Grave Ramblings: Dark Tourism and the Cemeteries of the French Riviera

My contribution to this month’s All About France blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo is nothing at all to do with Christmas.  In fact, it’s as unfestive as you can get but I thought I would write about dark tourism and some of the famous people who lived and are laid to rest in the cemeteries on the French Riviera.

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark tourism is travel (and tourism) that involves visiting places connected to death, tragedy or disaster.   There is a growing interest in places that historically may have been off-limits to visit, but there’s no denying that people are attracted to sites like this.

War tourism – visiting battlefields and famous fortresses – has been firmly stamped on tourism sectors for decades, and now tour operators are expanding their tour itineraries to cater for dark tourism.  Everyone from National Geographic to the Economist is debating whether it’s the right thing to do.  Regardless, this market for tourism is here to stay.

Some of the world’s most popular dark tourism locations include visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris to see the gravesites of Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf, seeing the Phnom Sampeau killing caves in Cambodia, visiting Chernobyl’s fallout zone or learning about the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

pere lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is one of the world’s most visited cemeteries

It does seem strange to say a location is ‘popular’ because of its macabre or sombre history, but you’ll find wherever there is death or tragedy a tour operator will be waiting in the wings to snap up income from keen tourists.

Dark Tourism on the French Riviera 

The sunny French Riviera doesn’t escape dark tourism.  While we always see promotional tourism here highlight the beaches, the Riviera lifestyle and year-round activities, there are many tourists who are visiting to catch a slice of history and follow in the footsteps of famous people who lived, and more profoundly died here.

It could be possible I’m the only blogger highlighting the region’s cemeteries as a tourism attraction?!   Undoubtedly, not only do cemeteries on the Côte d’Azur have famous ‘residents’, but many of them occupy prime real estate with some of the best views in south-east France!

cemetery in menton

You can’t deny this spectacular view! Vieux Château cemetery in Menton (image: Menton Tourism)

Here are some grave ramblings for the French Riviera:

Paul Ricard

The founder of Ricard pastis bought the tiny Île de Bendor at Bandol which is home to two museums – the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux that houses thousands of bottles and glasses, and the Museum of Advertising Objects that is dedicated to pastis advertising.  Near Le Brusc, the Île de Embiez was bought by the Ricard Trust and is a tourist getaway from the mainland with no traffic jams, pleasant restaurants and walking trails.  Paul Ricard is buried there at the highest point on the island overlooking the sea.

paul ricard grave

The Île des Embiez is the final resting place of pastis icon, Paul Ricard

Roger Vadim

Roger Vadim was a director, producer, writer and actor and is perhaps just as well known for his many marriages (including to Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda) as his films such as And God Created Woman (1956) and Barbarella (1968).

He died in Paris in 2000 but is buried at the Cimetière Marin in Saint-Tropez – his tomb goes unnoticed to many visitors as it says ‘Vadim Plémiannikov’, not Roger Vadim. 

cemetery st tropez

The Cimetière Marin in St Tropez with sea views (image:  Axel Hupfelds)

This seaside cemetery in Saint-Tropez beneath the Citadelle has a host of interesting people buried there such as Alexandre de Paris who was a celebrated French hairdresser who created Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyle for Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot’s’ parents, painter Henri Manguin and jazz figure Edouard Ruault (Eddie Barclay) who has a tombstone decorated with LPs.

cemetery st tropez

Eddie Barclay’s gravesite in Cimetière Marin in St Tropez (image: mapio)

Jean Marais

Jean Marais was a French actor, director, writer and sculptor who acted in over 100 films including Jean Cocteau’s 1946  Beauty and the Beast.  He received an Honorary César Award in 1993 (Césars are the national film award of France).  Five years later, he passed away in Cannes and was buried in the village cemetery in Vallauris.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognised names in creative arts and was a familiar figure in Côte d’Azur art circles. He lived and worked in his villa Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins, nicknamed the Minotaur’s Lair.

mas notre dame de vie

Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins was Pablo Picasso’s last home (image: Christies)

The villa was previously owned by the Guinness family of Irish beer fame.  Picasso died at his villa in April 1973, but he isn’t actually buried in Mougins – he is buried in the grounds of Château de Vauvenargues.

The villa was sold by auction in October 2017 for €20.2 million.  Video : Picasso’s Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie

Marc Chagall

‘When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is’ – Pablo Picasso 

Marc Chagall was born in Belarus and created works in many styles including painting, ceramics and stained glass.  His stained glass projects can be seen everywhere from the ‘Peace Window’ he created for the United Nations building in New York to the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Reims.

While he is best known for his art, he also worked as a theatrical designer including a commission to create the set and costumes for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance in the late 1960’s of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  His association with France was lengthy and he received France’s highest accolade, the Grand Medal of the Legion of Honor in 1977 and left a rich legacy of work.

