Journées Européennes du Patrimoine / European Heritage Days

Every year in France there is a fantastic initiative called the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) where residents and tourists have the chance to visit historical, cultural and architectural sites for no entry fee or heavily reduced entrance fees.

This year, the 35th edition is held this weekend – Saturday 15 September and Sunday 16 September 2018 – and over 17,000 monuments throughout France open their doors for special activities and events.

Journees Européennes du Patrimoine 2018

Journees Européennes du Patrimoine 2018 (image: JEP)

Journées du Patrimoine / European Heritage Days 2018 on the French Riviera:

Some of the participating sites on the French Riviera include:

Antibes

  • Lou Pitchoun Musée chez Bernard Boetti, Jardin Thuret, Médiatheque Antibes, Musée de la Carte Postale, Musée Peynet, Picasso Museum

Biot

  • Musée Fernand Léger

Cagnes-sur-Mer

  • Musée Renoir
Musée Renoir, Cagnes-sur-Mer

Musée Renoir, Cagnes-sur-Mer

Cannes

  • Château Font de Veyre, Forrtified monastery of Abbaye de Lérins (Ile Saint-Honorat), Chapelle Bellini, La Malmaison art centre, Musée de la Castre (Le Suquet), Musée de la Mer (Ile St-Marguerite)

Fréjus

  • The archaeological crypt

Le Cannet

  • Musée Bonnard

Lucéram

  • Église Saint Marguerite

Menton

  • Jardin Fontana Rosa

Montauroux

  • Moulin à huile

Nice

  • Cathédrale St Réparate, Église Saint François du Paul, Espac Olympia, Fort de Mont Alban, Grotte du Lazaret, Hôtel de Ville, MAMAC art gallery, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée National Marc Chagall, Musée National du Sport
Musée National Chagall (image: kfntravelguide)

Musée National Marc Chagall (image: kfntravelguide)

Sospel

  • Maginot de l’Agaisan

Vallauris

  • Musée Magnelli

Vence

  • Musée de Vence

Villefranche-sur-Mer

  • Église Saint Michel

Villeneuve Loubet

  • Château de Vaugrenier, the medieval fortress in the village

Chateau Vaugrenier (image: Platforme Events)

TRANSPORT for Journées du Patrimoine

In conjunction with the Journées du Patrimoine, there are various transport deals across the French Riviera this weekend offering free or reduced tickets for travel including:

€5 unlimited travel train tickets on the TER network for travel each day on Saturday 15 September and Sunday 16 September only on the French Riviera coast. For example, a return ticket Juan les Pins to Monaco is approximately €15, or a ZOU! Carte (daily pass) is usually €15 until 30 September so make use of this great deal!   Note:  This €5 offer is also available on 19 September as part of the Semaine Européenne de Mobilité.

Return ferry from Cannes to Ile Saint-Marguerite for €12.50 per adult (usually €15 per adult; no discount for children)

€1,50 for unlimited bus travel all day on Saturday 15 September in Cannes with Palm Bus www.palmbus.fr

Free travel all day in Saint Raphael on Saturday 15 September on the routes with Agglobus www.agglobus-cavem.com

Free travel all day in Monaco on Sunday 16 September on the 6 bus lines with CAM and the Bateau bus www.cam.mc

JOURNÉES DU PATRIMOINE CÔTE D’AZUR SITES

The official programme for participating sites in France is available here: Journées du Patrimoine Programme

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PLAYGROUNDS on the French Riviera

I thought it was due time to update my previous blog post about playgrounds on the French Riviera.  If you have children, the region has lots of options for playground fun.

I have included mostly free public options in my list here, so if you have any questions feel free to post your question in the comments below the post (if there is an entrance fee I have specified where relevant).

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just an overview of a few playgrounds we have tried and tested on the Côte d’Azur.

PLAYGROUNDS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR

ANTIBES

– UPDATE 19 August 2018:  Unfortunately, the 2 public playgrounds in Antibes old town on rue Republique, beside the carousel and main post office (La Poste) have been closed due to construction works for the Marenda Lacan new shopping precinct.  Construction work has been stalled for some months now, so it is a great shame that tourists and local residents have no playgrounds for use during summer 2018. The nearest public playground to old town Antibes is on the way to Salis beach at the bottom of Albert 1er.

– 2 public playgrounds at Salis beach (plage du Ponteil) – one is nearer to the Archaeology Museum beside the boules pitch and there is a public toilet beside that; the other is very small and located opposite the carpark at the beach.

The Jardin Enfant Albert 1er is the closest playground to old town Antibes

– Small fenced playground on the corner of avenue Philippe Rochat and avenue Mas Ensoleillé.

– Medium-sized fenced playground between route de Grasse and Hameau de la Palmeraie with climbing structures, rocking horses, slides.

– A playground at Les Semboules area, next to Jacques Prévert school.  This is a great playground for hot days as it is entirely shaded by trees.  Plenty of free carparking across the road.  Suitable for toddler age to older kids, there is also a basketball court and ping-pong table adjacent and picnic tables. No toilet facilities onsite and the water fountain doesn’t work, but a great playground nonetheless because it is a community playground and never busy.

