Carnaval for Kids – VILLENEUVE LOUBET Sat 27 Feb

With all the major festivals on during February, some of the nicest events to take your children to are the smaller local carnivals.

Next weekend on Saturday, Villeneuve Loubet is hosting a free ‘Carnaval for Kids’ between 1pm-5pm with entertainment including:

  • Music from Jazz Band Cannet
  • Giant wooden games
  • Face painting
  • Bouncy castles
  • Best dressed costume competition
  • Pêche aux canards
  • Lots of games with prizes to win


All the action will be centred at place de l’Hôtel de Ville and place Carnot so pop by if you’re not a fan of big crowds that will be at the other regional festivals.



Charity sale – Adults & Childrenswear, Toys, Books – ANTIBES Sat 27 Feb

Everyone is welcome at a charity sale with new and pre-loved adults and children’s clothes, toys and books to be hosted in Antibes on Saturday 27 February between 10.30am-4.30pm.

All proceeds go to Chances for Children Foundation ( with some great bargains on the day across brands including Gap, Esprit and Next.

Charity Clothes Sale - all proceeds to Chances for Children

Charity Clothes Sale – all proceeds to Chances for Children

There will also be mini photo shoots – €10 for 5 photos so its a perfect opportunity to capture your little ones smiling faces!

What:  Charity Clothes Sale

Where:  L’Amiraute Café, 3-4 Place Amiral Bernaud, 06600 ANTIBES

From:  10.30am-4.30pm

Carpool to a château or art gallery? Why not! CovoitureArt

Now, having no car or adversity to using public transport is a thing of the past if you desire to visit art galleries, museums or historical places of interest throughout France – welcome to the concept of CovoitureArt!

We’ve all seen car sharing sites emerge such as BlaBlaCar, ID Vroom, La Roue Verte and Covoiture Libre, but CovoitureArt aims to specifically bridge the link between carpooling and art.



The concept

Many cultural sites throughout France – châteaux, museums, religious sites, festivals – require the use of a car, however more often than not the resources of using the car (petrol, parking expenses etc) are wasted. Why not meet others who share cultural interests to visit these sites of art, culture and heritage?

CovoitureArt aims to facilitate the meeting of people who consider carpooling a social resource with a cultural way to get together.


Cheaper than the train, faster than cycling – other than the carpooling cost there is a low commission of just €1,90 per passenger regardless of trip length which I think is very reasonable for an A to B journey that saves time with public transport schedules

Meet others with similar cultural interests

Discover lesser known sites and attractions – I noticed most of the major museums/galleries on the map for the French Riviera, as well as the inclusion of lesser promoted museums such Musée National du Sport and Musée Départmental des Merveilles which is great

Special CovoitureArt discounts at partner sites



Dates for visiting must match your needs

Some of the web links I checked for the French Riviera weren’t functioning (e.g. Musée Fernand Léger, Musée Renoir)

Website is in French language only which is a shame for expats whose French is below par and international travellers especially backpackers who would really find this site useful, however navigating on the site is quite intuitive so not reading French isn’t a major issue (it would only pose problems creating your user account which you could easily bypass using online translation tools).

For more information, visit the official website


Menton’s Lemon Festival: A Zesty Au Revoir to Winter!

This month’s #AllAboutFrance post hosted by Lou Messugo is a zesty way to say ‘Au Revoir’ to winter!  Menton on the French-Italian border is blessed with high sunshine hours and it is this climate that supports the growth of citrus fruits, in particular the famous Mentonnais lemon.


Each year in February the town celebrates its citrusy wonders by hosting Fête du Citron, literally the Lemon Festival, which is being held this year from Sunday 13 February  to Wednesday 02 March.

The origins of the festival

The festival began back in the late 19th century when Menton was thriving as a winter resort, and it was a novel way of providing entertainment for locals and convalescing visitors who believed the mild climate would help their ailments.  In the 1920’s, lemons were added as a unique concept because Menton was the most significant lemon-growing town in Europe.

Menton, France, region Provence, department Alpes Maritimes, France

What to expect

Each year has a theme – 2016 is Cinecittà – so expect lots of Italian film-related sculptures, and see if you can tune in to Italian accents as you walk around; Menton is popular with Italian day trippers.

Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) official poster 2016: Theme 'Cinecittà'

Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) official poster 2016: Theme ‘Cinecittà’

The Jardins Biovès is very popular and this is where you’ll find the huge citrus sculptures.  The sculptures are very impressive, some towering 5-10 metres high and the entrance fee is very fair (in my opinion) for such a unique exhibition.  Look for masterpieces based on films from Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, Sergio Leone and many other filmmakers.