The Musée National Marc Chagall is one of the top cultural attractions in Nice and is the largest public collection in the world dedicated to over 800 of his artworks, predominantly his art inspired by religion.

musee marc chagall

Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice is the largest public collection of Marc Chagall’s work (image: Musées Nationaux)

Marc Chagall is buried in the cemetery below the town walls in the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Aimé and Marguerite Maeght who founded the nearby Fondation Maeght art museum are also buried in this cemetery.

Yves Klein

You may be familiar with the striking artworks of Yves Klein who was born in Nice and remembered for the Nouveau Réalisme movement.

In particular, his vivid blue works are quite memorable – you can see his 1962 Venus Bleue at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins (Mougins Museum of Classical Art) where it is displayed beside Venus interpretations by Cézanne, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.   There aren’t many places in the world where you can find artwork from these 4 artists in the same display cabinet!

Klein died in Paris and is buried in the cemetery in La-Colle-sur-Loup.  I’m sure he’d love tourists to the French Riviera to visit the Mougins Classical Art Museum because it really is a fantastic collection of interesting and rare pieces.   .

mougins classical art

The Venus cabinet at the Mougins Museum of Classical Art holds Venus Bleue by Yves Klein

Henri Matisse

Matisse lived in Nice for 37 years and it is here that his presence on the French Riviera is most significant.  He is well known for his work on the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, but the Musée Matisse is the crowning achievement of his legacy.

musee matisse

Musée Matisse is located at Cimiez and the neighbouring cemetery has Matisse’s grave

The museum is located in Cimiez and Matisse is buried in the neighbouring Cimetière du Monastère de Cimiez which also has the grave of artist Raoul Dufy.

Isadora Duncan

The Promenade des Anglais in Nice was where American dancer Isadora Duncan tragically lost her life in 1927 in a freak accident.  Known as ‘the barefoot dancer’, she was driving along the road and her scarf blew over the side of the car and wrapped around a wheel, dragging her from the car and breaking her neck.  A small street is named after her, rue Isadora Duncan, leading off Promenade des Anglais.

Emil Jellinek

The name may not ring a bell, but Emil (Emile) Jellinek had a firm influence on the automobile industry.  Born in Germany in 1853, he worked at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) autos and proposed to car designers to create a lighter vehicle with a bigger engine.

The result was the Mercedes 35hp and it lead Wilhelm Werner to claim the first victory for Mercedes in a car race, the Nice-Salon-Nice in 1901.  Jellinek’s world-famous trademark he launched in 1902 was named after his daughter, Mercédès.  He changed his surname to Jellinek-Mercédès in 1903.

mercedes nice salon nice

The 392 kilometre Nice-Salon-Nice race in 1901 was won by a Mercedes car for the first time (image: Daimler Media)

He came to Nice and later worked as the Austro-Hungarian Consulate General owning properties on the Promenade des Anglais – Villa Mercedes at number 57, Villa Mercedes II at number 54 as well as hotel Le Royal.  The family yachts on the French Riviera were also not surprisingly christened Mercedes and Mercedes-Mercedes.   His daughter Mercédès supposedly married her first husband Baron Karl van Schossler in Nice, but I couldn’t find any record of where their huge wedding was held.  I’m sure the details are part of Daimler’s archives 🙂

Monsieur Mercedes as Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès was nicknamed, is laid to rest in the tomb of his first wife Rachel Goggman Cenrobert in the Cimetière Colline du Château at Castle Hill (Colline du Château) in Nice.

emil jellenik mercedes

Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès , Pioneer of Automobiles, is buried in the Cimetière Colline du Château in Nice

This cemetery and the adjacent Jewish cemetery have amazing views over Nice.  There are thousands of graves with some elaborate and beautiful tombstones and cenotaphs.

Many notable people are buried here including:

  • Writer Gaston Leroux
  • Director and screenwriter Georges Lautner
  • René Goscinny who was one of the creators of French comic book Asterix
  • Garibaldi’s mother Rosa Garibaldi
  • Alfred van Cleef of the Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery family
  • Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otéro who was a famous actress/courtesan/dancer whose breasts supposedly inspired the dome design of the Intercontinental Carlton hotel in Cannes
  • Menica Rondelly who wrote the Niçois anthem Nissa la Bella
  • The daughter of Henri Matisse
  • Polishman Baron Leon Wladyslaw Loewenstein of Lenval, who founded Lenval Hospital in Nice after the death of his son in Nice at 11 years of age

Cimetière Colline du Château has wide-reaching views over Nice (image: Tripadvisor)

To reach the cemeteries, you can take the stairs or elevator from the end of Quai des États-Unis up to Parc du Château or walk up Montée Menica Rondelly from Place Ste Claire in Nice Old Town.  The petit train (white tourist train) also goes up to the park.

Brothers in arms

War cemeteries are places of loss, remembrance and sadness but they also have an aura of calm.  One such cemetery that has a picturesque setting is the Belgian Military Cemetery that is located at Pointe Saint-Hospice on the St Jean Cap Ferrat peninsula with a chapel there having a lovely outlook over the sea.

