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

SONY DSC

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).

Please share this post on Twitter or Facebook!  thank you.

 

4 Family-Friendly Things To Do on the French Riviera this weekend

After a week of rain on and off, it’s time to get out and about and enjoy some of the region’s activities and events.

Here are my suggestions for 4 family-friendly things to do on the French Riviera this weekend:

1.     Monte Carlo Gastronomie Festival

On all weekend, there are plenty of exhibitors with goodies for parents to sample and buy such as organic teas, fine wines, truffles, cured meats, smoked salmon and cheese.

Don’t put off visiting this food show with your kids – they will love the food from exhibitors such as gelato maker Gez Italia, the cookies from Baghi’s,  the chocolate truffle bon bons from Sgambelluri , chocolates from Maison Auer and nougat from Nougaterie Cévenole.

More info :  www.montecarlogastronomie.com/en/

nougat-21397138776_french-chocolate-et-confectionery-arts

2. Ciné-Récré in Nice – All weekend at various Nice cinemas

Ciné-Récré is a mini film festival for children with films screened at cinemas in Nice for just €3 a ticket for kids aged 3-12 years and their accompanying adult.

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Participating cinemas and information about film schedules can be found at their websites:

 

3. Tchico et le Trésor de Barbe Noire in Nice – Sunday 27 November at 11am

A theatre production for young children.  After the disappearance of the renowned pirate Barbe Noire (Black Beard), an ex member of the crew, Robin Sea the cruel, decides to go in search of his priceless treasure, with the wise advice of a mysterious parrot named Tchico. This one will take him on an adventure filled with unexpected developments combining plots, battles, jokes and curious encounters.

Bookings via:  http://www.spectacles.fr/salle/theatre-bellecour-nice (go to ‘Aout 2016’)

tchico-et-le-tresor-de-barbe-noire_350

4. Christmas Market in Tourrette-Levens – All weekend

It’s not yet December but the French Riviera Christmas markets are starting to open for the year’s festive season.  This weekend, Tourrette-Levens is hosting their annual Christmas market from 10am-6pm in the Salle des Fêtes and village.  Pop along to see Father Christmas, Christmas stands and eat roasted chestnuts and crepes.

christmas-markets-twomsqralvmarche_noel_2

 

Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!

At one past midnight, on the third Thursday in November all across France and the world announcements are made ‘Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!’  – meaning ‘This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!’.

Of course, I will be sampling this year’s release of Beaujolais, it would be rude not to!

THREE WAYS TO BEAUJOLAIS

  1. For Ideas of Where to Celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau on the French Riviera, you can read my November post here:  https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/events-november-french-riviera/
  2. Jill Barth’s fantastic blog L’Occasion is overflowing with wine tips and advice and  you can join her and other #Winophiles this Saturday 19 November on Twitter for a chat about Beaujolais.  To find out more, read here:  https://jillbarth.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/beaujolais-french-winophiles/
  3. Confused about French wines?  Struggle no more with these handy guides from About.com:

French Wine Pronunciation http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/wine.htm

French Wine Tasting Terms:  http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/wine_2.htm

Santé!

 

Foodie Heaven this November on the French Riviera

One of the best reasons to visit the French Riviera is the number of food-themed fairs and festivals that you can attend here year round – who said autumn and winter are slow seasons?

This month, gastronomy takes centre stage across the region with some great food and wine events to keep gastronomes yearning for more.

Here are Access Riviera’s Top Picks for where to find Foodie Heaven this November:

Until 14 November:  The 25th Salon du Palais Gourmand, Hippodrome in Cagnes-sur-Mer

Head to the Hippodrome for a change from horse racing action – instead, you’ll find over 300 exhibitors showcasing products ranging from wines and liqueurs to seafood to cheeses and charcuterie goods.

salon-du-palais-gourmand-cagnes-sur-mer-2013-f

From 17 November – Beaujolais Nouveau tasting on the French Riviera

Iconic and traditional, the third Thursday in November sees wine bars, bistros and restaurants open their doors to share the release of Beaujolais Nouveau.  I particularly like Georges Dubouef Beaujolais Villages and the bottle labels are really eye-catching, fun and fruity – much like Beaujolais!