– Parc Départemental Valmasque:  Between Antibes and Mougins this large park has forest walks, fitness trails and playground equipment.  Lots of shady trees, picnic tables and toilet facilities.

Indoor soft play centre – Royal Kids – has slides, ball pits, motorised cars. Suitable for babies up to 12 years. Admission fee applies. www.royalkids.fr

CAGNES SUR MER

– Large playground zone beside parking Villette.  There is an accessible pay toilet beside the playground. Lots of play equipment for different ages including climbing frames, swings (including a baby swing), rockers as well as a mock road system which is great for scooters and bikes.

CANNES

– A playground is located at Square Mistral which is a good option for beach goers along the boulevard du Midi.  It is 5 minutes flat walk from Cannes Vieux Port.

– Adjacent to the Palais des Festivals on boulevard de Croisette (near to the public beach where the Petit Train departs from):  Children’s entertainment area including carousel, funfair stalls, snack kiosks.  There is a small climbing frame, but it’s pretty unimaginative.  Public toilets are nearby on the beachside of the Croisette.

– Further along boulevard de Croisette in the direction of Port Pierre Canto, there is another public playground at the end of the beach with playground equipment.

CANNES LA BOCCA

– Indoor soft play – FunCity, 47 avenue Maurice Chevalier, 06150 Cannes la Bocca:  Indoor playground facility with designated playareas for different ages, large climbing frames with tunnels, nets, slides, trampolines, soft toys, ball pits, inflatables, mini-karts, onsite restaurant for snacks and gift boutique.  Entrance fee payable http://cannes.fun-city.fr

GOLFE JUAN

– Small playground at Square Nabonnand on the main road by the post office.

JUAN LES PINS

– Main playground is at Pinède Gould (also known as Jardin de la Pinède) with playground equipment, mini-train, dodgem bumper cars and mini-carousel. (Rides are chargeable). There are also squirrels to watch that roam free in the pine trees in the park.

– Another carousel is on avenue Guy de Maupassant on the Juan les Pins promenade beside Le Ruban Bleu restaurant, and just along from the carousel toward La Jétee restaurant there are go-karts and trampolines in summer.

– There is a public playground/park at Jardin Pauline (corner of rue Pauline and boulevard Raymond Poincaré).  Lots of trees so it’s great for hot days!

– Another small fenced public playground at Square Duluys (corner of rue St-Marguerite and boulevard Raymond Poincaré).

– Parc Exflora, chemin du Vallauris, between Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan:  Large open grassed area for picnics (no playground equipment).  Small lake for feeding ducks.  You can obtain access to the public beach via a tunnel under the coast road/railway line.  Across the road from Parc Exflora on the corner of chemin des Eucalyptus there is a boules pitch and a small playground with public toilets nearby.

LA COLLE SUR LOUP

– Ludiparc, 1401 route du Pont de Pierre, 06480 Le Colle sur Loup: Park set on 4.8 hectares with trees and river frontage, playground equipment, climbing frames, trampolines, inflatable castles, mini-golf, ping-pong tables, restaurant onsite for snacks, carparking onsite, Wifi connection, baby changing table.  Entrance fee payable €4 (free for children under 3 years) www.ludiparc.fr  Note:  The terrace and toilet facilities are not wheelchair accessible.  The biggest benefit of Ludiparc is they have water activities that are perfect for hot days including a splash park and access to the River Loup.

Ludiparc, La Colle sur Loup (photo: Vence Tourisme)

– There are a few public playareas in La Colle sur Loup – on rue Max Barel in the village, at Jeu de Baume down from the rue Clémenceau, and at the Parc de la Guérinière.

MONACO/MONTE CARLO

While not technically classed as part of France, I have included Monaco/Monte Carlo as many visitors stay in Monaco or daytrip there.

– If you have children you can stop at Parc Princesse Antoinette (Princess Antoinette Gardens), La Condamine, 54 bis boulevard du Jardin Exotique, 98000 Monaco – a free park with go-karts and a playground.  Older children can be entertained there by mini golf, badminton, ping-pong, a football pitch and basketball courts.

– There are carousels near the Stade Nautique, and on the Larvotto Esplanade. – In the Fontvielle area, there is a playground by the Princess Grace Rose Garden and a carousel near the Fontvielle Big Top. Kids can wander around the Trocadéro Gardens, or after some retail therapy the family can enjoy time out at the children’s playground area at the end of the pedestrianised rue Princesse Caroline.

– Another great spot to take the kids and escape the bustle of Monaco, is the free Japanese Garden on avenue Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo – a real oasis of serenity with  waterfalls, stone bridges and Zen gardens.  You can’t run around or kick balls but it’s a nice zone to wander through.

