The 70th Cannes Film Festival 2017 and 75th Monaco F1 Grand Prix

Next month, two of the most exciting events on the French Riviera are set to thrill worldwide media – the 70th Cannes Film Festival 2017, and the 75th race of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix.

Hosted in the second half of May, these are two of my favourite events to write about and visit.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing my in-depth guides about both events with advice for recommended companies to book with, advice for travel to the events, tips for first-timers and details about the best parties!   Cannes Film Festival attendees can also find my other guide through Marché du Film distribution during the event.

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I will be attending both events and will be posting regular photos to Instagram, follow the feed at

The 70th Cannes Film Festival 2017

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the world’s most influential platforms for the film industry with press coverage ensuring high publicity across print and digital media.

cannes film festival 2017

Cannes Film Festival 2017 is one of the major events on the French Riviera (image: FDC)

For 2017’s Cannes Film Festival, Spanish film director and screenwriter Pedro Almodóvar has been selected as the President of the Jury, and Italian actress Monica Bellucci will succeed French actor Laurent Lafitte in her 2017 role as the Mistress of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Romanian director, screenwriter and producer Cristian Mungiu will preside over the Cinéfondation and Short Film Jury. Mungiu shared last year’s Best Director Award for his film ‘Graduation’ (the award was shared with Olivier Assayas for his film ‘Personal Shopper’).  Mungiu also won the Palme d’Or in 2007 with his feature ‘4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.’ His ‘Beyond the Hill’ went on to win screenplay and actress prizes.

The 70th Cannes Film Festival will take place from 17 to 28 May 2017.

The 75th Monaco F1 Grand Prix

Track preparations have already started in the Principality of Monaco; it takes around 2 months for the set-up and involves construction of tonnes of grandstands and kilometres of safety barriers.

monaco grand prix set up

(images: MonacoDailyPhoto)


During the 4 days of Monaco F1 Grand Prix, (there is also a Grand Prix Historique held every 2 years), it would be fair to say Monaco is a very cool place to visit!

Race fans come to Monaco for the day and crowd the race stands, hotel balconies, apartment terraces and the yachts berthed beside the circuit.   Restaurants and bars are full, hotels are full and parties are happening day and night.

The prestige for the race brings many celebrities to the event, and naturally the luxury sponsors who are keen to capture the allure of a legendary motor race in the public eye.

This year, Monaco F1 Grand Prix is from 25 to 28 May 2017.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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   

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!





How Brexit will affect tourism on the French Riviera

The big news of the past fortnight has been the outcome of the historic Brexit referendum that has cast huge uncertainty over economics, trade and politics.

Certainly tourism to the French Riviera will have a bumpy ride as the Brexit result settles and the great unknown becomes the known.

Whilst the public are happy to voice their opinion on social media, the referendum has split loyalties amongst friends, families and co-workers with many refusing to detail their vote and many small to medium businesses staying tight lipped with their comments on the result to avoid business backlash.


I have written this post to provide information and it is skewed toward UK tourists who visit this region; whether you supported the ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ campaigns I hope this post gives food for thought beyond tabloid media and political opinion.


Currency fluctuations were always on the cards regardless of the referendum outcome as any major global event will cause the markets to change.

Niall Bates, Managing Director of Chic Gites – Stylish Apartment Rentals in the Heart of Cannes commented that, “The currency effect was felt immediately – euro denominated holidays are now around 10% more expensive to holiday makers than they were a week ago.”

In the days following the result, major British banks including Barclays stopped accepting stop loss orders confirming their fear at the similar chaos created by last year’s Swiss franc upheaval. Global foreign exchange providers including Travelex, Travel Money and Commonwealth Bank put a cap or stop on buying pounds stirling to prevent exchange mayhem.

The pound stirling has experienced a rough ride pre-Brexit over the past few years with industrial and manufacturing sectors in decline, uncertainty on financial markets because of China and the prospect of an interest rate hike setting the value on a decline since the lows at the end of 2014. The zero or reduced rate for certain goods and services could therefore change. There could be an expansion in the extent of zero-rating currently denied by the EU. Or there could even be a removal of reliefs.

European luxury brands have also taken a knock due to the depreciation of the stirling; the flagship luxury French Riviera stores located in Cannes, St Tropez and Monaco will be competing with the UK stores who are experiencing a surge in customers.



Brexit is likely to create a real headache for UK-based airlines particularly the low-cost carriers such as Easyjet, Ryanair, Monarch, and Jet2 that service Nice Côte d’Azur Airport.

The EU is made of individual member states/countries however it is treated as one customs area, treating members as a single state in the interests of free trade. This allows for airlines and operators based in EU-member nations to freely conduct business in and out of neighbouring EU-member countries without being subject to VAT (Value-Added Tax) which is fixed between 15%-25%.

Easyjet’s CEO Carolyn McCall stated that ‘Leaving the EU would have a material adverse effect on Easyjet’s financial conditions and results of operations’. For your Average Joe who plans to travel from the UK to France, this translates in the media to ‘higher airfares’ and ‘the end of cheap flights’.

What the airlines have omitted to tell passengers is the rulings that govern compensation if their flight is cancelled or delayed 3 hours+ (dependent on circumstances), fall under EU Passenger Regulations (EC Regulation 261/ 2004). With Brexit this will mean this law will no longer apply to UK travellers or will need to be renegotiated. Therefore, British parliament will be acting on behalf of travellers; ideally they would want to retain the same level of compensation or actually improve it so in the meantime the price of flights is dependent not only on aviation fuel costs plus the current EU legislation covering (anticipated) compensation claims.


Likewise, private jet charter companies will see some flow-on – it is too soon to tell whether private flights between the regions may be subject to additional fees. Brexit has thrown uncertainty over whether or not UK-based aircraft operators will still be considered private use, along with questions of cabotage rights.

For those not familiar with cabotage rights, essentially they are open-skies deals that allow for an airline based in an EU-member nation to transport passengers within other EU nations for domestic air travel, typically short haul flights which are vital for business travel.

To provide some data, the growth in global demand for air travel has varied between 5.2% and 6.5% for the past 5 years (stat: IATA Economics) with European passenger volume sitting around 5% growth. Much has been bandied around in the media about the Single European Sky (SES) initiative and if the UK leaves the EU how they will be shut out of the EU aviation market and airfare prices will skyrocket for UK-EU flights.

The Single European Sky initiative was implemented by the EU to manage increasing air traffic and minimise costs of air traffic service provision; European air traffic management handles approximately 26,000 flights daily. The SES breaks down national boundaries of 67 airspace blocks into just nine – making it easier for air traffic controllers to guide aircraft.

By re-entering a single aviation market this will increase overheads for UK airlines as negotiations take place however to get around any restrictions, I expect EasyJet would seek an EU-based Air Operators Certificate (AOC) for its continental European operations, while the others could set up a UK-based AOC.

It should be noted, that EU membership is not a prerequisite for belonging to the Single European Sky initiative as many people have been led to believe. Norway, Switzerland, Tunisia, Albania and Egypt all observe this. For a comparison case study, consumers can look to Norwegian Air for some insight of a business model operating as a low-cost carrier servicing the EU from a country outside the EU – they are the third largest low-cost airline in the European zone and rank above Easyjet, Ryanair and WizzAir for on-time performance.


The effect of currency fluctuations will see UK travellers increase their efforts to seek accommodation discounts and specials on the French Riviera as the value of the stirling drops so it presents an opportunity for French Riviera-based travel companies to push deals to UK tourists, especially outside peak season. Look for more aggressive marketing on sites such as, TripAdvisor,, Expedia and Promovacances.


The instability with the stirling will work in reverse for the UK immediately following the vote with U.S and Chinese travellers seeking out UK holidays.

Ctrip, China’s biggest OTA, has announced that the Brexit result has seen a 200% search increase on their app for UK holidays, so this is the perfect chance for off-spin marketing to capture these tourists who may then choose to extend their UK stay by heading over to French shores.

The UK, especially London, won’t fade as a top-ranking destination; in 2015 London was the top global city destination by international visitors and London Heathrow is the top foreign airport by U.S. passenger traffic (stat: Office of Travel & Tourism Industries)

Niall Bates, Managing Director of Chic Gites in Cannes continues with some insights, “ In the medium to longer term there is more uncertainty over the fate of the UK economy. If the UK does experience the predicted recession in coming years, we could experience a similar slowdown in conference attendance figures in Cannes as we did post the Credit Crunch in 2008. Although this would affect non-UK clients significantly less than in 2008, UK companies continue to represent a significant proportion of conference attendees in Cannes. However, as we experienced post 2008, the reduced expenses budgets resulted in increased demand for apartment rentals as companies looked to save money by choosing self-catering over hotel stays. So for our apartment rental business I would expect little if any affect in the short to medium term.”