King Leopold II of Belgium converted Villa Les Cèdres into a military hospital during World War I, however many soldiers succumbed to their injuries received from German gas attacks.  The cemetery is a dedication to 90 Belgian soldiers who lost their lives.   Sadly, the cemetery has graves of brothers who died just months apart so its a very poignant place to visit.  We won’t ever know if they got to appreciate the beautiful setting, but visitors to the peninsula can reflect and remember them here.

Video by Gralon:  Belgian Military Cemetery, St Jean Cap Ferrat (Cimetière militaire des Belges)

Princess Grace  

One of the most famous personalities that captured the hearts of France, Monaco and the world was Grace Kelly, an American actress, who became the Princess of Monaco in 1952 when she married Prince Rainier III.

Her global appeal and classic beauty transcended from life to death; even after she lost her life after a car crash on a road bend at Devil’s Curse above Monaco, over 100 million viewers watched her televised funeral.

grace kelly car crash

Contrary to popular belief Grace did not die on the road where she filmed the scenes in Hitchcock film ‘To Catch a Thief’. As you can see from this map, the accident site was miles away. Her life support was turned off a few days after the crash (map: Reel Reviews)

If you visit the Principality and are looking for things to do in Monaco, you can follow a free tour in Monaco with information about Grace, or visit her tomb beside Prince Rainier in the Grimaldi family vault inside the Monaco Cathedral, the same church where they wed.

Other well-known people who are laid to rest in Monaco include entertainer Josephine Baker, artist Jean-Michel Folon who was commissioned for murals at Waterloo station on the London Tube and designs for Puccini’s opera La Bohème, English writer Anthony Burgess who penned A Clockwork Orange and Iranian Princess Ashraf Pahlavi who are all buried in the Monaco cemetery near the Jardin Exotique.

Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret was born in Switzerland and moved to Paris where he took the pseudonym he is best known for, Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier changed the face of modern architecture and his furniture and buildings are contemporary studies for design and technology.   Seventeen of his works over seven countries are UNESO World Heritage-listed.

He drowned off the coast of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and is buried in the Roquebrune cemetery.  There is a lovely coastal walking path from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to Monaco named after him, Promenade Le Corbusier, and you can visit his minimalist beach cabanon as well as Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 by booking through Cap Moderne.

corbusiers cabanon

Le Corbusier’s Cabanon can be visited by booking through Cap Moderne

William Webb Ellis

Englishman William Webb Ellis was credited for creating the game of rugby and keen rugby enthusiasts will agree that his final resting place has one of the best views on the French Riviera.  The Vieux Château cemetery in Menton is worth a visit and has spectacular panoramic views over Menton and the sea.

webb ellis grave

William Webb Ellis’ gravesite in the Vieux Chateau cemetery in Menton

Interestingly, I already knew that the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup but I didn’t realise that Menton has a rugby-specific trail that features 25 plaques about rugby starting at the Menton train station and leading to the cemetery.  Something I learned while researching this blog and definitely a potential blog topic for the future!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’ve researched a fair bit and learned a lot about famous lives and deaths on the French Riviera.  Have you been to any famous cemeteries or dark tourism sites in France or around the world?

Lou Messugo
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10 Top Tips for a Skiing Holiday in Courchevel   

For the international jet set, the winter months offer the perfect opportunity to escape to the glamorous alpine ski resorts for family time spent on the slopes. Few ski resorts are as luxurious as Courchevel – France’s winter equivalent of St Tropez with regards to style, scenery, and fun. We consulted with seasoned skiers to compile these 10 top tips for a ski trip to Courchevel.

So wrap up, don your skis, and take to the slopes like a local.

Tip No.1: Arrive in Style 

There’s only one way to arrive at your destination, and that’s by Courchevel helicopter transfer. Exceptionally quick, unsurpassably stylish and undeniably cool, arriving by Helicopter not only makes you feel like a VIP but it also provides views of a lifetime.

Tip No.2: Learn a New Skill

For those of us who are more comfortable with a little more stability than skis provide, it is possible to learn to ride a snowmobile with Courchevel Adventure, a winter sports company. Everything’s more fun with friends and this is certainly no exception; take a group and you’ll soon become pros at navigating the 700m course.

snowmobile courchevel

Learn a new skill – go snowmobiling in Courchevel (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 3: Go Off-Piste

Go off-piste! And we don’t just mean when it comes to the slopes. There’s so much to experience in the resort of Courchevel that it’s genuinely just as magical a destination for non-skiers as it is for seasoned pros. If you’re a fan of luxury spas, then you’re in for a treat with the Aquamotion Centre. It offers sensational mountain views, heated pools, outdoor jacuzzis, water slides, and even a spa and wellness zone where you can enjoy a sauna and relaxing massage.

off piste courchevel

Go off piste in Courchevel! There are plenty of things to do when you’re not on the slopes (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 4: Eat Well

Make sure you sample as much as you can of Courchevel’s sumptuous cuisine at some of the resort’s Michelin-starred restaurants. We recommend Pierre Gagnaire pour Les Airelles, and you’d struggle to come across a disappointing meal at this illustrious spot in the mountains.

top restaurants courchevel

Eat well in Courchevel at some amazing restaurants with spectacular views (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 5: Get in the Alpine Spirit

You’ll be transported to another era when you ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the picturesque mountain village. The stunning white horses are a sight to behold in the snow.

