The Honesty About Dishonesty on Instagram

I have to admit, I was a late comer to Instagram but can appreciate it’s virtues.  I follow far too many travel, food and fashion bloggers and over the course of getting up to speed with Instagram etiquette I have seen the same styling of photos pop up again and again.

Instagram has its positive and negative uses and showcases some amazingly talented individuals.  But it also drip feeds a lot of drivel and ‘same-same’ content with no creativity other than copying something that’s been done a million times before.

I’ll continue to dabble with Instagram as there is a lot I love on the platform, however I’m finding it lacks authenticity for a lot of accounts and can be irritating in huge doses.

I’ve pulled some examples from actual Instagram accounts to show you my love-hate relationship!

Here are 7 Instagram clichés that drive me nuts

  1. The ‘Follow Me To’ post

We’ve seen these ones a MILLION times – the outstretched hand leading the photographer to a beautiful location.  Travel is fun, inspirational and thought-provoking, sadly these type of posts don’t move me to explore.

2. The ‘Sitting-on-the-Edge’ post

There’s been a lot of media debate around the world about some of the Instagram posts from influencers who have perched at the edge of clifftops, balanced on the ledges of high rises or taken photos at extremely dangerous locations in the name of capturing a selfie.

Social media has opened the floodgates for recognition.  Wanting to be noticed is not inherently a bad habit – it is just basic human behavior, but Instagram is definitely allowing a portal for pushing physical limits of safety.

3. The ‘Hard-at-work-but-not-really’ post

Part 1:  Line up your laptop with some staged accessories and a backdrop of nice scenery

Part 2:  Take photos of the scene and post with captions such as ‘Long day answering emails and enquiries today from my 5-star beachfront bungalow’ or ‘Hustling from my office’.

4. The ‘Kids in pristine clothes’ post

As a parent of two rambunctious and active boys, I love following other family blogs, family travel experts and parenting Instagram accounts.

But the accounts I cringe at the most are the ones with kids in pristine clothes ALL THE TIME.

I appreciate there are people who are brand ambassadors, however there are a lot of Instagram accounts for babies or young children that border on unrealistic goals to ‘be a star’.

Instagram feeds the insecurities and anxieties of parenthood and it can be unhealthy whereby parents feel their kids must be preened and polished so you appear to be doing a good job.

Adweek reported that 50% of people felt that by comparing their accomplishments to those of others on social media, their self-esteem has suffered.   I wonder how many parents miss out on true genuine moments of childhood because they’re trying to pose for that perfect photo?

I prefer family accounts that share some authenticity; honest parenting is about sharing the mud, ruffled hair, dirty shoes, bedroom chaos and daily adventures of having kids.

It’s not about lining your toddler up in white dungarees on 1000-thread count Egyptian bed linen from (insert brand) so your (insert brand) room bunting and (insert brand) throw cushions look fabulous, darling.

5. The ‘Product placement trying to be cool’ post

How many times do we need to see a luxury watch placed beside a steering wheel in a supercar or a bottle of Champagne?  Apparently, Instagram loves it so the repetitive posts continue!

6. Ice creams

I love ice cream!  But I don’t really need to see it all through my Instagram feed to prove you’ve been to Rome, St Paul de Vence or Paris.

7. Inspiring quotes

I’m a firm believer in motivation, enthusiasm and determination but there are some Instagram accounts who overdo it with the inspirational quotes.  To put it bluntly, they don’t post anything else.

I don’t hate inspirational quotes but if you need to post 20 a day to get across a notion of hard work and success, then that’s fine – just don’t shove it in my face.  Hitting the ‘Unfollow’ button has never been so easy!

Do you have any pet hates on Instagram?   Or do you agree with my Instagram clichés above?   Which posts on Instagram drive you nuts?

To follow Access Riviera on Instagram, head over to www.instagram.com/ariviera06 where posts feature the good, the bad and the ugly of life on the French Riviera; no responsibility taken if posts are guilty of some or all of these clichés.

 

 

Flight delays, cancellations and unaccompanied minors

There have been numerous flight delays at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and I have received feedback that the on-the-ground support for passengers has been tepid and somewhat lacking.

It seems that in recent weeks, passengers are not aware of their EU Air Passenger Rights in the event of lengthy flight delays or cancellations.