This echoes my predictions as I expect to see a rise in the sharing economy due to self-catering potential as this means UK tourists will have less £ to spend on meals when on holiday here. Airbnb (who ranks Paris then London as the 2 cities with biggest listings outside of the U.S) and Homestay should expect continual enquiries. For disabled travellers, HandySwap will provide excellent options to cut travel costs with home exchanges.

Package holidays & Cruises

Brexit will influence the UK consumer’s decision to travel with destinations such as Cyprus, Malta and Ireland that rely greatly on UK tourism expecting to suffer a downturn in visitors.

On the upside, destinations closer to the UK such as Belgium, Spain and France can expect to increase marketing of package holidays and all-inclusive getaways to reduce the variable expenses at destination such as meals and fuel.

The U.S and U.K markets are dominant in cruise demand with the Mediterranean being the second most deployed destination after the Caribbean (stat: CLIA). Aside from potential changes to port and customs regulations, Brexit will influence cruise pricing for P & O and Cunard as well as Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited and Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings including provisioning costs for food and drinks on board that may filter through to the consumer.



How will Brexit affect Eurostar? The most popular sectors between London and Paris, Lille and Brussels may be affected by new regulations for border control and fare prices are likely to fluctuate in the initial uncertainty.

  • If you are travelling from London itself to Paris or Brussels, book online at for the best deals. Friday and Sunday are peak times (and peak  prices!).  For spontaneous Eurostar passengers who don’t care what train they travel on between London and Paris/Brussels, Eurostar has special fares with a 7-day advance purchase (£25 instead of £45 oneway) on a new website live since May 2016. You can access the site signing in with Facebook: https://snap.eurostar

If you are based in the UK and intend to travel on the Eurostar to Paris, then onwards via train to the French Riviera there are a number of travel tips you can facilitate to reduce your total train fare:

  • If you are travelling from outside London to a western European destination including French Riviera stations and starting your journey at one of the 130+ UK train stations, is a great starting point for booking all-in-one tickets that combine the domestic UK train sector with the continental train sector. Note: Eurostar bookings open 180 days ahead of travel while most domestic continental trains typically open 92 or up to 120 days ahead so bear this mind when trying to confirm trains.

I highly recommend you check current Eurostar tips online at The Man in Seat 61, he has in-depth and invaluable advice about booking Eurostar tickets and global train routes including the rest of Europe. Top Tip: His best tip in the web link above concerns booking online for ‘London International CIV’ and ‘London Eurostar CIV’ which are well-kept secrets for discounted fares between over 130+ UK stations and a special online destination that automatically adds a cheaper UK sector to Eurostar fares.


The Auto industry, Self-drives & France

The UK Automotive industry supports 800,000 UK jobs from vehicle manufacturers to parts suppliers with Toyota, Land Rover and Nissan having plants based there. Aside from the manufacturing implications, with the Brexit decision and many UK tourists choosing to self-drive to France, this option is likely to reduce as crude oil is priced in dollars so as at today, the low stirling means UK petrol and diesel prices will increase at least in the short term. Ride-sharing services such as BlaBlaCar should capitalise on tourists looking to reduce travel costs.

Medical insurance while on the French Riviera

The UK’s inclusion in the EU means UK nationals can receive public medical treatment in the EU for reduced or no cost using their European Health Insurance Card under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.

With Brexit, this agreement must be renegotiated or all travellers will need to take out full private insurance to cover them in the event of any medical assistance being needed during their visit to the French Riviera.

Tourist Visas

Much has already been debated about the possibility of tourist visas for UK nationals to enter European Economic Area countries.

Many citizens of EU nations also enjoy the ability to cross borders without presenting a passport when travelling throughout Europe; because the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Agreement, UK nationals still require a passport when entering France but enjoy the right to free movement throughout the rest of the European Economic Area once they enter.


For Brits already living within France, it is unlikely that your residency will be affected. Asking existing residents and property owners to move or sell would be in breach of existing conventions, such as The European Convention on Human Rights (not to mention the colossal paperwork involved).

What will remain unchanged for UK tourists to the French Riviera?

The Brexit vote is not legally binding yet, the vote was just a referendum, one the UK government can simply ignore (granted this would be upsetting over half of the voters who opted to leave the EU). Until the government takes action to invoke Acticle 50, which will not be within two years, it does not mean the UK have officially left the EU.

If you are travelling to the French Riviera in 2016 and 2017, things will remain mostly unchanged:

– There will be no changes to passports as UK tourists will be free to move between the UK and EU as before the vote. This means you queue in your usual passport line at airports and you will not require visas.

– Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid until the UK officially leaves the EU.

– You will still be covered under EU law for compensation for flight delays and cancellations until the UK officially leaves the EU.

– You can still take cheap alcohol back to the UK from France so grab that bottle of French wine you love now.

The fact remains that the UK tourism market is vital to the economy of multiple EU countries, not just France. Countries outside of the EU such as Switzerland and Norway have been able to reach economic agreements with the EU in an effort to establish cooperative partnerships, and the UK will be aiming to negotiate similar terms as the Brexit debate settles as it will be beneficial to many to keep the tourism status quo.

Cannes Film Festival 2016: Insider Tips No One Tells You

The annual Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) is hosted each year in May at the Palais des Festivals beside Vieux Port and is one of the French Riviera’s primary events and a major Festival on the global film circuit.

The 69th Festival starts on 11 May and runs until 22 May 2016.

cannes film festival

Cannes Film Festival 2016 – official festival poster

The Cannes Film Festival is iconic and Cannes itself is a fitting backdrop to the proceedings – luxury hotels are booked well in advance and fashion boutiques line the Croisette, while the same designer garments are draped over the celebrities on the red carpet.  Every big name luxury brand wants a piece of the action from diamond-dripping  jewellery to luxe supercars, expensive liquor to makeup brands.

I have curated this post ‘Cannes Film Festival 2016: Insider Tips No One Tells You’ with local tips and advice to help Festival attendees get the most out of your visit whether you are in Cannes for the first time or a regular attendee.

Note: This guide is the only online guide for Cannes Film Festival that specifically includes supplementary ‘Access Notes’ after most sections giving information for persons with reduced mobility to enable them to enjoy the Festival. I hope you find this informative and share it on social media.


Woody Allen’s Café Society starring Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Steve Carrell and Parker Posey will open the Festival and it signals the third time the director has kicked off the Festival, following 2002’s Hollywood Ending and 2011’s Midnight in Paris.

Woody Allen's 'Café Society' will open Cannes Film Festival 2016

Woody Allen’s ‘Café Society’ will open Cannes Film Festival 2016

The Festival Jury & La Palme d’Or

This year’s Festival Jury is presided over by Australian screenwriter, producer and director George Miller (of Mad Max credit) who will be joined by other jury members that include Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Paradis, Donald Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst, László Nemes and Valeria Golino and their aim is to decide the award winners between 21 films in competition including the winner of the coveted Palme d’Or.

The Palme d’Or is the highest accolade at the Cannes Film Festival, awarded to the best film in the official selection.  Since 1998, the trophy has been crafted annually at the Chopard workshops in Meyrin near Geneva, it takes 7 craftsmen around 40 hours for the process including injecting fair mined certified gold into the mould and mounting it to the rock crystal pedestal.

Get in early

For first timers to Cannes, the first weekend is traditionally the busiest and the first week is most preferred by buyers of film distribution rights at Marché du Film as attendance drops off in the last few days of the Festival. So, in essence go early to bag the best chance for industry success.

There are various accreditation types to gain access to screenings, pavilions and events ranging from Buyer passes to Producers Network accreditation and of course, highly sought after Press accreditation.


For spectators (i.e. visitors / tourists hoping to see celebrities), the red carpet sashaying happens twice nightly at 7pm and 10pm when the Jury watch the films in competition at the Palais and the main stars show up.


For a copy of the screenings guide for Cannes Film Festival 2016, you can download it here:

Other screenings include Un Certain Regard, Cinéfondation, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (also known as the Director’s Fortnight and a budget-friendly way for the public to see a film), and Short Films In Competition.  A sidebar festival is Entr’2 Marches which runs alongside the main Festival from 15 to 20 May 2016 and screens short films with the themes of disability.

Cannes Film Festival Parties

As well as a hub for business networking, Cannes hosts some epic parties including those thrown by Wild Bunch, Variety and Film 4.

THE event to be at each year is the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala night; 2016 sees the 23rd gala fundraiser hosted at the legendary Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the Cap d’Antibes on Thursday 19 May.   Every supermodel, actor and producer in town attends – here’s a video of last year’s amfAR event:

Dress Code

I’m often asked what the dress code is for tourists to Cannes during Film Festival – if you’re going in the day, smart casual is normal but in the evenings party attire is perfectly fine.  For those lucky enough to get to the gala screenings, the dress code is black tie/evening wear.   The weather in May can swing from baking hot to rain storms so be ready for all seasons!