Tip No. 6: Take Some Lessons 

Book taster ski sessions with an experienced teacher if you’re a first-timer. You’re sure to find out that you’re a natural and you’ll be independent in no time, but it’s always best to find your ski-legs first.

ski lessons courchevel

Take some ski lessons in Courchevel and you’ll be ready to enjoy the alpine ambience in no time! (Image: Monacair)

Tip No.7: Live it Up in the Resort’s Best Hotels

Spend your stay in the lap of luxury at the Grandes Alpes Private Hotel, Hotel Carlina or Hotel de la Loze and expect stunning views, world-class service and beautiful, Courchevel-cosiness.

courchevel accommodation

Courchevel’s hotels and luxury chalets are some of the finest in Europe (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 8: Indulge Your Inner-Child

Families with children – and those without – will relish the opportunity to try their hands at sledging, a wickedly fun alternative to skiing that is highly addictive. Beware though, it’s not as gentle as it might sound – you can reach some astonishing speeds on these steep slopes.

Tip No. 9: Take to the Skies

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s a truly incredible experience! You can go on a helicopter tour over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys. There’s just something about experiencing the landscape from the air that’s truly out of this world.

helicopter tour courchevel 3 vallees

A helicopter tour over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys is a wonderful way to see the mountains (Image: Monacair)

Tip No.10: Wear Sun Cream!

Many people fail to realise that the sun shines brightly on Europe’s highest peaks. The snow acts as a mirror and reflects the sun’s rays; a burnt nose is nothing to sniff at, so take care of your skin and enjoy your holiday!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post in partnership with Relevance.

 

7 reasons NOT to visit the Côte d’Azur in winter

Over a century ago, the Côte d’Azur was a destination for those who wintered here for health reasons and old money who holidayed here, drinking red wine and wondering how to magically transport the sky, sea and sunshine back to their own part of the world.

Faced with grey skies and snowfall that encourages marathon Monopoly sessions by the fireplace, many tourists could easily just skip going on a winter getaway, right?  Here’s 7 reasons NOT to visit the Côte d’Azur in winter:

1. Having to decide between the beach or ski resorts

Do you prefer beaches or the mountains?  Well, don’t visit the French Riviera in winter if you need an easy choice because you can do both in one day, if you like.

That’s right, you can be on the slopes in the Alps in the morning and enjoying a late afternoon snack at a coastal cafeteria on the same day.   Sound impossible?  Well, it’s not.  And while swimming in the sea may be out of the question for most and only the brave dip into the Mediterranean during winter, we are very lucky to have the chance to do this!

The French Riviera in winter : it’s possible to enjoy the sea and mountains in one day

The geographical location of the French Riviera stretches from the Mediterranean coast to hinterland communities and Mercantour region that includes alpine towns.   The Alpes Maritimes region has easy access to established ski resorts, and you’ll find no shortage of pistes to ski or snowboard including Isola 2000, Auron, Valberg, La Colmiane and Val d’Allos La Foux.  Gréolières is the closest to the coast and while it doesn’t have the amenities of the other resorts it’s perfectly fun for a day out with the family.

Even if you don’t ski there are many exciting things to do at the mountain resorts such as toboganning, DJ concerts on the pistes or simply visit one of the restaurants for a lovely meal overlooking the mountains.

Of course, if winter isn’t your thing then the mountain resorts can also be visited in warmer months when the wildflowers are in bloom, walking trails are beautiful and other attractions and activities are open such as the zip line at La Colmiane, the luge at Valberg, Vesubia Mountain Park with climbing wall, swimming pool and canyoning, Parc Alpha Wolf Park and the natural pool at Roquebillière.

2. Too many winter options for families

If you prefer to have a relaxing winter with your family, the French Riviera isn’t for you.  How could you possibly decide what to do when there are ski resorts, Christmas markets, ice skating, food festivals and traditional celebrations such as the santon fairs or local events including the Lucéram nativity / crèche displays?

Not to mention, the weather is usually mild throughout winter so you can still play outdoors at any of the numerous French Riviera playgrounds.

Lucéram has a nativity crèche display each Christmas with around 450 displays throughout the town

3. Uncrowded walking trails

It rarely rains for days on end throughout winter on the French Riviera so people simply dress up warmer for their regular promenades through town.

However, it seems the change in weather causes a mass exodus from popular walking routes and hiking trails.   If you prefer busier walking paths (excluding the Promenade des Anglais in Nice and Croisette in Cannes which generally have foot traffic all year), go on holiday elsewhere as you’ll likely have little or no company on many walking trails here during colder months.