I have enquired about this with some of the airlines including a major low-cost carrier and they ensure me that all of their staff at Nice are aware of current regulations and trained – the reality is that passengers have told me that staff for various airlines are unwilling to answer queries, passengers have been left without meal vouchers and frustrations have been high.

delays nice airport

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport needs to be more consistent with information for passengers in the event of delays and cancellations

EU Air Passenger Rights

For passengers who have flights that are delayed or cancelled leaving from Nice Airport, you may be entitled to compensation and assistance under EU Air Passenger Rights.

EU Air Passenger Rights  set out guidelines for airlines – if you were denied boarding, your flight was cancelled, you experienced a delay of more than 2 hours at departure or you arrive with a long delay at your final destination, the operating air carrier must give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance.

eu passenger rights

EU Passenger Rights (European Commision / Europa EU)

To check if EU Air Passenger Rights apply in your case, you can find out here: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm

There are also specific passenger rights for certain groups; you can read a previous blog post I wrote about EU Air Passenger Rights for musicians flying with instruments or people with reduced mobility.

For EasyJet flight delays and cancellations from Nice Airport, they advise passengers to please refer to the conditions set out on their website.  The guidelines are found under the ‘Help’ menu – ‘Boarding and Flying’ – ‘Delays and cancellations’.   It would be more beneficial to have a more visible menu for them such as ‘Flight delays and cancellations’ to make it quick and easy for passengers to find the information.  Regardless, if you need to review what Easyjet’s compensation policy is you can read it here:   https://www.easyjet.com/en/help/boarding-and-flying/delays-and-cancellations  and the EasyJet Claim Form is here EasyjetClaimFormEU261

For EasyJet refunds for cancelled flights, you can contact their Customer Service number, the best one is 0044 330 365 5454.  (The other line is +44 (0) 330 365 5000).

It’s important to note for flight delays and cancellations, that both the outbound and return flights are considered as two separate flights even if they were booked as part of one reservation.  In some cases the airline operating the flight may not be the same as the one from which you bought your ticket. In case of any difficulties only the airline which operates the flight can be held responsible.

Family travel

Airlines have regulations concerning children who are flying out of France with one or without both of their parents.  Many airlines have services to accompany unaccompanied children, such as Air France’s Kids Solo service.  The rules apply to residents in France, regardless of nationality.

There seems to be a lot of confusion among parents I have spoken to on the French Riviera who are unsure of the official regulations from France if the travelling child/ren and parents surnames differ, if one of the parents is not accompanying the child on the flight or if the child is flying solo (unaccompanied).

It’s important that you check the rules of each individual carrier to ensure you follow their necessary paperwork and procedures.

Interestingly, staff at Nice Airport have varying knowledge on the regulations so you are best to take as many pieces of evidence with you to check-in.

Parent & child with different surnames OR travelling with one parent only

If you are a parent and your child has a different surname, you must provide a letter of authorisation from the other parent giving permission for you to travel with the child out of France.

The travel authorisation is evidence to show that both guardians know and agree to allow a minor to leave the country, and is presented at the departure point, not the arrival point.

nice airport

Flying over the French Riviera (image: A Borchio)

As well as the travel authority letter, you should take a photocopy of the children’s birth certificate proving the names of both parents and if possible a photocopy of photo I.D for the absent parent who is not flying.

It is useful to also take a travel authorisation form if you have the SAME surnames but again the other parent is not travelling.

For a sample travel authorisation form, you can email me for a FREE template at accessriviera06@gmail.com

Unaccompanied minors from France

By law from January 2017, if your child is travelling with neither parent – therefore solo as an unaccompanied minor – you must fill in an ‘Authorisation de sortie du territoire (AST)’ .

The official form is also known as an authorization form Cerfa 15646*01, and is required for every unaccompanied resident minor departing France.  You must fill in one form per UMNR  and it must be accompanied with photo I.D. from parents.

The download and rules for the AST form are found here Authorisation de sortie du territoire / Cerfa 15646*01

Personal Note:  A few years ago a flight I took was delayed at London Heathrow and if I hadn’t been aware of my EU Passenger Rights I’m sure I wouldn’t have been confident enough to question the lack of support at Heathrow airport for 300+ passengers and get passengers meal vouchers after an extremely long wait with no information.  I have also been delayed with my eldest son for 3+ hours on the tarmac in Lyon – not a fun experience with kids – so bear in mind what your rights are.

DisclaimerThis post is for information purposes only and is subject to change at any time.  In each instance, please verify current regulations and rules with your operating airline at the time of need.