MOUANS SARTOUX

-Playground at the Château

MOUGINS

– Free entry playground at Ecoparc Mougins, on chemin de Fontaine de Currault. Accessible eco-toilet onsite at the playground, climbing frames, swings (including a baby swing), small ropes courses, playhouses, balancing beams. The play area has seating and lots of trees for shade. Nearby at the Ecoparc centre is a cafeteria that sells cold drinks and icecreams, and sometimes there are amusement rides such as vertical bungee or bouncy castles set up in summer (rides are payable).

NICE

– Parc du Chateau, rue de Foresta/Montée Monfort:  Located at the end of quai des Etats-Unis overlooking Nice, this park is on the hilltop with old ruins, a waterfall, playground, restaurant, lookout points over Nice city and port and snack kiosk.  There are public toilets onsite.  You can take an elevator up from quai des Etats-Unis, or if you are stroller-free walk up the numerous stairs for a wonderful view from the top.

– Parc Phoenix – find out more about Parc Phoenix here.

– Located on the western edge of the ‘Musiciens’ quarter in Nice (so named because the streets and squares are named after famous musicians such as Verdi) you can find the Jardin Alsace Lorraine, 30 boulevard Gambetta, with park benches, statues and a fenced in children’s playground.

-Parc Carol de Roumanie with water sprinklers and play equipment

– Central Nice play area – There is a carousel at Albert 1er gardens, also the Promenade du Paillon/Couloir Verte playarea at place Massena with sprinklers, wooden play structures, swings.  Accessible toilets onsite.

– Parc du Castel des Deux Rois not far from Nice Port with playground, water sprinklers in summer, mini-farm, accessible pay toilet, snack kiosk, lots of grass to kick a ball around, cycle paths

ParcCasteldesdeuxrois2

Parc du Castel des Deux Rois, Nice

OPIO

– Parc de Loisirs on the Carrefour du Piol, D3 d’Opio-Valbonne is a great park with a big playground zone with play equipment for just-walking age, toddlers and older kids.  Slides, climbing ladders, basketball court, exercise station, cycle paths, grassy areas for kicking balls around, accessible public toilet, picnic tables. No snack kiosk onsite but there is a bakery nearby towards Valbonne. Between May-mid June they install skate ramps for initiations in skateboarding and roller blading.

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

ST TROPEZ

– Plage des Graniers, located beneath the St Tropez citadel gets busy in summer but is family-friendly and offers a few different playgrounds beach-side.

– Plage des Jumeaux, route d’Epi, Plage de Pampelonne, Ramatuelle is a good place to take kids where adults can watch the kids on the playground on the beach.

VALBONNE/SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS:

– Playground in Valbonne on Val du Tuveret beside the big carpark and skate park.  There is a toddler playground on the road with Hôtel de Ville and the Abbaye de Valbonne.

– Parc des Bouillides, route du Parc, 06560 Valbonne Sophia Antipolis:  It is closer to the Sophia Antipolis area than Valbonne but is zoned as Valbonne by the local parks.  Access from Antibes is via route du Parc and look for the small side road on the right-hand side with a small sign leading to the restaurant ‘La Source’ and carpark. Fenced playground with soft matted area, running track, walking trails, also has municipal sports athletics club, climbing wall, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, skate park.  Picnic tables all through the park, and paved pathways which are well-maintained for scooters and bikes.  No toilet facilities onsite.

VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

– A public playground is located at les Jardins de l’Octroi, Square François Binon, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer.

– Another small public playground is also beside Port de la Darse, you can reach it via the coastal pathway below the Citadelle but be aware that this pathway while paved is uneven in places.

public playground by Darse port

Public playground by Darse port in Villefranche sur Mer

VILLENEUVE LOUBET

– Parc de Vaugrenier:  2 kilometres towards Nice from Antibes this park has walking paths, picnic tables and forest walks.  A children’s playground area, nature trail, wooden confidence course and accessible toilet facilities are at the eastern entrance.  There is also a lookout hut over the lake to view turtles.

NOTE:  For a map and more details of other playgrounds in the region, Nice Matin has a great interactive map with location pins that you can find here: Playgrounds on the Côte d’Azur

 

Review of Antibes Free Walking Tours

Antibes is one of the French Riviera’s most popular destinations and rightly so – it has amazing history, beautiful old buildings, interesting monuments, great restaurants, fantastic festivals, an award-winning market and it’s a photogenic place too!

antibes old town

Antibes is a photographer’s dream with picturesque buildings and streets

Recently, I joined a tour with Antibes Free Walking Tours to discover the best of Antibes in a few hours and find out why this relatively new company is being talked about!

Why did I join the tour when I am a local?

I know A LOT about Antibes, however I was very interested in finding out what this tour offers visitors to the Côte d’Azur and how it shares insight about daily French life, the towns rich history, popular attractions and hidden areas of a destination that only a local would know.

antibes sightseeing

Antibes Free Walking Tours lets you discover authentic back streets like a local

My tour benefits

Whether you’re a solo traveller or visiting Antibes as part of a group, here’s my feedback on the benefits of taking this tour:

  • Even though the tour is guided it moves at a good pace – it is not rushed nor too slow.
antibes guide tour

This tour moves at a good pace – neither too fast nor too slow

  • The tour is fun and educational.  Cédric has a great sense of humour and he knows so many facts and figures about Antibes.  I have been on many tours around the world and it’s so great to meet a tour guide who is smiley and enthusiastic (which is not always the case in different cities!)
  • A true representation of Antibes.  I was listening very carefully and he was 100% correct with historic dates and places so you can be assured that he is giving an honest representation of the town.
visiting antibes

Discover Antibes highlights with this guided tour

  • Chance to meet other travellers.  One of the best thing about travelling is meeting other people.  The day I joined in, other tour participants were from Sweden, Belgium, Canada and England.