4. Seasonal winter food

I do sometimes hear from visitors that the restaurants here are tourist traps churning out average food in high season.  So, if you’re a ‘meat-and-three-vegies’ kind of traveller then don’t come back in winter!

The cooler months kick start some absolutely lip-smackingly good food fairs, the popular truffle season, oyster sales, chestnut festivals, grape harvesting and more.  Also, one of my favourite festive season pastimes is a glass of vin chaud and a slice of pain d’épices at the Marché de Noëls 🙂

Marrons chauds (hot chestnuts) are found at many winter festivals

5. No long queues at tourist attractions

Many of the Côte d’Azur’s tourist attractions close over winter or have reduced hours, but there are still plenty of attractions that are open and you won’t have to brave long queues of tourists to enjoy them.

Drop by one of the French Riviera’s popular museums, visit the gorgeously ornate Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild or take a French Riviera art trail soaking up the sites and landscapes painted by famous artists.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a year-round attraction worth visiting

6. Quiet hilltop villages

I love the buzz of big cities, but it can be overwhelming to be constantly bombarded with urban noise from traffic, construction and city life!

If you prefer a more sedate experience, you can’t miss visiting some of the towns on the French Riviera during autumn and winter when time moves at a much slower pace.

Go to Eze, St Paul de Vence, Tourrette-Levens, Gourdon or Sainte-Agnès and stroll around appreciating the history, village houses and medieval architecture.

I also find taking photographs is great during colder months because you don’t have other people crowding the background of your panorama, you can get some fantastic photos of daily life without residents feeling they are on show (that perhaps they may feel in high season) and people are generally going about their day at a more relaxed pace.

Sainte-Agnès is exceptionally tranquil during cooler months

7.  Classy festive decorations

Some people love over-the-top Christmas decorations, but you’ll find the Côte d’Azur eases back on the tacky factor and decorations are mostly classy.

Casino Square always has an amazing festive display every year

While Christmas on the coast may be short on snow, you’ll find no shortage of festive imagination.  Expect to see garlands of festive lights, giant Christmas trees and lots of Christmas markets – without the repetitive song of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ 20 hours a day, every shop window crammed with yuletide merchandise from early November and every house decorated excessively with neon lights blinking to synchronised music.

Also, most shops tend to stick to civilised opening hours – you won’t see mass frenzies of late-night shopping at most stores right up to Christmas Eve putting pressure on consumers to grab a late Christmas bargain.

Luxury hotels have elegant displays for Noël, Casino Square in Monaco looks suitably grand during the festive season and who won’t think a torchlight descent down the mountain with fireworks over the snow isn’t a fantastic way to see in the New Year?

Some people prefer grey skies, heavy snow and freezing temperatures in winter, however while the French Riviera may not be an obvious choice for a winter getaway it is a perfectly viable destination to visit with tolerable weather, lots of activities and less crowds.

Photo Credits:  Tyrolienne La Colmiane (Neo Extreme), Lucéram image (Departement06), Marrons chauds (Provence7), Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (Paris Frivole), Ste Agnès (Notre Provence Group),

 

 

 

 

SPOOKTACULAR! Halloween activities and events on the French Riviera

Halloween, usually celebrated on 31st October each year, has slowly been gathering steam since I first moved to France, but for expats who are used to lots of activities and events during Halloween you’ll have to remember that it isn’t a traditionally observed day in France and has usually been seen as a bit Anglophone!

Never less, you can now find towns getting into the spirit (pun intended) of spooking kids on the street, as well as ready-made Halloween accessories and costumes for sale in many stores.

Halloween decorations are easy to find on the French Riviera (image: deavita)

Halloween falls during the October school holidays on the French Riviera – Vacances de la Toussaint – so there’s no excuse not to get involved in the activities and local events happening in various towns.  The following day is a bank holiday, Toussaint Day (All Saints Day) in France where the lives of deceased relatives are remembered.

Unfortunately, a lot of Halloween goods found here on the French Riviera are manufactured in China and the standards are quite low so they are ‘buy-and-throw-away’ items – just exercise caution with cheap costumes for kids because they are hugely flammable!

If you prefer to make your own costumes, food or decorations, Pinterest and Good Housekeeping have loads of DIY Halloween ideas.

Where to find Halloween decorations / accessories / costumes / carving pumpkins on the French Riviera

If you’re looking for Halloween items for décor, party items or costumes the best places to start are the €1 and €2 stores – places like Maxi Mart, Maxibazaar, Destock and the like always have low-cost Halloween accessories such as wizards hat, tridents, plastic skeleton bones, witches cauldrons, spider webs as well as trick-or-treat bags.

Spider ice cubes in your mocktail anyone?

La Foir Fouille, Fêter et Recevoir and Gifi are good stores to head to for costumes, and Carrefour usually has a good range of Halloween items.