Beside the Jardins in the Palais de l’Europe you’ll find the ‘Salon de l’Artisanat’ market stalls selling citrus-themed products – artisan produce including limoncello, orange-flavoured wine, old fashioned lemonade, marmalades, curds, olive oil, vintage postcards with photographs of lemons, Provençal table linen adorned with orchard groves, ….anything and everything that can be made of citrus is there!  There is also an orchid display in the Palais.


During the festival, there is random street entertainment including buskers and costumed actors and you can buy tickets for afternoon parades or night parades with lanterns, dancers and music.  To watch a video from last year, see here:

For the duration of the festival, hotels in Menton are offering special packages including accommodation, breakfast, seated tickets for parades, unlimited entry to Jardins Biovès and more. To see the deals, head here

What happens to the citrus fruit after the Lemon Festival?

The festival uses over 145 tons of citrus fruit – lemons, oranges, agrumes – so what happens to it after the festival finishes?  Obviously, a huge percentage must be binned or composted due to rot but once the sculptures are dismantled the remainder is sold off cheaply to whoever lines up to claim their share – you can grab a kilo of lemons for 30 centimes and oranges for 50 centimes.  Even the flowers from the displays are for sale!


I think its quite comical that they put a sign ‘Jusqu’a à epuisement des stocks’ which roughly translates to ‘until stock runs out’ – I’m quite sure they haven’t ever sold the entire remaining fruit yet!

Where to buy tickets for Fête du Citron

Tickets can be pre-purchased online at or at the Menton Tourist Office, 8 avenue Boyer, 06500 Menton.

You can also buy tickets for the sculpture display only at Jardins Biovès entrance.


Day time citrus displays at Jardins Biovès (10am-6pm):  Adults €10 / Kids (6-14 years) €6

Night time citrus displays at Jardins Biovès:  Adults €13 / Kids (6-14 years) €8 (the Jardins de lumières is open from 8.30pm-10.30pm on select nights only)

Watch a Sunday afternoon Fruits d’Or parade or a Thursday night Corso Nocturne parade:

Standing:  Adults €10 / Kids (6-14 years) €6

Seated: Adults €25 / Kids (6-14 years) €10

For a routing map of where the parades go, see below:


Information for persons with reduced mobility

The festival has free entrance for persons with reduced mobility with disability cards and their accompanying person (free entrance applies only to the garden display and for the parades but without seating. You are entitled to reduced prices for a seat in the stands; accompanying companions must pay full price for a seat in the stands).

For persons with reduced mobility there is a footbridge and stairs separating half of the garden sculpture display at Jardins Biovès – however, if you are in a wheelchair you can exit at the bottom of the stairs and re-enter at the other side where the exhibition begins again (there is a gate with attendant).

The Palais de l’Europe is wheelchair accessible with an elevator to the first floor, and accessible toilets are located on the ground floor.

If you are attending the parades, there is a designated wheelchair area on Place Saint-Roch.

Getting to Menton


The central train station of Menton is called ‘Gare du Menton’, and is just 200 metres from the Jardins Biovès that host the main citrus sculptures.  Pay attention that you don’t get off at the station ‘Gare du Menton Garavan’ which is the next station heading towards Vintimille (Ventimiglia) in Italy.


It’s possible to drive there during festival time however parking can be tricky. Town car parking was fine last time we visited with no major traffic jams from the highway, though there were some street restrictions and detours around the central garden however all detours are well-signposted.

The easiest (and quickest) driving route is via the A8 highway, get off at exit 59 – for car parking, take your chances with town street parking or use the designated free car park just off the highway exit at the Intermarché Shopping Centre; regular shuttle buses link the car park and the festival sites.

If you have more time to drive, arriving to Menton via either the Moyenne Corniche or Basse Corniche offer scenic views and nice detours through the coastal towns though traffic is always busy.


Bus number 100 travels between Nice and Menton and bus number 110 travels between Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Menton.  These are regular public buses and not put on specifically for the festival. Its important to note that if you plan to attend the night parades the bus schedules from Menton to Nice do not run late in the evenings. You can find the timetables here:

Other things to do in Menton

Musée Jean Cocteau located in a modern building facing the covered market has extensive collections of the works of Jean Cocteau.

The Bastion was built in the 17th century on the harbour wall. It is a small museum that was redecorated by Jean Cocteau and until the Musée Jean Cocteau opened was the main location for his new exhibitions to be displayed there.

Quai Napoléon III - Bastion du Vieux Port

Plage des Sablettes is the main beach that curves around the Baie du Soleil and is a nice place for a stroll along the promenade or a coffee in one of the many beachside restaurants.


Basilique Saint Michel and Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs are two of Menton’s landmark churches and popular with tourists.


The Palais Carnolès which was the summer residence of the Princes of Monaco now houses the Musée des Beaux Arts with permanent and temporary art collections from the 13th century onwards.  The surrounding gardens have one of the largest fruit tree collections in Europe with grapefruit trees, clementines, oranges and lemons.

