25 Reasons Why You Should Visit Cannes in 2018

Cannes is one of the most popular destinations in southern France and home to a dynamic variety of sport, cultural and artistic events, as well as over 40 trade fairs, conferences and business meets yearly.

If you’re looking for somewhere to visit with a lovely climate and plenty of things to see and do, book a trip to Cannes at any time of the year – you can never accuse Cannes of being a boring destination!

1. Illuminated Landmarks

Until January 22, landmarks in Cannes will be spotlighted at night by artist Gaspare di Caro whose beautiful illuminations have lit up the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Negresco Hotel in Nice and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

gaspare di caro

Visit Cannes in January to see Gaspare di Caro’s illuminations

2. Dance & Choreography

Cannes is well known for its biennale Festival du Danse (the next edition is December 2019) but you can still find other dance shows year-round.

From the urban vibe of breakdancing, street dance and hip-hop at Break The Floor to classical dance performances during the Gala d’Étoiles, you can find exceptional choreography and expressive dance in venues around Cannes.

dance cannes 2018

Gala d’Étoiles – classical dance performance in Cannes (image copyright: Eric Dervaux)

3. Festival des Jeux 2018

Held across 3 days (23 to 25 February 2018), the Festival International des Jeux is a family-friendly event at the Palais des Festivals where you can discover new board games, video games, fantasy and role play games, wooden toys and kids comics.

A number of tournaments and game demonstrations are onsite as well as boutiques, authors and illustrators for games.

Entry is free; there are also VIP Passes (paying) available which include early entrance to the show and goody bags.

Watch the video by Cannes is Yours below and find out more information here:  Festival International des Jeux 2018

4. Cannes Half Marathon 2018

Created in 1992, the Cannes Half Marathon (Le Semi de Cannes) will be held on 25 February 2018 with a course that starts and finishes at Pantiero near Vieux Port and follows a circuit along the Cannes seafront.

Around 4000 runners will hit the pavements on a Sunday morning – there is also a 10-kilometre run for participants who prefer shorter distances (or like me, still recovering from the excess of food consumed over Christmas!).

Entrants must supply a medical certificate as usual; entry is €20 per person for the 10km run and €25 for the half-marathon.

For other keen runners, you can also enter the Nice-Cannes Marathon which is staged in the last quarter of the year.

5. MIPIM 2018

MIPIM (Marché International des professionals de l’immobilier) is an international property market that brings together over 24,000 professionals from over 100 countries looking for new markets, those who want to exchange ideas, share insights about property hotspots and discuss real estate trends.

Cannes will host the 28th edition of MIPIM from 13-16 March 2018 with the theme ‘MAPPING WORLD URBANITY’ : What will urban life be like in 2030 and 2050?

Keystone elements of the 4-day schedule at MIPIM 2018 include the Startup Competition for those who seek to innovate within real estate, the invite-only Real Estate Institutional Investor’s Summit, a diverse range of conferences and the MIPIM Awards that celebrate the leading global property developments.

mipim 2018

The MIPIM Awards celebrate outstanding global real estate projects, completed or yet to be built. (image: Twitter).

6. Cannes Sports – Running trails guided by a free app

Cannes is blessed with a mild climate and running outdoors year-round is possible with many different trails that take in city and sea views.

In September 2017, a new app was launched by the Mairie de Cannes which gives joggers and runners sixteen different trails to follow in and near Cannes.

The Cannes Sports app is available in French or English and trail options include Croix des Gardes, Le Suquet, Cannes La Bocca and Ile Sainte-Marguerite.

The Cannes Sports app is free to download on the Apple Store and Google Play.

Trailer video below by CannesWebTV:

7. MIPDoc 2018 and MIPFormats 2018

MIPDoc is the documentary-specific prequel and MIPFormats is focused on non-scripted formats.  They both run just prior to MIPTV, and are set for 8 and 9 April 2018.

MIPDoc will be hosted at the JW Marriott Hotel on the Croisette, it involves over 1600 programmes of non-fiction that may catch the interest of 400 buyers.   At-market screenings, co-production networking plus a print and online catalogue ensure good visibility for factual or documentary programmes supported by a dedicated MIPDoc Screening Library.

If you’re interested, the Top 30 MIPDoc programmes last year are found here:   MIPDoc Top 30 Programmes

MIPFormats focuses on the changing trends with non-scripted shows and is a great place to find new talent and ideas.  Held at the Palais des Festivals, there are a lot of distributors and production companies networking over reality TV concepts, game shows, quiz shows, dating shows and similar.

For the latest updates, go to:

8. MIPTV 2018

MIPTV (Marché International des Programmes de Télévision) is the global TV and digital content market which is held in Cannes every April.

MIPTV 2018 will run from 9 – 12 April 2018 and continue as the epicentre for producers and buyers hoping to find success with the next big show!

New for 2018, the Kids Live Action Pitch will be a platform for creators to pitch original kids live action series aimed at kids aged 6-12 years.

View the MIPTV 2018 trailer below (video:  mipmarkets)

9. CANNESERIES 2018TM

The inaugural season of CANNESERIESTM (Cannes International Series Festival) will be held in the palm-tree lined resort from 4 – 11 April 2018 and feature an Official Competition that will showcase 10 world debut series – from any genre, any country and any format.

Dubbed as an incubator for international series, the event will cross-over dates with MIPDoc, MIPFormats and MIPTV creating the biggest week in TV.

The festival Patron is Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen and the event will feature the world premiere Out of Competition screening of ‘The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair’, a 10-part series from MGM Television, Eagle Pictures and Barbary Films which will screen in France on TF1 this year.

CANNESERIESTM Institute will begin prior to the festival proper and welcome 8 international students to a 5-week writing residency, overseen by teachers from the University of Cote d’Azur (UCA) and a Berlin-based writing residence, Serial Eyes.  The ultimate aim is to give writers a platform to conceptualize and write a pilot TV series which may be developed by Canal+.

CANNESERIESTM Addict is a week of free public screenings of classic series, Competition series and digital selections.    CANNESERIES TM Digital will focus on short formats.

In Development, the Cannes Drama Creative Forum is a 2-day mini session that takes place at the Gare Maritime and aims to accelerate new productions at an international level; the dates are 10 – 11 April 2018.

Don’t miss the emerging and established TV talent that will be present at CANNESERIES 2018 TM

CANNESERIES (TM) and MIPTV will be held in April 2018

10. Red Bull Air Race Cannes 2018

For the first time ever, the Red Bull Air Race will be coming to Cannes from 21 – 22 April 2018 where the world’s best pilots navigate an aerial racetrack marked by air-filled pylons.  Reaching speeds in excess of 350kph with forces up to 10G, the pilots need to be extremely skilled to fly at high speed, low altitude and perform tricky manoeuvres.

