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

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

What is National Week?

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

Why should France care about China’s National Week?

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

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

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

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

Chinese tourists visiting the French Riviera

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

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

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

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

Golden Week – French Riviera

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

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

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

Stats:  Ctrip.com, UNWTO

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Monaco Yacht Show 2017: What You Need To Know

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

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

my aquarius feadship

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

Monaco Yacht Show 2017 – What’s New

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

mys2017

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

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

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

250,000 THANK YOUS

Sunday smiling and sending out a huge heartfelt thank you to all my followers, sharers, commenters and occasional readers who have stopped by Access Riviera – I have hit a milestone of 250,000 visitors!

I’m totally overwhelmed with all of the support for my blog from what started as a simple vision to provide information about the French Riviera and has grown into a behemoth and I’ve appreciated every like, share and comment along the way.

I’ve worked with some brilliant clients, learned a lot about growing and ungrowing followers, committed myself to writing good content and generally sticking to writing about things I believe in whether it’s the good, the bad or the ugly.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!  Here’s to the next 250K

Becks

To read some of my most popular articles, click on the links below:

Secret French Riviera : Hidden spots worth visiting

The Lavender Route

Cannes Film Festival : The Ultimate Guide

Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints for amazing photos

Monaco on a budget

To work with me or simply send me feedback, you can contact me a number of ways from my Contact Access Riviera page.

The Honesty About Dishonesty on Instagram

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

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

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

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

Here are 7 Instagram clichés that drive me nuts

  1. The ‘Follow Me To’ post

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

2. The ‘Sitting-on-the-Edge’ post

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

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

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

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

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

4. The ‘Kids in pristine clothes’ post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Ice creams

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

7. Inspiring quotes

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jazz à Juan 2017 Review

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

pinede gould juan les pins

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

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

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

Jazz à Juan 2017 :  Juan Les Pins Jazz Festival 

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

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

buddy guy jazz juan

Buddy Guy (©Josh Cheuse)

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

tajMo juan les pins

TajMo (©Jay Blakesberg)

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

tom jones jazz a juan

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

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

macy gray jazz a juan

MacyGray (©Giuliano Bekor)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Facilities

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

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

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

Tickets for Jazz à Juan 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Fête Nationale fireworks on the French Riviera

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

ANTIBES

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

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

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

GOLFE JUAN / VALLAURIS

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

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

NICE

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

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

4.30pm:  Parade at Place Massena and municipal tribute

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

10.34pm  A minutes silence will be observed

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

 

 

Secret French Riviera : Hidden Spots Worth A Visit

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

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

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

Here are some of my Secret French Riviera suggestions:

Top chefs under the radar

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

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

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

Grég’s chalkboard with Paul Bocuse’s quote

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

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

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

maitre restaurateurs

Maître Restaurateurs are worth finding for fine chefs

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

Famous locations mostly unknown by tourists

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

6 rue Bonaparte in Nice

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

mougins history

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

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

vaste horizon mougins

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

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

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

la sylviane valbonne

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

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

Swimming spots tourists don’t often visit

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

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

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

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

Gorges du Loup

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

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

Parc de la Brague has forest paths beside the River Brague

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

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

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

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

Riou swimming spot near Vence

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

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

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

Gorges du Verdon are a must-see in France

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

Lou Messugo