Jazz à Juan 2017 Review

The 57th Jazz à Juan Jazz Festival was held from 15 to 23 July 2017 at the wonderful venue at Pinède Gould by the seaside in Juan les Pins; it is a fantastic annual Festival for discovering classic and contemporary jazz, soul and blues singers and musicians.

pinede gould juan les pins

Pinède Gould is a wonderful setting beside the sea in Juan les Pins (image credit ©Vertige Photos)

This year, the Festival programme featured a broad range of artists including Eli Degibri Quartet, Buddy Guy, Luke Elliot, TajMo, Tom Jones,  Macy Gray, Gregory Porter, Sting,  Robert Glasper Experiment, Kandance Springs and Jamie Cullum.

Official Jazz à Juan 2017 Festival poster (www.jazzajuan.com)

Jazz à Juan 2017 :  Juan Les Pins Jazz Festival 

The official start date of the Festival was delayed one day due to solidarity for the 2016 Nice attack, however it did not dampen an eclectic and interesting programme.   More than 23,000 spectators enjoyed the Festival this year plus at least 5000 attendees of the ‘Off’ Festival.

The opening days featured excellent performances from Eli Degibri Quartet, French Quarter, Johnny Gallagher & The Boxtie Band and Festival stalwart Buddy Guy.

buddy guy jazz juan

Buddy Guy (©Josh Cheuse)

On Monday 17 July, Luke Elliot brought his charm and musical talent to the stage and I quite thought he looked so much like American musician John Mayer!   TajMo (Taj Mahal and Keb ‘Mo) kept the adrenaline high with groovy blues and some comical banter.

tajMo juan les pins

TajMo (©Jay Blakesberg)

Lastly, Sir Tom Jones took to the stage to deliver a set filled with classic and new hits.  His energy captivated the audience with hits such as ‘Delilah’, ‘What’s New, Pussycat?’, ‘Sex Bomb’ and the crowd pleasing hit, ‘It’s Not Unusual’.   His magnificent baritone voice was outstanding on ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ and gave much credential to his showmanship and talent where he has sold more than 100 million albums throughout his career for six decades.

tom jones jazz a juan

Sir Tom Jones was a iconic showman at Jazz à Juan 2017 (©DR)

As the sun set, Macy Gray rose to the occasion at Pinède Gould on Wednesday 19 July with an exceptional backing band.   She has an individualistic stage persona and her on-stage banter convinced the crowd to stand and dance toward the end of her set as she smoothly performed songs such as ‘When I See You’ and ‘I Try.’   One of the best renditions of the evening was her cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.   Grammy-winning soul/jazz sensation Gregory Porter was a fine second act with enlivening vocals and great stage presence.

macy gray jazz a juan

MacyGray (©Giuliano Bekor)

The following night, the sold-out evening of Hiromi Duo and Sting was much anticipated by Festival goers.  After acclaimed solo and trio projects, Hiromi returns with a new tour and soon-to-be recorded album with the Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda and their onstage musicality and chemistry was evident.  Sting was a veritable crowd pleaser, and at his very best belting out Police hits.

On Saturday 22 July, the first act Kandace Springs was a warming introduction to a great night.  Kandace has a honeyed voice and without taking anything away from her soulful performance on the piano, she reminded me of a laidback mix of Alicia Keys and Erykah Badu.  Afterwards, the beautiful Anoushka Shankar was an atmospheric interlude to the evening with the mesmorising sound of the sitar.  Personally, I’ve never listened to much sitar music but I found it enlightening, entertaining and more musically diverse than I expected.

Up next was Jamie Cullum – energetic, cheeky and a very talented pianist.   Jamie has a knack for making music that seems equally at home on a Sunday morning chilling out such as ‘These Are The Days’ or an enlivening dance to one of his tracks such as ‘Don’t Stop The Music ‘.   I particularly loved his ‘All at Sea’ one of my favourite songs of his and his cover version of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ which he made his own.

The closing night of the Festival featured a free performance by the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama with uplifting vocals that have made them world famous.

The top 3 concerts by sales in 2017 were Sting, Macy Gray/Gregory Porter and Tom Jones.

Best of Du Off | Jazz en Scene | Kiosque à Musique

During the Festival, various nightly concerts were held at Petite Pinède in Juan les Pins, in Antibes at the newly inaugurated rotunda at Place Nationale and in the streets of Antibes and Juan les Pins.

