Your Monaco

Your Monaco is a useful site for visitors to Monaco, especially regarding transport and public amenities.

The site has interactive maps to help you find:

  • Access points to the Monaco train station
  • Public elevators
  • Bus stops & bus ticket machines
  • Electric bike stations & the Mobee electric vehicle stations
  • Public carparks, including PMR parking
  • On street parking
  • Bike parking
  • Taxis

There’s also information about public beaches, walking trails, where to walk your dog, children’s playgrounds, cultural attractions such as art galleries, traffic updates, the location of defibrillators in Monaco and information about recycling and energy.

The site is available in English, French and Italian.

Bookmark the Your Monaco website for your next visit to Monaco: https://yourmonaco.mc

Fire Risk Map for the Var forests

Each day in summer until the end of September, the Département of the Var publishes daily updates before 7pm for the next day regarding fire risks in the region.

This information is particularly useful if you are planning to hike, go mountain biking or picnic in the forests or coastal zones as the Var and Côte d’Azur regions are sometimes placed on alerts for fire danger if there are extended dry periods. As we have seen in past years, high temperatures and Mistral winds can push the fires across large areas of forest.

Sadly there are also fires that start from fireworks, open fires or careless people throwing their cigarette butts into nature so be vigilant!

The Fire Risk Alert Map

The Fire Risk Alert Map indicates four levels of risk from green to red. The map is clickable and gives the rules of access and fire risk updates for the 9 Var massif areas. The western Alpes Maritimes is also included.

Where you can find the current Fire Risk Alert Map:

  • There is also an app for these updates which also gives you the possibility to launch a fire alert with precise coordinates; the app is available for iOs and Android – search for “Prévention incendie“.

The National Park of Port Cros has its own alerts which you can see here: http://www.portcros-parcnational.fr/en

For more information about access to the massif forests of the Var, go here: http://www.var.gouv.fr/acces-aux-massifs-forestiers-du-var-a2898.html

What to do if you see a forest fire

If you witness a forest fire, you can call 18 or 112. Or if you have the Prévention Incendie app you can signal a forest fire with GPS coordinates inside the app or there are DFCI grids which are used by civil security.

Best family-friendly walks with kids on the Côte d’Azur

One of the nicest things about living on the French Riviera is the amount of walking trails you can discover with your family. There’s plenty of trails that are perfect for all ages throughout the year.

The French Riviera has an incredible amount of history, so you can combine exercise with learning about places, people and the natural environment.

The main challenge I have as a parent is finding in-depth and accurate information in English. Typical information that I find comes in handy for planning:

  • What type of facilities are on or near the trail – are there picnic tables, toilets, water sources, observation points, bird watching huts, cafes or snack kiosks, rental suppliers for sports gear (e.g. at beaches, in the mountains).

 

 

  • Seasonal considerations – which months are the best for each trail. Some tracks are closed in summer due to fire risk, or are difficult to access in winter due to icy/snowy conditions.  Is there shade or is the entire trail in full sun?   Are there strong winds?

 

  • Safety aspects – are there potential dangers on the path such as wild animals or difficult terrain? We have definitely done hiking paths where I’d consider it too treacherous to take young children due to lack of fencing, steep drops or slippery rocks.  In general, the department pathways here are well maintained; coastal paths are closed in bad weather or if there’s rockfalls.  Other things to consider are fire risks in the forest zones in summer, and hunting season where you need to be aware of dates and hunt locations.

 

  • Age appropriateness and accessibility for families – when you have kids of different ages it’s useful to know if a walking trail is more suited to young kids/teens/all ages. A typical question I am asked often is ‘Can you take a baby stroller?’

  • Clear directions about car parking and start/finish point for the routes
  • Hike duration and level of ability needed for each walk – this region has everything from flat town promenades to difficult rock-strewn hinterland tracks. When you have kids you need to know these details.

  • General information and fun facts – I always like to know what art, wildlife or nature highlights you can expect to see in the area, as the kids get more excited if they know they have an opportunity to see a cool sculpture, specific animals or flowers. Also, fun facts about history come in handy such as details about château, fossils, knights, ancient trade routes, shipwrecks, ruins, military fortresses or prehistoric discoveries.

30 of the best child-friendly walking trails on the French Riviera

Generally, we prefer nature trails that have good views, easy walking with a maximum duration of 2 hours and a mix of scenery and points of interest. The last thing you want is to arrive somewhere and have your kids start to complain they’re bored or tired and want to head back to the car with the picnic goodies and day bags.

Since our boys were babies / toddlers, we have completed at least 100 regional walks that include a mix of urban strolls, coastal trails, mountain hikes or nature walks in forests, beside rivers or through gorges. So, we have tried and tested a lot of different options!

I will be writing a Five-Part Series that will showcase 30 of the best family-friendly walks on the French Riviera. In the series I’ll include useful tips and information about walks that are suitable for all types of outings whether you’re looking for a gentle town circuit suited to taking a baby stroller, or a scenic trek covering varying altitude and terrain.

My first post will be published next week so stay tuned!

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages Of France

In 1982 an independent association was created to list France’s most beautiful villages and promote picturesque French villages of quality heritage.

Today, the list for ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ includes 159 locations with strict criteria to be designated one of the chosen few from over 30,000 communes:

  • there must be some rural character with no more than 2,000 inhabitants
  • they must have two national heritage sites
  • there must be an on-site evaluation and
  • the application must have mass support from the town council.
Gordes is one of the Luberon’s most popular hilltop villages (Photo: Pixabay)

One of the major principles of the association is the protection of historical and cultural heritage. Labelled villages must show a real strategy to preserve and promote their heritage.

Naturally, this means there’s no great rush for the towns to implement modern conveniences that international tourists usually demand such as internet cafés or multiplex cinemas and shopping malls. Instead, you’ll find local markets, historic monuments and traditional festivals.

Roussillon is best known for its ochre quarries and red cliffs, but the town itself is colourful too! (Photo: French Moments)

Many of the villages are located off the beaten track so they are a great base for exploring rural France.

I had the pleasure of contributing my opinion about Gassin, a town in the Var department, in a blog post about the most beautiful villages in France curated by Phoebe Thomas. Phoebe runs a gite on the Côte d’Azur called Lou Messugo and she is a great source of travel advice for visitors to this region!

Gassin was a Moorish stronghold and occupies an elevated position overlooking vineyards and the gulf of Saint-Tropez (Photo: E Bertrand)

While this year has been a rollercoaster for travel planning, take a look at the roundup of suggestions from travel bloggers on which villages are worth visiting in the future. You can read Phoebe’s post here: https://loumessugo.com/plus-beaux-villages-france/?unapproved=18576&moderation-hash=29e2bfc96773fd323eccda168f5e801d#comment-18576

Train information update for the Côte d’Azur

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic, SNCF may have to adapt its train schedules from Monday, March 16, 2020.

Information on the next day’s trains is available every day at 5 p.m on all of their information channels:

  • Via the website TER SUD Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • On the ‘SNCF Assistant’ app
  • For your TER journeys in the region, phone TER on 0800 11 40 23 (Free call: Monday to Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m; service in French language)
  • For your other trips including outside the region: 0805 90 36 35 (Free call from a landline; service in French language)
  • On the Twitter account @TERSUD_SNCF (Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday and public holidays from 12 noon to 8 p.m.)

Ticket Changes / Postponements / Refunds

If you want to exchange your tickets or postpone your trip due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, SNCF is allowing passengers to take advantage of free exchange and reimbursement costs for all TGV INOUI, Intercités, OUIGO and TER trains in correspondence running until April 30.