The series pilots come from Canada, Australia, China, Spain, Japan and South Africa (to name a few) and amongst them are 5 French pilots in the series – 3 Master Class pilots: Mikael Brageot, Nicolas Ivanoff and François Le Vot  and 2 Challenger Pilots:  Melanie Astles and Baptiste Vignes who will get the chance to show off their aerobatics in front of a home crowd.

Don’t miss one of Red Bull’s most popular spectator events, tickets will go on sale via the link here: Red Bull Air Race Cannes 2018 Tickets

red bull air race cannes

Cannes is one of 8 global cities included in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship for 2018 (Race Calendar courtesy of Red Bull)

11. Cannes International Triathlon 2018

From 27 to 29 April 2018, the 5th edition of the Polar Cannes International Triathlon will be staged in Cannes incorporating a 2 kilometre swim off Bijou Plage, 100 kilometre cycle stage to Tanneron, Montauroux and Pegomas and 16 kilometre run based around Port Pierre Canto.

The triathlon attracts competitors from over 40 countries with the main Village Expo hosted at Square Verdun.

For the registration process, race schedule and information about volunteering, find out more at CIT2018

Watch the teaser video from Mikael Sport for Polar Cannes International Triathlon below:

12. Cannes Film Festival 2018

Undeniably the crowning glory of the annual events in Cannes, the world famous Cannes Film Festival will be hosted from 8 to 19 May 2018.

For the 71st edition, the opening day has moved forward one day and will start on a Tuesday. The organisers say the change in dates means they can also hold an additional gala evening before the Festival weekend, and organise previews of the opening film throughout France.

By bringing forward the announcement of awards by one day to Saturday evening, it is expected that this will increase its prestige while at the same time giving the closing film better exposure.

cannes film festival 2018

Cannes Film Festival 2018 is a world famous film festival (image: critique film.fr)

Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who won two Oscars for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, has been named as Jury President of Cannes Film Festival 2018 and will join other jury members to decide the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or.

As usual, Access Riviera will be publishing a full guide to Cannes Film Festival 2018 closer to the event including festival tips for Marché du Film.

13. Watersports in summertime

Cannes is making a strong effort to promote outdoor activities and watersports are always high on the list of things to do.  Cannes occupies a wonderful location on the Mediterranean and has great views to the Iles de Lérins, the Esterels and beyond to Cap d’Antibes.  Whether you are a beginner or experienced, there are plenty of companies where you can rent equipment and/or take lessons to learn a new on-water activity.

During summer, pontoons on plage du Midi, boulevard Jean Hibert and along the Croisette are open daily until around 7pm (weekends until approx. 6pm) and offer a range of watersports including waterskiing, jet skiing, stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing, wakeboarding, flyboard sessions, kayaks, dinghy hire, pirogue tours and more!

watersports cannes

Watersports are popular in summer in Cannes (map: Cannes Destination)

14. MIDEM 2018

What is MIDEM?  For the uninitiated, MIDEM (Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale) will take place from 5 – 8 June 2018 and unite leading players in the music industry.

It is the industry event to attend for rising talent looking for labels, musicians looking for licensees and distributors, bands to connect with creatives for advice about how to boost their marketing, tech innovators showcasing their products as well as publishers and agents looking for new talent and trends.

I’m always interested in Midemlab which is the startup competition as it is great to see innovative concepts for online promotion, tech or musical education.   The Midem Artist Accelerator (MAA) is also interesting to see develop and is into its fourth year, it aims to continue supporting emerging talent; submissions close on January 28 so get in quick!

Some of the brands who will be attending MIDEM 2018 include Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Fox Music and Billboard.   Find out more about the event at Reed MIDEM‘s official website:  MIDEM 2018 

MIDEM 2018 will run from 5 – 8 June 2018 (image: Flickr)

15. Guided tours in Cannes

Year round, visitors to Cannes can experience a number of guided tours bookable through the Tourist Office.  Two popular options include :

Cannes and the Cinemain French and English, this guided tour runs from October to May every Wednesday at 2.30pm ; from June to September every Wednesday at 9.15am.  Duration: 1.5 hours. Adult price: €6 each, free for under 16 years of age. Note: Minimum of 5 people required.

Visit of the Croisette – in French and English, this guided tour runs from October to May every Wednesday at 2.30pm in French and English; from June to September every Wednesday at 9.15am.  Duration: 1.5 hours. Adult price: €6 each, free for under 16 years of age. Note: Minimum of 5 people required.

One of the nicest places to visit when in Cannes are the Iles de Lérins (Lérins Islands) just a short cruise away.  You can join a wine tasting experience on the first Friday of every month on Íle Saint-Honorat and sample some of the wine harvested by the Cistercian monks.  Buy a wine tasting excursion here:  Wine Tasting Abbaye de Lérins.  Visit the island courtesy of a virtual tour viewable here: Ile Saint-Honorat

lerins islands cannes

Visit the Lérins Islands when you come to Cannes (image: Atout France)

16. Cannes Lions 2018

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is a 5-day festival for branded communications, marketing, media, entertainment and tech which will be held from 18 – 22 June 2018.

The event has over 4500 attending companies however for the 2018 edition, the event length has been reduced from 8 days to 5 days amidst feedback from holding companies, stakeholders and agencies that Cannes Lions was becoming ‘too expensive’.   Additionally, for Cannes Lions 2018 there will be a six-Lion entry limit for one piece of work.

cannes lions 2018

Cannes Lions 2018 has been adapted to reflect feedback from previous years including restructuring of categories to win Gold Lions (image: Campaign Asia)

Again, the organisers have been shuffling around with the Categories; for 2018 they’re scrapping the Categories for Cyber, Integration and Promo & Activation and introducing new Categories including Social & Influencer and Creative E-Commerce.

To find out more about what’s in store this year for Cannes Lions, the official website is here:  Cannes Lions 2018 

17. Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique Cannes 2018

Firework enthusiasts will love the French Riviera in summer because Cannes is one of a number of places that hosts regular public firework displays through July and August.   Other fireworks competitions are held in Antibes/Juan les Pins and Monaco.

Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique Cannes takes place over the bay of Cannes and features international pyrotechnic teams who create brilliant fireworks displays to music and a winner is chosen at the end of the summer series.

cannes fireworks 2018

Panzera from Italy competed in the Cannes fireworks competition (image: Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique)

Follow the official website Le Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique Cannes to stay informed of competition dates when they are released.