Antibes is a fantastic destination and you’ll learn about the history and people on this tour

  • A good mix of locations included in the tour.  The tour visits popular places as well as lesser visited places of interest and back streets. You get to see various areas of Old Town Antibes such as Marché Provençal (the covered market), Free Commune of Safranier, the remparts, Picasso Museum and the port.
picasso museum antibes

Learn about some of Antibes top attractions such as the Picasso Musueum, as well as lesser known places

  • The opportunity to learn about Antibes in a few hours.  I’ve done them all in various global destinations – self-guided walking tours, full day group tours that cram in 50 popular touristy spots (hello, London!), tourist trains, audio guided tours.  This tour is the perfect antidote if you have limited time in Antibes.
  • Not ‘salesy’ or pushy.  I think it’s important to mention that this tour doesn’t feel like a directed crawl to various places that the tour guide gets a commission or backhander for taking people there.  Cedric has a background in I.T but due to a lifestyle change he has realised his passion for tourism and sharing his love for Antibes.  At no time did I feel obligated to buy or try anything along the way, it is a very relaxed yet professionally run tour. Cedric is personable and open to suggesting other places you can visit outside of joining the tour.

Who would suit this tour?

This tour would appeal to many different tourists with wide interests because it takes in so many aspects of Antibes.  Whether you like food, history, art, natural landscapes or finding out about French culture you won’t be disappointed.   Even for a local like me, I found it interesting and informative.  Here is a snapshot of the kinds of travellers who I believe would enjoy this Antibes tour:

  • Small groups – couples, families, friends
  • Cruise ship passengers or yacht charter guests looking for an onshore excursion of a few hours duration that gives an overview of Antibes, its history and top places of interest
  • Art or history enthusiasts (the tour includes information about some well-known attractions such as the Picasso Museum as well as lesser known spots such as Chapelle St-Bernandin and the Peynet Museum)
antibes churches

Step inside some of the beautiful places in Antibes

  • People who like quirky facts (Personally, I really love tours that include quirky or surprising information. You’ll hear some fun facts about Antibes and France including the history of absinthe (pastis’ nemesis!), the evolution of the city’s remparts and famous people who visit the area).
antibes free walking tour

Learn fun facts about Antibes and France on this tour

What time is the tour?

The Antibes Free Walking Tours explores the heart of Antibes Old Town from Tuesday to Saturday.

Tours depart at 10.30am daily from Place de Gaulle, near the fountain in the square opposite Monoprix and last around 2 hours.

Note: The fountain isn’t operating on Thursday or Saturday due to the market, so just look for the guide in the red shirt.  It’s recommended to reserve a place in advance.

How to book 

You can find Antibes Free Walking Tours on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or drop them a line via their website.

I enjoyed the tour so much I have added reviews for them on TripAdvisor where I’m a Top Contributor with over 50 global reviews of hotels, resorts, restaurants and attractions and Wiki Places for Kids.

Disclosure:   I was kindly invited to a Special Bloggers Day with Antibes Free Walking Tours to experience the tour myself.  As I believe in supporting businesses who represent the Côte d’Azur to a high standard, I am listed as a Partner on the website.  However, as always, this review is my honest interpretation of what was offered.

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UPDATE: Best of Du Off programme update for Jazz à Juan 2018

Due to the fact that the French football team has made the World Cup final this evening, there have been modifications to the performance times for Best of Du Off today.

Best of Du Off

Best of Du Off is a series of free concerts during the Jazz à Juan Festival held in the streets of Antibes and Juan les Pins.  It is an energetic family-friendly day, featuring bands of different styles. 

best of du off

Best of Du Off 2018 – the schedule for the free concerts during Jazz à Juan has been modified to allow Festival visitors to watch the World Cup final

The atmosphere is usually very friendly with busy restaurants and bars.  Originally, all concerts were to be performed from the early evening onwards, however the performance times have been modified today to allow visitors to the Festival the chance to enjoy the football final. 

Juan les Pins concerts will now be from 11.30am to 12.30pm and Antibes concerts are from 4pm to 5pm – for the updated list of today’s locations and performance times, find out more here Best of Du Off 2018

6 Ways to mark Fête Nationale 2018

Fête Nationale, often referred by as Bastille Day, is recognised on 14 July each year in commemoration of the storming of the Bastille in Paris in 1789.