Your request for a free exchange or refund can be made:

  • Up until the departure of your INOUI and Intercités TGV train
  • Until 1h30 before the departure of your OUIGO

Passengers can carry out these procedures on all the usual sales channels (including the website oui.sncf and SNCF approved online agencies).

Reinforced cleaning and sanitation measures for all trains 

If you would like to find out the measures that are taken for cleaning of the trains, please refer here (in French): https://www.sncf.com/fr/offres-voyageurs/voyager-en-train/coronavirus-nos-mesures-exceptionnelles

I’m expecting more transportation updates in the near future so will update any information as much as I can.

Top 4 : The Best February Festivals On The French Riviera

There are plenty of reasons a festival might make your bucket list, however when you have children you often need to compromise with schedules, facilities and transport.

One of the best ways for kids to experience arts, music and culture is to join in on the festival atmosphere at local events.

From big-hitting carnivals to small traditional celebrations, the French Riviera has plenty of festivals for all ages and attention spans!   Here’s my pick of the Top 4 family-friendly festivals happening during February on the French Riviera.

  1. Nice Carnival  :  15 February – 29 February 2020

One of the world’s biggest carnivals, the 2020 theme for this annual event is ‘King of Fashion (Roi de la Mode)’.  Fabulous flower battles, afternoon and night time parades with floats, lights, costumed actors and animations ensure a family-friendly event with plenty of entertainment.

The Bataille des Fleurs takes place at the same location as the main parades; at Place Massena and around Jardin Albert 1er gardens.

The parades are spectacular, with floats taking hundreds of hours of work to create.  Parades last around 1.5 hours.

My top tips: 

To get access to your seats, be sure to use the correct entrance number which is shown on your ticket or else you will be diverted elsewhere.

Before you go to Nice, check the road restrictions on the official website because there are many roads closed 3 hours prior to the parades as well as restrictions on parking zones.  You can find the information under ‘Practical Information – Access, Transport and Parking’ on the Nice Carnival website.  Some parking zones including Port Lympia and Nice Etoile have a special parking offer where you pay just €5 for 5 hours parking.

Don’t forget if you dress in fancy dress, you get FREE standing entry in Zones A and B for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.   Persons with disabilities also get FREE entry for standing Zone B for the Flower Parades, Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.

Children aged 0-10 get FREE entry in Zone B (Standing around Jardin Albert 1er) for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights which is excellent for families to be able to enjoy the festivities!

For the official carnival programme, go here:  Nice Carnival 2020 

Watch a video below of one of last year’s Corso carnivalesque illuminé below (courtesy of Nice Côte d’Azur Tourism) showing what to expect during this 2-week party:

2. Fête du Citron : 15 February – 03 March 2020

The 87th edition of Menton’s wonderful Fête du Citron kicks off the same day as the opening of Nice Carnival, running from 15th February to 3rd March 2020.

It’s a unique festival attracting around 200,000 visitors annually who visit to see around 140 tons of citrus fruit in sculptures and parade floats.

We particularly love seeing the large-scale citrus sculptures in the Jardins Biovès which are 5-10 metres in height and engineered from wire framing and thousands of oranges and lemons.  It’s a good outing for families as the exhibition zone isn’t too big, nor do you have to wait too long for the action to start.  The gardens are open during the day, and there is evening admission when the sculptures are illuminated with sound.

Adjacent to the gardens is the Palais de l’Europe which has an artisan market selling things such as limoncello or Provençal linen decorated with lemons, alongside an orchid display.

The parades include street performers, dancers, confetti and bands with the night time parades having lanterns or fireworks as well.

This year the theme is ‘Les Fêtes du Monde’.

My top tips:

Taking the train is a good option because the Jardins Biovès and the parade circuit is about 5 minutes walk from the main train station.  Menton has 2 train stations so you need to get off at Gare de Menton and NOT Menton Garavan station.

If you drive, beware that streets in and near the festival are closed to traffic and if you are going to the Sunday Golden Fruits parades to arrive before midday.  There are 3 carparks available to use on Sundays (Golden Fruits parade days) – they are located near the Italian border (Rondelli Stadium), at the Intermarché car park near the Vallée du Carei motorway exit and the Val d’Anaud Stadium.  These carparks are free and shuttle buses run to/from the festival zones. Check the shuttle information here:  Fête du Citron shuttle buses

Wheelchair users can access the garden display, as well there is a designated viewing area for the parades at Place Saint Roch which is the eastern end of the parade route.  If you have restricted mobility and want to access the beach, go opposite the Belle Époque Hotel Royal Westminster – the entire seafront of Promenade du Soleil is wheelchair accessible.

Visit the official Lemon Festival website here:  Fête du Citron 2020

If you have never visited the Fête du Citron before, you may be wondering what happens to the incredible amount of fruit that is used!  A lot of it is thrown away due to rot or composted after the festival, however once the main sculptures are disassembled the remaining fruit is sold publicly.  You can buy bags of oranges and lemons for less than €1 – there is no limit.

You can see some of my photos from previous festivals below:

Things to see and do in Menton

Menton is a lovely destination to visit year round with a backdrop of mountains, an Italianate Old Town and a promenade stretching to Cap Martin.

Other things to do when you’re in Menton include discovering the Musée Jean Cocteau, visiting the churches Basilique Saint Michel and Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, exploring the gardens such as Serre de la Madonne or Jardin Fontana Rosa and taking in the panoramic view from the Cimetière du Vieux Château, high above Menton.

If you want to do a day trip while you’re visiting Menton, you can head over the border to the Italian towns of Ventimiglia or Sanremo that have great food markets, or read more on Christie from Scribbles and Smiles blog and add Sainte-Agnès to your itinerary.

Sainte-Agnès is off the beaten track but worth visiting (photo: menton.fr)

3. Fête du Mimosa : 19 February – 26 February 2020

The mimosa is already flowering and is a welcome end to winter days.  The annual Fête du Mimosa is held in the streets of Mandelieu-La Napoule where the golden bloom is celebrated with flower battles, music and activities.

For more information about the Mimosa Festival programme and tickets, visit the Office de Tourism website here:  Fête du Mimosa 2020

Fête du Mimosa in Mandelieu-La-Napoule (pic: Mondoramas)

As well as the main festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule, other towns host mimosa festivities and parades including Pegomas, St Maxime and Tanneron.

Route du Mimosa walking trails

You can also do a variety of walking trails if you want to see mimosa forests – the best family-friendly trails we’ve found are between Mandelieu-Tanneron-Auribeau-Pégomas.

If you start at Mandelieu, take Boulevard Paul Tarascon, then Boulevard des Termes, heading towards Tanneron on the Route de Tanneron (D92).  After driving about 10 minutes from Mandelieu, you reach the Circuit du Grand Duc and there is an easy walking trail with great views of the hills covered in mimosa.  This trail is super popular at weekends and there is limited carparking, so go early!  Here is the map:  Circuit du Grand Duc.

For other mimosa trail options, refer to ‘La Route du Mimosa’ for more information.

4. Festival International des Jeux : 21 February – 23 February 2020

A fun festival for families with all types of activities, games and toys to try out.  You can find everything from classic and contemporary board games, Cosplay, video games, escape games, simulators, toys, sci-fi and fantasy games, wooden games, models, trading cards and more.

Entrance is free, however they also have a payable VIP option where you get fast access entry and a free game.

My top tips: 

There are a few restrictions for this festival for items that you can and can’t take into the venue.  For example, you can’t take your own food into the Palais, unless it’s vacuum sealed sandwiches/crisps etc and a plastic water bottle up to 50cl.  There are food outlets inside the Palais; prices are OK for an event venue.