Musée de Préhistoire Régionale details the origin of rocks, fossils and prehistoric man in the Menton and Liguria regions until the end of the Bronze Age.

The Jardin Botanique et Exotique Val Rahmeh covers one hectare and is a garden full of exotic plants and trees from California, Chile, India and Mexico.

Serre de la Madonne gardens originated in 1924 by an American born in Paris, Lawrence Johnston.  In 1907, he created Hidcote Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds in England and his French version was intended to be stylish and spectacular with fountains, statuary and orangeries for exotic plants. Over 30 years he travelled and looked for plants to acclimatise back in Menton.

Jardin et Villa Maria Serena is on the seafront beside the Italian border with many species of tropical and sub-tropical plants including agaves, palm trees and cyclads.


Jardin Fontana Rosa was created in the 1920’s by Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibañez who decorated the garden with mosaic benches, ponds and busts of writers.


Laid out in tiers, Cimetière du Vieux Château (Old Château Cemetery) high above Menton has fantastic views over Plage des Sablettes. Port Menton-Garavan and to the Italian border. Famous grave sites here include William Webb Ellis (the founder of rugby) and English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley.


Useful Web Links:


Twitter:  @fete_du_citron

Lou Messugo


Chinese New Year in France & on the French Riviera

Chinese New Year, often referred to as the Spring Festival, is a major traditional holiday for most Chinese people around the world. Festive spirit is at a peak and celebrations call for the sharing of good food, family reunions and the observance of many traditions steeped in themes of good fortune, wealth and happiness.

In 2016, it is the Year of the Monkey (Red Fire Monkey) and celebrations mostly start on 08 February.

Practise how to wish a ‘Happy Chinese New Year (Gong Xi Fa Cai)’ here:


The Legend of Nian

One of the most popular legends about the origins of Chinese New Year, dates back to the Shang (Yin) Dynasty (1558 – 1046- BC) that succeeded the Xia Dynasty.

Chinese mythology describes Shang Zhou Xin (Di Xin) the last King of the dynasty causing disruption to the alignment of the planets, blocking highways with thorns and abandoning all state ruling in favour of parties and corruption. During this period, ghouls cried in the night and the festival used to be observed to fight against the monster ‘Nian’ who liked to terrorise villagers at night.

Over many years, villagers realised the monster was afraid of red colour, fire and loud sound. Therefore, people decorated their houses in red, set fires in the street, placed lanterns from their doorways and set off firecrackers to expel it.


The Lunar Calendar

Chinese New Year depends on the lunar calendar (the cycle of the moon) so it is not the same as Western New Year that falls on 01 January.

The exact date changes every year, but it usually falls on a day between 21 January to 20 February in the Gregorian calendar.

The lunar calendar signifies the change of time each year by representation of animal signs – better known as the Chinese zodiac.


There are twelve animals that repeat every twelve years; 2016 represents the ninth animal of the Chinese zodiac, the Monkey (see below):


Year Date Holiday Zodiac Sign
2016 February 8 February 7 – 13 Monkey
2017 January 28 January 27 – February 2 Rooster
2018 February 16 February 15 – 21 Dog
2019 February 5 February 4 – 6 Pig
2020 January 25 January 24 – 30 Rat


2016 Year of the Monkey

The Year of the Monkey or Year of the Red Fire Monkey signifies joy, creativity and passion.

Years of the Monkey: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040, 2052


People matched to this zodiac are considered as lively, versatile and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.

The Monkey is considered to be a clever animal, good at problem solving, and youthful by nature.

Strengths: enthusiastic, confident, sociable, innovative, a problem solver

Weaknesses: egotistical, jealous, suspicious, manipulative, selfish

Want to find what your Chinese zodiac sign is? Scan this QR code below to visit Travel Chinas guide:


Gift gifting during Chinese New Year

It is popular to give gifts during the Chinese New Year celebrations, though be wary as gifts have strong symbolism attached to them. Often, people give red envelopes with money inside.

Some well-considered gifts are liquor, cigarettes, tea, fruits, healthcare products and red envelopes.

Gifts to avoid include umbrellas, clocks, shoes, sharp objects or chrysanthemums.


Food at Chinese New Year

Certain dishes are eaten at Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning, and is a great opportunity to try traditional foods including glutinous rice cake (niangao), rice balls (tang yuan), dumplings, and spring rolls.


It is also considered good luck to display oranges and tangerines because of their roundness and ‘golden’ colour, and the Chinese word for orange sounds the same as the Chinese word for ‘success’.

