An Artist’s Journey in Nice : Guest Blog

Today’s guest blog is from Erick Sabelskjold, the Managing Director of a Nice-based fine art agency, Sabelskjold Art Agency.   I would like to thank and acknowledge Erick’s input in writing this blog article and sharing some of his favorite places to enjoy art in Nice and the surrounds.  Enjoy!

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Art in Nice and surrounds

I have the fantastic fortune to live in Nice, France, the heart of the French Riviera.  Every day here feels like you are transported to years gone by when Sophia Loren would grace the promenade with her beauty and elegance. Nice is a magical city filled with excitement, beauty and romance.

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There is so much more to Nice then the nightlife, trendy cafes, and incredible cuisine.

For those of you that have visited Nice before you know the city is bathed in stunning captivating art. This art in not just in galleries, the city itself is a work of art.  From Promenade des Anglais to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, there are new discoveries waiting around every turn.  It is difficult to narrow down the best places to see art in Nice so I will go with my personal favorites.

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My favorite part of Nice hands down is Old Town.  The walking streets of Old Town (Vieux Nice) slows the pace of the city and as you make your way through the butchers and leather makers that have been here for generations you become captivated by the character and beauty of the city.

The streets of Old Town are lined with talented, passionate painters and sculptors. There are several art tours available in Nice but believe me discovering these hidden gems is much more exciting on your own. Rue Droite is an excellent place to start your adventure through old town walking streets.  Here, you will find many internationally collected artists.

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One of the most interesting Old Town locations to see art in Nice is Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate.  The captivating murals painted inside the church are just the beginning.  The church also has 3 organs and an altar with the remains of the martyred St Reparata. The story of St Reparata found within the church is fascinating; and then to see the altar of her remains in such a picturesque church is moving.

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No trip to Old Town Nice would be complete without a breathtaking view from Tower Bellanda.  You can either take the stairs to the the top of the tower or pay a small fee for the elevator. Looking out over the turquoise water of the Mediterranean Sea, you can understand why for centuries artists have been inspired and motivated to create art in Nice.

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There is no shortage of Museums in the city of Nice and surrounding areas, from public to private and even the homes of famous artists that lived in the area. At the top of my museum list is the Picasso Museum in Antibes, just a short train ride away.  The museum is set in an old castle fort right on the sea with views looking out over the yacht marina to the snow capped Alps.

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The museum houses an amazing collection of Picasso’s work while he lived in Antibes including paintings, sculptures and intimate photos of him working in his studio. There are also several other famous artists in the Museum like Nicolas de Stael. The museum has a patio that looks directly over the sea with interesting sculptures.

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You don’t have to be an art aficionado to enjoy all the art that Nice has to offer.  Awe-inspiring art surrounds you everywhere you go in this beautiful city.  From the cafe lined streets, to the museums and art studios, there is art in Nice for everyone to be moved and fascinated by.  In the heart of the French Riviera, I know you will find something beautiful that will touch your soul.

Sabelskjold Art Agency, located in Nice and South Florida, specializes in art collecting experiences and helping clients create the perfect custom piece of art for their space. We also partner with interior designers sourcing the perfect piece of art to complete their project.  Sabelskjold Art Agency is client forward focused and provides unmatched client experiences and services.

http://sabelskjoldartagency.com/

4 Fabulous February Festivals on the French Riviera

  1. Nice Carnival, Nice | 11 February – 25 February 2017

One of the world’s biggest carnivals, the 2017 theme for this annual event is ‘King of the Energy’.  Fabulous flower battles, parades with floats and costumed actors and animations ensure a family-friendly event with plenty of entertainment.

My top tips:  Don’t forget if you dress in fancy dress, you get FREE standing entry for Zones A and B for the Corso Carnavalesque and Corso Carnavalesque illuminé.  Persons with disabilities also get FREE entry for standing Zone B for the Corso Carnavalesque and Corso Carnavalesque illuminé.

Watch a video of last year’s Carnaval de Nice below (courtesy of Nice Côte d’Azur Tourism) highlighting what to expect during this 2-week party:

2. Fête du Citron, Menton | 11 February – 01 March 2017

Menton’s wonderfully zesty Lemon Festival is bringing ‘Broadway’ to the Mediterranean with a dash of show-stopping citrus sculptures, parades and music.  Read more about how to make the most of your visit to the Fête du Citron in 2017 in my blog post Fête du Citron 2017

Fête du Citron 2017's theme is 'Broadway'

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3. Fête du Mimosa, Mandelieu la Napoule | 15 February – 22 February 2017

A welcome end to winter days with the brilliant mimosa flowers in the streets of Mandelieu la Napoule for the Fête du Mimosa.  Head along for flower battles, music and animations based around the yellow blooms.