Throughout France and its territories, people gather on this day for parties, parades and feasting in the ultimate display of patriotism.  The televised coverage of the traditional défilé in Paris and along the Champs-Élysées is particularly impressive involving military tanks, cavalry, aircraft fly overs by the Patrouille de France, jets and helicopters and the customary appearance from the French President.

fete nationale 2018

The annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Élysées avenue near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on July 14, 2018. (photo: AFP PHOTO / Ludovic MARIN)

As well, there are public events hosted across the country including balls and fireworks displays.  Here are 6 ways you can ring in Fête Nationale this year:

1. Watch the national day parades

The main event is hosted in Paris from morning with televised coverage on all major French TV stations and news channels.  Expect military formations, speeches and La Marseillaise!

2. Follow the Tour de France 2018 coverage

Whether you’re a cyclist or not, the Tour de France is one of the world’s most viewed sports races.  Fête Nationale coincides with Stage Eight of the tour from Dreux to Amiens – you can follow Stage Eight coverage here:  Tour de France route

Follow stage 8 of the Tour de France on Bastille Day 2018 (photo: AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

3. Drink French wine and Champagne

I’m not going to argue with this as there are so many fantastic French wines and of course, Champagne!

For a glass of inspiration, head to:

About France : Introduction to the wines of France

Decanters August 2018 guide with 93 rosés tasted beyond Provence, whites from Languedoc and Crémants

The Yacht Cru Wine Guide : France (Rough Regions Guide)

champagne fete nationale

Champagne for Fête Nationale (photo: Pulsd)

Of course, if adults are having a glass of something alcoholic you can keep the kids happy by whipping up fun drinks such as this non-alcoholic sangria!

4. Splurge on French-themed patisseries

French patisseries love a national holiday to showcase their skills and you’ll find every patisserie will display macarons, cakes, tarts and eclairs in the window decorated with icing, sprinkles or bon bons in the tricolore.

Sweet treats for Fête Nationale (photo: Pinterest)

5. Join in on a game of boules

Every town in France has a boules pitch and if you’ve ever wanted to learn the game, today is the day!  Usually, there are park benches beside boules pitches so even if you feel unsure you can always sit and watch the locals play.

Boules in St Tropez anyone? (photo: Dandy Magazine)

6. Attend the memorial service in Nice

Two years ago on this day, Nice was affected by a cowardly attack on a night where people were in good spirits attending the fireworks display.  Sadly, 86 people lost their lives including a number of children and almost 500 people were injured.

I did not write a blog post at that time as I felt incredible sadness for the victims and their families.  In the days following, I was asked to do a radio interview and my aim was to speak about the city they love and live in and focus on the Nice I know.

Tourists have kept coming to Nice.

Daily life has continued as the city moves on with remembrance and resilience.

Nice will always be a place that mixes not divides cultures.  You will find those blue chairs on the Prom, munch on some hot socca and enjoy a cold glass of rosé.

Two years have passed, but flying into Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and seeing that turquoise sea still moves people to call it home.  There are wonderful museums, beautiful buildings, interesting markets and pretty shops selling the best olive oil, fragrant soaps, hand made chocolates and vintage postcards.

Thank you to the city of Nice for remembering the people with a memorial service today.  There will be a free concert from 9.15pm by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Nice and at 10.34pm, 86 balloons will be released at Jardin Albert 1er with 86 light beams into the sky from the Promenade des Anglais.  You can find out the details below for the journée d’hommage:

fete nationale 2018

Fête Nationale 2018 in Nice (image: VilledeNice)

NOTE: I have had many requests for information about the summer fireworks displays on the French Riviera.  I love fireworks, however out of personal choice I won’t be publishing a public guide for the regional fireworks dates as I would like to continue showing solidarity to the families of the Nice attack.

I shall leave you to recognise Fête Nationale in your own way – beach picnics, parades or simply enjoying the sunshine or a meal with family and friends.  A year ago, I shared this video – filmed and edited by Fabien Ecochard; it still holds a poignantly beautiful capture of life in Nice:

Bonne Fête!  

 

 

Family-friendly things to do during summer on the French Riviera

Summer school holidays are almost here and already plans are underway for things to keep the kids entertained until September rolls around and schools go back.

Here are some of my budget-friendly suggestions for families to stay entertained through summer:

PARC PHOENIX – NICE

Parc Phoenix is one of our favourite family attractions on the French Riviera.  Located at the L’Arénas complex near the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, it’s a great place to spend a few hours if you have kids of varying ages.

The park features:

  • A lake with ducks, fish and various water birds

  • Enclosures with animals including parrots, meerkats, wallabies, otters, monkeys, porcupines
  • Fountains, cascades and water zones with stepping stones, turtles or small fish

  • A huge greenhouse with tropical and sub-tropical plants and flowers, and animals such as alligators, flamingoes, snakes, koi carp, tortoises and iguanas.  Note:  The aquarium has been closed for some time.

