Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

I would like to take the opportunity before the last hurrah of the festive holidays to say thank you to all my fans, followers and clients for a great 2016.

2016 has been a year of new connections and interesting work projects mixed with a dose of laughter, tears and trials from my family including a few bouts of chicken pox and kids illness that comes part and parcel of being a parent.

To all the followers, likers, sharers of anything ‘Access Riviera’ without your clicks and shares my blog is nothing worth getting up for so please do keep following in 2017!  I have also (finally!) stepped into the Instagram-a-sphere, so if you fancy checking out some of my photos from the French Riviera and other travel pics of mine please drop by to say hi www.instagram.com/ariviera06   

Last but not least, to my family – thank you for your support of my work deadlines this year, my typing in the quiet of the night and general unpredictable nature and bad jokes – I love you all.

I want to wish all of you a safe and enjoyable New Years Eve whether you are staying in for the night or planning on fuelling your next hangover.   Happy New Year, Joyeux Réveillon and see you in 2017!

Becks

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New Years Eve on the French Riviera

Here in France, New Years Eve (31 December) is celebrated with a feast – le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre – with similar food to what is eaten on Christmas Day including oysters, smoked salmon, goose, turkey or hen, foie gras, and of course, a glass (or bottle) or two of champagne.  At midnight, you kiss under the mistletoe (a custom which is usually done at Christmas in other cultures) and give best wishes to your friends and family for the coming year.

If you are in France for New Years Eve many restaurants have special menus, themed dances and entertainment – it’s a good time to enjoy the night on a dinner date as the chefs are all trying to outdo each other with the best Saint-Sylvestre menus, though as expected the price of a New Years Eve menu is high.

New Year’s Day (le jour de l’an) is a bank holiday in France, and is traditionally a day of family celebration with a large lunch, often with seafood of various kinds.  January also signals time to send best wishes for the New Year, which is usually done when you hand out Christmas cards in the USA, UK, Australia or New Zealand.

New Year / Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre Festive Menus:

Le Menu Saint-Sylvestre or Le Menu Réveillon is for New Years Eve

Le Menu Jour de l’An is for New Years Day

Things to do with kids on New Years Eve on the French Riviera

When you’re a parent, you often forgo celebrating New Years with parties and a late night.  Whether you have a newborn, toddlers or teens it can be lovely to celebrate New Years with kids.   Here are some suggestions for a family-friendly New Years Eve with children on the French Riviera:

  1.  If your kids are old enough to stay up late, head to the free fireworks displays on New Years Eve.  Cannes will host a free fireworks display in the Baie de Cannes.  Park up at Palm Beach or find a spot to watch along the Croisette.  The Cannes Film Festival celebrates 70 years in 2017, so the theme for this year’s New Years Eve fireworks is ‘Cannes fête le cinéma’.  Music starts at 11pm, followed by the fireworks display at midnight.
Free fireworks display in Cannes for New Years Eve

Free fireworks display in Cannes for New Years Eve

Juan les Pins has a free fireworks display on New Years Day (01 January 2017), the display is in the bay of Juan les Pins and starts at 6.30pm

Sadly, the free fireworks display in Monaco is not happening this year however the Christmas market and ice skating rink will be open until 2 a.m on New Years Eve.

2. Dress up at home and have a party!   Head to craft stores such as Cultura in Mandelieu, La Grand Récre in Antibes or one of the regional Maxi Bazaars and buy some party hats, noisemakers and decorations to host your own New Years party.   Get out the Singstar or Wii Music and enjoy karaoke, making songs and dancing.

3.  Missing New Years Eve cocktails with friends?  Make alcohol-free mocktails with your kids complete with drinks umbrellas from the Maxi Bazaar or Carrefour.   Here are some easy mocktail recipes:

Strawberry Lemonade Floats

Whizz a small handful of strawberries in a blender, add strawberry puree to a glass with a few scoops of vanilla icecream then fill the glass with lemonade.  Garnish with a retro straw and chopped strawberry.

Non-alcoholic Sangria

Half-fill a jug with ice and fill it three-quarters with ginger ale or sparkling water.  Add orange slices, fresh kiwi, strawberries, cranberries and a sliced lime.   Store in the fridge.  Decorate glasses with sliced fruit and party umbrellas.