Find out more about the festival schedule at Fête du Mimosa

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Fête du Mimosa in Mandelieu la Napoule

Fête du Mimosa in Mandelieu la Napoule

4. Festival International des Jeux, Cannes | 24 February – 26 February 2017

A super festival for families with all types of exhibitions with classic and contemporary board games, video games, simulators, toys, sci-fi and fantasy games, wooden games, models, collector cards and more!

Entrance is free, however this year they have introduced a new VIP option (payable for 1 or 3 days) where you get discounts and goodies from show participants.  A great festival for school age children.

My top tip:  They have a coat check facility but be advised it is €2 per item.

Find out the full programme and list of exhibitors here Festival International des Jeux

Festival International des Jeux in Cannes is a great festival for families

Festival International des Jeux in Cannes is a great festival for families

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Images:  Fête du Citron, France Bleu, Daily Mars, D&F

 

Fête du Citron 2017: Bringing ‘Broadway’ to Menton’s Lemon Festival

We have bid farewell to 2016 and I am looking forward to what 2017 brings!   For visitors to the French Riviera, February is an excellent month to visit because there are many interesting festivals and public events happening.

One of my favourite festivals because of it’s uniqueness is the Fête du Citron – the Lemon Festival – which is hosted each February in Menton.

In 2017, the 84th edition of Menton’s famous Lemon Festival will be held from Saturday 11th February to Wednesday 1st March.

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History of Menton’s Lemon Festival

In Victorian times, the French Riviera was not known as a summer destination but was a popular winter resort where artists, distinguished royalty and the wealthy came to escape cooler climates, gamble in the purpose-built destination casinos or ‘take the air’ as it was referred to.   The mild winter climate also attracted convalescing tourists who would stay in the towns believing that the exposure to sun and sea air would help their ailments.

Due to the seasonal population increase, Menton initiated a festival as a novel way of providing entertainment for locals and tourists.

Old town architecture of Menton on French Riviera

Menton is one of the most picturesque towns in the region with a backdrop of the mountains, an eastward-facing Italianate Old Town and a promenade stretching toward Cap Martin.

It has the accolade of being the warmest town on the French Riviera with high sunshine hours that are ideal for growing citrus fruits, and in the 1920’s the concept of including lemons was added to the festival because Menton was the most significant lemon-growing town in Europe.   The Mentonnais lemon is more elliptical than round, it has a high acidity and exceptional oil in the peel so it is favoured by top chefs.

vintage poster (copyright A.Bermond)

vintage poster (copyright A.Bermond)

Today, the Fête du Citron welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors and it is one of the region’s major festivals.

The Lemon Festival Theme & Programme

Each year, the Fête du Citron is based around a theme.  The years from 2013-2015 were themed on a trilogy about Jules Verne and the Tourism Office decided that the next trilogy from last year would be based on cities or regions famous for their major art.

Therefore, last year’s theme for the Lemon Festival was Cinecittà about Italian film.   If you have never been to the Lemon Festival, 2017 will be a great year to go because I can’t rate it highly enough.   This year, the theme for Fête du Citron 2017 is Broadway.

Fête du Citron 2017's theme is 'Broadway'

Fête du Citron 2017’s theme is ‘Broadway’

Visitors to the 2017 festival will be able to step back in time and relive musicals from the 1930’s until the present day, all with a citrus-infused ambiance!

I’m a big fan of musicals so I think it will be fantastic and I can’t wait to see what they create for the displays and parade floats – from Mary Poppins in the heart of the music hall, to Dorothy and Toto along the Yellow Brick Road to the annual Cats Ball.

During the festival, there are all types of roaming street performers including buskers, clowns, stilt walkers and costumed actors.  You can buy tickets for Sunday afternoon parades or Thursday night parades complete with lanterns, dancers, confetti, bands and fireworks.  You can see a trailer video below which shows what to expect at the Fête du Citron (video: Ville de Menton):

The Jardins Biovès is very popular and this is where you’ll find the impressive citrus sculptures, some reaching heights of 5-10 metres.

The sculptures are constructed around wire frames using tonnes of lemons, oranges and agrumes and they really are an engineering marvel.   I think the entrance fee is very fair to see a unique exhibition.

