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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

350K visitors! THANK YOU!

This Christmas, I’m planning on having a relaxed family Christmas in France, however my blog has recently passed 350,000 visitors so that is cause for celebration!

Firstly, the biggest support comes from my family, without them I wouldn’t be able to dedicate so much time to keeping my blog running and updated with fresh content. They have been understanding beyond words with my snippets of history while out and about, trawling off information about festivals (while we are there!) and random moments of inspiration.

For my readers and followers, THANK YOU to everyone who has subscribed, liked, followed, commented or shared my blog posts because I see every interaction and you are very much appreciated!

travel french riviera

Access Riviera is a blog about the French Riviera covering travel, lifestyle, events and more

What started as a part-time blog (I hear all the bloggers laugh!) has resonated with readers in 149 countries and snowballed into a juggernaut.

I’ve learned more about the history, places and people on the French Riviera than I ever thought possible – and I’m still learning.   There are so many topics to cover that I’ve merely scratched the surface.

I’ve answered every email I’ve received via my blog; lovely messages from people from all over the world that I’ve helped you with travel ideas, planning for yachting events, transport, accommodation, recommendations for restaurants and more.  The most special ones are the emails saying I’ve helped them with advice for their dream trip to the French Riviera.

Naturally, advice for families and/or people who have restricted mobility are at the core of what I write about and I always maintain to write honestly and factually.

I hope you continue to follow my blog in 2019 and beyond, you never know what I’ll write about next…..

THANK YOU!

 

5 cool ideas for Christmas holidays on the French Riviera

With the start of Christmas school holidays, we’re counting down to Christmas with a whole range of family-friendly activities or places to visit during school holidays.

If you’re thinking two weeks is a looooong time to keep your kids entertained, then take a look below for my 5 suggestions for Christmas holidays on the French Riviera which will see you past gift unwrapping, the 13 desserts and wondering where to find those photo booths to get portraits with Santa in your Christmas jumpers. 🙂

Crazy Fact:  Today, I learned for the first time about Père Fouettard.  Ever heard of him?  Well, he is known as ‘Slapping Santa / Santa Spanker / Father Whipper’ in various forms in France and apparently accompanied Saint Nicholas who distributed gifts to children who are good and Père Fouettard bought a whip with him to spank naughty kids.  I thought it was part hilarious and part disturbing!  There is also a version in Holland, Germany and Austria.   I can’t believe I’ve lived here so long and never heard of this crazy tradition, though I think if I get desperate I’ll be introducing Père Fouettard to my boys 🙂

Here’s 5 ideas for things to see and do during Vacances de Noël 2018:

1. Get creative at BRICKLIVE Monaco

After a show at the Saatchi Gallery in London last year, BRICKLIVE is coming to Monaco.  From 22 December until 6 January at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, families can enjoy a fun atmosphere and get creative with an interactive event.

Though not officially part of LEGO®Group, the show will have a ton of colourful bricks for kids of all ages to play with.

bricklive monaco

BRICKLIVE is coming to Monaco, head there during Christmas school holidays 2018 (image: Pinterest)

There will be huge brick pits filled with 250,000 bricks, race ramps where you can build your own car and challenge friends, themed build zones such as a LEGO®Friends area with a Monaco build map, Christmas decorations, Minecraft zone, dance zone and a 10-metre graffiti wall to plant your vertical creations onto.  Special features are five life-sized wildlife statues in the ‘Animal Paradise’ zone including an elephant made of 271,000 bricks, and a dedicated zone for Star Wars.

Bricklive Monaco opening hours:  Open every day from 10am to 6pm until 6 January (except Christmas Day and New Years Day).

Cost:  Adults €20 / Kids under 12 are €16 each / Under 3 years are free.

Buy tickets hereTickets for Bricklive Monaco

Watch the video below to see what to expect (video courtesy of Bricklive Monaco):

2. Visit the French Riviera Christmas Markets

Visiting the Marchés de Noël is one of the nicest things to do during Christmas school holidays.  You’ll find stands selling handicrafts and food, theme park rides such as ferris wheels and mini rollercoasters as well as pop-up ice skating rinks.

Don’t miss visiting the Antibes, Cannes, Nice, Monaco or Valbonne markets as they all offer a different atmosphere and attractions.