Berry berry happy

Add frozen berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries etc) to a jug and top up with berry juice.  Add 750ml of sparkling grape juice or sparkling water.  Finish with crushed ice.  Garnish glasses with sprigs of mint and curly party straws.

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4.  Watch movies and New Year celebrations around the world.  With the time difference, your kids can watch TV coverage here in France of the fireworks in New Zealand, Australia or Hong Kong then head to bed well before midnight.  Streaming video giant Netflix helps parents out by creating countdowns with movie characters that you can use well before midnight (genius idea meaning you can put the kids to bed early and perhaps enjoy a glass of bubbly!).  Featured shows this year include Puffin Rock, Luna Petunia, Beat Bugs, All Hail King Julien, Skylanders Academy and Trollhunters.

5.   Head to the mountains – Val d’Allos has a torchlight descent and fireworks on New Years Eve, Valdeblore has free horse and cart rides for families and fireworks, Valberg has a DJ party and laser show from 5.30pm-8pm and Auron has a New Years Eve party (best for adults as it starts at 10pm, entry fee applies).

New Years / Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre Menus on the French Riviera

For parents who are fortunate to have a babysitter for New Years Eve, here are some of the restaurants you can head to for festive menus:

ANTIBES

L’Arazur (previously Le Broc en Bouche) on the corner site on rue des Palmiers has both New Years Eve and New Years Day menus you can view here:  

Le Albert 1er, a local seafood restaurant, has a New Years Eve menu for €98.  Their website has been down for a day so check back at http://www.restaurant-albert-1er.com/

Le Brulot, an old favourite for pasta in the Old Town, has a menu for €49; bookings via www.brulot.fr

Restaurant Le Figuier de Saint-Espirit has both a New Years Eve and a New Years Day menu which you can find at http://www.restaurant-figuier-saint-esprit.com

patio-table-17-6747BIOT

Les Terraillers has a New Years Eve menu; note: you must give a deposit of €80 to secure your reservation. Menu copy is found here at the link Les Terraillers

CANNES

JW Marriott Cannes has New Years Eve menus available to see here:  http://www.marriott.fr/hotelwebsites/us/n/ncejw/ncejw_pdf/JW_Cannes_F_B_NewYearMenu2017.pdf

For a dinner worthy of another mortgage, head to La Palme d’Or at Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez.  Bar L’Amiral is also hosting a New Years soirée.  You can see the New Years Eve menu here:  https://cannesmartinez.grand.hyatt.com/fr/hotel/news-and-events/events/Fetes-de-fin-d-annee-a-cannes.html

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Le Bistro Gourmand has a New Years Eve menu; to see here:  http://www.bistrotgourmandcannes.fr/menus-carte/

Le Relais de Semailles has New Years Eve and New Years Day menus which you can see here:  http://www.lerelaisdessemailles.com/menus-des-f%C3%AAtes

The Majestic Barriere has New Years Eve packages which include accommodation and/or meals www.hotels-barriere.com

Mantel, now known as Table 22, has the same menu for New Years Eve and New Years Day which you can see here: http://www.restaurantmantel.com/images/pdf/Menu-des-fetes-2016.pdf

EZE

Chef Patrick Raingeard welcomes diners to Cap Estel for a special New Years Eve menu.  You can see the menu here:  http://www.capestel.com/media/original/menu-reveillon-nouvel-an-2016.pdf

GRASSE

Jacques Chibois at La Bastide Saint Antoine will cook up a gorgeous menu for New Years which includes caviar, blue lobster and truffles.  Have a splurge, you can see the menu here:  http://www.jacques-chibois.com/restaurant/nossoirees.html

LA COLLE SUR LOUP

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

5510JUAN LES PINS

AC Hotel Ambassadeur has a New Years Eve dinner; see the menu here:  http://www.marriott.fr/hotelwebsites/us/j/jlpar/jlpar_pdf/AC%20Ambassadeur_New%20Year%20Menu_HWS.PDF

La Passagère at the Hotel Belle Rives has a perfume-themed New Years Eve ‘Diner du Réveillon’ menu (and also a New Years Day menu) http://www.bellesrives.com/site/uploaded/ckeditor/files/Fetes%20de%20fin%20d’ann%C3%A9e%20au%20Belles%20Rives.pdf