The gardens are open during in the day and also on select evenings, when the sculptures are illuminated with sound.

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Adjacent to the Jardins in the Palais de l’Europe you’ll find the ‘Salon de l’Artisanat’, an arts and craft market with vendors selling citrus-themed products.  Here you can find goods such as Provençal table linen adorned with orchard groves, limoncello, marmalades, orange-infused wine, old fashioned lemonade (which you can also find sold at many shops in Menton as ‘citronnade’), curds, olive oil and vintage art with photographs of lemons. The Palais also hosts an orchid display.

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This year to match the Broadway theme, there are some additional shows. On Saturday 11 February and Tuesday 21 February, singers, dancers and musicians will perform at Theatre Francis Palmero a medley of Broadway hits from Mamma Mia to West Side Story to Phantom of the Opera.  Tickets for these performances are available here

For more details about the Lemon Festival, click here Fête du Citron 2017 Programme

Where to buy tickets for Fête du Citron 2017

Tickets can be pre-purchased via various options:

  • Online at www.fete-du-citron.com  From past experience, if you buy them online they will be issued in your name and accompanying companions only as you have to give I.D. when entering the festival (though in reality, I have never once been asked for I.D).
  • At the Menton Tourist Office, 8 avenue Boyer, 06500 Menton.  During the festival, the Tourist Office is open Monday to Sunday from 9am-6pm, and from 9am-9pm the days that the night Corsos happen.
  • For the citrus sculpture display at Jardins Biovès you can also buy tickets at the entrance (door sales).
  • For groups of 20+ people, you receive a small discount per person and can order tickets via email pro@feteducitron.com

Ticket prices for Jardins Biovès 

Day time citrus displays (Exposition des Motifs Agrumes) between 10am-6pm:  Adults €10 / Kids (6-14 years) €6

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Night time citrus displays (Jardins de Lumières) between 8.30pm-10.30pm on select nights only: Adults €13 / Kids (6-14 years) €8

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Ticket prices for the Corsos (parades):  Thursday night Corso Nocturne at 9pm OR Sunday afternoon Corso des Fruits d’Or parade at 2.30pm

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

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

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Combo tickets include entrance to either the Corso des Fruits d’Or parade OR a Corso Nocturne parade PLUS the Jardins Bioves citrus display

Standing (Forfait Promenoir):  Adults €17 / Kids (6-14 years) 10

Seated (Forfait Tribune): Adults €30 / Kids (6-14 years) €15

For a routing map of where the parades go, see below – Circuit Dimanche (for the Sunday afternoon Corso Fruits d’Or) or Circuit Jeudi (for the Thursday night Corso Nocturnes):

Fête du Citron parades map

Fête du Citron parades map

Important information for persons with reduced mobility

The festival has free entrance for wheelchair bound visitors to the Jardins Biovès and parades.  For their accompanying person, they are entitled to receive free entry to the gardens and standing access to the parades (seated admission is at reduced price).

For persons with 80% mobility with disability card I.D and their accompanying person who must be named on the same card, they are entitled to free entry to the garden display and access to the parades but without seating. You are entitled to reduced prices for a seat in the stands.

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

The Palais de l’Europe where the orchid display and Salon de l’Artisanat is located is wheelchair accessible with an elevator to the first floor, and this is where you will find accessible toilets located on the ground floor.  Entrance is free to Palais de l’Europe.

If you are attending the Corsos (parades), there is a designated wheelchair spectator area on Place Saint-Roch which is the eastern end of the parade route you can see in the map above.

For persons with restricted mobility wishing to enjoy the beach, you can access the south-facing stretch of beach opposite Hôtel Royal Westminster.

Special package deals for visiting Menton

For the duration of the festival, hotels in Menton are offering special weekend and week-long packages including accommodation, breakfast, seated tickets for parades, unlimited entry to Jardins Biovès and more.

Séjour  Tangor are deals for 1 and 2-star hotels

Séjour Citron are deals for 3-star hotels in the centre of Menton

Séjour Calamondin are deals for 3 or 4-star hotels on the seafront

For accommodation only, the Menton Tourist Office’s hotel booking site is found at:  http://www.hotelmenton.fr/hotel-menton/

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Getting to Menton for the Fête du Citron

By Train

The closest train station to the Fête du Citron is called ‘Gare de Menton’, and is just 200 metres from the Jardins Biovès that host the main citrus sculptures.  Beware that you don’t get off at the station ‘Gare de Menton Garavan’ which is the next station heading towards Vintimille (Ventimiglia) in Italy and 3 kilometres from the festival.