For carving pumpkins, in the past few years local residents have found decent pumpkins at Lidl, Grand Frais, the Intermarche on boulevard République and Nice Carrefour TNL.

Neighbourhood trick-or-treating

Trick-or-treating around the neighbourhood is not that big here on the French Riviera.  In the years I have lived here, I have had maybe a handful of kids knock on our door trick-or-treating (with adult supervision) though I always have some bon bons ready just in case!

Halloween activities and events happening this year on the French Riviera

Antibes

Thursday 26 October:  Parent-friendlly cafeteria La Chapelière Toquée is hosting a Halloween party from 11am to midday which is ideal for toddlers (from 2 years).  Cost is €16 per child, reservations necessary.

Saturday 28 October:  La Chapelière Toquée is holding a Halloween yoga session from 11am to midday for kids 3 years and upwards, contact them to reserve a place via the link above.

Wednesday 25, Thursday 26, Friday 27, Saturday 28, Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 October:  Les P’tits Confettis is hosting twice daily Halloween activities for kids aged 5 to 10 years costing €15 per child – from 10am to midday and 2pm to 4pm come along for  face painting, a photo booth and candy hunt.  Reservations essential via https://www.lesptitsconfettis.com/animations-thématiques/

halloween antibes

Les P’tits Confettis is hosting Halloween activities in Antibes 2017

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Tuesday 31 October:  Free entertainment from 3pm at the Ecole élémentaire including a show, bon bons and a lantern parade.

Biot

Tuesday 31 October:  Free Halloween entertainment including a parade at 4.30pm from the entrance to the village to Place des Arcades by Compagnie Soukha, followed by a kids Halloween snack at Place des Arcades at 5pm.  At 6pm, there will be a fire show by Compagnie Soukha at Place de Gaulle.

Halloween 2017 in Biot includes a parade

Breil sur Roya

Tuesday 31 October:  Film screening of ‘Zombillénium’ at 2.30pm with bon bons at 4pm and trick-or-treating in the village from 4.30pm

Cannes

Tuesday 31 October: Free Halloween activities at Coulée Verte in Ranguin (will be held in the gymnasium in case of rain) – face painting, Halloween ateliers, films

Carros

Tuesday 31 October:  From 10am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm, Carros is hosting Halloween activities hosted by the Office du Tourisme at Villa Barbary.

Grasse

Saturday 28 October:  For something a bit different, kids aged 8 to 12 years can join a guided tour at 11am retelling spooky tales about Grasse.  Leaves from the Maison du Patrimoine, to make a reservation 47.97.05.58.70  or email them: animation.patrimoine@ville-grasse-fr

La Colle-sur-Loup

Tuesday 31 October:  The village will host ‘La Journée des Sorcières and Bal des vampires’ from 2pm to 8pm – head along for arts and crafts ateliers, face painting (charge applies for face painting), and costume parade. The main costume parade is from 5.45pm at St Jacques church with the ‘Bal des vampires’ and Halloween party at Place de la Libération from 6.3opm to 8pm.

halloween la colle sur loup

Halloween 2017 in La Colle-sur-Loup

La Turbie

Tuesday 31 October:  Free activities from 5pm to 7pm including a treasure hunt for candy in the village and a disco.  Hosted at Place Neuve and Salle polyvalente – espace Jean Favre.

Le Rouret

Tuesday 31 October:   Head to 1 chemin du billard from 2.30pm for face painting, followed by Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ screening at 3.30pm.  Cost is €5 euros each, under 12 years is €3 each.

Monaco

Tuesday 31 October:  Family-friendly Stars ‘n’ Bars hosts an annual Halloween event – this  year, head along from 6pm to 9pm for ghost ship, haunted house and trick-or-treating.  Cost:  €20 (5-13 years) or €10 (14 years upwards).

monaco halloween 2017

Halloween 2017 at Stars ‘n’ Bars in Monaco

Tuesday 31 October:  Adults can join the Halloween festivities at La Rascasse bar with a ‘Day of the Dead’ theme.  The table with the scariest costumes will win a bottle of Champagne!

Mougins

Saturday 28 October:  Circus Party, an indoor play centre, is hosting a Halloween party with Halloween food, decorations and prizes to win.  Cost is €20 for adults, €18 per child.

Tuesday 31 October: The Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins will be plunged into darkness and will host guided tours by torchlight at 4pm, 5pm or 6pm.  Cost is €7 per person, reservations necessary direct with the museum.

Nice

Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October:  From 9.30am to 12.30am, the Hard Rock Café in Nice is hosting a Halloween breakfast, magic show and ‘create your own magic potion’ atelier.

Tuesday 31 October:  Halloween entertainment from 2pm-6pm and also 9pm till midnight at Patinoire Jean Bouin, competition for best costume, face painting and bon bons.  Special entry fee of €2 with €2 for ice skate rental. Kids under 6 years are free entry.