Here are a few local events for the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau release:

17 November – La Petite Cave de St Paul has tastings of the Jean Paul Brun Beaujolais Nouveau

17 November – Barbaroux Golf, Hotel & Spa in Brignoles is hosting a Beaujolais Day menu for €26

17 November – Cave Rivoli in Nice has tastings from 6pm-10pm

17 November – The Wine Pier in Villefranche-sur-Mer has tastings from 6.30pm

17 November – From 6.30pm, head along to Blue Gin at Monte Carlo Bay for a Beaujolais evening

17 November – A Beaujolais evening will be hosted at Hotel Villa La Tour in Nice from 7pm.  €15 gets you 3 glasses of wine, tapas and entry into a draw to win more wine. Reservations necessary via email (reservations@villa-la-tour.com) or phone direct +33 4 93 80 08 15

17 November – Vingt4 wine bar in Nice from 7pm

17 November – Casino Barriere de Ruhl in Nice at 7.30pm

19 November – Le Bistrot Provençal in Pegomas is hosting a menu for €38 including a bottle of Beaujolais for 2 people

Note: If you would like your Beaujolais event on the French Riviera included in this article, please send me an email with details to accessriviera06@gmail.com

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18-20 November:  The 16th Salon Saveurs & Terroirs, Mandelieu La Napoule

Around 15,000 visitors descend on the town of Mandelieu La Napoule for the annual Salon Saveurs & Terroirs held at the Centre Expo Congrès.

With the show Patron being double Michelin star chef Stéphane Raimbault of L’Oasis, you can be certain of a high standard from the 100 exhibitors.

This year don’t miss:

  • ‘Happy Hour’ from 6pm-9pm on 18 November where you can enjoy half-price tastings at participating stands
  • Food Trucks
  • Vincent Ferniot, a well known food journalist from culinary reviews screened on France 2 and 3 will be at the show on 19 November from 10am-5pm

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19 November – Fête de la Châtaigne, Cagnes-sur-Mer

I remember the first time I came to France and went to a Chestnut Festival, the smell of roasting chestnuts on a crisp day combined with a glass of vin chaud was so appealing!

fete_chataigne

This festival celebrates the suppliers and traditions from the Haut-Pays towns of Isola, St-Etienne de Tinée, Roure and Valdeblore and they come down to Cagnes-sur-Mer for the day with their products and livestock!

Last year, I met some friendly suppliers and of course bought far too many goodies like mountain honey, cheese and jams homemade from autumn fruits.

As well as chestnut products of every type, they have mass cooking of polenta and daube which you can taste for around €4 a portion.

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The Fête de la Châtaigne is family-friendly – with pony rides for kids, a sheep herding demonstration, mini farm and of course a free tasting of one tonne of chestnuts roasted in the town centre.

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20 November – Fête de la Chataigne, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

Organised by a local committee, Les Coqs Roquebrunois, this Chestnut Festival is held all day at Places Des Deux Frères and will have tastings of roasted chestnuts, vin chaud and Beaujolais.

25-28 November – The 21st Monte-Carlo Gastronomie, Chapiteau Fontvieille

The press release states ‘An invitation to indulgence’ and you’ll find it suitably apt at this excellent food trade show held in the huge big top tent at Fontvieille.  It is the same colossal marquee that the annual Monte-Carlo Circus Festival is hosted in right between Cap d’Ail Port and Port Fontvieille, however you won’t find circus acts but around 100 high-quality food producers from France, Italy and other European countries.

 

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(image: Monte-Carlo Gastronomie)

 

 

As well as delicious products to taste and try, there will be cooking demonstrations by international chefs and awards for exhibitors.  Pop along to sample truffles, cheeses, cured meats, organic conserves, premium wines, spirits and liqueurs (e.g. Champagne, Armagnac), seafood, foie gras, chocolates and sweet goods.

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There will be some highly regarded chefs there including Emmanuel Lehrer from Le Mas de Pierre in St Paul de Vence, Antonio Fochi, Maître d’Hôtel of the Meridien Beach Plaza Monte-Carlo and Joel Garault from the Vistamar Hotel Hermitage in Monaco.

 

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(image: Bertos)

 

Various associations will be in attendance such as the Association of Italian and French Maîtres d’Hôtel, the Monegasque Association of Sommeliers, the Monegasque Hotel Industry Association and the Slow Food Riviera Côte d’Azur Association.

I hope you get to attend one or many of these events – go with an empty belly and an open mind (and wallet!) to trying new flavours and products.

Bon Appetit!