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Hotel Juana has a special New Years Eve dinner and After Party as well as New Years Day menu.  http://www.bellesrives.com/site/uploaded/ckeditor/files/AFFICHE%20MENU%20-%20FFA%20JU%20-%20septembre%202016.pdf

LE CANNET

Chef Bruno Oger has a New Years Eve menu for Villa Archange available to see here:  http://www.bruno-oger.com/media/original/548b07bb582ce/villa-31-decembre.pdf

MONACO / MONTE-CARLO

Joël Robuchon at Hotel Metropole has a New Years Eve menu; see here for more info:  http://metropole.com/actu/2010/12/09/happy_menus_fr/

Sporting Monte-Carlo has a dinner with show by Italian operatic trio, Il Volo. Details are found here:  https://www.montecarlolive.com/news-en/reveillon-du-nouvel-an-a-la-salle-des-etoiles/

The Buddha-Bar Monte-Carlo has a New Years Eve dinner with DJ; watch a video below of last year’s celebrations and find out more info here of this year’s evening:  https://www.buddhabarmontecarlo.com/actualites-evenements-en/new-years-eve-dinner-at-the-buddha-bar/

MOUGINS

L’Amandier Mougins will have a menu specially prepared for New Years Eve. You can book via their website www.amandier.fr

SONY DSC

Le Mas Candille’s New Years Eve menu includes a magnum of Champagne for 2 people, see the menu at www.lesmascandille.com

Paloma is offering their ‘Menu de la Saint Sylvestre’ which you can see here :  http://www.restaurant-paloma-mougins.com/menu#1

NICE

Hotel Splendid & Spa has a New Years Eve dinner with entertainment; find out more here:  http://www.splendid-nice.com/en/new-years-eve-dinner/

Le Bistrot des Viviers is offering a New Years Eve menu for €90 which you can see here:  http://www.les-viviers-nice.fr/fr/le-bistrot/les-menus/79-le-restaurant/144-menu-special-restaurant.html

The iconic Le Negresco will welcome diners to their carousel-themed La Rotonde for a New Years Eve menu that includes scallop carpaccio, boudin blanc with truffles and dark chocolate on shortbread.  See the menu here:  http://www.hotel-negresco-nice.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/35/2014/11/ROTONDE-NOUVEL-AN.pdf

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

Joyeux Réveillon!

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 : Last Minute Gifts on the French Riviera

Christmas brings out the best and worst of seasonal shoppers – from the queues and elbow-jostling at the large department stores and malls to shoppers who head for the smaller stores for that something special during the festive season, here is my round-up of places to shop on the French Riviera.

For Kids

If you have children, Christmas is a magical time but it can be overloaded with huge expense and stress for many parents.  I try to stagger my gift buying across a few months to avoid the Christmas crowds, but for last-minute gifts you can’t go past these stores on the French Riviera:

Pierrot La Lune (8 rue James Close) in Antibes has some beautiful traditional toys including wind-up figurines, wooden toys and classic tin toys.  They also stock Playmobil, Tin Tin and the Steiff bears.  A lovely store for a special gift (it’s pricey though).

Pierrot La Lune toy store, Antibes

Pierrot La Lune toy store, Antibes

Pylones in Cannes and Tiger (Flying Tiger) are stores that you can find cool unique gifts for kids from 2 years up to teens.  They have everything from quirky lunch boxes to gadgets and stickers, lots of travel games and stocking fillers.

Pylones and Tiger are great for stocking fillers at Christmas time

Pylones and Tiger are great for stocking fillers at Christmas time

If you have kids into science, nature, planets or discovery then stop by by Nature et Découvertes at Cap 3000 in St Laurent du Var.  It’s a great store for finding educational gifts such as DIY rockets, telescopes, planetariums and all sorts of science-related goodies.

Nature et Décovertes is an excellent shop for kids gifts

Nature et Décovertes is an excellent shop for kids gifts

For Him

If you want to break away from the socks and underpants routine at Christmas, try one of these stores – guaranteed to get you some brownie points.

Pop Art in Nice specialises in customised printing on clothes but they also stock vintage pieces, sculptures and of course, pop art.  It’s a great store if you’re looking for a gift for a guy into skateboarding or urban culture.