You also can’t take baby prams or large backpacks inside; last year there was a luggage check facility to leave these items and it cost €2. I couldn’t find any more information on their website if the luggage facility is chargeable this year?

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

Note:  Last year, getting into the Palais was a bit of a mission as the entrance queues were long and there was only one person on the first security bag check (!!).  I hope they rectify this for this year, because there were lots of families with small children who waited a long time.  Regardless, the festival is worth checking out over the 3 days that it takes place.

Have you been to any of these festivals?  Which one is your favourite?  Like or comment on this post. 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! We’re closed over Christmas and New Year

I will be in the UK for Christmas and New Year, therefore Access Riviera will be quiet until early January.

One thing I’ve learned through blogging is that it is OK to step away from time to time and reenergise your mind and body.  In the beginning, I was learning new things and trying to express my thoughts here – now, I can do things in my own time and not feel obligated to post every week because I have a family and other projects on the go.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned this year running Access Riviera:

  1. That the message matters more than the medium.  This year, there’s been a pull towards jumping onto the latest tools and trendy social media such as TikTok, but I’ve learned to gravitate to what works best – for Access Riviera’s audience that is maintaining a presence via my subscriber list, on Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Good images and good storytelling still rule.
  3. Blog analytics are so valuable for defining what posts are doing well (and also what content is a complete flop) so I can create more of those winning posts.
  4. That there is no trickery in running a top blog.  This year, I’ve had a big part of my time taken by client projects, so regular posts onto my blog have been neglected and this has definitely reflected in the drop of visitors to my blog.  Blogging isn’t ‘easy’ because it demands consistency and fresh content.
  5. That whatever I blog about can still be relevant months and years later.

Thank you for all your support this year – Merry Christmas and best wishes!

Ultimately, Access Riviera is part of my life.  It grew from a hobby to a business, and I’ll continue to enjoy the experience of it.

I have some incredible client and personal projects launching in 2020, so I hope this little community I’ve built through my blog writing sticks around!

What were my most popular blog posts in 2019?

My 5 most popular blog posts by views this year are below – interestingly, two were published this year, two were from 2017 and one I wrote way back in 2014 proving that old content can still do well! :

35 Family-friendly Things To See And Do For Christmas 2019 On The Côte d’Azur

Nôtre-Dame de Paris:  Point Zero, Gargoyles and Wine

Secret French Riviera:  Hidden Spots Worth Visiting 

7 Reasons Not To Visit The Côte d’Azur In Winter

And my most popular blog post?  A guide about car parts and mechanical terms in French !  I’m not sure why people love this as a reference source, but it’s very popular in searches and 5 years after going live this is still my highly-visited post each year by thousands of views.  Take a look here:  Car Parts & Mechanical Terms in French 

Thank you to all my followers who have liked, commented or shared my posts throughout the year – I see every comment and your support is greatly appreciated!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

See you in 2020!

35 Family-friendly Ideas : Christmas Holidays 2019 on the French Riviera

The French Riviera is the ideal destination to soak up the holiday season with everything happening including Christmas markets dressed in their finest decorations and lights, food festivals and winter activities.

There’s plenty for families to see and do, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune – here are 35 of my best suggestions to get into the festive spirit on the French Riviera:

Admire the illuminated light shows

As well as the Christmas markets with beautiful light garlands and displays, there are a few worthy mentions for places to go to see spectacular lights at night during these Christmas school holidays.

Saint-Laurent du Var projected video show

On Wednesday 18 December, a free sound and light show will be projected at 6.30pm on the facade of the Hôtel de Ville in Saint-Laurent du Var.   At 6.45pm, the Enchanted Forest displays will be opened along with mulled wine and hot chocolate offered by the municipality.

(photo: Recreanice)

Nice, baie des lumières

Nice, baie des lumières is being hosted at Parc Phoenix in Nice until 23 February 2020.  It comprises of around 550 illuminated Chinese lanterns, including a Great Wall, pandas and dragons.  The festival also includes kung fu demonstrations, tea ceremonies and traditional dance performances.

See Chinese lanterns at the ‘Nice, baie des lumières’ display at Parc Phoenix until February 2020 (photos: baiedeslumieres on Instagram)

Note:  Nice, baie des lumières displays are only on from Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesdays).  It is open every day during Christmas school holidays, including Christmas Day and New Years Day.

In my opinion, I think €17 for adults and €12 for children (5-17 yrs) is quite pricey for a static festival, especially when I’ve experienced free Chinese lantern festivals overseas, however it’s worth visiting as it’s not something that happens regularly in this region and kids can get a glimpse into another culture.  My top tips are to buy a Family Pass, or visit on Wednesday or Thursday when admission is at a reduced price.

More information about Nice, baie des lumières is here: https://www.baiedeslumieres.com/index_en.html . There is also a similar Chinese lantern festival being hosted in Marseille until 19 January 2020, details are at this link for Les Lumières Légendaires de Chine.

Take advantage of the great outdoors

The Côte d’Azur is blessed with mild weather year-round, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get outdoors.  Even if the temperature is a bit cooler, you will still experience mostly blue skies and be able to soak up the beauty of nature.

Mountain life

Head to the mountains where you’ll find over 30 ski resorts just a few hours drive from the coast, catering for everyone from novices to expert.  Most ski resorts have rental shops where you can hire skis, helmets, snowboards, boots or toboggans/sleds.

If you don’t have a toboggan/sled, you can hire one for around €10.

There are also group or private ski lessons available, as well as the addition of kids clubs so you can have qualified carers mind your little ones while you get in a few runs and a post-ski vin chaud.

Ventes flash:  Don’t miss the opportunity for discounted adult ski passes for Auron and Isola 2000 – look for the flash sales online on Tuesday nights at 8pm where you can buy an adult ski pass for 50% off.  Stock is limited and basically runs until the last one sells.  Be ready to buy one!  Go here for the flash pass links:  Auron and Isola 2000 Flash Sales

100% Neige ski buses:  Ski buses run to and from Nice to selected mountain resorts during winter season.

I’ve previously used them and they are great if you want to avoid driving winding roads or for a half-day trip to the mountain without worrying about parking, petrol costs etc.  The downside is that the ski buses times don’t really sync if you have group ski lessons booked (morning and afternoon sessions), but you can always reserve a private lesson at a time that suits you best.

The 100% Neige ski buses serve :

  • La Colmiane, with a navette to Boréon : Bus #90; was previously known as bus number 730; daily service until the close of the ski season.
  • Auron, with a navette to Roubion :  Bus #91; was previously number 740; daily service until 19 April 2020.
  • Isola 2000 : Bus #92; was previously number 750; daily service until the close of the season.
  • Valberg :  Bus 770; daily service until 9 March 2020.

The cost for the ski buses is €6 oneway per person with pre-booking, €12 return.  (Note: There are also regular bus lines that service the mountain towns).

The best stop to get on the ski buses in Nice is right outside the Nice Ville train station, opposite the post office; the name of the bus stop is ‘Poste Thiers – SNCF’.  You must book online and you are sent an e-ticket to print and give the bus driver.

For ski buses to La Colmiane, Auron, Isola 2000, book online at www.lignesazur.com

For ski buses to Valberg, book online at zou.maregionsud.fr

The 100% Neige ski bus timetables are here: Valberg ski bus and Bus 100% Neige – Auron, Isola 2000, La Colmiane

Other attractions in the mountains include Parc Alpha Loup, Vesubia Mountain Park and Via Ferrata at Lantosque.