Cinema de la Plage 2016

Each year, free screenings are held on the beach for the public and you can see Cannes Classics and out-of-competition films.

To find the Cinema de la Plage open-air cinema, go to Plage Macé which is the public beach beside the Palais des Festivals and opposite the Majestic Barriere Hotel.  You can’t miss the huge film screen and sound system on the beach!

Look for the scaffolding and sound system on the beach, you can't miss it! (Cinema de la Plage, Cannes)

Look for the scaffolding and sound system on the beach, you can’t miss it! (Cinema de la Plage, Cannes)

The Cannes Office du Tourisme will tell you to reserve in advance, but it’s not necessary, entrance is free and you don’t have to show a physical ticket.

Screenings are listed as starting at 9pm but usually commence from 9.30pm nightly.  If you want one of the deckchairs, show up early (many people arrive before 7pm).

The front row chairs are often reserved for film industry execs and sometimes the Hollywood stars show up (in 2014, I spotted Adrian Grenier from Entourage, Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta and Uma Thurman who showed up for Pulp Fiction).  Keep your eyes open for surprise guests!

Cinema de la Plage, Cannes

Cinema de la Plage, Cannes

If you miss out on a deckchair, there is plenty of room on the right-hand side of the screen on the sand so take a picnic blanket.

It may be warm and sunny during the day, but Plage Macé can get chilly at night especially if there is a mistral blowing. Take warm clothes and rain protection as the entire zone is uncovered.

There are no food facilities, but you are able to take a picnic.  We have taken a bottle of wine and plastic glasses before also with no problems; please respect the environment and take all your rubbish away with you.

The nearest public toilets are located on the Croisette just past the children’s play ground, they are usually open late during the Cinéma de la Plage screenings.

Access notes: Persons with reduced mobility can access the beach via a concrete ramp at the Cinema de la Plage site, there is no specific area set aside for disabled people but there is plenty of room for you.

The Cinema de la Plage schedule for 2016 is:

Thursday 12 May   Purple Rain – Albert Magnoli, 1984, duration 1 hour 50 minutes

Friday 13 May  King of Hearts (Le Roi de Coeur) – Philippe de Broca, 1966, duration 1 hour 42 minutes

Saturday 14 May  Coup de Tête – Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1979, duration 1 hour 32 minutes

Sunday 15 May Surprise film

Monday 16 May The Endless Summer – Bruce Brown, 1966, duration 1 hour 35 minutes

Tuesday 17 May The Great Dictator (with Charlie Chaplin) – 1940, duration 2 hours 5 minutes

Wednesday 18 May  Sorcerer – William Friedkin, 1977, duration 2 hours

Thursday 19 May The Easy Life (Il Sorpasso) – Dino Risi, 1962, duration 1 hour 45 minutes

Friday 20 May Kiss Me Deadly – Robert Aldrich, 1955, duration 1 hour 46 minutes

Saturday 21 May  We All Loved Each Other So Much (C’eravamo Tanto Amati) – Ettore Scola, 1974, duration 2 hours


Cannes Film Festival may appear a crazy mix for first-timers; international media focuses on the red carpet, the awards, the charity galas, the fashion and the celeb sightings but you won’t find much reporting of road closures, numerous security personnel, wait staff with attitude to boot and photographers and camera crews clawing for their space on every spare inch of pavement on the Croisette.

croisette cannes film festival

However, it’s a fantastic place for people-watching and you really do see all walks of life during the Festival. Festival spectators bring their own seats and ladders to the Croisette in the hope of seeing a movie star on the red carpet – frequently, their view is of the back of someone else’s head, but we can all dream of a slice of cinema magic.

Cannes Film Festival is a magic event where cinema welcomes the big names and emerging talent to this glossy town that once was a fishing village – if you get the chance to visit the French Riviera during Film Festival I highly recommend it.


  • If you’re attending the Festival, click onto this pdf link for the map of the Festival sites
  • For the layout of the actual Palais, click here
  • Access notes: For persons requiring disabled access, download this accessmap for entry points to the Palais
  • For a tourist map of Cannes, click on this link Cannesmap
  • Download the free bilingual (English and French) mobile application ‘Festival de Cannes’  available for iPhone, iPad and Android to stay updated with hour-by-hour coverage, film trailers, videos from the red carpet and more.
  • On Twitter, you can follow @Festival_Cannes with hashtag #Cannes2016.  You’ll also find official Festival updates on Facebook, Instagram and Festival TV.



The most popular option to arrive in Cannes is via bus or train. Central Cannes and the zones around the Palais and Croisette are flat and paved, and the distance from the train station to the Croisette is only 5 minutes walk.

If you’re driving, be aware that the large carparks nearby and under the Palais des Festivals are extremely busy.  There are road closures during Cannes Film Festival, notably the Croisette, and police frequently block roads for major stars exits from hotels and restaurants.

It’s a given that Festival combines business with pleasure and you’ll experience some memorable (and forgettable) parties, however be aware that if you decide to stay out late you may end up for paying pricey cab fares. Public transport schedules at night are limited and taxis are expensive; try to pre-book a transfer before you hit the nightlife.

Cannes train station

The Cannes train station (Gare de Cannes SNCF) has ticket counters with attendants, but you can also purchase your train tickets from the self-service ticket machines.


TOP TIPS: Use coins for the self-service ticket machines as they can be temperamental and often they can’t read non-French issued credit and debit cards.  The self-service machines have English language options so you don’t need to be fluent in French.

ZOU ! Hebdo is a train ticket valid for 7 consecutive days and gives you up to 75% fare discounts and they are available to tourists or residents.  You have to specify your origin point and destination point – for example, Juan les Pins or Antibes to Cannes.  These passes give you super savings if you’re in the region for Cannes Film Festival.  TER SNCF, the regional train providers offer many different fare discounts including discounts if you’re under 26 years of age so ask at the ticket counters as they don’t willingly sell them unless you ask!

ALL tickets must be validated before boarding your train, look for the yellow validating machine (compostage de billets) at the entrance to the platforms.


The train station has a newsagent selling newspapers, phone credit, cigarettes, snacks. There are caféterias and vending machines onsite, and high tables with connections for smartphones and tablets.

Well-maintained and clean public toilets are located just outside the station, 50 metres to the left of the station entrance. These toilets are open Monday-Sunday 8am-9pm (excluding bank holidays), these toilets cost 50 centimes and you insert your coin into the automated turnstile and it opens the gate. There are 2 ladies toilets, 2 men’s toilets and a parent’s room with baby changing facilities. There is a change machine there to swap notes for coins but it is often out of order so don’t rely on it.

Access notes: Persons with reduced mobility can contact ONET Accueil in the main hall of Cannes train station (service available Monday through to Sunday 7.30am-7.30pm) where they can assist passengers with luggage and access on and off trains. All interior facilities of the train station including the public toilets are on flat ground and accessible.


Getting to Cannes you can take the following bus routes:

  • Bus 200 (between Nice and Cannes)
  • 210 line (between Nice Airport and Cannes via the highway)
  • 200 line Noctambus (a night service exclusively for Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights and bank holidays between Nice Airport and Cannes)

All of the above timetables and prices current as at 07 May 2016 are found here:

The journey on Bus 200 takes around 1.5 hours for the full oneway journey from Nice to Cannes, but it is by far the cheapest option at €1.50 oneway.  To compare, the train journey from Nice to Cannes takes about 40 minutes.  It should be noted that Bus 200 is a local bus that is particularly busy during peak hours and luggage storage is limited onboard.

The Cannes bus stops are the Gare Routiere (near Hôtel de Ville and the port), and outside the train station (the 200 stop is opposite Hotel Ligure).

Local Cannes buses with Palm Bus cover the greater Cannes area and nearby zones of Le Cannet, Palm Beach and Mandelieu-La Napoule.   Their website is in English, French and Italian with maps and timetables – visit it here

Access notes: Buses have kneeling ramp entrances and designated wheelchair areas midway on the bus. On main route number 200 there are on board visual route maps, lighted signage and sound calls advising of the next bus stop to assist hearing and sight-impaired travellers. Wheelchair bound travellers also have an on demand service for regional buses called Access06 whereby you can pre-book a designated minibus ; more information is here (in French only)

Specialised transfers

For helicopter transfers, private chauffeured transfers or classic car rental, I recommend using registered businesses that know the region well.  Find out more in my Cannes Film Festival 2016: Supplier List


Don’t be discouraged from a few sundowners or a meal out in Cannes for fear of breaking your bank balance during Film Festival. Here are Access Riviera’s suggestions for places to go for well-priced food and drinks, great atmosphere or a true Cannois experience:

La Boulangerie par Jean Luc Pelé, 3 rue du Vingt-Quatre Août

If you need a snack on the run, head here for artisan breads, salads (most priced around €6-€7), sandwiches, fruit salad and yoghurt, open Monday-Saturday 7.30am-7.30pm.