Pop Art in Nice is an arty concept store with personalised clothing, retro pieces and objets d'art

Pop Art in Nice is an arty concept store with personalised clothing, retro pieces and objets d’art

Cobalt is a funky concept store retailing all sorts of contemporary and eclectic items including designer furniture, stationery and objets d’art.  They stock Woouf iPad covers and Seletti’s fun monkey and mice lamps.   The über cool already know where it is – go now before the masses discover it.

Cobalt in Nice is a superb store for quirky or cool gifts

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For Her

Who can resist a delicious fragrance?  French perfume is well known to ignite hearts and Fragonard has some exceptional fragrance blends.  Rather than opt for a parfum, their room fragrance diffusers are so lovely you’ll think you’ve dived straight into a Provençal field head first.  I love the Ginger and Vétiver one.   They have retail shops in Cannes, Grasse, Eze, St Paul de Vence and Nice or buy a treat online at www.fragonard.com

Fragonard room fragrance diffusers

Fragonard room fragrance diffusers

If you are seeking a special book for her, try heading to La Briqueterie Librairie.  Based in Vieux Nice (4-6 Rue Jules Gilly), this amazing bookstore has a brilliant selection of books with subjects ranging from music to art and history.  Highly recommended.

For interior decorating fans, there are so many beautiful Provençal items but the bright colours or prints don’t always match your furniture.  I love these neutral Jean Cocteau-themed cushions you can buy on Society 6, and Eklektik Gallery in Monaco is a testament to its name with a fabulous collection of classic and contemporary ceramics, ethnic art, fragranced gifts, homewares and furniture.

Jean Cocteau cushions

Jean Cocteau cushions

EklektiK Gallery in Monaco is an Aladdin's cave of furniture, homewares, sculptures and art

EklektiK Gallery in Monaco is an Aladdin’s cave of furniture, homewares, sculptures and art

I hope you have enjoyed my Holiday Gift Guide – it’s a sample of some great places to buy French Riviera goodies!   Joyeux Noël!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Charity Toy Collections on the French Riviera

Every year there are local charity toy drives to collect toys and gifts to distribute at Christmas to less fortunate children.

Vinci Autoroutes run collections at the Antibes péage and La Ciotat which has just finished on 01 December.

The Red Cross and Secours Populaire also collect donations that they hand out to families in the region.  Secours Populaire have Green Santas each year that hand out toys, books and Christmas food parcels to families in difficulty.  You can contribute by donating festive food or gifts for children – last year, over 150,000 children received a gift on behalf of the Secours Populaire.

Local company Côte d’Azur Villas are  also collecting toys and games to be distributed this year.

Drop off details:  Until 16 December 2016 you can donate good quality or new toys, games and books

Drop off Monday to Friday between 9am – 5.30pm

Where:  At the offices of Côte d’Azur Villa Rentals, Villa 1, Villantipolis, 473 Route des Dollines  06560 Valbonne, Sophia Antipolis

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About Côte d’Azur Villas:  

Côte d’Azur Villas is the leading property rental agency on the French Riviera and in Provence with a portfolio of over 250 villas available for holiday and long term rentals. Based in Sophia Antipolis, the company was founded in 2003 by Greg and Marion Harris. This entrepreneurial couple have taken the business to new heights including a portfolio of international villa rentals and team members based throughout the region.

 

Family-friendly cycling and walking : Villeneuve Loubet

Villeneuve Loubet is located between Nice and Antibes and for tourists it may not seem instantly appealing with less restaurants and accommodation than other French Riviera towns.

However, there is plenty to see and do with lots of free activities and paid attractions that will keep your family happy on a weekend or holiday.

Villeneuve Loubet is divided into 2 main areas:  Marina Baie des Anges on the coast, and Villeneuve Loubet Village situated 10 minutes drive inland.  The town also takes care of Parc Vaugrenier and Parc Natural Rives du Loup.

Family-friendly activites in Villeneuve Loubet

One of the best reasons to visit Villeneuve Loubet is because the town has a great network of walking and cycle paths.  You can walk beside the sea at Baie des Anges, cycle beside the river closer to the village or wander through Parc Vaugrenier or Parc Natural Rives du Loup.

