abbaye du Canadel) is popular for weddings in the 12th-century chapel (rumour has it Brigitte Bardot held one of her marriage ceremonies in the chapel) and has a rich history being owned over the centuries by Bishops, Lords, the monks of the Lérins Islands and a former Head Chef of the Negresco Hotel.

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  1. Spend the day with the kids in Monaco

Monaco has a great Christmas market and often has some of the best festive decorations and lights, especially at place du Casino.

Start the day watching the free Changing of the Guards ceremony outside the Palais Princier at 11.55am sharp, before heading to either the Monaco Oceanarium or Monaco Top Cars.

The Monaco Oceanarium has enough sea life displays to keep even the smallest members of your family entertained and a play area, turtle enclosure and cafeteria on the rooftop offer a nice place to have a break if things start to go pear-shaped inside the museum.

Highlights include the shark lagoon and watching the staff feeding the fish during school holidays. There is a touch pool which is a nice interactive activity for small children – it can’t be pre-booked online but ask at the Ticket Office; an additional €6 fee applies.

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Monaco Top Cars located on the Terrasses de Fontvieille is open 10am-6pm daily (except on Christmas Day) and is a superb vehicle collection curated by H.S.H. Prince Rainier III of Monaco with displays across categories such as military, sports cars, vintage, and prestige – there are even horse-drawn carriages to see.

Cool cars for little ones to spot include a 1921 Peugeot Quadrilette, 1928 Hispano Suiza, 1953 Cadillac, 1986 Lamborghini Countach and Maserati. The exhibition space is accessible for families with baby strollers, or persons with restricted mobility.

To finish, treat the kids to some delicious chocolates – my recommendation is the Chocolaterie et Confiserie de Monaco located not far from the Monaco Oceanarium. Kids will be charmed by the Grand Prix and Monaco Circus-themed chocolate boxes, or win them over with yummy chocolates fit for any Petit Prince or Princess shaped like Monagasque crowns.

My Top Tip: If you want to visit the Monaco Oceanarium AND inside the Palais Princier there is a combined ticket available at either Ticket Office.

  1. Coffee and culture in Saint Paul de Vence

Saint Paul de Vence is one of the most popular villages in the region, and it’s a ‘go-to’ place if you want to visit somewhere with the right mix of art, culture, authenticity and tourism.

Busy in summer, it is still worthwhile to visit in autumn and winter when the paved streets aren’t so frenetic and you can wander at your own pace without fear of being mowed down by a tourist on a hurried shopping trip before they embark on their tour bus.

For a suggested free tour, read my previous blog post where I designed 2 discovery tours of the village – the first tour is aimed at families who have baby strollers and allows for a few stairs that are manageable; the second tour is aimed at wheelchair-bound tourists and avoids the village’s stairs and tries as much as possible to stick to flat ground.   Feedback is welcome! https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/sightseeing-saint-paul-de-vence/

These tours in no way replace the excellent guided tours offered by the Saint Paul de Vence Tourist Information Office but are merely my suggestions from on-the-ground knowledge to allow all tourists to experience the village.

Afterwards, stop at the Café de la Place at the village entrance where you can enjoy a coffee as you watch the locals play boules (if you fancy learning what pieds tanqués or cochonnet means, you can hire a boules set from the Tourist Office for €4 per person).

Another excellent attraction is the Fondation Maeght, an art museum surrounded by nature, exhibiting a collection of modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures. The modern architecture of Catalan architect Josep Lluis Sert surrounds the artworks of Giacometti, Adami, Braque, Chagall, Léger, and Calder. The garden encircling the main building is an open-air gallery, where Mediterranean trees coexist with sculptures by Giacometti and Miró, mosaics by Chagall, the pool by Braque, and many other artworks.

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My Top Tip: A Côte d’Azur Card gives you free entrance to the Fondation Maeght, the Folon Chapel and the Museum of Local History, plus a tour of the village with a guide from the Saint Paul de Vence Tourist Information Office. The Cards are available for sale at regional Tourist Offices and other sightseeing locations and are worthwhile if you are doing lots of sightseeing.

  1. Nice Off The Beaten Path

Nice is a wonderful city with vibrant events, a buzzing Old Town (Vieux Nice) firmly entrenched with Italian heritage, superb restaurants and bars and the longest seafront promenade along the whole French Riviera coast. It also hosts one of the best and biggest regional Christmas markets.

So, how do you find those hidden gems in a city that attracts millions of tourists each year?

Here are a few of my suggestions:

Market life: Every visitor to Nice knows about the flower/fruit/veges/brocante market on Cours Saleya, and many are aware of the fish markets on Place Saint-François and at Marché de la Liberation.

However, in my opinion, 2 of the most interesting markets are found away from Cours Saleya at nearby Place du Palais de Justice.