Or grab some chocolates and macarons at Jean-Luc Pélé’s patisserie-chocolatier shops on rue de Meynadier and rue d’Antibes.

Access notes: Fully accessible on flat ground. No toilet facilities.

Le Petit Majestic, rue Tony Allard

Le Petit Majestic is a lounge bar that actually is a Festival street party.  Festival attendees rock up here pre and post-event to mingle and network, and the French authorities don’t bat an eyelid at people drinking beer in the street.

Le Petit Majestic - a Festival favourite for pre and post-event drinks

Le Petit Majestic – a Festival favourite for pre and post-event drinks

L’Epicurieux, 6 rue des Frères Casanova

A wine bar first and foremost, they serve excellent antipasti platters as well as pasta, salads and steak. The café gourmand is great and they regularly have live music.

L'Epicurieux café gourmand

L’Epicurieux café gourmand

Le Jardin Secret, 2 rue Frères

Le Jardin Secret is located in Le Suquet (Old Town) and is a low-key place with entry through a narrow bar area/art gallery. Open from 7pm (also open for weekend brunches) if you’re looking for white table linen and silver service dining don’t go there – they serve tapas-style dishes in a laidback manner.

Lovely little garden courtyard and Wifi. Look for the entrance on rue Frères through the old door and the sign with the key. Follow them on their Facebook page for current news on opening times as they close for private events.

Access notes: Accessible but can get crowded in the garden.

Le Jardin Secret, Cannes

Le Jardin Secret, Cannes

Le Tube, 10 rue Florian

Super stylish, modern with a slightly industrial feel with brickwork, exposed pipes and graffiti artworks Le Tube offers French food with a modern twist.  The steak is good, but be warned its pricey.  An excellent choice for pre or post-Festival meet ups.

Access notes: Fully accessible.

Le Tube, Cannes (

Le Tube, Cannes (

Le Tikawa, Allées de la Liberté

It may not be the hub for industry wheeling-and-dealing, however this local snack kiosk sells tasty decent-sized salads, paninis and cold beers – all for a fraction of the price at neighbouring restaurants.

My favourite salad costs a wallet-pleasing €7 and its an under-the-radar option where you can get a table beside the plane trees, have a quick bite to eat and watch the locals playing pétanque.

Access notes: Fully accessible on flat ground. Nearest accessible toilet facilities are automated pay toilets in the square.

Ma Nolan’s, 6 rue Buttura

One of Cannes better pubs and found on a corner site close to the Palais des Festivals, Ma’s gets a lot of Festival foot traffic.  Head there for tap beers, pub food, live music, and sports coverage such as football on TV.

Access notes: Fully accessible outside tables on flat ground, however there are stairs up to interior of the bar and toilet facilities.

Ma Nolans - one of Cannes best pubs

Ma Nolans – one of Cannes best pubs

Marché Forville

I can’t mention food in Cannes without a tip to go to Marché Forville.

As well as fruit, vegetables, cheese, cured and fresh meat, seafood etc there are specialty shops around the perimeter of the main covered market including a shop selling regional products and duck, a Fish and Chips shop, a salmon and caviar store, a bakery (boulangerie), a roast chicken store, and a socca vendor.

Marché Forville, Cannes

Marché Forville, Cannes

Many bistros and bars are around the Marché Forville, and there are also a few supermarkets there – LeaderMarket, SPAR, and Picard for frozen foods (good for people staying in apartments who are self-catering).

The market is open every day from 7am-1pm, except on Monday when it is a bric-a-brac flea market.

Access notes: The entire market is accessible and on flat paved ground. There is an accessible ground-floor toilet at Café de l’Horloge next to the market.

Philcat, promenade de la Pantiero

Head to promenade de la Pantiero beside the port to the unassuming blue and white snack kiosk where Philcat serves one of the best pan-bagnats in Cannes. For those not already in the know, a pan-bagnat is a regional specialty (of Nice) and comprises of a pain de campagne (French sourdough) or white bread bun filled with salad Niçoise.

Access notes: Fully accessible on flat ground. Nearest accessible toilet facilities are automated pay toilets in the square across the road.

Philcat on the promenade de la Pantiero (

Philcat on the promenade de la Pantiero (

rue Hoche

Rue Hoche is a great place to grab a meal, coffee or drink.  I can recommend:

  • Le Cirque with lots of seating outside or indoors upstairs if you need a quieter space, most mains cost under €15 and they have good coffee.  Access notes: Fully accessible outside terrace on flat ground, however toilet facilities are located upstairs.
  • Volupte Anytime is a tearoom but has some of the best coffee in Cannes!  Great cakes, sandwiches and salads for reasonable prices.


Here are some places in Cannes to find Wifi:

  • Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) gardens across from the port. For details on how to log on, click ẀifiCannes
  • Mocca (directly opposite the Palais des Festivals)
  • La Potinière du Palais (on square Merimee)
  • New York New York (Allée de la Liberté Charles de Gaulle)
  • Cristal Café (rue Felix Faure)
  • Le Melting Pot (rue de la Rampe; the opposite side of the port from the Palais des Festivals)
  • Factory Café (Gray d’Albion shopping arcade)
Wifi in Cannes

Wifi in Cannes


Cannes is a money pot for rental companies and generally any accommodation centrally located in Cannes will increase room rates dramatically for Film Festival.

I’d advise Festival attendees to book through reputable sources or if you use 3rd-party sites check out some reviews.

This can be difficult to avoid, however sadly when Festival arrives it brings fraudulent companies to the scene so check, check and double check the authenticity of your accommodation source. French-registered rental businesses should have a physical address, contact details and a SIRET or SIREN number (business registration).

Overseas accommodation representatives should email you full booking details including local contact numbers, so take the time to check before parting with your cash.

Some fraudulent company names to avoid that have duped Festival goers in previous years include: Business Travel International or Expo Travel Group, Cannes Events, Euro-Events, Global Living Group, Premier Destinations, Riviera Network, The Ultimate Living Group, Universal Shows or Splendor.

Staying outside central Cannes can be a more financially feasible option for many Festival goers. Possibilities include Mandelieu la Napoule, Cannes La Bocca, Le Cannet, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins or Antibes.

Here are some suggestions for last minute Festival accommodation for attendees who may have a smaller budget, are travelling solo or are happy to commute:


Antibes is just 15 minutes by train to Cannes – stay in a cute one bedroom apartment on the first floor of an old fisherman’s cottage in Old Town Antibes, Wifi, close to all town amenities including restaurants, beaches and the covered market.  Bookings and enquiries via

Juan les Pins

Juan les Pins is 12 minutes by train to Cannes – Hotel Astor is 5 minutes from the Juan les Pins train station and bus stop to Cannes, and located in a quiet residential street. It is run by a friendly bilingual French couple who have a number of clean and comfortable spacious rooms and studios. Free Wifi, flat screen TV’s, free parking and some accommodations with balcony or patio terrace.  Bookings and enquiries via


Le Cannet

Just off boulevard Carnot, close to Cannes there is a studio with own entrance with some availability for the end of Festival, sleeps 2.  Wifi, and 1 minute from bus route which takes 5 minutes to get into Cannes (or walkable in 25 minutes). Bookings via

Mandelieu la Napoule

Villa Béthanie has two bedrooms with king-sized beds, Wifi, parking, it’s on the bus route to Cannes and Nice Airport and large outdoor entertaining space with BBQ.  Book via

Mouans Sartoux

Villa sleeping 6 located in Mouans Sartoux with short distance to local restaurants, golf  course and shopping. Book via


Le Club Mougins Diamond Resorts have single and duplex accommodation in a resort-style hotel close to golf courses, restaurants and just 8.6 kilometres from Cannes.  There are some renovations being undertaken so enquire at time of booking if this affects your room.

Roquefort les Pins

Perfect for a post Festival stay to wind down, there are rooms (bookable per night) and apartments (minimum 3 night stay) available in a 17th-century restored manor located between Cannes, Grasse and Nice.  Bookings and enquiries via Mas Shabanou


If you’ve left your Cannes accommodation until the last minute, you can also ask at the Office du Tourisme at the Palais des Festivals as they often have updated information on hotel availability and get last minute rates to fill rooms at partner hotels.


If you are not an actor, crew, director, or have a Press Pass or Festival badge, you can still visit Cannes and enjoy the atmosphere at the Film Festival for free (or a low budget). Here are a few inside tips:

Allée des Étoiles du Cinema

Outside the Office de Tourisme at the base of the Palais des Festivals, you can see handprints from movie stars but it is nowhere near as extensive (or publicised) as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and there’s no plaques with information.

If you’re spending a few days on the French Riviera and really into immortalised handprints, Juan les Pins also has a Walk-of-Fame of jazz stars from the annual Jazz à Juan Festival, and Monaco has a Champions Promenade which pays tribute to some of the world’s best footballers.