If you’re visiting the ski resorts during Christmas 2019 school holidays, there’s loads of activities and events happening such as torchlight mountain descents (24th and 27th December and 3 January in Valberg), Santa arriving by various modes of transport including skis, husky dog sled or zipline, fireworks displays, free concerts and cinema screenings such as Frozen 2 which will be screened in Auron, Valberg and Valdeblore.

(photo: Auron)

Family-friendly walking trails

Winter is a fantastic time to experience many of the region’s walking trails, without the crowds from summer.  Three family-friendly walks are:

Cap d’Antibes loop walk : nice coastal scenery, toddler age will need supervision as there are some steep sections and uneven surfaces, the pathway has some stairs so it’s not suitable for prams/baby strollers.  The full walk from Plage Garoupe past Villa Eilenroc is around 1.25-1.5 hours; the mini loop walk from the side track opposite Château de la Croe takes about 25 minutes and is ideal for families with small children.

The Cap d’Antibes coastal walk, also know as the Sentier Littoral, is a scenic coastal pathway for families to discover.

Villeneuve Loubet seafront : flat seafront walkway from Marina Baie des Anges towards Cagnes sur Mer with cafeterias along the way, plenty of carparking at Marina Baie des Anges and accessible toilets.

There is plenty of carparking at Marina Baie des Anges if you want to walk along the seafront at Villeneuve Loubet towards Cagnes sur Mer.

Parc du Paradou between Golfe Juan and Cannes : Has limited carparking but lots of great views across the sea, wear comfortable footwear as the path can be rocky in places, take a picnic as there’s no food outlets nearby, lots of trees and chances to see birds and other wildlife. Great location for dog walking too! For directions, click here:  Parc du Paradou map

Parc du Paradou is never crowded and offers a local nature walk with views of trees and the sea.

Cycle trails

Cycling is a wonderful activity where all the family can participate.  The variety of cycling routes on the Côte d’Azur is excellent, ranging from flat coastal pathways to hilly climbs for more experienced cyclists. Interest in cycling is steady year-round with events such as Nice Ironman and Tour de France 2020 helping boost the profile of cycling.

Expert cyclists can take on hill climbs such as Col de Vence and Col de la Madone, but in general family-friendly cycle options are most accessible near to the coast.

Families can avoid traffic by using the region’s coastal cycle paths – the routes are usually paved, smooth and pot-hole free!  They are also near to restaurants, snack kiosks or picnic areas so you don’t have to cycle too far if you have small children.

Here’s three fun places to go cycling en famille:

Cagnes sur Mer : The seafront has a marked cycleway, also the Jardin de la Villette playground at 7 Maréchal Juin in the centre of Cagnes sur Mer has a mini roadway marked out so younger cyclists can practise their riding or play on their scooters in a fenced, safe environment.

The playground at Jardin de la Villette in Cagnes sur Mer has a separate mini road zone so kids can ride in safety.

Nice : A cycle journey on the French Riviera can’t be done without discovering Nice by bike!  Did you know that Nice has over 125km of cycleway paths and dedicated parking for anyone on 2 wheels?   Hire a Vélo Bleu bike, or take your own.

Casual cyclists can pedal along the Promenade des Anglais enjoying the view across the turquoise sea, while serious cyclists may opt to stop in at Café du Cycliste at Nice Port which retails cycle gear, rents bikes and serves pedal-worthy coffee.

Café du Cycliste in Nice

Sanremo:  OK, not exactly the French Riviera I know, however the Pista Ciclabile / Ponente Ligure cycle path is worth mentioning if you fancy a day trip just over the border in Italy.  The cycleway follows an old railway line and covers 24 kilometres from San Lorenzo al Mare to Sanremo (Ospedaletti).  You can stop and start wherever you like!

Along the way, the route is a mix of quality paved coastal path and tunnels with plenty of locations to rent bikes, stop at beaches, sit on benches to admire the view and grab a drink at pretty Italian villages.  Highly recommended.  For the route map and more information, you can click on this link to Pista Ciclabile.

(images: viagginbici and Pista Ciclabile)

Get creative

School holidays are a great time to get creative with Christmas-themed craft workshops, fun events and kids cooking classes.

Kids cooking classes

Until Saturday 21 December, Jacobs Création in Nice is running kids patissier classes.  Classes from 18 December onwards include making reindeer popcakes, emoji cookies, bûche de Noel and a special themed workshop on 21 December based on Disney’s Frozen with cooking and craft sessions. Reserve a place via Jacobs Création.

Jacobs Création in Nice is hosting kids cooking classes over Christmas school holidays (photo: Jacobs Création)

Christmas craft workshop

On Sunday 22 December, the Médiathèque in Vence is hosting a Christmas craft workshop from 10am to 4pm with origami, card making and other activities.  Reserve a place by telephone:  04 93 58 02 12

The Médiathèque in Vence is holding a Christmas craft workshop

BrickLive Monaco / BrickLive Christmas

Last year, we had a fantastic day at the BrickLive Monaco event at the Grimaldi Forum where the kids got to play in different Lego®-style zones making their own creations out of mini bricks for Star Wars, Friends, animals, cities and more.

Last year’s BrickLive Monaco was awesome – I wonder what this year’s event will be like?

The good news is that BrickLive Monaco is returning!   Head along to the Grimaldi Forum from 21 December 2019 to 5 January 2020 for more interactive, hands-on construction.   Don’t miss the special displays featuring ocean creatures and a life-size Lego® version of Felipe Massa’s Formula E car. 

Watch the promo video here:  https://tv.grimaldiforum.com/video-413-bricklive-2019-2020#embed270

My tip is to ask for the special combination ticket deal at Grimaldi Forum where you can get entry to BrickLive Monaco AND the Monaco Oceanarium for great prices.

More info about BrickLive Monaco is here: https://www.grimaldiforum.com/fr/agenda-manifestations-monaco/bricklive-monaco#.XfZxpG5FzIV

Bricklive Monaco will have a life-size replica of Felipe Massa’s Formula E car made entirely of Lego. (image: Grimaldi Forum)

Visit the French Riviera Christmas markets

I love taking the kids to the Christmas markets on the Côte d’Azur.  Each one is different and has anything on offer from theme park rides, music, face painting and magic shows, artisan stalls, kids craft workshops, Santa visits and food outlets selling things such as pretzels, gingerbread, hot chocolate, vin chaud or cookies.

French Riviera Christmas markets have food chalets, entertainment and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Where do you take your kids for ice skating?  Head to the Christmas markets at Antibes, Auron, Cannes, Golfe Juan (at Theatre de la Mer), Grasse, Monaco, Mougins, Nice and Saint-Martin-Vesubie which all have pop-up ice skating rinks for school holidays.

Looking for something a bit different? Here’s 6 more ideas:

  • Watch the free show ‘Moscow Circus on Ice’ at Monaco Christmas Market on Saturday 21 December from 5.30pm-8.30pm.
  • See Santa water skiing in Juan les Pins at 10.30am on Sunday 22 December.
  • Visit the Enchanted Forest at Parc Layet during Saint-Laurent du Var’s Christmas market.
  • Get up close to farm animals at the mini farm experiences during school holidays at Pinède Gould in Juan les Pins, Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and Théoule sur Mer.
  • Take a free zipline ride on Christmas Eve from 2.30pm-5pm – the zipline goes from the second floor at the Mairie in Saint-Martin-Vesubie!
  • Check out the traditional santon and crèche displays at Roquebrune Village or Lucéram over the festive period.