Best of Du Off was hosted on Saturday 15 July with free jazz bands from 7pm in the streets – I saw around 6 bands of different styles in Juan les Pins over the course of a few hours.  The atmosphere was friendly with busy restaurants and bars.  That night was also a public fireworks display in the bay of Juan les Pins so it was an excellent family-friendly evening.

Juan les Pins fireworks 15 July 2017 (image: Antibes JLP Ville)

The nightly concerts included acts such as Buckshot Gala, Les Haricots Noirs Brasil Band Social Club, Good Times Foundation, JZ Music All Stars (in partnership with the Festival de Jazz de Shanghai) and Alexandra Miller & Metromantic.

Festival Facilities

The entire Festival site is wheelchair accessible and the staff at the Festival this year were helpful and informative.  There were plenty of ushers, first aid staff and security staff.  I noticed staff assisting Festival goers with special needs and for first aid, so the site support was excellent.  Festival facilities include:

  • Food and drink outlets on either side of the stage selling draught beer, soft drinks, water, Champagne and snacks
  • First aid staff
  • Les Jardins du Jazz is a VIP experience at Plage Ambassadeur with a personalized welcome from 7pm, dinner at the beach (from 7pm to 10.30pm) and private box seats enabling you to see the concert of your choice as a privileged guest
  • Onsite Press Village with Wifi, seating and tables.  Note:  The Press Village is not located in close proximity to the stage but you can see the stage from there.   The Festival press team were readily available daily during the Festival.
  • Boutique for souvenirs such as Panama hats, mugs, beach bags, t-shirts, caps and postcards
  • Accessible toilets are situated at the rear of the Tribunes and Gallery seating closest to Boulevard Baudoin (next to the Pinède playground)
  • Special car parking offer at the underground parking at the Palais des Congrès – you simply showed your ticket and received a special parking rate €10,50 from 6pm to 2am

Les Jardins du Jazz at Juan les Pins Jazz Festival (image copyright: Gilles Lefrancq)

Tickets for Jazz à Juan 2018

This year, 64% of sales were made online across 5 continents and 30 countries confirming the Festival’s international reputation (stat:  Jazz à Juan Press Office).   The Juan les Pins Jazz Festival offer a range of tickets for varied seating options including Category 4, Category 3, Category 2, Category 1 and Carré d’Or.

If you want to sit directly in front of the stage and main acts less than 20 metres away, the optimal tickets to buy are Carré d’Or; next best seats are Category 1.

It’s important to note that ‘Standing Only’ (Zone Debout) tickets are not sold until Category 4 tickets are exhausted.

There are reduced ticket prices for Categories 3 and 4 for people under 18 years of age, students and job seekers, and also combined ticket deals where you receive 25% discount for buying tickets for 2 concerts.

The dates for Jazz à Juan 2018 are 14 to 22 July 2018.   To buy tickets for the 2018 Festival, refer to the official website www.jazzajuan.com

Disclosure:  Rebecca Whitlocke was honoured to be an Accredited Press Guest at Jazz à Juan 2017 , however all opinions given in this review are honest and unedited.

One year on from Nice

One year ago today, I was at Fondation Lenval, the Children’s Hospital in Nice, with my youngest son who was admitted for observation (and possible surgery).  We had been in the kids ward for a few days when my sister phoned me from abroad on 14 July and asked if we were OK.

I told her we were at Lenval and the phone went silent; she had just seen the breaking news of the attack on the Promenade des Anglais – an event that was completely unrelated to our own hospital stay but happened merely 150 metres from where we currently were.

Usually, my own family is watching Fête Nationale fireworks so my relief at knowing they were elsewhere at the fireworks in Juan les Pins was replaced with concern and sadness for those in Nice.

I had listened to the fireworks and fell asleep; within 30 minutes, a large squad of riot police was gathered outside our hospital room in the street below.  As a writer with connections to many global media contacts, it would have been easy for me to take photos and a video for a ‘Breaking News’ segment and have my 5-minutes of recognition with global media.  But, very quickly, I could tell that something serious had happened.

I turned on the TV and sat stunned as news reports updated the scene.  A nurse came into our room and began checking all the equipment we weren’t using; we shared a conversation and she simply said we had priority of care but she needed to be sure they could come to our room if needed to get extra equipment as they weren’t certain of the number of admissions yet.

My heart dropped as I looked at my own son sleeping, blissfully unaware of what was unfolding around him.

Our hospital room was many floors above the emergency arrivals entrance, and over the next few hours I felt immense sadness as I watched and listened to the stream of ambulances arriving at Lenval, knowing that each one had children inside.