St-Laurent-du-Var

Saturday 21 to Monday 30 October:  Halloween-themed arts and crafts at Pitchoun Parc

Tuesday 31 October:  Halloween Party all day at Pitchoun Parc

St Jean Cap Ferrat

Sunday 22 October: Fête de la Citrouille is a free event that will take place at Théâtre de la mer – Espace des Néreïdes from 3pm.  Face painting, pony rides (on the terraces at the port), treasure hunt in the village, for ages 2-12 years.

fete de la citrouille 2017

Halloween activities in St Jean Cap Ferrat from 3pm on Sunday 22 October 2017

St Martin Vésubie

From Saturday 21 October to Sunday 5 November, Parc Alpha Loup is hosting Halloween activities.  The park usually has an entrance fee, however on Halloween (31 October) entrance is free of charge if visitors are dressed in costume* (*A proper Halloween costume, not a simple witches hat!)

St Paul de Vence

Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October:  Aventure (Live Escape Game) is hosting a giant escape game ‘La Forêt Maudite’ on various dates at the end of October (as well as November).  The minimum age is 18+ with 6 players per team over 1.5 hours of gameplay starting at 9pm…definitely one for adults.

Tuesday 31 October:  In the village, the Halloween party runs from 1pm to 5.30pm with the popular Mexican theme, ‘The Day of the Dead’.  Activities include making castanettes, maracas, masks, treasure hunt, piñata, face painting plus a screening of the brilliant animated film ‘The Book of Life’.  Full details are found here (in French):  https://www.saint-pauldevence.com/en/fiches/tout-lagenda/halloween-mexicain/

st paul de vence halloween

Halloween 2017 in St Paul de Vence includes ‘The Day of the Dead’ entertainment in the village (image: Pinterest)

Tourrette-Levens

Sunday 29 October:  At the Château, free activities and entertainment from 5.30pm to 7pm including a costume parade and fire show.

Valbonne

Tuesday 31 October :  Every year, Valbonne is the place to be for trick-or-treating around the village shops.  The action kicks off around 5pm with kids and adults dressed in costume.  Many parents bring some extra (individually wrapped) candy to give to the participating merchants/residents as they run out early.

Villeneuve Loubet

Tuesday 31 October : Treasure hunt every 15 minutes from 3pm to 5pm – reservations are necessary with the Office du Tourisme.  Cost is 7€ / family (4-5 people) or 5€ / 1 adult + 1 kid.   From 5.30pm to 7pm, come dressed in costume and enjoy a potion at Place de Verdun.  ** Please note: Fake weapons and firecrackers are banned.

Are you hosting a public Halloween event, spooky activity or themed workshop on the French Riviera?  Feel free to drop me a line and tell me about it and I’ll add it to this list.  P.S.  This list is for public events, not week-long stages or school holiday programmes.

Charity events on the French Riviera

Saturday 14 October 2017    Cogs 4 Cancer : End of Ride/Season Party

The popular Cogs 4 Cancer cycle covers 1400 km from London to Antibes with 30 cyclists raising more than €242000 this year in the fight against cancer.  While that is a phenomenal amount, let’s get behind the team and keep the funds growing by attending the fundraiser party that will be hosted in the evening at The View in the Palais des Congrès in Juan les Pins.

Entertainment includes a DJ, Deceptionist and Contortionist with snacks and nibbles on offer; the event starts at 8pm and goes till late.  100% of ticket sales goes to charity and 30% of drinks sales goes to charity.   There are also the Cogs 4 Cancer wristbands/bracelets on sale across the French Riviera, or you can opt to visit the website to donate www.cogs4cancer.org

Note:  The cyclists will be arriving at Antibes the previous day on Friday 13 October 2017 following a tribute ride from Port Gallice around the Cap d’Antibes and arriving at the IYCA at Port Vauban in Antibes approx. 4.45pm with the arrival party from 5pm, sponsored by Gourmet Deliveries.  Find out more about the Cogs 4 Cancer 2017 arrival time and info here:  http://cogs4cancer.org/2017-tribute-ride

charity french riviera

Cogs 4 Cancer End of Ride/Season Party

Saturday 14 October 2017   Yachts du Coeur

Yachts du Coeur, an EcoMer initiative, is having a charity collection at Port Vauban in Antibes from 10.30am to 2.30pm with the human solidarity chain at 11am.  Come along for music, songs and bring a donation of non-perishable food to benefit the Food Bank.   Visit their website here to find out more about their mission or to donate: http://www.yachts-du-coeur.com/

charity french riviera

Yachts du Coeur charity collection – Port Vauban, Antibes

Friday 10 November  Chances for Children Fundraiser at Monaco Yacht Club

After the busy events week during Monaco Yacht Show, Monaco Yacht Club will again host another event in November – Music, Magic and More – with proceeds benefiting Chances for Children charity.