Here, you’ll find a Book Market (Marché aux livres anciens et d’occasion) held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month (Hours: 7am-5pm in winter and 7am-7pm in summer) with second-hand novels, old mariner’s manuals and rare books, complete with dusty and faded patinas.

The last Saturday of each month is a vintage Postcard Market (Marché aux cartes postale anciennes) where you can buy Edwardian postcards of Nice. Keep an eye out for Editions Gilletta postcards, or if you want a collection of vintage keepsakes you can buy one of their books here http://www.editionsgilletta.com/livre/promenade-des-anglais-vues-anciennes

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Artisan: Atelier de Reliure is a unique shop indeed. They specialize in using traditional methods to repair old books or photo albums by hand, adapting their working processes depending on the era of the book, leather, paper used, mounting and the binding. They can also create bespoke boxes and cases adorned with gold leaf, family crests or company logos.

Kids: Nice has some excellent children’s stores and my recommendations if you’re looking for funky kids décor, furniture, toys or storage is to head to Emilie & Compagnie or Vibel Nature.

Photography: Anyone interested in photography should make a date to visit Darkroom Galerie on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday. They have rotating exhibitions of established and emerging photographers, and offer art tours of Nice as well as online sales of photographs.

Gifts: Located close to Place Rossetti is a fabulous shop for gifts for women (Take note my male readers because this shop will score you brownie points for life). La Boutique du Flacon is something out of a Moulin Rouge-Marie Antoinette dream with glass and crystal perfume atomizers, hand-crafted crystal music boxes, Murano jewellery, fine glass bonbonneries and bathroom jars, pretty photo frames, evening bags and hand-painted contemporary and vintage perfume bottles. Divine!

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Cascade de Gairaut: Situated on a hill above Nice, this is a peaceful place for a casual walk beside a canal that passes olive and fig trees.

The cascade is an artificial waterfall that oxygenated the water from the Vésubie before being distributed in the city and was a popular tour stopover in the early 20th century.

The whole site is listed as a Historic Monument and includes an Austrian-style chalet overlooking the cascade and drop pools with caves complete with fake stalactites – it’s an odd sight in the hills of Nice, but the view is excellent.

For a map and directions for this walk, download the free pdf here (Boucle découverte – Gairaut / Rimiez) https://www.nice.fr/fr/visites-decouverte-de-nice/boucles-decouvertes

  1. Venture to Valbonne

Valbonne, literally translated as the ‘good valley’ as it was known as Vallis Bona in past years, is comprised of 2 parts – the old 16th-century village in the northwest, and the commercial / technological area of Sophia Antipolis in the east, the French Riviera’s equivalent of California’s Silicon Valley.

The village is laid out in a grid pattern and has some lovely shops and restaurants with L’Auberge Provençal at the Valbonne Square an excellent place to sit with a drink and people watch.

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Stop into L.A. Galerie to view Ada Loumani’s beautiful glass vases that are both functional and sculptural, or visit Création Boselli – L’Olivieroi, a shop where Jean Pierre Boselli makes products such as mortars, trays, fruit bowls and unique perfume bottles from precious wood.

Afterwards, take a walk along the River Brague that falls under the designation of the Parc Départmental de la Brague; the park contains the remains of the Roman aqueduct that fed Antibes however the remains are unmarked and unsigned (which is actually one of the charms of many of the walks in the region as you stumble across ruins all the time). The trails are pleasant, cool and shaded (so make sure you come back in warmer months when you need to escape the summer heat!).

Another option is to hire vintage motorbikes and explore the Arriere-Pays from Valbonne. Motorent offer a range of classic or retro motorbikes including the 1950’s styling of a Royal Enfield, Triumph Bonneville T100 or a Ducati Scrambler. Specific conditions apply for rentals – if you are an international visitor you will need an international license plus proof of hotel etc – and you will need to check the minimum age and security deposit required.

Suggested scenic itineraries could be the Gorges du Loup, Col de Bleine, the Vésubie and Tinée Valleys, the red rock-lined roads of the Gorges du Cians with a detour to Entrevaux (between June and September, you can visit the free Motorcycle Museum ) or the Gorges de l’Estaron where heading to St Auban you pass a surprising chapel grotto cut into the rock.

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  1. Grab your holiday essentials in Cannes

Christmas is a busy period for travel, with people arriving and departing by car, plane, bus or train to visit friends and family for the festive season.

If you’re heading somewhere over the holiday break, Cannes is a great place to stock up on last-minute gifts or any holiday essentials you’ll need for a getaway.

Tumi opened its first luggage store (24 rue du Commandant André) in Cannes earlier this year, and if you’re a frequent jetsetter you’ll easily find a stylish overnight bag or suitcase that will take the knocks and bumps that come with travelling. Grab some luggage then cross the road for lunch or coffee at Bobo Bistro.