To check train timetables, you can go to http://www.ter.sncf.com/paca

By Car

The easiest (and quickest) driving route is via the A8 highway, get off at exit 59 (sortie 59).

68161526For car parking, take your chances with public parking in the town or use the designated free car park located just off the highway exit at the Intermarché du Carei Shopping Centre; regular shuttle buses link this car park and the festival sites on the Sunday parade days.  There is also a car park at Stade Rondelli and Stade Val d’Anaud, again regular shuttle transport links the parking with festival sites.

It’s important to note that there are some street closures and detours around the centre of the festival, however all detours are well-signposted.  On the days of the Corsos (Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights) traffic access to and from Menton is usually busy.  See road closure info below:

Dimanches = Sundays

Jeudis = Thursdays

Axe rouge stationnement interdit = Red zones, no parking

Axe noir circulation & stationnement interdits = Black zones, no access or parking allowed

Axe vert = Advised routes

Road closures during Fête du Citron 2017

Road closures during Fête du Citron 2017

By Bus

Bus number 100 travels between Nice and Menton and bus number 110 travels between Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Menton.  These are regular public buses and not put on specifically for the festival. Its important to note that if you plan to attend the parades the bus schedules from Menton to Nice do not run late in the evenings. You can find these bus timetables here:  https://www.departement06.fr/vous-deplacer-en-bus/lignes-et-horaires-3029.html

For any organised group tour buses they drop off passengers at the Musée Cocteau on the seafront and the distance is 15 minutes by foot to the Jardins Bioves.

Around Menton itself, you can take the local Zestbus for €5 per day for unlimited travel, buy your ticket on board from the driver.  www.zestbus.fr

When the curtain closes….buy your citrus here after the Lemon Festival

The Fête du Citron uses an enormous quantity of citrus fruit during the event. A huge percentage is thrown away due to rot or composted, but once the main sculptures are disassembled the rest is sold off cheaply to the public.

So, at the end of the festival you can buy a kilo of lemons for 30 centimes and oranges for 50 centimes as well as beautiful flowers from the displays, and I’m quite sure there’s no limit – besides, they have plenty of stock to move!

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Top sightseeing and other things to do in Menton

Musée Jean Cocteau collection Séverin Wunderman is situated in an architecturally distinct building on the seafront and has extensive film excerpts and collections of the works of Jean Cocteau who spent much of his life in the region.  Sadly, he died before this museum opened.   Another Cocteau site to visit is the Hôtel de Ville (Menton’s Town Hall) where Jean Cocteau was invited to decorate the Salle des Mariages, the official room for marriage ceremonies with Provençal images such as a fisherman and his bride.

d0347869_2422589More Cocteau influences can be found at the old defensive Bastion that was built on the harbour wall, not far from the modern Musée Cocteau. It is the original small museum that was redecorated by Jean Cocteau and until the purpose-built museum opened it was the main location for his new exhibitions to be displayed there.  The seafront walkway is flat and paved and therefore ideal for family outings and nearby is a small children’s playground.

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The Musée des Beaux Arts is housed in Palais Carnolès, which was the former summer residence of Monaco’s Grimaldis.  The collections include art from the 13th century onwards from artists including English painter Graham Sutherland and Dufy.  The surrounding gardens have one of the largest fruit tree collections in Europe with over 120 different fruit trees such as limes, Seville oranges, clementines, lemons and grapefruit trees.

Foodies will enjoy visiting Menton.  You can find stores such as Au Pays de Citron and Prestige de Menton selling lots of lemon-infused goodies as well as great restaurants using local produce such as Michelin starred Mirazur.

Menton has a number of beautiful churches including Basilique Saint Michel and Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs located near to each other in the Old Town.

Basilique Saint Michel is a Baroque church that is one of Menton’s landmarks, its 16th-century altarpiece is by Manchello (1565).  The square in front of the church is paved with pebbles in a design of the Grimaldi coat of arms and is a magnificent setting for an annual classical concert in August, the Menton Festival de Musique.   The surrounds were also filmed in Bond movie Never Say Never Again where Bond chases Fatima on his motorbike and crosses down the stairs at Place de la Conception.

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The 17th-century Chappelle des Pénitents-Blancs has a ornate façade and is historically listed; don’t miss stepping inside if you visit as the interior is beautiful.

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Menton’s seafront is a lovely place for a stroll – Promenade du Soleil sprung a number of Belle Époque buildings during its heyday and has a wide, wholly accessible seafront pathway with plenty of cafeterias and restaurants for a meal or drink.