Access notes: Fully accessible on paved flat surface.

Allées des Étoiles, Cannes (

Allées des Étoiles, Cannes (

Cannes cinema murals

For over a decade, Cannes has been developing a series of film-themed murals scattered around the city on walls of buildings.

There are 15 in total, including murals of Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and cars from films.

For the map of where to find each mural and descriptions, download this pdf the Murs peints de Cannes

Access notes: Fully accessible on flat paved surfaces.


La Croisette

The Croisette buzzes during Film Festival and is one of the best seafront promenades on the French Riviera, with a huge cross-section of people found there during Film Festival  – keen tourists, wannabe celebrities with their own ‘rent-a-photographer’ following them, men in tuxedos at 9 a.m, champagne guzzlers at beach restaurants, and every dressed-up fashion addict in town strutting along hoping to be snapped by any one of the many photographers.

Seats and ladders for red carpet viewing on the Croisette

Spectator seats for red carpet viewing on the Croisette

It’s all great fun and superbly entertaining.

Walk along the Croisette and you’ll see the promotional billboards draping down the façades of the hotels from the film production companies.

The top hotels for star spotting are the Carlton Intercontinental, Hotel Martinez and the Majestic Barrière. Security is intense for all the hotels, but you can join the spectators and paparazzi crowding the road frontages for free; enter inside you better have a hefty credit card limit. The beach restaurants are set up with marquees for the private events.

To break up the frenzy for families, there is a small fairground area with carousel (fee applies) and a public playground near to the Palais, and also another small public playground at the other end of the Croisette.

Access notes: The Croisette is paved and flat all the way from the Palais des Festivals to Port Canto, and there are accessible public toilets along the Croisette.

Le Suquet

Le Suquet is Cannes Old Town, interspersed with old houses spilling over with flower boxes, brick-vaulted entrances, small alleyways and numerous restaurants.

While the Croisette, Palais des Festivals and the seafront hotels are famously busy (and expensive) during the Festival, Le Suquet goes about each day almost unaware an international festival is happening mere minutes away.

Traverse de la Tour, Le Suquet, Cannes (

Traverse de la Tour, Le Suquet, Cannes (

To get to the church and Musée de la Castre at the summit (fee applies to enter the museum, excluding the 1st Sunday of the month when entry is free), walk up rue Saint-Antoine, rue du Suquet, and then Traverse de la Tour. The views from the top are some of the best in the area stretching across Cannes, the Lerins Islands and the Esterels.

View from Le Suquet (

View from Le Suquet (

Access notes: Wheelchair bound or tourists with reduced mobility can still visit the top to enjoy the views, though the streets are steep!   Follow rue Saint-Antoine, rue du Suquet, rue du Pré then rue Louis Perrisol. This route follows paved flat roads and avoid the many stairways in Le Suquet. Or jump onboard the Petit Train tourist train that departs from near the Palais des Festivals as it chugs it way up there too.

Vieux Port (old port)

Stroll for free along the port admiring the expensive superyachts berthed there. Many yachts host private parties in the evening so it’s a good time to wander past for a nosey.

Access notes: Fully accessible on paved flat surface.

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Cannes Film Festival 2016 : Supplier List

The 69th Cannes Film Festival will be hosted from 11 – 22 May and the Riviera is already abuzz with action.

I will be posting an in-depth guide for Cannes Film Festival by the end of this weekend which will include tips for transport, last-minute accommodation, dining suggestions and inside information that only locals know!

cannes film festival

Cannes Film Festival 2016 – official festival poster

It will also include accessibility notes for Cannes for people with restricted mobility or wheelchair-bound festival attendees, so please share this vital information to anyone you know attending Cannes Film Festival and especially Entr’2 Marches.

Entr'2 Marches 2016

Entr’2 Marches 2016

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2016 – Recommended Suppliers

I receive a number of requests for information during Cannes Film Festival, and each year I curate a list of Cannes Film Festival suppliers that Access Riviera recommends if you need to ensure your film release, promotion or event is a success while here in the region.

Disclaimer:  None of these companies recommended have paid to appear on this list; I’m not a sales person for any of them or a booking agent – I’m recommending them because they have local knowledge and high standards of service and/or products.  If you use them, please mention you saw them on Access Riviera.

Best wishes for Festival de Cannes 2016!

Rolling out the red carpet for Cannes (image: Getty Images for Avax)

Rolling out the red carpet for Cannes (image: Getty Images for Avax)


For villa rentals, boutique accommodation and luxury hotels, contact regional experts Experience the French Riviera

If you want to base yourself away from Cannes (but still close enough to reach the action easily), contact Villa Bethanie situated at Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

accommodation Cannes Film Festival

Accommodation for Cannes Film Festival – Villa Bethanie

Lou Messugo is a gite that still has availability on both 16-18 May and 24-28 May and is a great option if you are looking for a low-key stay just 20 kilometres from Cannes.  You’ll get 20% off the rates if you book direct – Contact them for a quote via phone +33 625 102 071 or email:

Drone filming

For luxury film production and drone helicopter videos, contact Jocelyn Passeron (Yacht Photographer)

MLV Drone are a French-certified drone company – contact them for aerial photos and videos.


Azur Flowers can provide divine floral arrangement for product and film releases, dinner parties or private events at villas or on board yachts.  Contact Natasha via the website (click on ‘Azur Flowers’ to hyperlink through), or email :



Roni Floral Design  are a well known florist with shops in Cannes, Juan les Pins, Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer, Courchevel and coming soon to St Petersburg.  Contact them for customised floral creations for any private event, they also offer a delivery service to yachts.  Email Sybille :

Food & Wine

Adams & Adams offer customised menus for private events including on board yachts.

Boucherie Fabre based right in Cannes are the oldest butchers shop in the south of France and can help you out with any prime meat cuts including Wagyu beef.

Top grade meat supplier French Riviera - Boucherie Fabre, Cannes (image: Boucherie Fabre)

Top grade meat supplier French Riviera – Boucherie Fabre, Cannes (image: Boucherie Fabre)

Poissonerie Elzeard can offer delivery of fresh seafood products including seafood platters for private events, fish, crustaceans, oysters, lobster and more.  Contact them (French speaking) via the weblink or on Facebook


Sapori can provide Italian wines for any occasion;  enquiries can be sent to Valentina via email:

SParks Cuisine places an emphasis on fresh, healthy cuisine and Swedish owner Sara knows her stuff with experience working on yachts for 10+ years.  She can cater for anything from private dinner parties to bigger events.

SParks Cuisine

SParks Cuisine

Riviera Wine offer a super knowledgeable service under the guidance of Master of Wine Louise Sydbeck, you can visit their site here

Hair and Beauty

If you require a make up artist for any Cannes event, make up artist Irina Awad of Allure Makeup can help you.

Make up for any occasion via Irina Awad of Allure Makeup (image:

Make up for any occasion via Irina Awad of Allure Makeup (image:

Georgiana Teers is available from 15 May to 19 May in Cannes for any hair or makeup needs. To see her portfolio you can visit her website here:

Kellee MacDonald is a mobile hairdresser with 15+ years experience; contact her to discuss options.

Natalie Williams is a mobile beautician offering a range of treatments including eyelash extensions, manicures, pedicures, waxing and spray tans. If you’re looking for a professional beautician to glam you up for Festival, contact her via the weblink above.

Luxury Yacht Charter

Luxury yacht charter specialists for French Riviera including Cannes and Monaco, contact Bespoke Yacht Charter

Luxury yacht charter for Cannes events including Film Festival (image:

Luxury yacht charter for Cannes events including Film Festival (image:

Media Consultancy

All media consultancy spots for Access Riviera are filled this year, however for post-Cannes press releases or consultancy, contact Rebecca to discuss via email:


For events, portraits and destination images, contact Abbie via Fine Art Destination Wedding Photographer.

For yachting photography and events, contact Jocelyn Passeron (Yacht Photographer).

For fashion and product photography and events,  contact Justin Gage from Justin Gage Photo Studio.

For events, fashion, music and portraits, contact Naneen Rossi from Naneen Photography

Private Transfers – including Airport Transfers & Bespoke Transfers for Events

AJM Touring have a range of chauffeured Mercedes vehicles including Viano’s, E and S class.  Booking enquiries via email:

Class-eDriver offer 100% eco-friendly Tesla S transfers with chauffeur, or for groups they have Mercedes V class vans. Booking enquiries can be sent via email:

Tesla S model (image: Class-eDriver)

Tesla S model (image: Class-eDriver)

Sightseeing / Tours

Riviera Touring offer Harley Davidson and scooter rental.