Experience a seasonal food festival

Whether you join in on local festivities such as the Fête de la Buche de Noel tradition that’s hosted by the Commune de Safranier in Antibes each December, or head to a truffle market, you’re sure to find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Top family-friendly picks over the holiday season are breakfast with Santa at the Hard Rock Café Nice on Saturday 21 December, the truffle market at Saint-Paul de Vence on Sunday 22 December complete with live music and truffling dogs, or head a little bit further to Aix-en-Provence for the ‘Market of 13 Desserts‘ from 17 to 24 December to sample goodies that are traditionally enjoyed at Christmas time.

Treize desserts de Noël (photo © REY Jerome / Maxppp)

Highly recommended is a visit to the southern France truffle markets that are open until March – Aups is held on Thursday morning, Carpentras is Friday morning and Richerenches is Saturday morning.  Visit https://www.richerenches.fr/ for more information.

Thanks for reading my post.  Please share it on social media and have a safe and enjoyable festive season!  

More information : Grève / Strikes today! Thursday 5th December

Life in France means you need to be prepared for regular grève (strike) action.  Most often, this affects transport, commerce and schools.

There is a strike happening today, Thursday 5th December.

SNCF has announced that only one in 10 trains on the TGV route will operate, 55% of strikers are expected among primary school teachers and air traffic will also be affected.

See below for current information about schedule changes and service disruptions on the French Riviera. This is current as at 7am today; it’s not an exhaustive list but all I can find:

Buses

Envibus : No urban buses will circulate today.

Lignes d’Azur (Nice region):  

  • Lines under normal service:
  • * 22, 44, 59, 65, 67, 68, 69, 73, 77, 78, 85, 86, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 706, Express Lines 1 and 2, CADAM North , School K, T School Gilette, School of Cap d’Ail, School Lines 510a, 510b, 510c, 510d, Lines C4, C6, C7, C8, C10 and High Country.

 

  • Lines with no service today:  
  • Tram lines L1, L2, and L3 : the lines will not work from the beginning to the end of the service.
  • The bus lines 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 87, express line 3, CADAM (East and Semi Direct) will not flow from the beginning to the end of the service.
  • School lines : A, C, E, F, L, M, P, R, S, V, W, School School of the Castle, 51C, 51D, 75D, School Saint Laurent du Var SLV1 to SVL5, School Cagnes-sur -G, H, I, O, Q, T / Y will not flow from the beginning to the end of the service .
  • Line Charts C1, C2, C3, C5 and C9 will not flow from the beginning to the end of the service .
  • The public transport service for people with reduced mobility, Mobil’Azur, will not work from the beginning to the end of the service.

In addition, the Lignes d’Azur commercial agencies will be closed. The presence of the Infobus planned in the schedule will not take place.

All PARCAZUR (P + R) will also be closed.

Flights

The DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) has requested airlines to reduce their flight program to and from Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux airports for 5 December 2019.   This will also affect Nice Côte d’Azur Airport because of the national disruption.

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport

I always get enquiries on strike days, because Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is terrible at giving information about the status of what’s happening at the airport.  Their Twitter account is usually always late for announcements – currently they have not put anything up on Twitter about a strike today – and the ‘News’ feed on their website is always behind (latest news is dated 29 November…..)

After years of telling them the importance of up-to-date information, one of France’s busiest airports finally has a home page notification on their website for passengers with basic strike information. Hooray!   Note: if you search for ‘grève’ on their website, you will not find anything!

Today, 20% of arriving and departing flights for Nice will be cancelled.  The best I can suggest is to contact your airline directly, then look at the live flight information on a flight tracker or the airport’s website:   https://en.nice.aeroport.fr/Passengers/FLIGHT-INFO/Live-flight-information

Air France:

Air France’s flight schedule is up to date. On 5 December they expect to operate:
– all long-haul flights
– 85% of their medium-haul flights
– Almost 70% of their domestic flights

Last-minute delays and cancelations cannot be excluded.

Disruptions are also possible for 6 and 7 December, and their flight schedules will be adjusted the day before, following DGAC recommendations.

To get updates on your Air France flight, go to http://www.airfrance.com – Informations – Infos vols & aéroports – Tous les Horaires – Actualisation des vols en temps reel.

Easyjet:

Easyjet has cancelled 200+ domestic and medium-haul flights today.   To get updates on your flight, go to www.easyjet.com/fr/flight-tracker.

(photo: LP/Guy Gios)

Ryanair:

There have been a number of a cancellations today and Ryanair have advised that they have sent text messages or emails to all affected passengers.

Volotea:

There are a number of cancellations and reschedules from 5 to 7 December, but it seems only a few flights to and from Nice are affected.  Here is the list of cancelled/rescheduled Volotea flights:   https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=fr&sp=nmt4&u=https://www.volotea.com/en/information/5th-7th-december-affected-flights-by-the-french-national-strike/&xid=17259,15700021,15700186,15700190,15700256,15700259,15700262,15700265,15700271,15700283&usg=ALkJrhj1z9ZkEx-BwVWhRph3LATqb8jHXQ

Vueling:

Vueling has cancelled a number of flights today, but it affects Paris airports only.  See the list here:   https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=fr&sp=nmt4&u=http://vuelingnews.com/%3Flang%3Dfr&xid=17259,15700021,15700186,15700190,15700256,15700259,15700262,15700265,15700271,15700283&usg=ALkJrhjDht89UYykWQPqKScx6GomqmjsXQ

Schools

Many schools on the French Riviera will be closed entirely, or have cantine and accueil reception unavailable.

Here is the updated list by town, thanks to Nice Matin: https://www.nicematin.com/greve-mouvements-sociaux/ecoles-cantines-creches-le-point-ville-par-ville-sur-les-perturbations-pendant-la-greve-dans-les-alpes-maritimes-437054?fbclid=IwAR3wWNI9_acmfEHZq4PMhOLeAGNj5lHuzJtVkDLFYYy5AXVPSq4UncE_DGI

Trains

Here is the updated train schedule for trains between Les Arcs and Ventimiglia. This includes the trains stopping in Cannes, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins, Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer, Nice, Monaco, Menton.

Today’s TER SNCF timetable (PDF format):   https://cdn.ter.sncf.com/medias/PDF/sud_provence_alpes_cote_d_azur/Affiche%20grève%20MR08%20LES%20ARCS%20-%20CANNES%20-%20NICE%20-%20VINTIMILLE%20du%2005%2012%202019_tcm65-182164_tcm65-234839.pdf

Did you know?

Interestingly, it seems France ranks highest in the number of days of strike action per year, according to this graph from Statista.  For all the lost days of productivity, the economic effects are great.

France is the world champion of strike action (graph: Statista)

 

5 Awesome St Tropez Activities For Kids – Azur Park St Tropez & More

Discover five of the best things to do with children when in St Tropez, including the famous Azur Park St Tropez. Fun for all the family lies ahead!

If you are booking a St Tropez family holiday, one of your first questions will always be what there is to entertain your kids. Luckily, this chic French Riviera spot is well-equipped for even the fussiest of children – from Azur Park, St Tropez to the Tortoise Reserve at Plaine des Maures Natural Park, you’ll never have a dull moment. At the same time, Saint-Tropez is filled with exquisite restaurants and cultural spots for the grown-ups, meaning there really is something for everyone.

Looking for inspiration for the best things to do with children when in St Tropez? Read on!

Azur Park, St Tropez

Offering 35 cool rides, including rollercoasters suitable for every age, Azur Park St Tropez is perfect for thrill-seeking little ones. This giant theme park also has a dinosaur-themed mini-golf course and an inviting, child-friendly restaurant. It’s very affordable, with each ride coming in at between €3-5 or Azur Park St Tropez pass cards that allow you entry on to every ride for less, meaning you have more to spend on the rest of St Tropez’s family holiday attractions.