As a parent, you have a strong sense of protection for your own children so to see emergency vehicles in great numbers and understand that someone else’s child is innocently injured and there is nothing you can do, it is a very cruel situation and heart-breaking.

I cried and hoped the children had their families with them. Sadly the truth was not so black-and-white, 44 patients arrived within 2 hours; 32 of those were children.

The next morning when my son had his scheduled X-rays, the waiting room was filled with injured children – broken limbs, head injuries and more.  I was shocked, angry and sad.  How could someone do something like this and target families out celebrating France’s largest national day?  I spoke with an 8-year old boy who was hit by the truck and flung with such force into a rubbish bin it broke both his legs and fractured his skull, he told me he was happy to be alive so he can go skateboarding again.

Later that day in the hospital playroom, there were young children in there who were non-communicative and numb; shocked into silence.  I wanted to give them all a big hug.

We checked out of Lenval the following day and as we left, a large number of media and TV crews were outside and presenting live feeds and coverage.   French media were very respectful; British media not so and some were effectively standing in the entrance ways to get interviews from people coming and going.  They were disrespectful and sadly showed the ugly face of media.

At the time we left Lenval, there were still 10 children who were being treated and had not been identified.   Lenval Hospital staff had worked tirelessly, doctors and nurses had arrived voluntarily from 14 July and psychologists were on hand to counsel families.

Even though we were not immediately involved, in the days after the attack I suffered from nightmares – I was trying to stop the truck in Nice and it turned out the guy just lost control rather than pre-meditated everything, I took the boys to summer fireworks and lost them in the crowd….

In the days following the attack in Nice, it would have been extremely easy for me to write a blog article about Nice to capitalise on all the internet traffic.   I noticed many articles on social media doing just that –  ‘Why Nice is still great’ and ‘Top 10 Reasons to Still Visit Nice’, but it seemed too raw to me and I felt a sense of guilt at being unharmed, a sense of sadness for the victims and their families and a sense of anger towards the attacker.

The attack in Nice injured almost 500 people and resulted in 86 deaths, including 10 children.

I will write a blog post in the future about why Nice is still great, but it won’t be today.   Today is for commemoration and solidarity for the victims and their families.

I will leave you with my personal Facebook status in the days afterwards when I was asked to do a radio interview and a beautiful video of Nice filmed and edited by Fabien Ecochard:

I feel immense sadness for these families and intense anger at the cruelty of this mans actions whether influenced by others or not.
Part of me doesn’t want to do this interview because I know they will ask me about the man and I think this evil bastard has had enough attention already. He was born on this planet like you and I – void of hatred and open to the joys of the world – yet somewhere in this 31-year old’s life he decided that harming innocent people was the best option.
But I feel a huge debt to these families who have lost loved ones and a city which is hurting.
I have the chance to speak about the Nice that they love and live in, a city that mixes not divides cultures, a place filled with amazing museums and little alleyways with kind people selling things that light up your senses such as homemade soap, fresh herbs and hand rolled pasta.
It’s the place to find a vintage postcard, a good glass of rosé and the best hot socca.
If you have ever sat on those blue chairs on the Prom and watched the world go by, you understand why Its ‘Nissa La Bella’. If you’ve ever had a Fenocchio ice cream on a hot day, you get it. If you’ve ever arrived at Nice Airport or walked up Castle Hill and seen that turquoise sea from above, you know the feeling.
It’s where memories should be created for a lifetime, not destroyed in an instant.
I shall share the Nice I know and hope I don’t cry!

 

UPDATE: Fête Nationale fireworks on the French Riviera

On 14 July 2017, it will be a national bank holiday however the usual Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) fireworks and celebrations on the French Riviera will be replaced by a day of commemoration and memory for the victims of last years attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

ANTIBES

To honour the memory of the victims and show the support of Antibes-Juan les Pins, a ceremony of remembrance will be held at 11am on Friday 14 July at Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, beside the carousel in Old Town Antibes.

Jazz à Juan will now also commence on Saturday 15 July.

The fireworks for Fête Nationale will now be at 10.30pm on Saturday 15 July in the bay of Juan les Pins, as well as 10pm on Sunday 16 July off Salis and Ponteil beaches in Antibes.

GOLFE JUAN / VALLAURIS

The Fête Nationale ceremony organised by the Municipality of Vallauris-Golfe Juan will be held on Friday 14 July at the Monument aux Morts at 10.30am in Golfe Juan and 11.45am in Vallauris.  This will be followed by a tribute to the victims of the 14 July 2016 attack in Nice.