The fundraising night runs from 7.30pm to 11.30pm with a magic show featuring Neil Henry (Britain’s Got Talent), hors d’oeuvres, DJ set and paintings for sale by Emma Kavuma, a talented Ugandan artist.   Find out more about C4C at www.c4c.mc (Poster design Dave Rowles)

charity event french riviera

Music, Magic & More – Chances for Children fundraiser on November 10 at Monaco Yacht Club

If you are a charity with an upcoming event on the French Riviera, you can contact me to list your event for free – send an email to accessriviera06@gmail.com with subject line ‘Charity event’ and I’ll do my best to add your event to my blog.

 

Are French Riviera tourism operators ready for China’s National Week?

Are French Riviera’s travel and tourism operators ready for China’s National Week?   I’m dubious to say ‘Yes’ as I believe a high proportion of travel-related businesses here are completely oblivious to targeted marketing for one of the world’s largest holiday periods and tourism markets.

What is National Week?

Chinese National Day is celebrated on 1st October each year to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  National Week or Golden Week is the holiday period that follows National Day – this year, it runs from 1st October to 8th October 2017.  Golden Week is the longest public holiday in China aside from Chinese New Year.

Why should France care about China’s National Week?

Traditionally, France has ranked within the top 2 overseas destinations for Chinese visitors however it is increasingly facing tough competition from other European destinations.  Switzerland has made huge efforts to attract Chinese tourists, as has Croatia with Game of Thrones-themed tours.

Director Jiang Yiyi of the International Tourism Research Institute with the China Tourism Academy says, “Chinese tourists no longer only select traditional hot journey places such as Thailand, the United States and Japan to spend their holidays. Countries such as Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand and Peru have all become a new attraction.”

France needs to adapt their tourism model and refresh their marketing to go beyond standard tour product by assessing the entire tourist journey from availability and frequency of flights from Chinese cities to French cities to including Chinese-specific signage at key tourist areas.

Notably, one of the biggest lags in tourism development for Chinese visitors is translation of French websites.  To compare, Barcelona Tourism has their main website resources available in 13 languages; Nice Tourism’s website is 7 languages including Chinese – something to think about for French businesses looking to grow their Chinese client base.

Chinese tourists visiting the French Riviera

Locally, companies are realising the potential of Chinese tourism on the French Riviera.

Monte-Carlo SBM has hosted high-profile events for Chinese companies adapting their service offering for their clients, including Chinese TV channels and meal options.  Their 4 hotels –  Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort and the Monte-Carlo Beach have obtained the Silver Certification, a hospitality standard for outbound Chinese travelers, awarded by ‘Welcome Chinese’.

‘Welcome Chinese’ is the only officially recognized by Chinese Authorities certified travel service standard and travel platform, aimed at upgrading the services dedicated to Chinese travellers.

Monaco has promoted the Principality as an add-on travel experience for National Week holidays, appealing to Chinese visitors to Monaco Yacht Show to stay and discover the Principality and surrounding regions.

Golden Week – French Riviera

French Riviera travel and tourism businesses need to prepare and strategise for this important tourism market – over the 8-day Golden Week holiday period, 650 million Chinese will travel which is an incredible number logistically and of that number, 6 million will travel abroad.  While they won’t all be heading to the famous Côte d’Azur coastline, a large number have been researching their travel options for European highlights and booked already.

The chance to create travel product and packages for a target group (known as mid to high spenders) is untapped for many businesses.  Shanghai-based Ctrip.com International, a Nasdaq-listed travel agency said that a quarter of their Ctrip customers chose to travel between 7 and 10 days, up 140 % year-on-year.   As well, shopping ranks highly as an activity during this time.

Immersive culture experiences, adventure activities and enticing landscapes appeal to Chinese visitors and as it is shoulder season here with comfortable temperatures and clear weather, the potential for opportunity is high.

Stats:  Ctrip.com, UNWTO

Monaco Yacht Show 2017: What You Need To Know

It’s almost upon us – the annual late September gathering for Monaco Yacht Show of the world’s premium superyachts, 125 to be precise, including around 40 yachts that will be freshly revealed for their Monaco debut.

Monaco Yacht Show 2017 will be held at Port Hercules from 27th to 30th September.

my aquarius feadship

M/Y Aquarius will be at MYS 2017 (image: Feadship)

Monaco Yacht Show 2017 – What’s New

September is a busy month in this neck of the woods for yacht shows with Cannes Yachting Festival just finished and Genoa Boat Show starting tomorrow, but Monaco Yacht Show 2017 is the most influential yachting show and certainly the one to visit to see the largest yachts and latest innovations with toys, tenders and tech gadgets in the nautical world.

mys2017

Monaco Yacht Show is one of the world’s leading yacht shows (image: MYS)

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide, Bespoke Yacht Charter very kindly asked me to write them a guide about the Monaco Yacht Show 2017 and I’ve included many insider tips including what to expect at show zones, VIP experiences, exhibitor and yacht lists and party dates.  You can read the guide here:  Monaco Yacht Show 2017 Guide

(This Monaco Yacht Show 2017 guide is a paid article on behalf of Bespoke Yacht Charter)