La Cabane Bambou

La Cabane Bambou is the name of both the beach and beach club on Route de Bonne Terrasse. Offering a relaxed and safe beach which is ideal for swimming and playing, as well as a luxurious beach club where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner with your toes in the sand, this is the kind of place you’ll want to stay at all day. Staff are very good with children and make a special effort to entertain them, allowing you to sit back and soak up atmosphere, cocktail in hand.

La Cabane Bambou is a family-friendly option at Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez

Tortoise Reserve at Plaine des Maures Natural Park

Home to the Hermann’s tortoise and created as part of a plan to preserve their natural habitat, the glorious Plaine des Maures Natural Park is often compared to an African Savannah. It is an incredible sight to see, right in the heart of the South of France, and a great place to bring nature-loving youngsters. Admire all the different kinds of flora and fauna as you hike, cycle or horse ride around this extraordinary landscape. There are even hikes perfect for little legs including Les Vallons des Escarcets, a trail of just 6.2 km.

The Plaine des Maures Natural Park is a great place to explore with kids

Aqualand

St Tropez family holidays aren’t complete without a trip to Aqualand, the biggest waterpark on the Cote d’Azur. With slides ranging from the calm and enjoyable to the edge-of-seat, such as the famous King Cobra, and other attractions including a show area, cloakroom, fast food, grill and pizzeria, gelateria, bar and gift shop, this is a real fun-for-all-the-family spot. Prices start from 10 euros for a small child to 27 euros for an adult one-day pass, and the park is open between June and September each year. Aqualand is the perfect place to go on those hot summer days when you just need to cool off.

Aqualand, located in Fréjus, is a worthwhile day trip for families visiting St Tropez

Sailing School at the Yacht Club de Saint-Tropez

Get your children to take the first steps towards becoming a sailor with this five-day introductory course. From 9.30-11am every day from Monday to Friday, your kids will learn how to manoeuvre through our planet’s oceans, fostering a love for life at sea that will stay with them all their lives. At €160 it is not the cheapest option for keeping children entertained, but it’s certainly worth it to see the smile on their faces.

St Tropez is the perfect location to teach children to sail

St Tropez family holidays have so much to offer, from the high-octane fun of Azur Park St Tropez to the natural wonder of Plaine des Maures Natural Park. Why not rent a property in St Tropez and try it out for yourself?

Author: Colette Flowerdew-Kincaid

Disclosure Sponsored post; contains external link.

Journées Européennes du Patrimoine : 21 and 22 September

This weekend throughout France, you can visit many monuments, museums and places of interest for free or at reduced cost as part of the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).

For families, it’s a great way to introduce your children to history, art and culture with lots of activities on offer and guided tours, seminars or workshops.

As well as well-known tourist attractions such as the Matisse Museum in Nice, many of the locations are only open on these special European Heritage Days so you can visit historic villas or places that don’t often have public access.

The French Ministry of Culture hosts a website especially for the Journées de Patrimoine so you can search for what’s on.

Some of the participating locations on the Côte d’Azur include:

Musée Picasso in Antibes

Musée Renoir at Cagnes-sur-Mer

Moulin Forville – Musée Victor Tuby in Cannes

Musée de la Castre in Le Suquet in Cannes

Abbey de Lérins on Isle Saint-Honorat

Abbey de Lérins is participating in the European Heritage Days 2019 (image: Ministry of Culture)

Musée Bonnard in Le Cannet

Les Jardins du Musée International de la Parfumerie in Mouans-Sartoux 

Musée Matisse in Nice
Château de Vaugrenier at Villeneuve Loubet
For the full programme throughout France, go to the official Ministère de la Culture website where you can geo-localise your area to find what’s happening:  Journées Éuropéennes du Patrimoine

 

French Riviera Beaches

French Riviera has a mixture of public or private beaches, sandy beaches, rocky coves and pebble beaches so there really is something for everyone.

As well as a huge variety of beaches to suit all ages and preferences, there’s a few helpful tips I can share that may help you on your next visit.

The Côte d’Azur is known for sunny days and a rather glam image of sun loungers, crisp glasses of beachside rosé and long lunches.  This is partially true as not everyone can spend 2 weeks hiring beach loungers and drinking Champagne in St Tropez!

Pampelonne’s beach clubs are changing from 2019 onwards (pic: Shutterstock)

Municipal beaches

For visitors to the French Riviera, one of the best tips I can share is to look for ‘plages en régie communale’ (or municipale).  These are beaches managed by the town that offer equipment for rent at reduced prices than what the private beaches offer; the downside is you won’t have access to that wonderful beach service where a server brings you food and ice cold buckets of drinks  🙂

In Cannes, Plage Zamenhoff on the Croisette is a municipal beach.  It’s located next to the Square du Mai 1945 park at the Port Canto end of Cannes.

You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and of course there are lifeguards (from 01 Jul-31 Aug) a first aid post, lockers, shower and toilet facilities.  BYO Sandwiches and non-alcoholic drinks are accepted.

© Radio France – Laurent Vareille

Hours:  Saturday 15 June to Sunday 15 September, open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 6.30pm.

Price:  A full day chair rental is €8.

Also in Cannes, Plage Macé is a public beach and situated right near the Palais des Festivals.  There are public toilets nearby as well as plenty of snack kiosks and food options.

Plage Richelieu in Juan les Pins is one of the municipal beaches in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area.  This sandy beach is accessed via the Pinède Gould (where the Jazz à Juan Festival is held), on the end of Juan les Pins closest to the Provençal and Hotel Belles Rives.  

The water is relatively shallow so fine for families with kids (the bonus is the local playground is just across the road) and nearby are hire options for water sports. 

Plage Richelieu has 118 loungers for hire, plus there are 6 loungers reserved for people with disabilities and their accompanying carer.

Tip:  Look for the yellow and green sign, and the blue and white beach umbrellas.

On the Cap d’Antibes, La Garoupe is the other municipal beach in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area.  A lovely setting for a day at the beach, this small beach area is a great place and the coastal walkway is fantastic.

There are a few great beach restaurants here including the popular spots Plage Keller and Plage Joseph, plus Le Rocher snack kiosk is right by the loungers.  There are 78 loungers for rent, plus 3 for people with disabilities and their carer.

Plage La Garoupe has loungers for rent for €11 per day.

Hours for both beaches:  Saturday 01 June to Sunday 15 September, open 7 days a week from 10am to 7pm

Price:  €10 for walk-ups / €11 pre-booked online.  There is a limit of 2 loungers per online booking.

For these two beaches, you can just arrive on the day and try your luck with the sun loungers though be warned that it is very busy in summer and they only allocate a limited number of loungers for walk-up customers, plus the locals are there early!

It’s best to pay in advance and reserve your loungers for these 2 public beaches on the Antibes Juan les Pins tourism website. Note:  You can’t reserve the loungers online for people with mobility problems.  For all other loungers, I’ve included the link to book because it’s not particularly clear to tourists how to do it.  Go to https://ticketing.antibesjuanlespins.com/ and click on ‘Plages en Regie’ and follow the instructions.

Beach updates

Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan:  You may notice there is a fresh crop of new beach restaurants which came about from a law regulation for zoning of public beaches.  I’m yet to try them all out, so feel free to comment if you have any you recommend!   Sadly, some of the older establishments have been demolished such as Moorea and Tetou.

Monaco:  Visitors to Monaco usually stop by Plage Larvotto at some stage.  However, from October 2019 until June 2021, Larvotto beach will be closed for a multi-million euro redevelopment which will include new shaded areas, a bike pathway to the new Anse du Portier district and a children’s playground.  Larvotto beach will temporarily open in summer next year (July and August 2020) with restaurants and shops set to reopen in 2021.