The fireworks for Fête Nationale will now be at 10pm on Monday 17 July in the bay of Golfe Juan.

NICE

This year, Nice is organising a day of tribute on 14 July to the victims, to the dedication of the public health, relief and security services, but also to the heroes, witnesses and anonymous victims and their families.  The programme is:

9am-8pm:  Participative tribute, quai des Etats-Unis

4.30pm:  Parade at Place Massena and municipal tribute

9pm:  Concert by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Nice at Promenade du Peillon

10.34pm  A minutes silence will be observed

NOTE:  There will be no changes to any Fête Nationale events already scheduled for 13 or 15 July.  The events on 14 July for Cannes, St Paul de Vence, Roquebrune Cap Martin and Valbonne remain unchanged.

 

 

Secret French Riviera : Hidden Spots Worth A Visit

This month, for my contribution to All About France blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo, I’m sharing a few secrets about the French Riviera.

When you live somewhere, you are privy to local tips and things that you learn about your home town or region that tourists perhaps don’t see or aren’t aware of.

Yes, TripAdvisor and tourist offices can be great sources of information but if you want to find where the tastiest food is, the most uncrowded attractions or coolest activities at a great price, then ask a local.   Whenever I travel, I like to see where the locals eat, where they shop and where they party (!) because this is often where the hidden gems are!

Here are some of my Secret French Riviera suggestions:

Top chefs under the radar

One of the nicest things about living in France is the fact you can find a top chef in a humble setting and people are either unaware of their ‘fame’ or don’t make a fuss.

There are ex-chefs who run restaurants at camping sites, high-profile chefs who grill fish in summer at beachside kiosks before skipping back to the galleys of top kitchens and chefs who own orchards and vineyards far off the tourist path.

One of my great finds here is My French Burger, which is often parked at  Zone Industrielle Des Terriers near Decathlon and Animalis in Antibes.  The owner is Grégory Leriche, previously a top pastry chef at Lenôtre who has always dreamed of having his own food truck making burgers from scratch with homemade mayonnaise, ketchup and bread buns.  Of course, he sells his patisseries which I would sell my soul for.  If you’re nice, ask him to show you his photo album with photos of A-list stars he has taught to cook.

Grég’s chalkboard with Paul Bocuse’s quote

There are other great chefs in many other dining establishments across the Côte d’Azur.  Most tourists are familiar with the Michelin or Gault Millau guides for restaurant suggestions, but are you aware of the ‘Maître Restaurateur’ title or ‘Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’?

The title of Maître Restaurateur is the only title awarded in France by the state for professional catering whereby the chef themselves (not the restaurant) is audited by an independent body on 30 criteria.  This includes signalling when recipes are home made, freshness of products, service quality and decoration.  The title is valid for 4 years, after which the chef must be reaudited so the standards remain high.

To see the list of Maître Restaurateurs for the French Riviera (06 Alpes Maritimes), visit http://www.maitresrestaurateurs.com/liste-maitres-restaurateurs

maitre restaurateurs

Maître Restaurateurs are worth finding for fine chefs

Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (better known as MOF) is a prestigious award in France according by category of trades where the competitors are judged on technical skills, innovation, respect for traditions, speed and other criteria and awarded points.  The categories are diverse – some of the categories include clockmaking, cabinetmaking and silkscreen printing.  For hospitality, competitors can excel in butchery, pastry making, chocolate making and more.  Some of the famous winners are Paul Bocuse, Roger Vergé and Joël Robuchon.

Famous locations mostly unknown by tourists

Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoléon I) has left a number of locations to visit on the French Riviera including Cannes (he camped at 15 Rue des Belges near Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Voyage church) and in Nice (6 rue Bonaparte was the residence of Napoléon in 1794 where he discussed plans with his generals and Palais Hongran de Fiana, a complex of holiday rental apartments beside Ma Nolans Irish pub is where he slept briefly after the building was confiscated in the late 18th century; look for the commemorative plaque on the façade).