18. Nuits Musicales du Suquet 2018

Each year in the square in front of the Notre-Dame de l’Espérance church at the top of Le Suquet, you can listen to open-air orchestral concerts under the stars in late July.

Featuring the Orchestra of Cannes and acclaimed soloists, the atmosphere is inviting and relaxing.

The 2018 Nuits Musicales du Suquet programme is yet to be released, so stay updated by subscribing to my blog on the right-hand side (you can unsubscribe at any time), or refer to the Orchestra of Cannes or Palais des Festivals websites regularly.

19. Les Plages Électroniques 2018

One of the French Riviera’s best summer festivals for dance music, Les Plages Électroniques is an annual electronic music festival that is held on the beach beside the Palais des Festivals and the rooftop terrace of the Palais.

This year, Les Plages Électroniques will be held from 10 – 12 August 2018.

Unfortunately as with many events here on the French Riviera, the organisers Panda Events have put no information about accessibility on the official event website but if you have restricted mobility and would like to attend this music festival, please do get in touch with me via my Contact Me page to obtain more information about accessibility options for this event.

plage electronique cannes 2018

Les Plages Électroniques organised by Panda Events is an annual electronic music festival held on the beach in Cannes (image: discothequemagazine)

20. Cannes Yachting Festival 2018

As Europe’s leading in-water boat show, Cannes Yachting Festival is one of the French Riviera’s most important nautical events.

Hosted across both Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto, Cannes Yachting Festival 2018 will run from 11 to 16 September 2018 and showcase new builds for motor yachts, sailing yachts, tenders and marine equipment.

In 2017, I was disappointed by the Luxury Gallery which was an uninspiring display zone that brought nothing dynamic to the event, and the Concours d’Elegance which seemed under promoted and underwhelming.  A real shame, and I hope that the event marketing team take on feedback to boost these two elements of the show.

Follow updates until Cannes Yachting Festival 2018 at:  https://www.facebook.com/Cannes-Yachting-Festival-180413645312841/?ref=hl

cannes yachting festival 2018

Cannes Yachting Festival 2018 will run from 11 to 16 September 2018 (image: Cannes Yachting Festival Facebook)

21. Museums & Galleries in Cannes

Cannes has a number of interesting museums and galleries with collections that you won’t find elsewhere on the French Riviera.

Take your pick from the Musée de la Castre at Le Suquet, visit the Musée de la Mer on Ile Saint-Marguerite or drop into the Centre de L’Art Malmaison on the Croisette.

Within a short distance from Cannes, you can also visit the Musée Bonnard in Le Cannet, Chateau de la Napoule in Mandelieu-la-Napoule and the National Picasso Museum in Vallauris to get a cultural fix.

22. Cannes Régates Royales 2018

Staged in the bay of Cannes, the Régates Royales is an annual nautical fixture that brings the elegance of classic sailing to the French Riviera.

Founded in honour of King Christian X of Denmark, the Régates Royales Cannes are set for 22 – 29 September 2018, where you’ll see beautiful classic sailing yachts race amidst Dragons, Tofinous and International classes.

Don’t miss finding your vantage point to watch the action at sea!   Here is the official website for the Cannes Régates Royales 2018

regates royales cannes 2018

Régates Royales is an annual nautical fixture in the bay of Cannes (photo copyright: Guido Cantini/Panerai)

23. MIPCOM 2018

MIPCOM 2018 will be held in Cannes from 15 to 18 October 2018, where you can join around 4000 companies at the global event for programming for all genres across all sectors and meet international producers and production companies in one place.

It is deemed the world’s best entertainment content market and the place to go to secure licensees, pitch to broadcasters and finance or sell TV and digital content for shows, series and documentaries.

Previous companies who have been to MIPCOM include DreamWorks Animation, BBC Worldwide, Nickelodeon, FremantleMedia, NBC Universal Studios, MGM Studios, Viacom, HBO and Netflix.

Find out the schedule and what to expect here:  MIPCOM 2018 (official website)

mipcom cannes 2018

MIPCOM 2018 will be hosted in Cannes from 15 – 18 October 2018

24. P’tits Cannes à You

For two weeks starting in late-October, P’tits Cannes à You is a family-friendly festival aimed at children 3 – 13 years of age offering puppet shows, cinema screenings, story telling, kids craft workshops and activities for free or low prices.

Timed to coincide with Toussaint school holidays, participating locations include Mediatheque Noailles, MJC La Raguin, Musée de la Castre and Theatre de la Licorne.

The P’tits Cannes à You programme will be released later in the year.

25. NRJ Music Awards 2018

Each November, the NRJ Music Awards are held at the Palais des Festivals and televised on TF1 French television.  The award categories include French and international musicians, and they are handed out by well known French personalities such as actresses, DJ’s or fashion designers.

nrj music awards cannes 2018

NRJ Music Awards Cannes 2018

In 2017, some of the attending musicians included Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, U2, Kygo, Amir, Soprano, Arcadian, David Guetta and Julien Doré.

The dates for the NRJ Music Awards 2018 are yet to be released publicly.

Thank you for reading my post.  As you can imagine this list is just a small sample of the events, activities and sightseeing that you can enjoy in Cannes in 2018.  Other reasons to come to Cannes include Heavent Meetings, Tax Free Cannes, MAPIC, ILTM Cannes, traditional festivals and markets.

If you enjoyed my blog post, please share it on social media. Thank you!

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2017 In Review: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned This Year

I sure have learned a lot this year.

From content writing to press work and juggling family life, I thought I’d share some things I’ve experienced this year – the highs, the lows, the achievements and the challenges!

Here are ’10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2017′:

  1. Freelancers can’t work solo

It’s fantastic to have the flexibility to work when and where I want, but I have found networking is vital to maintaining my sanity.

It can be a lonely time running your own businesses so it’s helpful having a support group.

Being part of a community of people who have different success levels and opinions is great for inspiration, motivation and bouncing around ideas.   I am part of various entrepreneur and business groups and I find it energising to be around people who are entrepreneurs or have a positive mindset.

2. Stay focused

I have a vision board in my work area to stay focused with my goals and fine tune what is urgent or important.

I use content tools to manage my workload and everyone who knows me knows I don’t go anywhere without my diary!

Some tools I use regularly to stay on focus and organised are Google Keep, Dropbox, Evernote and Slack.

Evernote is one of my favourite tools for staying organised and on track

3. Always keep learning

I follow a lot of business forums for tech, aviation, travel, yachting and luxury sectors so I can start updated with trends and forecasts.  I watch a lot of webcasts and try and complete one educational course of interest yearly and this has lead to work opportunities for me.