The promenade leads all the way to Plage des Sablettes, the main beach that curves around the bay beneath the Old Town.  You can see the road that follows the bay; this is built over a series of arches built by Napoléon I who wanted to move munitions and men quickly without losing time in the steep, narrow alleyways behind.

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The French Riviera is dotted with numerous famous gardens, a legacy of many foreign residents.  Menton has some well-known gardens – in fact, they have held an annual festival to celebrate them, Le Mois des Jardins held each year in June.  In 2017, the Jardins Biovès will also participate in the Côte d’Azur’s first Garden Festival from 01 April to 01 May 2017.

The hillside Serre de la Madonne gardens originated in 1924 by an American born in Paris, Lawrence Johnston.  In 1907, he created Hidcote Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds in England and for many decades he travelled and looked for plants to acclimatise in Menton. His French garden has fountains, statuary and orangeries for exotic plants.

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The Jardin Botanique et Exotique Val Rahmeh was established by a former governor of Malta in 1905.  There are over 700 tropical plants including edible varieties such as medicinal plants and spices from the Americas and Asia, as well as a rare tree from Easter Island.  The water lily pond is really pretty as the Victorian waterlilies grow up to 2 metres in diameter.

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One of the French Riviera’s best kept botanical secrets is the historically-listed Jardin des Colombières. Part of a private estate created on the site of an old olive grove, the gardens were designed by Ferdinand Bac, who also painted themed Mediterranean frescoes inside the villa.  You can visit the gardens and villa by guided tour only by booking via the website http://lescolombieres.com/en/index.php   Due to the hillside layout, the gardens are not accessible for people with mobility issues.

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les Colombières Menton France

les Colombières Menton France

The Jardin et Villa Maria Serena is on the seafront beside the Italian border and was built around 1880.  The garden is a hectare and a half of tropical and sub-tropical plants including palm trees, agaves, and cyclads with a nice view of the sea and Menton.

5785292183_e66c3e657c_bJardin Fontana Rosa is a Valencian-styled garden created by Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibañez in the 1920’s.  The garden is dedicated to the memory of important writers such as Cervantes and Dickens and is decorated with ponds, columns and busts of writers.  The Rotonde de Cervantes is very vivid with benches and bright mosaics.

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Fontana

Musée de Préhistoire Régionale has exhibits and archaeological pieces from Menton and neighbouring Liguris up until the end of the Bronze Age including rocks and the skull of ‘Grimaldi Man’.

Visiting a cemetery may not be the top of any tourist’s list, however Menton’s Cimetière du Vieux Château (Old Château Cemetery) is situated high above Menton and is worth visiting for the panoramic views over the sea and tiled rooftops.  The cemetery is home to some famous burial plots including those of William Webb Ellis (the founder of rugby) and English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley.

88650346Useful Links:

Fête du Citron website:  www.fete-du-citron.com

Fête du Citron Mobile app: Download on the App Store and Google Play

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Feteducitron

Twitter:  @fete_du_citron

Menton Tourist Office, 8 avenue Boyer, Tél . +00 33 (0)4.92.41.76.76, www.tourisme-menton.fr

Image credits:  Access Riviera, Belhamba, France Voyage, Garden Visit, Les Colombières, Menton Tourist Office, Pinterest

If you have found my post informative, please click on the share buttons to share it on social media via Facebook or Twitter. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the Fête du Citron 2017!

 

 

 

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

Becks

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New Years Eve on the French Riviera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free fireworks display in Cannes for New Years Eve

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

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

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

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

Strawberry Lemonade Floats

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

Non-alcoholic Sangria

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

Berry berry happy

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

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

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

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

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

ANTIBES

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

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

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

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

patio-table-17-6747BIOT

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

CANNES

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

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

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

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

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

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

EZE

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

GRASSE

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

LA COLLE SUR LOUP

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

5510JUAN LES PINS

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

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

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

LE CANNET

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

MONACO / MONTE-CARLO

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

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

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

MOUGINS

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

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

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

NICE

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

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

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

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

Joyeux Réveillon!

Family-friendly cycling and walking : Villeneuve Loubet

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

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

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

Family-friendly activites in Villeneuve Loubet

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

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

path

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

ducks

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

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

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

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

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

la-fighiere

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

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

Walking & Cycling Tips

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

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

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

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

Other Things to Do in Villeneuve Loubet:

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

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

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