If you want to try something different during Chinese New Year, local company Easy Asia Thai & Sushi School in Antibes offer 3 hour private Asian cooking courses so if you’ve ever wanted to try making spring rolls, pad Thai or sushi get in touch with them.  They provide all ingredients (Rice, sushi grade salmon, prawns, vegetables, Nori sheets etc…) with all necessary utensils (Rice cookers, rolling mats, cling film). As an example, a private course would include ingredients for around 80 pieces of sushi (enough to feed 4 to 6 people). They are offering a Chinese New Year special where you can book one of their private courses for €150 instead of €180. Visit them on Facebook:

Chinese New Year in France

Chinese New Year is celebrated across France, most notably in Paris in the 3 districts with large Chinese communities – the 13th arrondissement, Belleville and the Marais.

Chinese New Year Celebration

The round up of 2016 Parisian celebrations is:

Wednesday 10 February at 4.30pm =  lion dance and martial arts demonstrations in the Paris 11e in the parvis of the Mairie

Saturday 13 February at 2pm = Parade in the Marais (3e and 4e) leaves from Place de la République then following rue du Temple, rue de Bretagne, rue de Turbigo and rue Beaubourg.

Sunday 14 February from 1pm = The celebration in the 13th arrondissement is the largest Chinese New Year festival in France with lion and dragon dances, food stalls and fireworks and it is attended by thousands of locals as well as Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian families. The parade follows the route: avenue d’Ivry, avenue de Choisy, place d’Italie, avenue d’Italie, rue de Tolbiac, avenue de Choisy, boulevard Masséna and avenue d’Ivry.


Other French cities:

On Saturday 06 February, the city of Nancy is hosting a festival in the Grand Salons Hotel de Ville from 11am – 6pm. Look for dragon dances, Chinese food stalls, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, calligraphy workshops and more. The dragon parade leaves Place Charles III at 1.45pm.


The city of Brest, is hosting origami workshops for kids, tea drinking ceremonies, and a Chinese buffet on Saturday 06 February.

Sunday 07 February sees a full day of celebrations in Sens including a lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, arts and craft workshops and food stalls.

For anyone in the Alsace region, Sunday is also the main festivities in Mulhouse from 10am – 7pm; head along for Chinese food, tea ceremonies, martial arts displays and more

Lyon, with a Chinese community of 15,000 people, also has a Chinatown, located in the Guillotière neighbourhood of the 7th arrondissement, on rue Passet, rue d’Aguesseau and rue Pasteur. Thanks to its important silk industry Lyon has always fostered relationships with China. A Franco-Chinese Institute existed as well from 1920 to 1946 at Fourvière for Chinese students. This year, unfortunately the Chinese New Year parade has been cancelled however a show will still be held at the Cité International.

Commemorative stamps

La Poste has released a commemorative stamp set for the Year of the Monkey. The stamps are in a block of 5 with face value of 0,80 each and sold at La Poste shops or online.


Chinese New Year on the French Riviera

I find it surprising that the French Riviera does not host a Chinese New Year festival yet – Chinese tourism is a key market with huge tourism revenue.


However, February is so busy with other major events and festivals here such as Nice Carnival and Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) that its understandable that it may be one festival too many to organise.

While I can’t direct you to any Chinese New Year festivals happening on the French Riviera, here is a suggested list below of Asian restaurants in the region to save you trawling through hundreds of TripAdvisor reviews.

These restaurants are my suggestions of where you are most likely to try some traditional foods and who knows, you may get invited to a private party for Chinese New Year! If you want to buy firecrackers, try Air de Fete in Cannes though you’ll need special permission from the Mairie (Town Hall) to let them off.

Comme en Chine, 2 rue Joseph Fricero, 06000 Nice : Suburban Chinese restaurant, authentic Northern Chinese-style food.

Restaurant La Demi-Lune, 2 bd Lech Walesa, 06300 Nice : Authentic Chinese food located close to Nice Port.


Le Dragon Bleu, 2 bis rue Paganini, 06000 Nice : Asian food located not far from Avenue Jean Médecin in Nice so stop by for lunch after shopping.

Le Mandarin, 6 rue Dalpozzo, 06000 Nice : Family-run restaurant in Nice with Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine.

Le Seicle d’Or, 85 Allee Louis Bleriot, 06210 Mandelieu-la-Napoule: Good value ‘all you can eat’ buffet offering a range of dishes from sushi to noodles and fried rice.

Ancre de Chine, 26 boulevard Aiguillon, 06600 Antibes : Broad menu of different Asian dishes covering curries, stir fries, soups


Hong Yun, 4 avenue Tournelli, 06600 Antibes: Located 5 minutes’ walk from Antibes train station with all the Asian dishes you may want

Jade d’Asia, 40 avenue Anatole France, 06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer : A good option for Cagnes-sur-Mer

If anyone would like to comment on this blog article, please do!  Share this on Facebook or Twitter,  thanks