Saint-Tropez : The infamous beach scene at Pampelonne has also been reworked this summer. There are now 23 beach clubs (previously 27) with 5 new ones opening.  All 23 clubs have to be collapsible set-ups; so think those flat-pack, IKEA-style designs to meet the coastal laws.

The concessions extend to 2030 therefore the new clubs have a commitment to stay.  Gone will be some historic spots – Key West, Bagatelle, Plage les Jumeaux (sad for families!), Eden Plage, Pago Pago, Manoah, Shellona, Maison Bianca and Tabou.

Three of the new beach clubs are run by upmarket hotels La Reserve, Byblos and Hotel de Paris, one is run by Christopher Artis and the other is Loulou Beach (a collaboration between the owners of Hotel Ermitage and Loulou restaurant in Paris).  This map below from St Tropez House shows the line-up:


Looking for more information about French Riviera beaches?  Take a look at some of these resources below:

 

 

 

Anjuna Beach at Eze

 

  • Crab in the Air travel blog includes their pick of 7 top French Riviera beaches which has a mix of busy spots such as Larvotto in Monaco and off-the-tourist track locations such as the Esterel beach.

 

  • For information about accessible beaches on the French Riviera and throughout France, refer to the Handiplage site.   Plage Salis and Plage le Ponteil in Antibes have onsite staff in summer months to assist people with motor, visual, intellectual or auditory problems.  There are accessible toilets, showers and adapted equipment for water access.  Plage le Ponteil also offers a transmitting bracelet for beach goers with hearing difficulties.

 

  • Plages.tv is one of my favourite resources to find out more about beaches in France including the Alpes-Maritimes region – the site has useful advice such as photos, maps, parking, recreation, facilities.   Visit their website here:  Plages.tv

What do you think of these beach suggestions?  What is your favourite beach on the French Riviera and why? 

 

Jazz à Juan 2019 : What To Expect

Jazz à Juan is one of the loveliest music festivals here on the Côte d’Azur because the location itself is fantastic with a setting overlooking the sea, and it has an excellent yearly programme that includes both classic and contemporary musicians and bands.   It really is a special venue for watching local and international music as the sun sets!

pinede gould juan les pins

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

The 59th edition of Jazz à Juan will be hosted from Friday 12 July to Sunday 21 July 2019 at the seaside venue at Pinède Gould in Juan les Pins.

The 2019 programme features some diverse acts including George Benson, Ekram, Electro Deluxe, Delgrès, Magma, Snarky Puppy, Jamiroquai, Pink Martini, Thomas Dutronc and Les Esprits Manouches.

Jazz à Juan 2019 Programme  

The festival kicks off with ‘Jazz en Fête’ on Friday 12 July with free concerts in the streets of Antibes from 7pm-8pm and in Juan les Pins from 9.30pm-10.30pm.  Bands will roam various locations including Place Nationale, rue James Close, Marché Provençal/Cours Massena, Promenade du Soleil and the square in front of the Palais in Juan les Pins.

Saturday 13 July sees The Steve Gadd Band and George Benson take to the stage from 8.30pm onwards.

Sunday 14 July, also Fête Nationale/Bastille Day, starts at 8.30pm with performances from Omri Mor, Ekram and the funky tunes from Electro Deluxe.

Monday 15 July will feature the créole / blues sound from Delgrès followed by the well-known sounds from Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals – a mix of rock, blues and folk with incredible guitaring from Ben Harper.

Formed in 1969, MAGMA is a band who will bring their rock energy to the Pinède Gould on Tuesday 16 July in tribute to the album ‘ZESS’ for their 50th anniversary.  Their performance at Jazz à Juan is part of their international tour which will also see them perform in Finland, Japan, Sweden and England.  The same evening, concert goers can enjoy the dynamic vibe from King Crimson who infuse jazz with progressive rock and elements of grunge and gamelan.

Louis Cole and Snarky Puppy are 2 funky acts who will take to the stage on Wednesday 17 July from 8.30pm.  LA-based Cole is best known for his electro/funk tunes, such as ‘Bank Account’ which has had over 2 million hits and the crazy credit music for the Lego Ninjago Movie.  Snarky Puppy are a triple Grammy Award-winning band – expect to see a colossal amount of around 19 musicians! – who will amplify the atmosphere and cool factor at Jazz à Juan with a mix of trumpets, drums, saxophones, violins and percussion.

Snarky Puppy will bring the cool factor to Jazz à Juan

Thursday 18 July  Kittin will get the beat going from 8.30pm, followed by a performance from Jamiroquai, one of the headliners and better known acts for the Juan les Pin Jazz Festival.  With over 35 million albums sold, expect a high-energy funky fusion of jazz and electronic music.

The remaining three nights of the festival will host a variety of bands and musicians including Eli Degribi Quarter, Diana Krall and Pink Martini featuring Storm Large.

FOR THE FULL PROGRAMME, GO HERE:  Juan Les Pins Jazz Festival 2019 Programme

Jazz à la Petite Pinede | Jazz at the Kiosque | Royal Jazz Lounge

During the Festival, free mini concerts will be held:

  • From 7.30pm-8.30pm at Petite Pinède in Juan les Pins (Petite Pinède is located beside the main park in Juan les Pins, opposite Sweet Caffé and the Garden Beach Hotel).
  • From 7pm at Place Nationale kiosque (band rotunda) in Antibes (from 14-19 July only).
  • From Monday to Saturday between 7pm-11pm at Hotel Royal on boulevard Maréchal Leclerc in Antibes

The schedule and band list for these sessions are:

Jazz à la Petite Pinède

Jazz at the kiosque

Royal Jazz Lounge

Jazz à Juan free concert at Petite Pinède / Macha Gharibian

Jazz à Juan Facilities

The main venue for Jazz à Jazz is Pinède Gould, the famous pine tree grove in Juan les Pins overlooking the bay of Juan les Pins.

For concert goers, you’ll find an intimate open-air concert site that is wheelchair accessible and located on flat ground, excluding the Tribunes/Gallery Seats with stair access.

I have found that in previous years (including last year’s Jazz à Juan) there are always been plenty of ushers, first aid staff and security staff.

Every year, I pay attention to staff working there so I have first-hand knowledge that the site support for the Festival is overall excellent – this includes assistance for concert goers with special needs and/or first aid help.  Festival facilities include:

  • Plenty of bilingual (French & English language) helpful ushers, first aid staff and security staff
  • Accessible toilets are situated at the rear of the Tribunes and Gallery seating closest to Boulevard Baudoin (beside the Pinède playground)
  • A special car parking offer at the underground parking at nearby Palais des Congrès. This is valid from 12 to 21 July from 6pm to 2am; simply show your concert ticket at the parking office on level -2 and receive a special parking rate €10,50.  There is also other pay parking situated at Port Gallice, Hotel Ambassadeurs and Garden Beach Hotel, all open 24 hours.
  • Designated concert viewing area for wheelchair users located in front of Category 2 seats
  • Press zone with Wifi, seating and tables.  Note:  The Press Zone is not located in close proximity to the stage but you have a partial view of the stage from there.   The Festival press team are always readily available daily during the Festival.
  • A souvenir boutique selling merchandise such as postcards, caps, t-shirts, mugs, beach bags and Panama hats
  • Food and drink outlets each side of the stage selling water, soft drinks, snacks, draught beer and Champagne.
  • Jazz on the Beach is a VIP experience at neighbouring Plage Ambassadeur.  Must have a minumum of 10 per table and includes a personalized welcome from 7pm, dinner at the beach (from 7pm to 10.30pm) and private box seats enabling you to see the concert of your choice as a privileged guest.

stands jazz a juan

Map of seating and layout at Jazz à Juan / Juan les Pins Jazz Festival 2019 (map: Jazz à Juan)

Jazz à Juan 2019 Tickets

As per the map above, if you want to sit directly in front of the stage and enjoy the main acts less than 20 metres away, the optimal tickets to buy are Carré d’Or.  The next best seat category are Category 1. 