I’m still plugging away at learning Mandarin Chinese, it’s a slow process (much slower than learning French!) but I can reflect on when I first started learning French and how progress gets easier.

4. No magic formula for blog success

People often ask me if blogging is hard work or where I find the time to write posts.   If you aren’t passionate about what you do, you won’t find time to do it.

For my own blog, I always write about things I’m interested in, unusual insights for the French Riviera or useful tips and this moulds itself into posts that my audience enjoys and shares.

If you write about things you’re interested in, you will stay motivated

5. Celebrate your achievements

No one has overnight success.  I was really happy to hit the 250,000 visitors mark for my blog this year, but it made me realise that it was even more important to not use this milestone as an excuse to just sit on my coat tails and assume my blog would stay popular.   I had to take time to reflect on why I started it, where it’s at now and where I hope to head in the future. 

I believe that success shouldn’t be purely based on page views, traffic, income or social media followers.  

I earn an income from my blog however the best rewards come in the form of lovely comments or emails from readers who I have helped.

6. Allow yourself a break

The world is not going to fall apart if you take a break or holiday.   We had our first child-free holiday this year and it was great for recharging our batteries.

It’s important to find a balance between work, your family and taking care of yourself and you will come back more productive than ever.

Some days my working day is very traditional – 9am to 4pm – and some days it is chaotic and interrupted by the daily grind, school run, sickness, sport etc.

We all need time out from work, family and life

As a working mum, I have found another level of busy that I didn’t think was possible but for me personally I need to ensure I get enough sleep, exercise regularly and have a social life.

7. Accept that things may not go to plan

You can’t solve everything and you may have to accept that your ideas won’t work or people don’t want it to work.

I have had a few media projects this year where I had to wait on other people to finish their input for the project and it delayed my deadline.  This is reality.  Accept the flow of things, adapt if necessary and refocus.

8. Give to others when you can

I’ve become much better at saying ‘No’ to people.  Especially people who contact me for ‘free’ business advice or marketing tips and then they disappear off the face of the planet and you never hear from them again until the next time they need something.

Saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean you’re selfish, rude or unhelpful – it means you are placing a conscious decision to put your time into your family, paid work, your health or your hobbies first.

It’s perfectly wonderful to help other entrepreneurs, community groups or businesses when you can, but be wary of the leeches.  It’s not cynicism, but you can get burned by people you help and expend a lot of energy, time and patience without receiving a thank you.

Saying ‘No’ can be beneficial to your work/life balance

9. Don’t be afraid to take risks

The first step in starting a business is often the most difficult but you need to crawl before you can walk.

Big adventures start when you least expect them and I would never have thought 18 months ago that I would start up five new business projects in the past year.

If I had thought for one second that I wasn’t capable, someone else would have been there doing exactly what I intend to do.

10. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

In this crazy age of social media, it is incredibly easy to be lead into a false sense of inadequacy about your worth as a business owner and/or parent, self-esteem, looks and work skills.

I see a lot of people daily who are seeking higher recognition from people who don’t matter.  I have unfollowed a lot of accounts on Instagram because they aren’t relevant to my lifestyle or career goals; people who just post selfies and have nothing else to contribute.

It is easy to think someone else has greater success in business or life than you, but don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

Don’t compare yourself with others

Here are some of my most popular posts that readers loved in 2017:

The Lavender Route

Top 15 viewpoints for amazing photos

The 70th Cannes Film Festival:  The Ultimate Guide

Secret French Riviera:  Hidden spots worth visiting

How to visit Monaco on a shoestring

7 reasons NOT to visit the Cote d’Azur in winter

The Lavender Route was another popular post this year

To end this blog post, I would like to wish all my readers a fantastic New Year and a huge thank you for supporting my blog.  Every one of your comments doesn’t go unnoticed.   Roll on 2018!

 

Christmas 2017 : Festive events and activities on the French Riviera

The Zone B school holidays over the Christmas period run from 22 December and finish 7 January so it’s a good time to use the fortnight’s break to partake in some festive activities.

As well as the usual Christmas markets that pop up each year in every town, there are themed activities and shows with plenty of options to choose from that will suit all ages.

Here are some ideas for things to do during the Christmas period on the French Riviera:

ANTIBES

From 15 December, the Antibes Christmas markets will be open with small animations and stands at Place de Gaulle and Place Nationale with a larger market area at Esplanade du Pré des Pêcheurs opposite Port Vauban.

The ice skating rink is back!  Very popular, it’s located in the Christmas market area opposite Port Vauban, opening hours are from 10.30am to 8pm daily (until 10pm on Saturdays).  From 18-22 December, it is reserved for school groups during the day so the rink is open to the public from 5pm to 8pm.

The Antibes ice skating rink is free entry for 2 to 10 years; €3 for adults or kids older than 10 years.  You must take your own gloves as they don’t supply or rent gloves.  Skate hire included on entrance and there are a few skating support aids for young skaters/novices.

(image: Jacques Bayle)

CANNES

Cannes Christmas festivities will run the entire school holidays.   The traditional Christmas market is based at the Allées de Liberté opposite Vieux Port and open daily.   Santa’s House will be located in a chalet here where kids can meet him from 2pm to 6pm on 16, 17, 20, 23 and 24 December.

This area also hosts kids craft workshops in a chalet there – until 20 December, the workshops are open weekends and Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm.  From 22 December, kids workshops are on every day during school holidays from 2pm to 6pm.  The types of things that kids get to make are Christmas lanterns, key rings, mini chocolates.

christmas market cannes

Marché de Noël in Cannes (image: ©Mairie de Cannes)

For theme park rides, a big area is set up right beside the port with arcade games, dodgems, bouncy castles etc and open daily from 2pm to 10pm. There is a cost for each ride, generally around €2,50 to €3 for a single ticket or the cost reduces if you buy a few tickets.

On 24 December, Santa and his sleigh will parade down rue d’Antibes at 3pm.

The Cannes ice skating rink is open daily from 1pm to 8pm (open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).  Note:  From 10am to 1pm daily, the ice skating rink is exclusively just for kids aged 4-10 years, free entry but €3 for accompanying adults.  After 1pm, the rink is open to everyone for 1-hour sessions and a cost of €3 per person including skate hire.