  • A mini farm zone with goats, poneys, pigs and chickens
  • A large playground area with various climbing frames, slides and play equipment suitable for 1 year upwards.  The playground zone also has accessible toilet facilities with a baby change table.
  • A small restaurant sells snacks and drinks – paninis, salads, crepes, fries, ice creams, coffee, cold drinks. There are tables and chairs with umbrellas.
  • Temporary exhibitions of art or photography; often themed around science, animals or botany

The park is stroller-friendly; wheelchair access is wholly possible for the park grounds, excluding some areas in the greenhouse that have stairs.

Super tips

Carparking:  Visitors to Parc Phoenix get 2 hours free parking at Parking de l’Arénas next to the park every day in summer from 15 June to 15 September, during Zone B school holidays, on weekends and on bank holidays.

2-for-1 attractions:  An extra bonus is that if you visit Parc Phoenix you can also visit the Musée des Arts Asiatiques next door, which has free entry.  Guided tours, workshops, audioguides and the tea ceremony are additional cost. My opinion is that the Asian Arts Museum is more suited to adults, but it’s a lovely light-filled building with some excellent displays and temporary exhibitions.

Special events:  The park’s restaurant can arrange catering for birthdays, weddings, conferences.  They also host an Easter Egg Hunt at Parc Phoenix every year where toddlers look for eggs in straw, and older children follow a treasure hunt for chocolate eggs (for the Easter activity, reservation is not necessary).

Opening hours for Parc Phoenix

Summer hours 01 April to 30 September:  9.30am to 7.30pm

Winter hours 01 October to 31 March:  9.30am to 6pm

Note:  The park is open every day, including bank holidays.  The ticket office closes 1 hour before park closing times.

Entry price

Adults €5 each (or €3 with the Musées de Nice pass)

Kids under 12 years are FREE

Find out more about the opening hours and map for Parc Phoenix here:  Parc Phoenix 

RIVER WALKS – VILLENEUVE LOUBET, SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS AND LA COLLE-SUR-LOUP

When it’s hot and crowded at the beaches, we love to visit some of the river locations a short distance from the coast where you can walk along shaded forest paths and/or swim in cool water.

Here are 3 family-friendly river walks located within 15 minutes drive from the coast.  The first one is baby stroller and bike-friendly; the second and third options follow dirt / gravel paths but there are some areas of big rocks or tree roots on the pathways, so while it’s manageable for bikes it’s not particularly pram-friendly by the end of the tracks.  All walks below are a short distance from the carpark area, maximum 10 minutes walk one way, so perfectly manageable for ages 18 months old upwards.

  1. River Loup walk from Villeneuve Loubet village:  At the entrance to Canyon Forest, cross the road bridge and park at Villeneuve Loubet village at Parking du General du Gaulle. Cross the river via the bridge beside the carpark and follow the riverside path.  It is firm dirt so fine for bikes, scooters, baby prams and electric wheelchairs.

rives du loup walk

2. Pont de la Veirière along the La Brague river:  The access is a bit tricky to locate as it’s not particularly well sign-posted.

There are 2 options:  From the Fitlane in Sophia Antipolis, follow route des Crêtes passing Air France on the left until it joins onto route des Macarons. Continue straight ahead, you will pass the large Fire Station on the right-hand side before the road reaches a left bend.  Here, you can park at ‘La Veirière’ carpark and walk downhill to the river following the gravel path.

The other preferred option that we take is to park at the carpark shown as (B) on the map in this link:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NuAMu0iFhY-EGRqA0Y-GD4lQEXPCAyo7&usp=sharing     Once you park, go left along the river 5-10 minutes and there are plenty of swimming holes and shaded areas to access the river.

There are no toilet facilities of course, but plenty of places for a riverside picnic, swimming, climbing trees, skipping stones in the river.  If you have toddlers, there are lots of places for a shallow splash in the water.  Great place to walk dogs too!

This is a great river walk for nature spotting for kids; we always see lots of butterflies, birds, dragonflies and small fish.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NuAMu0iFhY-EGRqA0Y-GD4lQEXPCAyo7&usp=sharing

3. Kayak Club river walk along the River Loup at La Colle-sur-Loup:  The town of La Colle-sur-Loup is located just 10 minutes drive from the coast.   From the town, head towards Ludiparc along route du Pont de Pierre, turn left into chemin de la Fuontsanta and park at the Spcoc Canoë Kayak Club.

The carpark is well shaded and you can follow the river to the left along flat ground for 15 minutes, passing shaded swimming holes and picnic tables along the river.

balade rives du loup

The Kayak Club river walk along the River Loup at La Colle-sur-Loup is an easy family walk that is great for hot days! (pic: Couleur Montagne)

Eventually, you get to a large pebble beach area, with a great outlook of the river and limestone cliffs that are popular for rock climbing (the climbing spot is called La Bagarée with varying degrees of difficulty.  The list of climbs available is here).  This area is part of the Parc Natural Départemental des Rives du Loup.

la bagaree

A wonderful riverside pebble beach that’s great for picnics and swimming in cool water (pic: Couleur Montagne)

Note: There is limited shade at the main pebble beach, so take an umbrella.  Don’t walk underneath the cliffs as there are sometimes rock falls.  There are also small rapids so take care with small kids; the river is not so fast-moving that the kayakers will suddenly be approaching but do keep a look out for some!