We usually park at Baie des Anges and walk along the seafront boardwalk to Cagnes-sur-Mer.  The boardwalk at Villeneuve Loubet is wide enough for baby strollers and wheelchairs, and there are accessible toilets at a few stops along the length.  You can also find GPS navigation to this itinerary via GPSmyCity.

path

There is a beach volleyball court near the Fighière carpark on boulevard Eric Tabarly, and always ducks and birds at the far end of the boardwalk where the bridge for the River Loup starts.

ducks

The beach itself is large pebbles and drops off quite steeply so I don’t recommend it for swimming (in warmer weather!) for families with toddlers but for older kids who are water confident it’s fine.  There is also a sailing school where you can take sailing classes or windsurf; recommended for older kids and adults.

There are a handful of beach restaurants – most are only open in holiday season or summertime.  Yesterday, the beach restaurant beside the port at Marina Baie des Anges was open and they serve hot and cold drinks, crêpes, ice creams, paninis etc and have a big outdoor deck with tables and chairs.  The view reaches across to Nice and is a great location if you have kids who love watching planes because you can see Nice Airport runways so lots of take-off and landing action!   This restaurant is accessed across the stones; it’s manageable with a baby stroller but not possible if you are immobile or in a wheelchair.

The beach restaurants are good if you have kids who like beach combing for stones and driftwood, plus you get a view of the planes landing at Nice Airport

The beach restaurants are good if you have kids who like beach combing for stones and driftwood, plus you get a view of the planes landing at Nice Airport

At the carpark, La Fighière is a cute beach restaurant with funky tables and chairs and is accessible via a small ramp.  They have a big outdoor deck area with seating inside also, and have transparent awnings so you can even sit there in bad weather and enjoy your meal or coffee. The menu includes salads, burgers, foie gras, snacks, hot and cold drinks and cocktails.  I couldn’t take a photo yesterday as they were fixing the awnings but here is one from TripAdvisor:

la-fighiere

If you have bikes, you can cycle from Marina Baie des Anges to Villeneuve Loubet village via a well-marked cycle path named ‘La Villeneuvoise’.  It is 10 kilometres return and recommended for children 6 years upwards.

Or, the cycle pathway extends all the way to Nice from Marina Baie des Ange; the distance is 15 kilometres.

Walking & Cycling Tips

  1. There is a free booklet with clues to solve along the ‘La Villeneuvoise’ pathway; it is called ‘Rallye Vélo Famille’ and you can download it here (in French):   http://villeneuve-tourisme.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/roadbook_rallye_velo.pdf

2. For a general map of the walking routes and cycle pathways in Villeneuve Loubet, click on this link:  http://villeneuve-tourisme.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/plan_velo_2014.pdf

3. I highly recommend all of the family-friendly walks along the River Loup, download a map here:  http://villeneuve-tourisme.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/fiche_balade_loup_2016.pdf

sign

4. For bike rental, Holiday Bikes at Marina Baie des Anges offers a 20% discount on day rental between April and October if you tell them you are doing the Family Cycle Pathway to the village, called ‘Rallye Vélo Famille’.

Other Things to Do in Villeneuve Loubet:

  • Visit Parc Vaugrenier for nature walks, playgrounds and picnics
  • Visit the Château at the village; they have guided tours regularly that can be booked via the Office du Tourisme
  • Take the kids to the fun parks in the Rive du Loup (entry fee applies):  Les Bois du Lutins, Village des Fous, Canyon Forest.  All of them have play equipment, climbing activities, inflatable structures and in summer they turn on water jets and water play zones.  Click on each link above to see opening hours and admission prices.
  • Visit the cultural and artistic sites of Villeneuve Loubet including Musée Escoffier de l’Art Culinaire (entry fee applies), Espace Cultural André Malraux (Free entry), Musée d’Histoire et d’Art (free entry) and La Maïoun des Granouïe

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If you enjoyed this blog post, it is published on iTunes and can now be downloaded via the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can read the downloaded article offline and upgrade it to obtain GPS navigation to the sights described in the article.  To access it, you can download it here at GPSmyCity  – Villeneuve Loubet.  (Disclaimer:  I appreciate you reading my blog post and I will receive a small commission if you upgrade to the GPS navigation option on the app).

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