There will be a number of shows held at the Cannes ice skating rink (therefore the rink will close to the public), the show dates are:

  • Friday 15 December :  Live music on ice with Blue Ice Cocktail
  • Saturday 16 December : Generation Top 50 with DJ Max and Charly la Voute
  • Friday 22 December :  ‘Frozen’ with Elsa, Anna and Olaf
  • Saturday 23 December : Christmas Party with Santa and his elves
  • Friday 29 December : Crazy skating party with DJ Mozart, fancy dress compulsory
  • Saturday 30 December : Disco party
  • Friday 5 January : Snow storm party with mascots
  • Saturday 6 January :  ‘Break the Ice’ demonstration of freestyle skating
patinoire cannes

Cannes ice skating rink with host a number of shows over Christmas (image: Press Agence)

There will be fireworks on New Years Eve from 11pm in the bay of Cannes.

JUAN LES PINS

On Saturday 23 December in partnership with the Belles Rives Ski Nautique Club, Père Noel arrives by water ski at 10.30am.  He lands on the beach by La Jetee / Reve Plage and hands out a chocolate/bon bon to each child.

pere noel ski nautique juan les pins

Père Noel arrives by water ski each year in Juan les Pins (image: Centre-Ville en Mvmnt)

From 24 December to 30 December, there will be free pony rides and a mini farm set up at Pinede Gould with rabbits, sheep, goats etc.  It is open from 10.30am to midday and 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

On Saturday 30 December, floating lanterns will be released from Ponton Hollywood at 5.30pm.  (Ponton Hollywood is the concrete jetty by Café plage).

On New Years Day, the public fireworks display starts at 6.30pm in the bay of Juan les Pins.

NICE

On 17 December at Parc Carol du Romanie from 10am to 5pm, a Christmas day with Père Noel, candy floss machine, Christmas stands and a show at 3pm

All through December until 1st January 2018, Nice will celebrate Christmas with the theme ‘Dans l’Espace’.

The main Christmas festivities are centred around Jardin Albert 1er, place Massena and Promenade du Peillon and open daily from 11am to 8pm (9pm on Fridays and Saturdays).  Here you’ll find the Christmas chalets, the ferris wheel (open 11am-11pm), carousels (paying) and pony rides.   The Apollo fountain will be illuminated, there will be 6 illuminated rockets and Christmas trees decorated in keeping with the space theme.  A giant Christmas tree 20-metres high will be placed at Promenade du Peillon.

marche de noel nice

Christmas in Nice is centred around place Massena, Jardin Albert 1er and Promenade du Peillon (image: nice.fr)

The ice skating rink has moved this year from below the ferris wheel to the Fontaine des 3 Grâces.  Ice skating is €5 including skate hire and sessions go for one hour at the following times 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm and 6.30pm.

Santa’s House is located at Theatre de Verdure and open daily during school holidays from 2pm to 7.30pm until Christmas Day.

chrismtas in nice

Marche de Noel in Nice (image: Nice Matin)

THÉOULE SUR MER

Santa’s House will be located at avenue Charles Dahon where kids can get a souvenir photo from 2pm to 6pm on 16, 17, 20 and 24 December.

22 December – There will be a Christmas parade from 5pm on avenue Charles Dahon.  Espace Botta will have a mini farm for kids to see animals.

29 December – At the Salle des Fêtes there will be a marionnette show ‘Pierre et le loup’ at 4pm.  Entry is just €1. Limited places, book via the Office de Tourisme, Phone 04 93 49 28 28,  2 Corniche d’Or, 06590 Théoule sur Mer.

noel theoule sur mer

Pierre et la Loup marionnette show in Théoule sur Mer over the festive period

On until 7 January, every day during school holidays a santon fair at the Espace culturel will showcase crèche decorations, painted figurines and miniature Provençal houses.

This is not an exhaustive list for activities over the Christmas school holidays, just simply some inspiration to enjoy some of the French Riviera’s programme over the holiday period.  Access Riviera wants to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable festive season!

Joyeux Noël ! 

Grave Ramblings: Dark Tourism and the Cemeteries of the French Riviera

My contribution to this month’s All About France blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo is nothing at all to do with Christmas.  In fact, it’s as unfestive as you can get but I thought I would write about dark tourism and some of the famous people who lived and are laid to rest in the cemeteries on the French Riviera.

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark tourism is travel (and tourism) that involves visiting places connected to death, tragedy or disaster.   There is a growing interest in places that historically may have been off-limits to visit, but there’s no denying that people are attracted to sites like this.

War tourism – visiting battlefields and famous fortresses – has been firmly stamped on tourism sectors for decades, and now tour operators are expanding their tour itineraries to cater for dark tourism.  Everyone from National Geographic to the Economist is debating whether it’s the right thing to do.  Regardless, this market for tourism is here to stay.

Some of the world’s most popular dark tourism locations include visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris to see the gravesites of Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf, seeing the Phnom Sampeau killing caves in Cambodia, visiting Chernobyl’s fallout zone or learning about the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

pere lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is one of the world’s most visited cemeteries

It does seem strange to say a location is ‘popular’ because of its macabre or sombre history, but you’ll find wherever there is death or tragedy a tour operator will be waiting in the wings to snap up income from keen tourists.

Dark Tourism on the French Riviera 

The sunny French Riviera doesn’t escape dark tourism.  While we always see promotional tourism here highlight the beaches, the Riviera lifestyle and year-round activities, there are many tourists who are visiting to catch a slice of history and follow in the footsteps of famous people who lived, and more profoundly died here.

It could be possible I’m the only blogger highlighting the region’s cemeteries as a tourism attraction?!   Undoubtedly, not only do cemeteries on the Côte d’Azur have famous ‘residents’, but many of them occupy prime real estate with some of the best views in south-east France!

cemetery in menton

You can’t deny this spectacular view! Vieux Château cemetery in Menton (image: Menton Tourism)

Here are some grave ramblings for the French Riviera:

Paul Ricard

The founder of Ricard pastis bought the tiny Île de Bendor at Bandol which is home to two museums – the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux that houses thousands of bottles and glasses, and the Museum of Advertising Objects that is dedicated to pastis advertising.  Near Le Brusc, the Île de Embiez was bought by the Ricard Trust and is a tourist getaway from the mainland with no traffic jams, pleasant restaurants and walking trails.  Paul Ricard is buried there at the highest point on the island overlooking the sea.

paul ricard grave

The Île des Embiez is the final resting place of pastis icon, Paul Ricard

Roger Vadim

Roger Vadim was a director, producer, writer and actor and is perhaps just as well known for his many marriages (including to Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda) as his films such as And God Created Woman (1956) and Barbarella (1968).