I was too busy to write up my usual Christmas market blog post this year, but I’m sharing some links where you can find lists for the various Christmas Markets below:

Antibes Christmas market is spread over 3 zones in old town Antibes including Pre des Pecheurs, Place Nationale and Place de Gaulle (photo: Access Riviera)

3. See the nativity crèches in Lucéram

Lucéram isn’t one of the best known villages on the French Riviera, but it’s worth visiting during Christmas because the entire town is decorated in a nativity scene wonderland.

For two decades, locals participate in the annual ‘Circuit des Crèches de Lucéram’ by creating individual crèches during festive season with nativity displays dotted around the upper and lower village.  You don’t have to look far to find one – there are around 500 in place with a map provided by the Lucéram tourist office and they are free to visit.

The crèches and santons are literally placed everywhere including doorways, window sills, shop counters and the village lavoirs (communal wash houses).

If you want to see nativity cribs on the French Riviera, then Lucéram is THE place to go – it’s the ultimate showcase for nativity scenes and don’t think you’ll be bored from a repetition of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus or the Three Wise Men because Lucéram’s offering has all sort of characters from French life including bakers, iron mongers, priests, farmers and animals!

creches luceram

Circuit des Creches in Lucéram (image: Simone Laurent)

This season’s ‘Circuit des Crèches’ runs until 6 January, with special animations on certain days.

If you’ve never visited Lucéram before there are a number of things to see and do outside of Christmas season such as painted chapels including Notre-Dame de Boncoeur, Le Musée de la Crèche as well as walking and mountain biking trails at nearby Peïra Cava. The best option to get to Luceram is by car as the bus schedules are infrequent; driving time is approximately 40 minutes from Nice or Monaco via l’Escarène.

Watch the video below (by Drone de Regard / Lucéram RP):

4. Chill out in the mountains

The French Riviera is known as a place of sea, sand and sunshine but there is plenty happening in the mountains during Christmas school holidays.

Saint-Martin-Vésubie has an ice skating rink, concerts, Christmas films, storytelling sessions for children – even Père Noel arriving by zip line on Christmas Eve! You can find the 2018 programme of activities here:  St-Martin-Vésubie Noel animations

Ever seen Santa arrive by zip line? Well, it happens on the French Riviera! (image: Tourism Office St Martin Vésubie)

Valberg has a range of activities happening over Christmas holidays including fireworks on Christmas Day, a free treasure hunt for kids on 26 December, the famous torchlight descent by the ski school on the 28th December and a New Years Eve party with DJ, snow bar and laser show.  Find out more here about Valberg’s Christmas programme.

valberg christmas

Families can join in on a free treasure hunt for candy at Valberg during Christmas school holidays (image: Valberg tourism)

Auron has a Christmas market as well as free storytelling sessions including Pinocchio from 26 to 28 December.  See the dates and times here:  Auron Christmas 2018

noel auron

Auron is hosting Festival du Contes de Noël during Christmas 2018 (image: Auron tourism)

The Vesúbia Mountain Park hosts Ciné’Eau which are fun cinema screenings where viewers float on swim rings in their pool heated to 32 degrees.  You can also choose to sit on a chair poolside if you prefer not to get your feet wet!

Fancy a winter cinema screening while floating in a heated pool? It’s possible on the Côte d’Azur!

The films will be screened on Friday 28 December from 4.30pm.  Films on offer are :

4.30pm  Coco (a Disney film that’s appropriate for kids)

7pm      Jumanji  (suitable for older kids)

9.30pm The Shallows (rated PG13 but it is a shark/thriller movie so expect a modern-day Jaws with some gory scenes and bad language)

Reservation is necessary as there are limited places each session.  Kids under 6 years have to share a swim ring with a parent, and of course as per public pools in France you need the obligatory dinky swim cap and appropriate swimsuit.  I’d estimate a guess that all 3 films will be in French language.  Find out more information here about the Ciné’Eau sessions.

Any time of the year, Vesúbia Mountain Park is a very cool attraction to entertain children with climbing walls and nets (minimum age is 5 years), an indoor canyoning zone (minimum age is 10 years and height 1.3metres) and more!  Check out their website here:  Vésubia Mountain Park

5. Soar sky high over Monaco

Did you know every year you can take a helicopter mini tour over Monaco for a special price at Christmas?  That’s right, the friendly team at Heli Air Monaco offer ‘Baptèmes de l’air Père Noel’ each festive season.