6 rue Bonaparte in Nice

The town of Mougins has many famous locations including homes where Christian Dior and Yves St Laurent lived.  Edith Piaf stayed at La Gatounière in 1963, and Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and Pablo Picasso drifted in and out of the town.  Artist Maurice Gottlob was the communal rural policeman.

mougins history

Mougins has many famous locations visited by writers, film stars, artists and politicians

Picasso has a lot of history with Mougins; Villa Vaste Horizon (previously Hotel Vaste Horizon) is the town’s cultural centre today, but back in the 1930’s Picasso arrived with his bags.  He painted the walls in his room, only to be told to cover over his work with white paint the next day by the hotel owner.  He used to dine at Place de Mougins which used to be Le Feu Follet.  Most famously, he lived near Chapelle Notre Dame de Vie (1 Rue Eglise) at his estate, L’Antre du Minotaure (the Minotaur’s Lair).  The chapel garden has a tomb that was built for the Guinness family.

vaste horizon mougins

Pablo Picasso at Hotel Vaste Horizon in Mougins (© Lee Miller Archives, England 2015. All rights reserved. ©Succession Picasso/DACS, 2015).

You don’t need to go far to see the wide influence on the French Riviera credited to the monks from the Lérins Islands.  Running a functioning monastery and vineyard (as well as a gift/liqueur shop) on Île St-Honorat today,  the Lérins monks are due some credit for the town of Valbonne in its modern incarnation.

Augustin of Grimaldi, Bishop of Grasse and abbot of Lerins decided in the 16th-century to rebuild a town (wiped out from drought, barbaric invasions and the Black Plague) on the land beside the Abbey of Valbonne; the town layout of Valbonne is unique on the French Riviera in that it follows a Roman plan with a central street and perpendicular streets around a central square, now Place des Arcades.  There is also a private estate nearby, Domaine de la Sylviane, where this former stone Monastery built by the Lérins monks still produces olive oil under the label ‘Domaine de la Sylviane’.

la sylviane valbonne

Domaine de la Sylviane near to Valbonne is a former Monastery built by the Lérins monks

Other locations that exist thanks to the Lérins monks include Hostellerie Jérôme that is a wonderful restaurant in La Turbie set in the old presbytery of the Lérins Abbey, and Domaine de La Royrie, an olive grove in Grasse that was planted by the monks in the 15th-century and offers tours of the estate and tastings of their AOC Nice olive oil.

Swimming spots tourists don’t often visit

The French Riviera has some great beaches ranging from family-friendly options to full-service beach clubs for a day of lounging and soaking up the sun.

However, some of the most beautiful swimming locations are not found at beaches, especially in the height of summer.  You don’t have to venture too far from the coast to enjoy some really stunning river, waterfall and lake swimming spots.

Some great places for a refreshing dip in warm months are:

The Gorges du Loup & Rives du Loup:  Less than 40 minutes from the coast, Pont-du-Loup is a small hamlet best known for its aqueduct ruins and Confiserie Florian candy factory.  However, it’s a great base for escaping from the summer heat; the best pools are 2 kilometres upstream along the D3 road and you can find places to jump from or sunbathe on large rocks.  This area is popular for canyoning trips, so choose from a number of professional guiding companies if you fancy climbing and sliding into pools.

Gorges du Loup

The Parc Departmental Rives du Loup has some great river spots that are quite shallow so ideal for small kids.  For families, Ludiparc near La Colle sur Loup, has access to the river with a pebble beach as well as tonnes of fun activities and a mini water park.

La Brague:  Between Biot and Valbonne, the Brague River has shaded forest trails next to refreshing water where you can dip your toes in on hot days, including this small pool where I snapped this photo of two of my favourite people skipping stones.  I find there can be issues with mosquitoes, so take insect repellant!  We park at Sophia Antipolis near La Veirière, a few minutes from the Air France headquarters.  A map of river walks along the Brague is here:  http://www.ville-valbonne.fr/IMG/pdf/BRA_DepliantA4_V10_300dpi-2.pdf

Parc de la Brague has forest paths beside the River Brague

The Siagne River & Lac St Cassien: Head to Chapelle St Cassien de Bois, find a park and walk from there.  The Siagne River has lots of current-free sections with some small cascades.  Lac St Cassien is excellent for families with lots of watersports equipment for hire such as pedalos, inflatable climbing frames, kayaks.  Lots of picnic spots and some good restaurants.

La Clue d’Aiglun, Pont de la Cerise, Riou de Pierrefeu and Clue du Riolan:  About 1.5 hours from Nice, the Esteron River is a stunning colour and you can find perfectly tranquil sections of river with jade and turquoise plunge pools amidst white rocks, caves, lush ferns and medieval bridges.