He died in Paris in 2000 but is buried at the Cimetière Marin in Saint-Tropez – his tomb goes unnoticed to many visitors as it says ‘Vadim Plémiannikov’, not Roger Vadim. 

cemetery st tropez

The Cimetière Marin in St Tropez with sea views (image:  Axel Hupfelds)

This seaside cemetery in Saint-Tropez beneath the Citadelle has a host of interesting people buried there such as Alexandre de Paris who was a celebrated French hairdresser who created Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyle for Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot’s’ parents, painter Henri Manguin and jazz figure Edouard Ruault (Eddie Barclay) who has a tombstone decorated with LPs.

cemetery st tropez

Eddie Barclay’s gravesite in Cimetière Marin in St Tropez (image: mapio)

Jean Marais

Jean Marais was a French actor, director, writer and sculptor who acted in over 100 films including Jean Cocteau’s 1946  Beauty and the Beast.  He received an Honorary César Award in 1993 (Césars are the national film award of France).  Five years later, he passed away in Cannes and was buried in the village cemetery in Vallauris.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognised names in creative arts and was a familiar figure in Côte d’Azur art circles. He lived and worked in his villa Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins, nicknamed the Minotaur’s Lair.

mas notre dame de vie

Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins was Pablo Picasso’s last home (image: Christies)

The villa was previously owned by the Guinness family of Irish beer fame.  Picasso died at his villa in April 1973, but he isn’t actually buried in Mougins – he is buried in the grounds of Château de Vauvenargues.

The villa was sold by auction in October 2017 for €20.2 million.  Video : Picasso’s Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie

Marc Chagall

‘When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is’ – Pablo Picasso 

Marc Chagall was born in Belarus and created works in many styles including painting, ceramics and stained glass.  His stained glass projects can be seen everywhere from the ‘Peace Window’ he created for the United Nations building in New York to the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Reims.

While he is best known for his art, he also worked as a theatrical designer including a commission to create the set and costumes for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance in the late 1960’s of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  His association with France was lengthy and he received France’s highest accolade, the Grand Medal of the Legion of Honor in 1977 and left a rich legacy of work.

The Musée National Marc Chagall is one of the top cultural attractions in Nice and is the largest public collection in the world dedicated to over 800 of his artworks, predominantly his art inspired by religion.

musee marc chagall

Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice is the largest public collection of Marc Chagall’s work (image: Musées Nationaux)

Marc Chagall is buried in the cemetery below the town walls in the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Aimé and Marguerite Maeght who founded the nearby Fondation Maeght art museum are also buried in this cemetery.

Yves Klein

You may be familiar with the striking artworks of Yves Klein who was born in Nice and remembered for the Nouveau Réalisme movement.

In particular, his vivid blue works are quite memorable – you can see his 1962 Venus Bleue at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins (Mougins Museum of Classical Art) where it is displayed beside Venus interpretations by Cézanne, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.   There aren’t many places in the world where you can find artwork from these 4 artists in the same display cabinet!

Klein died in Paris and is buried in the cemetery in La-Colle-sur-Loup.  I’m sure he’d love tourists to the French Riviera to visit the Mougins Classical Art Museum because it really is a fantastic collection of interesting and rare pieces.   .

mougins classical art

The Venus cabinet at the Mougins Museum of Classical Art holds Venus Bleue by Yves Klein

Henri Matisse

Matisse lived in Nice for 37 years and it is here that his presence on the French Riviera is most significant.  He is well known for his work on the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, but the Musée Matisse is the crowning achievement of his legacy.

musee matisse

Musée Matisse is located at Cimiez and the neighbouring cemetery has Matisse’s grave

The museum is located in Cimiez and Matisse is buried in the neighbouring Cimetière du Monastère de Cimiez which also has the grave of artist Raoul Dufy.

Isadora Duncan

The Promenade des Anglais in Nice was where American dancer Isadora Duncan tragically lost her life in 1927 in a freak accident.  Known as ‘the barefoot dancer’, she was driving along the road and her scarf blew over the side of the car and wrapped around a wheel, dragging her from the car and breaking her neck.  A small street is named after her, rue Isadora Duncan, leading off Promenade des Anglais.

Emil Jellinek

The name may not ring a bell, but Emil (Emile) Jellinek had a firm influence on the automobile industry.  Born in Germany in 1853, he worked at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) autos and proposed to car designers to create a lighter vehicle with a bigger engine.

The result was the Mercedes 35hp and it lead Wilhelm Werner to claim the first victory for Mercedes in a car race, the Nice-Salon-Nice in 1901.  Jellinek’s world-famous trademark he launched in 1902 was named after his daughter, Mercédès.  He changed his surname to Jellinek-Mercédès in 1903.

mercedes nice salon nice

The 392 kilometre Nice-Salon-Nice race in 1901 was won by a Mercedes car for the first time (image: Daimler Media)

He came to Nice and later worked as the Austro-Hungarian Consulate General owning properties on the Promenade des Anglais – Villa Mercedes at number 57, Villa Mercedes II at number 54 as well as hotel Le Royal.  The family yachts on the French Riviera were also not surprisingly christened Mercedes and Mercedes-Mercedes.   His daughter Mercédès supposedly married her first husband Baron Karl van Schossler in Nice, but I couldn’t find any record of where their huge wedding was held.  I’m sure the details are part of Daimler’s archives 🙂

Monsieur Mercedes as Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès was nicknamed, is laid to rest in the tomb of his first wife Rachel Goggman Cenrobert in the Cimetière Colline du Château at Castle Hill (Colline du Château) in Nice.

emil jellenik mercedes

Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès , Pioneer of Automobiles, is buried in the Cimetière Colline du Château in Nice

This cemetery and the adjacent Jewish cemetery have amazing views over Nice.  There are thousands of graves with some elaborate and beautiful tombstones and cenotaphs.

Many notable people are buried here including:

  • Writer Gaston Leroux
  • Director and screenwriter Georges Lautner
  • René Goscinny who was one of the creators of French comic book Asterix
  • Garibaldi’s mother Rosa Garibaldi
  • Alfred van Cleef of the Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery family
  • Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otéro who was a famous actress/courtesan/dancer whose breasts supposedly inspired the dome design of the Intercontinental Carlton hotel in Cannes
  • Menica Rondelly who wrote the Niçois anthem Nissa la Bella
  • The daughter of Henri Matisse
  • Polishman Baron Leon Wladyslaw Loewenstein of Lenval, who founded Lenval Hospital in Nice after the death of his son in Nice at 11 years of age

Cimetière Colline du Château has wide-reaching views over Nice (image: Tripadvisor)

To reach the cemeteries, you can take the stairs or elevator from the end of Quai des États-Unis up to Parc du Château or walk up Montée Menica Rondelly from Place Ste Claire in Nice Old Town.  The petit train (white tourist train) also goes up to the park.