Treat your body to goodies from French chain L’Occitane, who make things easy at Christmas with a large range of pre-packaged gift sets, then skip along to Pharmacie Anglo-Française who retail the amazing Marvis toothpaste imported from Italy. If you’ve never tried Marvis toothpaste, the apothecary-inspired tubes are beautiful and it has a range with flavours such as Ginger Mint and Amarelli Licorice. Conveniently they come in standard size and travel sized miniatures. If there was ever a time to rave about toothpaste this is my chance.

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For fun, colourful and kitschy gifts, Pylones on rue d’Antibes has everything from astronaut lamps to quirky earbuds and bento boxes. A great place for stocking fillers if you can’t be bothered with the €2 Shops or Maxi Bazaars.

Slick and modern, Projecteurs name drops Dries van Noten, Marni and Giambattista Valli among its list of designers represented in their contemporary store. Retailing clothing, shoes, skincare, accessories and jewellery for both men and women you can pick up high-end designer items pricing hundreds of euros upwards or stocking stuffers including cartoon-themed USB sticks for under €20. Check out their website as they add end-of-line stock under the ‘Outlet’ section where you can often buy designer goods at 50% discount.

I love StyleJunky’s byline – Babies Welcome, Dogs Welcome, Beginners Welcome, Try on something you can’t afford – spend now, worry later. It’s a fitting mantra for a cool store that seamlessly makes fashion more than just about style. They stock international and emerging designers as well as skin care from Mad et Len and outrageous sneakers from Golden Goose Deluxe Brand that are sure to get your feet noticed.

  1. Hit the slopes

The Alpes-Maritimes region has 15 ski resorts to suit all abilities with most set up with accommodation, ski schools, ski hire shops and restaurants. The closest resort to the coast is Gréolières-des-Neiges, though more reliable snow and more facilities are found at Isola 2000, Auron, Valberg and La Foux d’Allos which has the most extensive network in the region (180 kms of pistes).

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You can hire skis, snowboards, helmets up at the resorts though its advisable to take your own ski clothing if possible especially during school holidays when demand is high. Nothing kills a ski trip faster than having no gear.

For webcams, weather and resort info for Isola 2000: http://hiver.isola2000.com/webcam

For webcams, weather and resort info for Auron: http://hiver.auron.com/

If you prefer, you can also hire equipment down on the coast and transport it with you; sometimes the rates can be cheaper than at the resorts. A few suggested hire shops are Aventure Cote d’Azur (Nice) and Newrider (Antibes).

My Top Tips: Departing from outside the main train station in Nice, Lignes Azur operate a ‘100% Neige’ bus service that goes daily to Auron, Isola 2000, Valberg** and on weekends to La Colmiane**, and Le Boréon**. (** Valberg, La Colmiane, Le Boréon service commences 19 December). The journeys take 2 hours plus so bear that in mind.

Tickets can be pre-booked online at www.lignesazur.com from the French website as the English version doesn’t have the booking facility – cost: €4 oneway / €8 return online, instead of €5 / €10 with no pre-booking. The bus timetables are found here: http://www.lignesdazur.com/ftp/documents_FR/FlyerDec2015_100p100neigeBD.pdf

Isola and Auron have Vente Flash (Flash Sales) on Tuesdays after 8 pm where you can get lift tickets for half price, go to their websites to snap up the deals each Tuesday night as passes are limited.

Thanks for reading my ’12 Days of Christmas’ blog post! If you liked it, please share on Facebook or Twitter.

Joyeux Noel to all my readers and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2016 from Becks at Access Riviera.

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Wine, Truffles & Foie Gras Market

Even in winter, the French Riviera is lucky to experience mostly clear, crisp days with minimal rainfall so traditional festivals and celebrations can be held outside in town squares or rural settings.

Today, Saturday 12 December, any foodie who hasn’t started devouring  festive staples such as oysters or pain d’épice can make a trip to Le Rouret for the 1st Wine, Truffles & Foie Gras Market (Marché du Vin, des Truffes et Foie Gras) that marks the start of the black truffle season for the Alpes-Maritimes department.

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Le Rouret is the departmental capital of truffles, and for 18 years the town has dedicated plots of land for truffles.  In fact, the truffle union (yes, it exists!) even prepares a truffle meal at the school cantine for local children to awaken their taste buds so they can experience the subtle flavour.

The festival will have truffle vendors, entertainment and food stalls. At 7.15pm, chef Daniel Ettlinger of Michelin-starred local restaurant Le Clos Saint-Pierre will create truffle tasting dishes with an apéritif for festival attendees.

In continuation, 10 January is the 20th Marché du Truffes at Place du Rouret.

What: Marché du Vin, des Truffes et Foie Gras

Where: Place de la Libération, Le Rouret

Time: 10am-9pm