Again, no toilet facilities at the pebble beach and take all your rubbish home with you.  There are lots of butterflies, birdlife and insects along the forest path, as well as small fish in the river.

Here’s a map of how to find the Kayak Club in La Colle-sur-Loup:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uwP6BFyE8oUPUqdwP11vzkIQTisoDeIM&usp=sharing

FAMILY-FRIENDLY BEACHES – JUAN LES PINS, CAP D’ANTIBES AND THÉOULE-SUR-MER

With the redesignation of public versus private beaches on the Côte d’Azur, there is now more room for a spot on the sand (or pebbles).  When you have children, there are some main factors you may consider regarding beaches:

  • Availability, ease and cost of carparking
  • Shade
  • Clean and shallow water
  • Toilet facilities
  • Food & beverage outlets
  • Beach activities
  • And for me, the less crowded the better!

Not all of these are ‘must haves’ to ensure a great time at the beach, however if a beach has at least 5 of these it gets a thumbs up from us for family-friendliness.  Here are a couple of my summer picks for family-friendly beaches on the French Riviera:

Plage de la Gallice is a small public beach located at the port in Juan les Pins.  Coming from Hôtel Belles Rives direction toward the Cap d’Antibes, you’ll find pay carparking at Port Gallice and even in the height of summer there is usually a space. Pedestrians will see a set of stairs 300 metres from the Belles Rives that leads down to the snack kiosk and beach. You can also walk to the beach along the seafront via a concrete walkway, passing Le Provençal Beach and the Belles Rives.

This beach is more of a locals hangout than a tourist spot, so if you arrive early in the day it’s a fantastic beach spot and gets some shade in the morning from a high wall bordering the length of the neighbouring properties. There is a snack shop there, beach showers and accessible toilet facilities.

Note:  Usually the water is quite clean, however sadly this beach did lose it’s Pavillon Bleu (Blue Flag) status this year which is awarded for environment excellence and high water quality (that being said, because it’s located right by the marina it’s monitored regularly for water quality, so check the noticeboard at the entrance to the beach).

Plage des Ondes is another public beach located on the Cap d’Antibes.  The beach is a small sandy strip, but has a wonderful view of the bay, across to the Lérins Islands and the picturesque Port de l’Olivette.  There are beach showers and toilet there, but the downsides are intermittent shade, no food outlets and limited carparking on surrounding streets.  The main road beside the beach can get quite busy with road traffic in summer, so exercise caution if you’re walking.

It is however a great beach for families if you go early in the day, and older kids will enjoy climbing up the tower which you can read about here on I Love Cap d’Antibes blog.  I also visit this beach regularly for paddle boarding as the water is usually calm and beautifully clear.

Super tips

If you have children, the end of Plage des Ondes closest to the toilet cabin gets some shade early in the day, as seen in the second photo below.

Just behind the toilet cabin, is a small sheltered swimming area (with pebble beach) which is great for snorkeling, shown in the first photo below.

plage des ondes cap d'antibes

Plage des Ondes, 8am and no one around !

Plage de la Figueirette is located at Miramar in Théoule-sur-Mer and is an excellent choice for families.  The beach is split in two with the end closest to Port de la Figueirette having fine white sand, beach showers and more space; the western end has gritty sand and more pebbles in the water so kids probably would appreciate aqua shoes.

plage de la figueirette

The beach at the port end of Plage de la Figueirette has fine white sand and clear water

Free carparking is at the port or by Le Panama restaurant.  Free public accessible beach toilets and beach showers are located at the carpark next to Le Panama restaurant with ramp access to the beach.

Plage de la Figueirette has a few beach restaurants:

  • At the port, there is a small restaurant at the entrance to the port also a restaurant named La Marine that has a shaded terrace overlooking the bay, as well as a shaded snack restaurant offering paninis, fries, steak, salads and pizzas (friendly service, good prices, baby high chair, accessible ground-level toilet).
port de la figueirette

The view from the restaurant terrace at La Marine, Port de la Figueirette

  • Bondi Beach is a chic beach restaurant with lots of beach loungers, beach bar, some tables under trees, kids menu. There is also a small playground area.
  • Le Panama has indoor and outdoor dining areas, kids menu, beach loungers for rent.

Next to the port is a Jetscool tiki hut where you can hire flyboards and jetskis, including kids electric jetskis. The kids electric jetskis run on an inflatable course; hireage is for kids aged 4-10 years with an accompanying adult, the cost is €20 for 15 minutes.

electric jetski theoule sur mer

Kids electric jetskis can be rented at plage de la Figueirette for use within an inflatable circuit (with adult supervision).

At the western end of the beach you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, catamarans, windsurfers and Optimists with Bat’Ski.

During summer, the Navette Maritime Esterel ferry also operates between Cannes-Mandelieu La-Napoule-Théoule-sur-Mer and Port de la Figueirette.  This is a great scenic boat trip for families along the coast (journey is around 1 hour oneway between Cannes and La Figueirette) and runs 4 departures daily each way with stops at each port on the way.