Brothers in arms

War cemeteries are places of loss, remembrance and sadness but they also have an aura of calm.  One such cemetery that has a picturesque setting is the Belgian Military Cemetery that is located at Pointe Saint-Hospice on the St Jean Cap Ferrat peninsula with a chapel there having a lovely outlook over the sea.

King Leopold II of Belgium converted Villa Les Cèdres into a military hospital during World War I, however many soldiers succumbed to their injuries received from German gas attacks.  The cemetery is a dedication to 90 Belgian soldiers who lost their lives.   Sadly, the cemetery has graves of brothers who died just months apart so its a very poignant place to visit.  We won’t ever know if they got to appreciate the beautiful setting, but visitors to the peninsula can reflect and remember them here.

Video by Gralon:  Belgian Military Cemetery, St Jean Cap Ferrat (Cimetière militaire des Belges)

Princess Grace  

One of the most famous personalities that captured the hearts of France, Monaco and the world was Grace Kelly, an American actress, who became the Princess of Monaco in 1952 when she married Prince Rainier III.

Her global appeal and classic beauty transcended from life to death; even after she lost her life after a car crash on a road bend at Devil’s Curse above Monaco, over 100 million viewers watched her televised funeral.

grace kelly car crash

Contrary to popular belief Grace did not die on the road where she filmed the scenes in Hitchcock film ‘To Catch a Thief’. As you can see from this map, the accident site was miles away. Her life support was turned off a few days after the crash (map: Reel Reviews)

If you visit the Principality and are looking for things to do in Monaco, you can follow a free tour in Monaco with information about Grace, or visit her tomb beside Prince Rainier in the Grimaldi family vault inside the Monaco Cathedral, the same church where they wed.

Other well-known people who are laid to rest in Monaco include entertainer Josephine Baker, artist Jean-Michel Folon who was commissioned for murals at Waterloo station on the London Tube and designs for Puccini’s opera La Bohème, English writer Anthony Burgess who penned A Clockwork Orange and Iranian Princess Ashraf Pahlavi who are all buried in the Monaco cemetery near the Jardin Exotique.

Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret was born in Switzerland and moved to Paris where he took the pseudonym he is best known for, Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier changed the face of modern architecture and his furniture and buildings are contemporary studies for design and technology.   Seventeen of his works over seven countries are UNESO World Heritage-listed.

He drowned off the coast of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and is buried in the Roquebrune cemetery.  There is a lovely coastal walking path from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to Monaco named after him, Promenade Le Corbusier, and you can visit his minimalist beach cabanon as well as Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 by booking through Cap Moderne.

corbusiers cabanon

Le Corbusier’s Cabanon can be visited by booking through Cap Moderne

William Webb Ellis

Englishman William Webb Ellis was credited for creating the game of rugby and keen rugby enthusiasts will agree that his final resting place has one of the best views on the French Riviera.  The Vieux Château cemetery in Menton is worth a visit and has spectacular panoramic views over Menton and the sea.

webb ellis grave

William Webb Ellis’ gravesite in the Vieux Chateau cemetery in Menton

Interestingly, I already knew that the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup but I didn’t realise that Menton has a rugby-specific trail that features 25 plaques about rugby starting at the Menton train station and leading to the cemetery.  Something I learned while researching this blog and definitely a potential blog topic for the future!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’ve researched a fair bit and learned a lot about famous lives and deaths on the French Riviera.  Have you been to any famous cemeteries or dark tourism sites in France or around the world?

Lou Messugo

10 Top Tips for a Skiing Holiday in Courchevel   

For the international jet set, the winter months offer the perfect opportunity to escape to the glamorous alpine ski resorts for family time spent on the slopes. Few ski resorts are as luxurious as Courchevel – France’s winter equivalent of St Tropez with regards to style, scenery, and fun. We consulted with seasoned skiers to compile these 10 top tips for a ski trip to Courchevel.

So wrap up, don your skis, and take to the slopes like a local.

Tip No.1: Arrive in Style 

There’s only one way to arrive at your destination, and that’s by Courchevel helicopter transfer. Exceptionally quick, unsurpassably stylish and undeniably cool, arriving by Helicopter not only makes you feel like a VIP but it also provides views of a lifetime.

Tip No.2: Learn a New Skill

For those of us who are more comfortable with a little more stability than skis provide, it is possible to learn to ride a snowmobile with Courchevel Adventure, a winter sports company. Everything’s more fun with friends and this is certainly no exception; take a group and you’ll soon become pros at navigating the 700m course.

snowmobile courchevel

Learn a new skill – go snowmobiling in Courchevel (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 3: Go Off-Piste

Go off-piste! And we don’t just mean when it comes to the slopes. There’s so much to experience in the resort of Courchevel that it’s genuinely just as magical a destination for non-skiers as it is for seasoned pros. If you’re a fan of luxury spas, then you’re in for a treat with the Aquamotion Centre. It offers sensational mountain views, heated pools, outdoor jacuzzis, water slides, and even a spa and wellness zone where you can enjoy a sauna and relaxing massage.

off piste courchevel

Go off piste in Courchevel! There are plenty of things to do when you’re not on the slopes (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 4: Eat Well

Make sure you sample as much as you can of Courchevel’s sumptuous cuisine at some of the resort’s Michelin-starred restaurants. We recommend Pierre Gagnaire pour Les Airelles, and you’d struggle to come across a disappointing meal at this illustrious spot in the mountains.

top restaurants courchevel

Eat well in Courchevel at some amazing restaurants with spectacular views (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 5: Get in the Alpine Spirit

You’ll be transported to another era when you ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the picturesque mountain village. The stunning white horses are a sight to behold in the snow.

Tip No. 6: Take Some Lessons 

Book taster ski sessions with an experienced teacher if you’re a first-timer. You’re sure to find out that you’re a natural and you’ll be independent in no time, but it’s always best to find your ski-legs first.

ski lessons courchevel

Take some ski lessons in Courchevel and you’ll be ready to enjoy the alpine ambience in no time! (Image: Monacair)

Tip No.7: Live it Up in the Resort’s Best Hotels

Spend your stay in the lap of luxury at the Grandes Alpes Private Hotel, Hotel Carlina or Hotel de la Loze and expect stunning views, world-class service and beautiful, Courchevel-cosiness.

courchevel accommodation

Courchevel’s hotels and luxury chalets are some of the finest in Europe (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 8: Indulge Your Inner-Child

Families with children – and those without – will relish the opportunity to try their hands at sledging, a wickedly fun alternative to skiing that is highly addictive. Beware though, it’s not as gentle as it might sound – you can reach some astonishing speeds on these steep slopes.