Scooter and Harley Davidson hire French Riviera - Riviera Touring (image: TripAdvisor)

Scooter and Harley Davidson hire French Riviera – Riviera Touring (image: TripAdvisor)

Join a wine tour to local vineyards with Riviera Wine Tours – customised group tours also available by request

Cruise on the Mediterranean with Trans Côte d’Azur  including short ferry trips to the Lerin Islands or day trips to St Tropez and Monaco

Boat trips French Riviera - Trans Côte d'Azur (map: Trans Côte d'Azur)

Boat trips French Riviera – Trans Côte d’Azur (map: Trans Côte d’Azur)

Specialised Transport

Azur Helicoptère can facilitate helicopter transfers between Nice Airport and Cannes (in conjuction with Ubercopter).

Riviera Classic Car Hire have a range of classic vehicles for hire including a Ford Mustang, Morgan 4/4, Fiat 124 Spider, Triumph TR3 and Excalibur Phaeton.

Sport, Health and Wellness

Blue Tree Massage combine Oriental and Western massage techniques to create a bespoke relaxation experience for clients.  They are multi-lingual (English, French, Dutch and German) and offer massage onsite at villas, hotels or yachts.

Blue Tree Massage - available for customised massages across the French Riviera

Blue Tree Massage – available for customised massages across the French Riviera

Osteopath treatments via recommended osteopaths – English Osteopath or Riviera Osteo

Customised yoga sessions including on board yachts, book via Revitalize

For homeopathic and naturopathy consultations, contact Julia at Vie for Vitality

Thank you to all suppliers for the use of images and web links.

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How To Visit Monaco On A Shoestring

If I had a euro for every time someone asked me ‘Is Monaco cheap to visit?’ I’d probably be able to buy a penthouse apartment there myself.

There’s no doubt about it that Monaco is a destination of legend – luxury everything from hotels to superyachts to fast cars is normal there.

Monaco is a place you’re more likely to see Prada than Primark, Mercedes than Mazdas and Moët & Chandon rather than Murphys Irish Stout (Not to say that you won’t find people clothed in Primark or drinking Murphy’s there, you’ll just find it not so prominent).

Monaco is definitely a destination where you can spend a lot of money in a short time – lunch at somewhere fancy, a flutter at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, a swish suite at a luxury hotel won’t get you much change back from €1000, if any at all.

But, it’s also a destination that can be visited on a low or limited budget.  Yes it’s possible – Monaco on a budget.

monaco on a budget

Monaco on a shoestring


This post is for anyone who has asked me THAT question – backpackers, families on a budget, green yachties, intrepid travellers hoping to find out how to make their sightseeing money go further (you know the type – they weigh up the cost of a night out over buying food the next day and have stories of going on a bender then eating pot noodles for a week).


The first thing to mention for first-time visitors to Monaco is the topography.  Monaco/Monte Carlo is spread across a lot of hills, so if you’re not expecting that, are unfit or have restricted mobility you should be aware of that.

Luckily, the Principality has a network of public lifts and walkways (78 lifts, 35 escalators and 8 travelators) so you can get around without a great deal of effort, in less than an hour.  For a free map of where all the lifts and travelators are you can download it here: MonacoPublicLifts

Changing of the Guards

One of the most popular free things to do in Monaco is to watch the Changing of the Guards ceremony which takes place in the square in front of the Palais Princier at 11.55am daily.    The ceremony has not changed in more than a century; the guards wear white uniforms in summer and black in winter.

Changing of the Guards ceremony, Monaco (image: 1080)

Changing of the Guards ceremony, Monaco (image: 1080)

The Guards are not just military men, their roles include providing escorts for religious, civil and ceremonial processions, ensuring security for sports and other public events in the Principality, providing assistance to the Monaco Red Cross, assisting transportation of the disabled, helping children from the Saint Devote daycare center, and helping with relief and evacuation plans during any national emergency. Among the Guards are trained scuba divers that are charged with underwater security, monitoring water pollution levels and overseeing nautical events held in Monaco waters.

The Palais itself is the official residence of the ruling Prince of Monaco and has a vast history.  The Grimaldis, an aristocratic family from Genoa have fought to keep the Palais (and their independence) over centuries, waging wars with Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England and the Earls of Provence in order to do so.

Palais Princier, Monaco (image:

Palais Princier, Monaco (image:

The French Revolution significantly impacted the Palace and the Grimaldi reign when the National Convention ordered all occupied lands, including the Principality, be governed by independent administrations based on those of France.

The Palace was occupied and looted by the citizens of Monaco, Roquebrune and Menton and Monaco’s name changed to Fort d’Hercule. The Grimaldi possessions were sold at auction, the State Apartments were turned into a military hospital for the Italian army, the throne room was used as a kitchen and the rest of the Palace designated a Poorhouse.

Prince Rainier III is credited with restoring the Palais to its current state, and tourists can visit the State Apartments from March to October.  Entry is €8 adults / €4 kids (8-14 years), or buy a combined ticket for the State Apartments and the Private Collection of Antique Cars for €11,50 adults / €5 kids. Note:  The Apartments are not wheelchair accessible as there are stairs.

The Throne Room, Palais Princier (image:

The Throne Room, Palais Princier (image:

Saint Martin Gardens (Jardins Saint Martin)

Adjacent to the Monaco Oceanarium and with incredible views overlooking Port Fontvieille, these well-maintained public gardens are a pleasant place to wander with wide pathways, shaded benches under pines and olive trees and numerous sculptures including a bronze of Prince Albert I.

Japanese Garden (Jardin Japonais)

Created in 1994, the Japanese Garden is a municipal garden located on avenue Princesse Grace beside the Grimaldi Forum.

An unexpected surprise in an area of high-rise buildings, it’s a lovely place to visit and take a break among the maples, pines and shrubs.  True to Japanese garden aesthetics and symbolism, you can roam the pathways past lakes with koi, cascades and Zen gardens.

Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden), Monaco (images: gardenso)

Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden), Monaco (images: gardenso)

Stone Fountain’s (Fusen-Ishi) symbolize longevity to the Principality, arched bridges denote happiness and the path (Roji) to the Tea House leads to 5 water stones (Tsukubai) that invite visitors to purify and cleanse their mind and body with a ladle of water, a necessary preparation before entering the ornamental Tea House.

I recommend a visit to this garden when you go to Monaco, it is free to visit and open 9am until sunset.

The Champions Promenade

Free seafront pathway on the Promenade du Larvotto near the Japanese Garden and Grimaldi Forum with footprints of some top footballers including Pele, Diego Maradona, Ryan Giggs and more.

Champions Promenade, Monaco

Champions Promenade, Monaco

Princess Grace’s Legacy

Monaco Cathedral, is located in Monaco-Ville (Old Town) and known for the Bréa altarpiece, as well as the tombs of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.  You can visit for free from 8.30am-7pm (6pm in winter) except during mass.

Monaco Cathedral

Monaco Cathedral

The Princess Grace Rose Gardens on avenue del Guelfes at Fontvieille were created in 1984 as a memorial garden to Princess Grace.  The gardens are free entry and have thousands of rose bushes with 300 varieties.

Princess Grace Rose Gardens, Monaco

Princess Grace Rose Gardens, Monaco

Afterwards, head to the Columbus Hotel adjacent to the Rose Gardens and try their ‘Grace cocktail’ that was inspired by the Princess’ fondness of the flower and whipped up from rose petals, rose liquor and Champagne. Even better, go back at Happy Hour when drinks are 50% off.

The ‘Parcours du Princesse Grace’ is a free pedestrian trail through the Principality covering 5.5 kilometres that features 25 points of interest significant to the Princess.  Each stop has a plaque with photograph and comments, there are some touching photos and interesting historical information. Pick up a free map from the Tourist Office at 2a boulevard des Moulins, 98000 Monaco.

things to do monaco

Parcours Princesse Grace follows 25 points of interest throughout Monaco

Larvotto Beach

Plage Larvotto is the main beach in Monaco and while it’s designated as public, there are also sections to hire beach chairs/loungers.

Go early on hot days as it gets busy!  Families will find a kids playground and there are kiosks for ice creams, drinks etc.

Plage Larvotto (Larvotto Beach) is Monaco's main beach

Plage Larvotto (Larvotto Beach) is Monaco’s main beach

Monaco’s Museums

Monaco has many diverse museums covering exhibits from maritime history to vintage toys to manuscripts from Napoléon.

The most visited museum is the Musée Oceanographic (Monaco Oceanarium) and I agree that it is a great place to take kids, but it always gets mentioned in travel posts about Monaco.