The Navette Maritime Esterel costs €10 per adult for a day pass, kids aged 3-10 years cost just €5 return, kids under 3 years are free.  It really is excellent value as you can’t get a boat trip or cruise locally for that price!

Find out the timetables here:  Navette Maritime Esterel and watch the trailer video below (video from Films06 / Communauté d’Agglomération des Pays de Lérins):

Super tips

Beach inspiration:  Curious to find other great beaches on the French Riviera? Cannes Estate has curated a huge list of 104 beaches on the Côte d’Azur and Phoebe from Lou Messugo shares her Top 12 favourite beaches on the French Riviera.

Beach at Cannes (image: Fodors)

Water quality at French Riviera beaches:  French Riviera towns and municipalities take the water quality at beaches seriously.  To check the water quality at any beach on the Côte d’Azur, the French Ministry of Health provides updates on testing and analysis of water quality.  Follow these instructions below:

  1. Choose ‘Mainland France’
  2. Drop down Départment:  06 – ALPES MARITIMES
  3. Select :  A town and a beach

Click on this link to find out the latest results of Water quality at French Riviera beaches

Jellyfish alerts:  Occasionally, the French Riviera has jellyfish warnings.  Usually, it’s the purple Pelagia jellyfish which can inflict nasty stings.  The Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer researches and maps jellyfish sightings on the French Riviera, click on this link, Jellyfish Alerts French Riviera, to go to the map or to report your own jellyfish sightings.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog post – please share it on social media via Facebook and Twitter if you’ve found it informative. Thank you!

Les Voiles d’Antibes and L’Italie à Table 2018

Les Voiles d’Antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes is an annual sailing regatta hosted at Port Vauban and the 23rd edition will take place from 30 May to 3 June 2018.

This popular event signals the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge and sees the port in Antibes and surrounding sea filled with beautiful yachts including vintage yachts built pre-1950 and classic yachts from the late 1950’s onwards.

voiles d'antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes 2018 will be held from 30 May to 3 June

As well as the yacht races, a pop-up Village is set up at the Bastion Saint Jaume at Port Vauban with exhibits about marine preservation and the sea.  A huge drawcard for the community is free nightly entertainment with live music and bars.

Les Voiles d’Antibes (image: Stilldrone)

See Les Voiles d’Antibes 2018 Programme here including times for the bands:  Les Voiles d’Antibes 2018 Programme

A map for the location of Les Voiles d’Antibes is below:

Find out more about the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge here:   Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge

L’Italie à Table

The sights and smells of L’Italie à Table will cross over the same time as Les Voiles d’Antibes (from 31 May to 3 June 2018) at Port Vauban in Antibes.

L’Italie à Table is an Italian food festival that features a number of Italian gastronomy products such as cheese, pasta, beverages, cured meats, olive oils, pastries, bread, sweets as well as recipe demonstrations, children’s workshops and live music.

The Antibes event is a sister festival to a similar festival that was recently held in Saint Raphael and another festival that will be hosted on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice from 8 to 10 June.

l'italie à table antibes

L’Italie à Table is returning for the third year to Antibes; it has been running for 14 years in Nice

L’Italie à Table Antibes is free entry to the public and opening hours are:  10am to 8pm daily; 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday.

View the programme here:  L’Italie à Table Antibes Programme

How to get there

By train: The Gare d’Antibes (Antibes train station) is just 5 minutes walk from Port Vauban; simply cross the road directly outside the main entrance to the station and walk down Avenue de la Libération to the roundabout, continue straight ahead along Avenue de Verdun.

L’Italie à Table is set up in marquees at the square opposite the marina and Les Voiles d’Antibes is taking place at Bastion Saint Jaume by the Nomade statue near the Quai des Milliardaires.

By bus:  Bus numbers 1, 8 or 200 stop outside Hotel Le Collier opposite the Antibes train station / Pole d’échanges and you can follow the directions above to get to the port from the station.  Alternatively, the Antibes Gare Routiere in old town is a 5 minute walk to the port.

By car:  You can get to both of these events by car either via the RN7 or bord de Mer (coastal road).  Because there are a number of constructions happening in central Antibes, car parking for both of these events is best at the Q-Park underground pay carpark at Pré des Pêcheurs, 20 avenue de Verdun.  Parking prices are here:  Parking Antibes port   Alternative pay carparks are located at Parking Poirier on boulevard Dugommier or Parking avenue Frères Olivier.

Accessibility notes

Both events are on flat, paved ground so they are suitable for families with kids in baby strollers, or people with restricted mobility.  Note:  The whole quay area and Village is on flat ground, however the bar area at Les Voiles d’Antibes is on raised decking and toilets at the Village are not accessible for wheelchair users. The nearest ground-level accessible toilets are by plage Gravette, at the automated pay toilet on Avenue de Verdun near the boules pitch or go to Félix Café or Gusto (pizza place) just inside the first archway to old town as both have ground-level accessible toilets.

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