Tip No. 9: Take to the Skies

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s a truly incredible experience! You can go on a helicopter tour over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys. There’s just something about experiencing the landscape from the air that’s truly out of this world.

helicopter tour courchevel 3 vallees

A helicopter tour over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys is a wonderful way to see the mountains (Image: Monacair)

Tip No.10: Wear Sun Cream!

Many people fail to realise that the sun shines brightly on Europe’s highest peaks. The snow acts as a mirror and reflects the sun’s rays; a burnt nose is nothing to sniff at, so take care of your skin and enjoy your holiday!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post in partnership with Relevance.

 

7 reasons NOT to visit the Côte d’Azur in winter

Over a century ago, the Côte d’Azur was a destination for those who wintered here for health reasons and old money who holidayed here, drinking red wine and wondering how to magically transport the sky, sea and sunshine back to their own part of the world.

Faced with grey skies and snowfall that encourages marathon Monopoly sessions by the fireplace, many tourists could easily just skip going on a winter getaway, right?  Here’s 7 reasons NOT to visit the Côte d’Azur in winter:

1. Having to decide between the beach or ski resorts

Do you prefer beaches or the mountains?  Well, don’t visit the French Riviera in winter if you need an easy choice because you can do both in one day, if you like.

That’s right, you can be on the slopes in the Alps in the morning and enjoying a late afternoon snack at a coastal cafeteria on the same day.   Sound impossible?  Well, it’s not.  And while swimming in the sea may be out of the question for most and only the brave dip into the Mediterranean during winter, we are very lucky to have the chance to do this!

The French Riviera in winter : it’s possible to enjoy the sea and mountains in one day

The geographical location of the French Riviera stretches from the Mediterranean coast to hinterland communities and Mercantour region that includes alpine towns.   The Alpes Maritimes region has easy access to established ski resorts, and you’ll find no shortage of pistes to ski or snowboard including Isola 2000, Auron, Valberg, La Colmiane and Val d’Allos La Foux.  Gréolières is the closest to the coast and while it doesn’t have the amenities of the other resorts it’s perfectly fun for a day out with the family.

Even if you don’t ski there are many exciting things to do at the mountain resorts such as toboganning, DJ concerts on the pistes or simply visit one of the restaurants for a lovely meal overlooking the mountains.

Of course, if winter isn’t your thing then the mountain resorts can also be visited in warmer months when the wildflowers are in bloom, walking trails are beautiful and other attractions and activities are open such as the zip line at La Colmiane, the luge at Valberg, Vesubia Mountain Park with climbing wall, swimming pool and canyoning, Parc Alpha Wolf Park and the natural pool at Roquebillière.

2. Too many winter options for families

If you prefer to have a relaxing winter with your family, the French Riviera isn’t for you.  How could you possibly decide what to do when there are ski resorts, Christmas markets, ice skating, food festivals and traditional celebrations such as the santon fairs or local events including the Lucéram nativity / crèche displays?

Not to mention, the weather is usually mild throughout winter so you can still play outdoors at any of the numerous French Riviera playgrounds.

Lucéram has a nativity crèche display each Christmas with around 450 displays throughout the town

3. Uncrowded walking trails

It rarely rains for days on end throughout winter on the French Riviera so people simply dress up warmer for their regular promenades through town.

However, it seems the change in weather causes a mass exodus from popular walking routes and hiking trails.   If you prefer busier walking paths (excluding the Promenade des Anglais in Nice and Croisette in Cannes which generally have foot traffic all year), go on holiday elsewhere as you’ll likely have little or no company on many walking trails here during colder months.

4. Seasonal winter food

I do sometimes hear from visitors that the restaurants here are tourist traps churning out average food in high season.  So, if you’re a ‘meat-and-three-vegies’ kind of traveller then don’t come back in winter!

The cooler months kick start some absolutely lip-smackingly good food fairs, the popular truffle season, oyster sales, chestnut festivals, grape harvesting and more.  Also, one of my favourite festive season pastimes is a glass of vin chaud and a slice of pain d’épices at the Marché de Noëls 🙂

Marrons chauds (hot chestnuts) are found at many winter festivals

5. No long queues at tourist attractions

Many of the Côte d’Azur’s tourist attractions close over winter or have reduced hours, but there are still plenty of attractions that are open and you won’t have to brave long queues of tourists to enjoy them.

Drop by one of the French Riviera’s popular museums, visit the gorgeously ornate Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild or take a French Riviera art trail soaking up the sites and landscapes painted by famous artists.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a year-round attraction worth visiting

6. Quiet hilltop villages

I love the buzz of big cities, but it can be overwhelming to be constantly bombarded with urban noise from traffic, construction and city life!

If you prefer a more sedate experience, you can’t miss visiting some of the towns on the French Riviera during autumn and winter when time moves at a much slower pace.

Go to Eze, St Paul de Vence, Tourrette-Levens, Gourdon or Sainte-Agnès and stroll around appreciating the history, village houses and medieval architecture.

I also find taking photographs is great during colder months because you don’t have other people crowding the background of your panorama, you can get some fantastic photos of daily life without residents feeling they are on show (that perhaps they may feel in high season) and people are generally going about their day at a more relaxed pace.

Sainte-Agnès is exceptionally tranquil during cooler months

7.  Classy festive decorations

Some people love over-the-top Christmas decorations, but you’ll find the Côte d’Azur eases back on the tacky factor and decorations are mostly classy.

Casino Square always has an amazing festive display every year

While Christmas on the coast may be short on snow, you’ll find no shortage of festive imagination.  Expect to see garlands of festive lights, giant Christmas trees and lots of Christmas markets – without the repetitive song of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ 20 hours a day, every shop window crammed with yuletide merchandise from early November and every house decorated excessively with neon lights blinking to synchronised music.

Also, most shops tend to stick to civilised opening hours – you won’t see mass frenzies of late-night shopping at most stores right up to Christmas Eve putting pressure on consumers to grab a late Christmas bargain.

Luxury hotels have elegant displays for Noël, Casino Square in Monaco looks suitably grand during the festive season and who won’t think a torchlight descent down the mountain with fireworks over the snow isn’t a fantastic way to see in the New Year?

Some people prefer grey skies, heavy snow and freezing temperatures in winter, however while the French Riviera may not be an obvious choice for a winter getaway it is a perfectly viable destination to visit with tolerable weather, lots of activities and less crowds.

Photo Credits:  Tyrolienne La Colmiane (Neo Extreme), Lucéram image (Departement06), Marrons chauds (Provence7), Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (Paris Frivole), Ste Agnès (Notre Provence Group),

 

 

 

 

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