It’s a super cool way to treat your children/nieces/nephews and while it is a splurge for some it’s actually a very good deal for such an amazing experience flying over the iconic buildings and coastline of Monaco!

monaco helicopter tour

Helicopter flights at Christmas with Heli Air Monaco (image: Get Your Guide)

This year, you can take a 5-minute scenic helicopter flight with Heli Air Monaco from 1 December to 6 January for just €35 per person.

Note:  All passengers must take their passports AND for each passenger under 18 years of age you must fill in a parental permission form.

To take advantage of this offer you book and pay in advance online – simply choose your preferred date and time slot when you book via the link.  Click here for the official Heli Air Monaco Santa Flight booking link; at the question ‘How did you know about first flight Santa Claus?’ please tick the last box and type ‘Access Riviera blog’.  Disclaimer:  I don’t get any commission for you mentioning my blog, but it’s good for Heli Air Monaco to know that you found out where to book here on Access Riviera!

For a teaser of what to expect, you can watch the video below of my heli tour during Monaco Yacht Show 2018:

https://piknu.com/m/1890514818755251203_3859215050

Thanks for reading my Christmas blog post!  I’m happy to say I’ll be finishing 2018 by reaching over 350,000 views recently so I appreciate every visitor.  Please share this post on social media or comment if you found it helpful.

Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!

 

Prince’s Day, Pampering and Shopping discounts : Local’s guide to upcoming events

Autumn and winter are traditionally viewed as ‘quiet’ seasons for tourism, however the Côte d’Azur has a number of activities and events which a visiting tourist may not be particularly aware of.

The big festivals such as Nice Carnival, Fête du Citron and Fête du Mimosa get a lot of coverage, however there are a few events and activities happening in the near future worth considering.

Fête Nationale Monégasque :  19 November 2018

Many people are familiar with Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) in France held on July 14 each year, however did you know that Monaco also celebrates their own national day?

fete nationale monégasque

Fête National Monégasque 2018 (image: Monaco Mairie)

Fête Nationale Monégasque is held on November 19 each year and is an important date in Monaco, known as ‘Prince’s Day’ by locals with celebrations including a Te Deum at Cathedrale Notre-Dame, concerts, fireworks and games.

Many tourists aren’t aware but the day is significant for awarding national honours, whereby individuals are recognised with medals for their services to the State and/or Prince.  The 2 awards of the highest distinction are the Order of St Charles (which is the equivalent of the Legion d’honneur in France) and the Order of Grimaldi.

The Cravate Commandeur Ordre de Grimaldi is a high-ranking medal awarded on Monaco’s national day (image:  Traditions Monaco)

The programme for Fête Nationale Monégasque 2018 is:

Sunday 18 November   8.15pm  Free public fireworks display at Port Hercules

Monday 19 November   Military parade at the Palace Square from 11.30am, mass at the Cathedrale and balcony appearance at the Palace from the Royal Family.

You can follow the day’s progression live from 9.25am on Monday 19 November via Monaco Info (local Monaco television), or on Radio Monaco live from the Palace from 10am-1pm.

Top Tips:  Due to the Monaco National Holiday, all Monaco buses with CAM and the Bateau Bus will be free for the day.  There will be a bus leaving at 9.15am from Saint Roman and the Jardin Exotique for Monaco-Ville, returning at 12.45pm.   No other vehicles will have access to Monaco-Ville, except delivery vehicles for the Palace and authorised vehicles with badges.

Happy Spa Week : 19 to 25 November 2018 

Happy Spa Week is a promotion running from 19 to 25 November that offers special deals at 8 locations with spas, health or wellness facilities.

The aim is to encourage winter visitors to take advantage of mild weather on the Côte d’Azur and experience some of the region’s best wellness offers.  Each establishment will offer 2 deals – a B&B offer for 2 people with spa/beauty packages, and a day offer.  Alongside the spa packages, Côte d’Azur Golfs will have discounted green fees at regional golf courses.

Participating locations include Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo (Monaco), Cap Estel (Eze), Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat – A Four Season Hotel (St Jean Cap Ferrat) and the Majestic Barriere in Cannes.

See all the offers here:  Happy Spa Week Packages

happy spa week

Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo participates in the Happy Spa Week promotion (image: Marque Côte d’Azur)

Sales and the City – Shopping sales in Cannes :  11-13 January 2019

Cannes will have a dedicated shopping weekend in January whereby there will be fashion shows and shopping discounts galore.