Some of Monaco’s lesser known museums offer cheaper sightseeing though they are somewhat special interest, so take your pick and visit a few if you are on a low budget:

  • Musée Naval (Esplanade Rainier II, Terrasses de Fontvieille) is an impressive collection of 250 model ships including the US battleship Missouri, the Titanic, submarines, and Viking ships.  Open every day except Christmas Day and New Years Day, entrance is €4 for adults and €2,50 for kids 8-14 years.
things to do monaco

Museé Naval, Monaco

  • Musée de la Chapelle de la Visitation has masterpieces by Rubens, Ribera and other Italian baroque masters. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm. Adults €3 / Students €1,50 / Kids under 12 years are free
  • Musée Collection of Voitures Anciennes is the private collection of over 100 vintage cars of Prince Rainier III.  Open 7 days, 10am-6pm. Adults Adults €6,50 / Students & Kids 8-14 years €3.  Wheelchair-accessible.
car museum monaco

Cars in the Collection de Voitures de S.A.S. Le Prince de Monaco.

Free Sculpture Trail (Chemin des Sculptures)

Monaco is dotted with over 100 works from artists including Marseillais artist César, Colombian painter/sculptor Fernando Botero, Emma Sigaldi, and Lalanne.  A free sculpture path is in the Fontvieille district to allow visitors to discover some of the sculptures.

Chemin des Sculptures, Monaco

Chemin des Sculptures, Monaco

Monaco Open-Air Cinema

One of the best open-air cinemas I’ve seen, it’s the most expensive activity I’ve included in this blog article however the superb location on the Rock overlooking the sea can’t be beaten.

Open from June to September, films are screened in English (version originale) with French subtitles and to be honest once you sit on the padded chairs with a drink in hand as the sun sets over the sea you’ll agree that the €12 ticket price (€9 for students with I.D) is worth it.

Reservations aren’t possible so plan to arrive well in advance to ensure you get a seat.

Monaco Open Air Cinema (image: Cinema2Monaco)

Monaco Open Air Cinema (image: Cinema2Monaco)

Free concerts

Monaco / Monte Carlo hosts free music and concerts throughout summertime – in 2015, Robbie Williams played for free for Monagasque residents and place du Casino featured free concerts from Murray Head, the stars from the Commitments and Mika.

On 21 June each year, Fête de la Musique is a public event celebrated in both France and Monaco with free music performances from amateur and professional musicians – in Monaco, head to the main port where a stage is set up.

Free summer concerts at place du Casino, Monte Carlo

Free summer concerts at place du Casino, Monte Carlo

Free summer fireworks displays

Every year, the French Riviera is alive with regular free fireworks displays that form international competitions.

Cannes, Juan les Pins, Monaco all host displays in July and August – click on the hyperlink for dates in 2016 for Monaco fireworks.

Casino Square (place du Casino)

The iconic Casino Square is a great people watching area though the immediate cafeterias and restaurants are not for the budget traveller; regardless most people put a visit to Café de Paris and/or Casino de Monte-Carlo on their ‘must do’ list.  Sit in the gardens opposite the main Casino de Monte-Carlo and watch the supercars cruise past.

Casino Square is a great place for people watching

Casino Square is a great place for people watching

National Day of Monaco

As you walk around Monaco you’ll see many businesses with portraits of the Prince and Monagasque flags. For a small Principality, it is quite patriotic.

Every year on 19 November, the Sovereign Prince’s Day, also known as Fête Nationale or the National Day of Monaco is observed – if you’re in Monaco around this time, there is a free public fireworks display the evening before over Port Hercule.

The actual day involves a mass for royalty, dignatories and the Knights of Malta at the Monaco Cathedral followed by brass bands in the Palais Square and the royal family waving from the Palais.

National Day of Monaco celebrations each year on 19 November

National Day of Monaco celebrations each year on 19 November

Stade Louis II

Home to Monaco’s football team, AS Monaco, they host Ligue 1 French matches, and the occasional Europa or Champions League games e.g. against Tottenham Hotspurs last year.

Stade Louis II, Monaco

Stade Louis II, Monaco

Match tickets are a fraction of what you’d pay in the UK and if you buy in advance online via the AS Monaco website you get a 10% discount (you must take photo I.D when you present your ticket at the stadium).

Ticket discounts also apply if you want to go to a game with a group of 10 or more people.  The stadium rarely fills up, so you can usually grab a ticket at the gate too.

Pre-match, head to Monte Carlo Bar (1 avenue Prince Pierre) on the intersection near Place d’Armes which is a meeting spot for football fans, it’s open late and good for a beer and snack during Grand Prix too.

Access to Stade Louis II from Monaco train station - take exit 'Fontvieille'

Access to Stade Louis II from Monaco train station – take exit ‘Fontvieille’


Monaco Grand Prix is one of my favourite events here on the French Riviera and it’s a complete myth you have to be stacked with cash to enjoy it (though that can help immensely!).

If you want to visit the Grand Prix, the main race is Sunday and there’s usually no way to get around the price of tickets, so unless you have hospitable friends with apartments or offices overlooking the circuit or plan to charter a superyacht , you’ll have to pay up.

I'm really lucky to get invited to Monaco Grand Prix each year, though I won't be winning any style awards for ear muffs :)

I’m really lucky to get invited to Monaco Grand Prix each year, though I won’t be winning any style awards for ear muffs 🙂

However, you can buy tickets for the Thursday practice day at a fraction of Sunday’s prices, or head to Monaco on the Friday for the free day.  FREE!  Same circuit, different cars but there are always lots of people around and I find the atmosphere is great the entire 4-days anyway.

If you’re a complete cheap skate, you can still get to Monaco and head to Place d’Armes on Sunday where they have free big screens relaying the race action and driver simulators, beer kiosks and other free entertainment so you can soak up the atmosphere.

Place d'Armes has big screens relaying race action and lots of places selling reasonably priced beer

Place d’Armes has big screens relaying race action and lots of places selling reasonably priced beer

If you’re hoping to get a free glimpse of the circuit up close, you’re out of luck – the fencing goes into place well in advance and entry to the stands is via gated security HOWEVER I have a super tip for somewhere in Monaco where you can watch a snippet of the live race for free and no I’m not referring to a pub television!   Stay tuned for my Grand Prix blog coming soon with more GP info….

At the end of each race day, they open up the circuit so you can walk on it.  Race merchandise can be bought any day for less than €15 (caps, t-shirts etc) and well-priced food and drinks including beer is sold everywhere.  The crowds in the bars are generally well behaved and I’ve never seen the local police turf anyone off the street for wandering around with a plastic beer cup in public during Grand Prix.

If you love motor racing, another option is to get a ticket for the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique which is held every 2 years in Monaco on the same circuit and always a few weeks before the F1 event.

In 2016, Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is held from 13-15 May, with the F1 Grand Prix from 26-29 May.   I actually prefer the GP Historique over the F1 racing as it features classic cars including F1 Grand Prix cars from the 1960’s and 1970’s as well as sports cars from the 1950’s such as Astons and Jags.

Historic Grand Prix Monaco

Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is held every 2 years

I will be posting another blog article in the coming weeks about tips specifically for Monaco Grand Prix, so stay tuned!


Regional train tickets

If you plan to travel by train on the French Riviera, there are a number of train ticket options you can get.

You can buy a single-use ticket (oneway or return) however the most economical option if you’re travelling to a few towns on the same day is to buy a ZOU ! Pass.

The ZOU ! Pass replaced the old Carte Isabelle and costs just €15 for unlimited train travel between Ventimiglia and St Raphael (including Monaco, and the trains to Grasse or Tende) so you can hop on and off as much as you like in one day.  It is available only in summer, between June and September from any ticket office or the ticket machines at the station.

The PASS Isabelle Famille is the same concept but costs €35 for one day’s unlimited train travel for 2 adults and 2 children.  It’s sold year round.

Monagasque red and white trains

Monagasque red and white trains

If you intend to stay in the region for longer, buy the ZOU ! Hebdo-Mensuel passes that are sold year round.  ZOU ! Hebdo is valid for 7 consecutive days; ZOU ! Mensuel for one month from the 1st day.  They give up to 75% fare discounts and are available to tourists or residents.  You have to specify your origin point and destination point – for example, Nice to Monaco, or Antibes to Cannes.  These passes are super handy if you’re in the region for longer events such as Monaco Grand Prix, Cannes Film Festival, MIPCOM, ILTM, MIPTV etc

TER SNCF, the regional train providers offer many different fare discounts including discounts if you’re under 26 years of age so ask at the train stations as they don’t willingly sell them unless you ask!  The TER trains are mostly blue and silver and the TER Monaco trains are white and red but all regional tickets can be used on both trains.

Regional Buses to Monaco

From Nice to Monaco, there are a few bus options:

  • You can travel on the number 100 bus (Nice to Menton via Monaco) for the princely sum of €1,50 oneway.  Kids under 4 years are free.  The journey takes about 30-35 minutes. Note: Local regional buses are not particularly well set up for luggage storage and sometimes they’re tricky navigating with baby strollers, so bear that in mind if you are travelling with either lots of luggage or as a family with small children.
  • The 100x bus travels on the highway (autoroute) from Nice to Monaco.
  • You can take the Airport Express from Nice Airport to Monaco, it is Line 110.