The Juan les Pins Jazz Festival offer a variety of tickets with different price brackets including standing tickets (zone debout), Category 4, Category 3, Category 2, Category 1 and Carré d’Or.

Ticket Notes: The ‘Standing Only’ (Zone Debout) tickets are not sold until Category 4 tickets are sold out.  The Festival has some hugely popular acts this year – Electro Deluxe, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Diana Krall, Jamiroquai to name a few – so get your tickets far in advance to avoid disappointment!

To buy your tickets for the 2019 Festival, go to the official website www.jazzajuan.com or visit the Juan les Pins Tourist Office located in the Palais des Congrès, 60 chemin des Sables, 06160 Juan les Pins.  There is also a ticket office at the venue which sells tickets one hour prior to the concerts with limited availability each night.

 

Notre-Dame de Paris : Point Zero, Gargoyles and Wine

What a sad day yesterday to watch the news last night and see the beautiful Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral on fire.

We sat in shock watching one of France’s iconic monuments in flames and felt sadness for the loss of history and an impressive example of Gothic architecture.

I’ve watched news footage of the spire and roof collapsing many times in the past 24 hours and it’s still incredible to think a legacy of French history has been partially damaged overnight.

Rather than share a video of the fire, I thought I’d share a few lesser known facts about the historic landmark best known as Notre-Dame de Paris:

Point Zero

If you visit Notre-Dame, on the Parvis (square) at the entrance you can see a compass star set into the paving stones.

It’s not particularly famous (considering the millions of tourists who visit the Île de la Cité to see Notre-Dame each year!) and it’s not very noticeable.  However, this small marker stone is very important to Paris and France.

Engraved in the circular stone are the words:  POINT – ZERO – DES ROUTES – DE FRANCE

Point Zero Paris outside Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral

What does this mean?  This stands for ‘Point Zero’ or Kilometre Zero, which is a particular location (often found in the capital city) from which distances are traditionally measured.

The most famous Point Zero/Kilometre Zero relic worldwide is Millarium Aureum (Golden Milestone) which was erected by Emperor Augustus in the central Forum in Rome.  All distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to this monument and it is where the phrase ‘all roads lead to Rome’ is believed to have originated.

The metal octagonal plate seen at Notre-Dame today was laid in 1924. It marks the official centre of Paris and  signifies the exact spot from which all distances throughout France are measured from Paris, including GPS French systems.  Notre-Dame’s function as a central hub plays an important historical role in French transport, politics and Parisian administration.

So, indeed, Notre-Dame de Paris is regarded as the true heart of Paris and this respect for one of France’s greatest landmarks is evident.

Notre-Dame de Paris’ Gargoyles

The stone gargoyles located on the exterior of the cathedral have been the subject of many tourist photos!

These fantastic beasts at Notre-Dame de Paris are very famous, appearing in postcards, films and tourism promotions.

Gargoyle at sunset at Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris (photo: Dominique Lacaze)

Although the cathedral construction began in the 12th-century, these gargoyles weren’t added until the 19th-century and were sculpted to look as though they had originated in the Middle Ages.

Gargoyles were thought to ward off bad spirits and remind church-goers of the evil that the church could protect them from.

Interestingly, you won’t see all gargoyles with a closed mouth – they are placed on the rooftops and sides of churches to prevent water erosion and their open mouths function as rain spouts.

Interesting Fact:   Completely unrelated to Notre-Dame, the Chapelle de Bethléem (Bethlehem Chapel) which is located in Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau in France was renovated between 1993 and 1995.  At this time, the stone mason decided to add gargoyles from pop culture so you’ll find a few crazy additions to the stone work including Gizmo and a gremlin from the Gremlins movie and an alien from Aliens.

Gizmo from the Gremlins, interesting stone sculpture at a French church (photo: Vebests, Flickr)

A Temple of Reason – and wine!

After Catholicism was banned in 1792 during the French Revolution, Notre-Dame de Paris was turned into a Temple of Reason in 1793.

A Temple of Reason was a place to spread the ideas of a new atheistic belief system, the Cult of Reason.

Notably, there are a few ‘cult-like’ symbols found on pillars along the side aisles where the chapels are located.  Don’t get too excited that you’ve spotted some secret Da Vinci Code – the artisans who helped build the cathedral engraved their own symbols into the stone work putting the cathedral coffers to the test by ensuring they were rightfully paid for each item they laid.  Think of it as an ancient invoicing system before online banking was invented!

Interesting Fact:  By the 18th-century, limestone and gypsum mining was the main industrial activity in Paris.  Most of Paris’ monuments and churches are made from local stone and experts can trace the stone used in structures to a specific quarry.  For example, the statues at Notre-Dame all came from the limestone under Hospital Cochin in the 5th arrondissement.  The quarry pits of Paris are now subterranean, with miles of underground tunnels and sewer galleries which can be visited on various tours.

Sorry it’s not the Da Vinci Code – just an ancient payment system at the Notre-Dame! (photo: Corey Frye)

Anyhow during the Revolution, the cathedral spire was destroyed, as well, the 28 statues of the horizontal freize of the Kings of Judah above the Notre-Dame portal were decapitated by French revolutionaries who believed they represented the kings of France.  The cathedral then ended up as a warehouse for wine!

The Kings Gallery at Notre-Dame (image: Geni)

In the late 1970’s, 21 of these statue heads were found buried in a wall at a mansion courtyard in Paris and are now displayed at Musée Cluny (National Museum of the Middle Ages).

Notre-Dame’s historic link with wine continues – tomorrow, 17 April, Sotheby’s in London will auction limited-edition cases of Château Mouton Rothschild wine with proceeds going toward the rebuilding of Notre-Dame de Paris and the restoration of the Royal Apartments and Trianon Gardens at the Palace of Versailles.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new about the Notre-Dame de Paris!  Please share it if you found it interesting. Thank you.

Disclaimer:  This article contains an external link whereby Access Riviera receives a small fee for the link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access Riviera named in list of Top 100 French Blogs in 2019

It’s always nice to be recognised for the time and effort I put into my blog and it’s a nice way to welcome January with the news that my blog is included in Feedspot’s list of ‘Top 100 French Blogs, Websites and Newsletters in 2019’.

top french travel blog

Access Riviera makes Feedspot’s list of ‘Top 100 French Blogs to follow in 2019’

How did I end up on this Top 100 list?

Feedspot uses search and social metrics to scan thousands of top French blogs to compile their list (which is updated weekly) and the list includes travel, lifestyle, culture, fashion, history, language and food blogs.

The blogs are ranked based on the following criteria:

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Little old Access Riviera is placed at number 79, see the full list of Top 100 French Blogs 2019 here 🙂

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More in store for 2019

I’ve learned a lot since I started my blog – what works and what doesn’t regarding good content and reaching out to an audience.

This year, I’m hoping to create more long-form blog posts !

Here are 6 of my most popular blog posts to date:

Promenade Le Corbusier

Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints

Ventimiglia : Day trip from France

Why visit Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villa Nellcote : A palatial mansion with a lengthy past

Heritage trail in Juan les Pins

Thank you for your support and following Access Riviera!