Over 350 stores will participate with 100 stores earmarked to stay open for Sunday trading, with carparking at Interparking, Pantiero and Effia proposing a rate of just €5 from 8am to 8pm.

On Friday and Saturday afternoons, there will be catwalk displays with current fashion trends between 71 rue d’Antibes and rue des Serbes.  Crazy Horse Paris, known for their cabaret shows, will also present 2 shows at the Palais des Festivals at 8pm on 11 and 12 January.

Top Tips:  The Sales and the City weekend runs in parallel with the annual winter sales from 9 January to 5 February, so if you intend on shopping this will be the weekend to do it!  Ask Cannes retailers for your ‘Sales and the City’ loyalty card whereby once you spend €100 you are entitled to free gifts from participating restaurants in Cannes such as kids toys etc

sales in cannes

Sales in the City will be held in Cannes in January 2019

Thanks for reading!

Toussaint school holidays: 8 things to do with kids on the French Riviera

October school holidays run from today until Sunday 4 November on the Côte d’Azur and it’s a time to sample some of the autumn activities in the region.

There are lots of school holiday options for kids that aren’t attending the centre de loisirs/centre aérés or booked on stages for holidays – I’ve written this post to highlight some of the free or low-cost activities for families with kids of all ages on the French Riviera.   Have a safe and enjoyable Toussaint vacances!

Saturday 20 October and Sunday 21 October

JUAN LES PINS:  The 4th edition of Village des Sciences et de l’Innovation is being held all weekend at the Palais des Congrès in Juan les Pins.  The event has more than 60 stands with games, educational activities and demonstrations.  If your children are interested in robots, tech, planets and science this is the place to go!  Entry is free of charge all weekend.  Opening hours are 1pm-7pm on Saturday, and 10am-6pm on Sunday.  See the programme here:  Village des Sciences et de l’Innovation 2018 Juan les Pins

fete de science juan les pins

Village des Sciences and de l’Innovation 2018 (image: AntibesJuanlesPins tourist office)

MOUANS-SARTOUX:  The RE-PLAY festival is being held at Gymnase René Friard in Mouans Sartoux and is a great option if your kids are into video gaming, cosplay or computers with retro games on display, competitions and workshops.  Entry is free for children under 10 years of age (limit of 2 kids per family), all others entry is €5.  The festival is open from 10am to 7pm all weekend.

replay festival mouans sartoux

RE-PLAY Festival 2018 in Mouans-Sartoux (image: L’agenda Geek)

Wednesday 24 October

CAGNES-SUR-MER:  Perfect for small children around 3-4 years of age, ‘Le grenier magique de Lili’ is a theatre show of 50 minutes duration with songs and magic.  It will be held at the Centre Culturel, 28 avenue de Verdun in Cagnes-sur-Mer at 3pm. Tickets cost €5 each and can be pre-purchased from the Tourism Office on boulevard Maréchal Juin.

Saturday 27 October and Sunday 28 October

FRÉJUS :  The Festival International de l’Air is a kite festival and is a great place to go where kids can watch over 100 kites in flight, as well as join in on free workshops.  The festival is hosted at Base Nature François Léotard (1196 Boulevard de la Mer, 83600 Fréjus) with free parking there.  Entry to the festival is free of charge, and opening hours are 10am-6pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday.

Festival International de l’Air 2018 is a kite festival in Fréjus – video below is by ‘Là-bas, vu d’ici’.

Until 28 October

NICE:  The 3rd edition of Quinzaine des Théâtres is presenting a number of musicals, comedies, dances and recitals that coincide with Toussaint school holidays.  As well as a diverse programme, it gives local residents the chance to discover 21 theatres and venues in and near Nice.  Some of the family-friendly shows on offer include:

  • Beauty and the Beast (suitable for kids 7 years and upwards, duration 1 hour, cost €6) and Même pas peur! (for kids 5 years and upwards, duration 1 hour, cost €6) at the Théâtre Bellecour
  • La Fôret Magique, a show with magic and songs (suitable for kids 5 years and up, duration 50 mins, cost €5-7) at Théâte de la Cité
  • Les Contes du Maneki-Neko is a show based on traditional Japanese stories (suitable for kids 6 years and up, duration 50 mins, cost €6) at Théâtre de la Semeuse.