From the village of Sigale, Aiglun is 7 kilometres west. Park in the village, find the canyoning sign, and follow the canyon return path for 1 kilometre down to a series of pools, about 200 metres upstream of the road bridge. You can also access the river directly from a narrow path from the road bridge, 1.5 kilometres beneath the village, and you’ll find there are pools under the bridge, too.  Riou de Pierrefeu is great for families and Clue du Riolan is popular with canyoning enthusiasts.

Gorges du Cagnes (Gorges du Riou):  Rocks, waterfalls, moss – it’s the French Riviera’s secret swimming hole fantasy near to Vence.  Beware: The path is not well marked and there are loads of signs saying ‘rock fall’ and similar so watch for loose rocks, the stairs are not fenced and the pool is not deep enough for diving!  Other than that, it is so quiet you’ll probably have the place to yourself.

Riou swimming spot near Vence

Gorges de Pennafort:  We discovered this little gem with many swimming holes a few years ago and the bonus is that the journey is just over 1 hour from Antibes.  The best part is its proximity to some great wineries and a good restaurant across the road at Hostellerie des Gorges de Pennafort.  You can find out more about the area around Gorges de Pennafort here

The Gorges de Pennafort are a great place for a cooling swim on a hot day

The Gorges du Verdon:  One of the most beautiful regions in France and only a few hours drive from the French Riviera, there are many zones perfect for kayaking, pedalos and swimming.  The most crowded lake is Lac St Croix, but there are other excellent places including Lac de Castillon.

Gorges du Verdon are a must-see in France

Do you have any secret places you like on the French Riviera?  If you liked this post, make sure you join my mailing list to get updates to your inbox – simply add your email address on the right-hand side of the home page.  Feel free to share this post!

Lou Messugo

 

Joutes Provençales at Vieux Port in Cannes

Hosted at Vieux Port in Cannes, this summer families can enjoy free events that demonstrate the old tradition of provençale joutes.

Cannes : History of the Joutes Provençales

Joutes provençales originate from the Egyptian era; fishermen from the French Riviera originally set up a ladder on their boats and over time it has become a true festival with nautical combats and dives, practised in Provence.

The city of Cannes acquired two jousting boats in 1949, suitably named Le Sainte-Marguerite and Le Saint-Honorat, but with a lack of jousters the boats remained in storage from 2004.  After the election of David Lisnard to the position of Mayor, he relaunched this Cannois tradition in 2014 to support local culture and encourage visitors to Cannes.

Today, the sport is hotly contested by 16 joutes provençales companies from the Var and Côte d’Azur including Cannes, Théoule, Agay, Fréjus, La Ciotat and Saint-Raphael with the ‘rules’ being that opponents stand on a boat and try to send their opponent into the water using a wooden spear (opponents wear a wooden breastplate to protect them).

joutes provencales

The Joutes Provençales hosted at Vieux Port in Cannes

One opponent is the ‘jouster’ who stands on a raised platform called a teinteine; the other team member ensures the jouster does not catch the spear.  Contestants must place their left food forward of a white line on the platform, otherwise if their right foot crosses the line at the time of joust they are disqualified.

quai st pierre events

Come to Quai St Pierre to watch the Joutes provençales in summer

When are the ‘Joutes Provençales’ in Cannes?

Starting from tomorrow (18 June) and running until 18 August, Cannes will host 5 Joutes Provençales events on various Friday nights and all-day selected Sundays.

One of the monks from Ile Saint-Honorat joins the nautical jousting

Organized by the Mayor of Cannes David Lisnard, in collaboration with L’association des Jeunes Jouteurs suquetans and CCI Nice Côte d’Azur, all are welcome to Quai Saint Pierre to enjoy this traditional activity.  The 2017 Joutes Provençales programme is:

  • Sunday 18 June 2017 from 9am to 6pm (Round 1 of the Var-Côte d’Azur championship to qualify for the French championship staged in Istres, L’Estaque, Agay and Martigues this summer)
  • Friday 23 June 2017 from 7pm to 11pm (Challenge of the Rotary Club Cannes Pays de Lérins tournament sponsored by Rotary)
  • Sunday 23 July 2017 from 9am to 6pm (Another round of the Var-Côte d’Azur championship)
  • Friday 04 August 2017 from 7pm to 11pm (‘Tournoi de la St Sauveur’, in the presence of various teams of the region)
  • Friday 18 August 2017 from 7pm to 11pm (Challenge Le Mashou)

 

  • Watch a video of the Joutes Provençales in Cannes here (video:  CannesWebTV):