For timetables for buses 100, 100x and the Airport Express you can see them here:

Buses within Monaco

Within Monaco, the local buses with CAM cost just €1,50 per trip if you buy from a bus ticket agent, or €2 if you buy it from the driver.  You can change to any other CAM bus within 30 minutes of the first validation and continue your single trip around Monaco.

A Day Pass for unlimited bus travel in Monaco costs €5,50; a Weekly Pass is €15.  Kids under 5 years travel for free.  As an extension of the ‘road bus’ system, Bateau Bus is a solar electric 50-seat boat that shuttles across Port Hercule between Quai des Etats-Unis and Quai Rainier 1er every day from 8am to 8pm, so you use your bus ticket for the Bateau Bus in the same way.

buses in Monaco

Local buses in Monaco with CAM; The ‘Bateau Bus’ in Monaco is a cheap way to cross the harbour

For people with restricted mobility or who are wheelchair-bound, Monaco is phasing in ramps on all the fleet (currently about a third of Monaco buses have ramps). Line 5 is completely wheelchair accessible.

Timetables for CAM buses are found here:


Self-drive tourists should know that you can’t drive into Monaco-Ville (Old Town) – the only cars allowed are those having Monaco license plates or French license plates with the last two digits ’06’ from the Alpes Maritimes Department.   All other vehicles are strictly forbidden to drive to Monaco-Ville.  You can however  park in the ‘Parking des Pecheurs’ regardless of what license plate your car has…this carpark is under Monaco-Ville, then you simply take the elevator up to street level.

Another thing to note if families are driving to Monaco, it is law that children up to 10 years of age travel in the back seat of the car and wear a seat belt or are strapped into a proper child safety seat.  Only children over 10 years or adults can travel in the front passenger seat.  The only exception is when there are no rear seat belts.

For details of parking in Monaco, you can see the list and tariffs of the public carparks here:


If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re not booked into the Hôtel Hermitage or Hôtel de Paris.

While Monaco hotels can be super pricey, staying in the off-season and outside of Grand Prix and major events can mean great reductions on room rates.

Beausoleil is on the fringe of Monte-Carlo and has some cheap and clean – though not super modern – hotels.  Nice is just 25 minutes by train from Monaco and has lots of budget-friendly places to stay.  There are also accommodation options such as Homeaway or AirBNB.  A few options are:

Hotel de France, 6 rue de la Turbie, is centrally located in Monaco about 5 minutes walk from the main port. The airport bus stop is nearby, they have free Wifi and rooms are air-conditioned and clean. The pay-off for a budget hotel in a good location means there is no elevator.  Prices from €95 upwards.

Azur Hotel, 12 boulevard de la Republique, Beausoleil is within walking distance to Casino Square.  Their website says they are a 5-minute walk to the Monaco train station which is a bit misleading; it’s uphill from the station and takes at least 15-minutes’ walk so take a taxi if you have lots of luggage.  The upsides are the rooms are clean with air-conditioning, the location is near to restaurants and they have free Wifi. Prices from €79 excluding events.

Nice Garden Hotel, 11 rue du Congrès, 06600 Nice, is situated 2 blocks from the seafront and easy walking distance to Vieux Nice (Old Town) and the train station.  If you can see past the unappealing hotel entrance you’ll be pleased you made the effort.  It’s run by 3 generations of a warm and hospitable family and the 9 rooms all overlook a lovely garden with orange trees where you can eat breakfast if the weather’s nice.  Low season prices start at €59 per room per night (Simple Double); high season start at €75; Grand Prix from €150 p/nt.

cheap hotel Nice France

Nice Garden Hotel, budget-friendly hotel in Nice

Monaco doesn’t have a central hostel and although there is a Relais Jeunesse Villa Thalassa at nearby Cap d’Ail I recommend you read reviews first and decide if the property versus budget suits your needs.


Cheap can sometimes equate to nasty in culinary terms and I’ve had my fair share of grease-laden, overcooked/undercooked meals in different destinations.

If your budget can’t extend to the Gourmet Menu (€310) at Le Louis XV at Hôtel de Paris, or Joël Robuchon’s €199 Menu Decouverte at Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo, then there are still other value-priced places to eat and drink in Monaco.

If you do want to experience a meal at the luxury restaurants, dine at lunch where the set menus are better value and still offer a few choices for starters, mains and desserts.  If you want to drink in style, head to the Fairmont Monte Carlo where Nobu restaurant has 50% off cocktails at daily Happy Hour from 6pm-8pm and L’Horizon Deck has a champagne Happy Hour daily from 6pm-8pm.

happy hour monaco

The Fairmont Monte Carlo has daily Happy Hour so you can enjoy this view with a cocktail or champagne!

For the ultimate do-it-yourself food option, grab a sandwich from the supermarkets – try the Casino supermarket on boulevard Albert 1er near Port Hercule or the Carrefour Monaco at Centre Commercial Fontvieille.

Boulangeries (bakeries) also have good value snacks such as slices of pizza, focaccia,  pissaladière (pizza-type tart with caramelised onions, olives and anchovies), or barbajuan which is a Monagasque specialty and best described as a fried pastry package filled with chard, cheese and egg.  The best barbajuans are from Costa’s; you’ll find 8 Costa Boulangerie’s throughout Monaco but you can easily head to the Marche de la Condamine to find them there and a bargain price at €1,30 each.


Le Petit Bar is situated on Le Rocher at 35 rue Basse (a good dining choice if you’re visiting the Palais Princier or Monaco Oceanarium) and it gets a mention from me because Fafa (Fabrice) and Lolo (Laurent) the owners serve a tasty menu with good prices.  The tapas plates are excellent, the mains are all priced under €15 and most desserts are €5.  Make a reservation for dinner as the place is small and gets busy quickly, especially in summer.

cheap restaurant Monaco

Le Petit Bar, Monaco-Ville

Constantine, located at Fontvieille port is awesome for people who have both carnivores and vegetarians in their group (not always easy to satisfy both sides when dining). Their menus are good value and include a glass of wine or soft drink, water and coffee.  Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner;  Saturday and Sunday for dinner only.

Gerhard’s Café is a German-themed pub open 7 days for lunch and dinner (their lunch menus are the better value with most food options costing €8 or less). If you like spirits and cocktails, their large Long Island iced tea is a third of the price cheaper than what you’ll pay over the other side of Monaco near Larvotto.  They have free Wifi and are a fun place to go for drinks during Grand Prix or during their annual Oktoberfest complete with sauerkraut and Paulaner beer.

Thanks for reading my blog post about Monaco on a shoestring!  You can now take all these best bits of Monaco in your pocket with my GPSmyCity Monaco on a Shoestring app found here

If you appreciate my research and found it informative or have any comments, I’d love to hear from you.  Please share this post on social media including Facebook or Twitter. thanks!

Sources:, Visit Monaco, Gouvernement Princier,

Lou Messugo



Weekend Wanderlust


Wanderlust (noun):  A strong desire or impulse to travel.

I spend so much time writing about the French Riviera that I neglect to share other great travel journeys I’ve experienced.

Such as sharing a barbecue lunch on a tropical atoll in Aitutaki, trekking through rice terraces in Bali, scouting for the best coffee in Melbourne, bartering for silk pyjamas in a Chinese airport, bar hopping in Gothenburg, snorkelling with hammerhead sharks in New Caledonia, drinking far too much Chianti at Christmas time in Tuscany….the list goes on….

Our desire to travel is inspired by photographs, videos, stories, blogs, documentaries and more than enough Instagram and Pinterest accounts.  Researchers have also discovered a gene – DRD4-7R – that they say pre-disposes a person to roaming based on DNA studies of prehistoric nomadic cultures.

Whether it comes down to genetics or curiosity, travel broadens our minds, fosters discovery, fulfils our dreams, challenges us and creates relationships.

In light of this, from next month I will be starting a new monthly blog post ‘Weekend Wanderlust‘ where I’ll be sharing insight of somewhere to escape from the French Riviera for 1-3 days.  The criteria for each post:

  • Must be reachable via driving or public transport (NO flights allowed!)
  • Must be within 5 hours travel time to allow for easier travel for families with kids
  • Must appeal to a range of ages
  • Must include 3 useful travel tips

France has so many other beautiful regions its high time I give them a shout out.  So, I hope you’ll follow me as I share more travel stories including places to stay, restaurant suggestions, sightseeing advice from beyond this immediate region – some topics I’ll be discussing will be:

  • Shopping in Aix-en-Provence
  • Street Art in Lyon
  • Visiting Nimes & the Pont du Gard
  • The Crusaders Path  : Aigues-Mortes & the Camargue
  • Road trip to Gorges du Verdon

First up in the New Year, find out more about history, art and monuments in Arles.  To whet your appetite, I’m sharing a video from Arlesian Claude Caneri:

See you soon #weekendwanderlust !