The full programme for Quinzaine des Théâtres 2018 is here:  Programme Quinzaine des Théâtres 2018

quinzaine des theatres

Les Contes du Maneki-Neko is just one of a diverse range of shows as part of Quinzaine des Théâtres 2018 (image: Culturo)

Tuesday 30 October and Wednesday 31 October

NICE:  Espace Magnan is hosting the Fête du Cinéma d’Animation over 2 days with films suitable for children 3 years upwards.  Most films for younger ages average around 45 minutes duration, while films for older kids are around 1 hour -1.5 hours in length.  Tickets cost €6 – €7 each depending on sessions and can be pre-purchased via Espace Magnan’s website.  You can see the festival programme here:  Fête du Cinéma d’Animation 2018 programme

Halloween on the French Riviera

Halloween, recognised on 31st October, hasn’t always been traditionally observed in France but it is very popular now.  Schools host Halloween parties and local towns are getting more ‘into the spirit (pun intended)’ by giving out bon bons to children and putting up decorations.

As Halloween falls during Toussaint school holidays, there are plenty of activities happening.  The following day Toussaint (All Saints Day) is a bank holiday and a day where lives of deceased relatives are remembered.

Halloween costumes & decorations : French Riviera

There are many stores on the French Riviera that sell ready-made Halloween costumes and accessories, or for DIY inspiration you can look on Pinterest or Good Housekeeping that have loads of fun and inexpensive ideas.

If you’re looking for Halloween costumes for kids, spooky decorations and party items, the best places to go on the French Riviera are :

  • The €1 and €2 stores – Maxi Bazaar, Maximart and Destock – which always stock things such as tridents, plastic cauldrons and skeletons, and trick-or-treat buckets.
  • La Foir’Fouille in Antibes, Grasse and Mandelieu
  • GiFi in Antibes (near Decathlon), Callian, Cannes La Bocca, Fréjus, Grasse, Menton
  • IdéaFête in Villeneuve Loubet, Nice St Isidore or Mougins
  • Fêter et Recevoir in Cannes La Bocca and Nice
  • Carrefour

Trick or treating in neighbourhoods on the French Riviera is not as popular as other countries, with children mostly going around village shops or towns.

Some family-friendly Halloween 2018 activities this year on the French Riviera are:

  • Valbonne village is very popular for trick or treating from afternoon onwards.
  • Hard Rock Café in Nice hosts Halloween events each year.  This year, on both Saturday 27 October and Sunday 28 October between 9.30am-midday they welcome families for a Halloween-themed breakfast, kids workshop and magic show.  Reservation is necessary; cost is €16 each child under 10 years of age, free for under 2 years of age, €19 for adults. Email them to book: nice_sales@hardrock.com 
  • Espace Magnan in Nice has a special screening of ‘Mary et la fleur de la sorcière‘ at 2pm.  Suitable for kids 8 years up, children can go in costume and participate in a colouring-in competition to win cinema tickets.  Cost:  €6 per child
  • Parc Alpha Loup has Halloween celebrations running all through school holidays until 4 November.  Any children under 12 years of age who come in Halloween costume get free entry – a hat doesn’t justify free entry, you must dress up with some effort!   Note: The Alpha Loup website address given on all posters now redirects to Pure Montagne (the rebranded regional site for Côte d’Azur mountain activities and tourist sites).

Parc Alpha Loup for Halloween 2018

  • Vesubia Mountain Park is having a Halloween night party on Friday 2 November that includes abseiling by black light (essentially glow-in-the-dark!)  Entry is reduced to half price for kids under 12 years that come in costume.  More info is here:  Vesubia Mountain Park Halloween 2018

Until 3 November

CANNES:  P’tits Cannes à You is a family-friendly festival aimed at kids 3-13 years and comprises a programme of marionette shows, creative workshops, dance, theatre and music.  The programme includes things such as a screening of Paddington 2 on October 22 and 25, a marionette show on October 24 suitable for kids from 2 years upwards and regular storytelling sessions for toddlers.  Find the full schedule here:   P’tits Cannes à You 2018 programme

P'tits Cannes à You

P’tits Cannes à You is an annual festival with film, shows and workshops for kids (image: Ville de Cannes)

Thanks for reading my Toussaint school holidays blog post – please share it on social media if you’ve found it useful. Thanks!

 

Journées Européennes du Patrimoine / European Heritage Days

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

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

Journees Européennes du Patrimoine 2018

Journees Européennes du Patrimoine 2018 (image: JEP)

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

Some of the participating sites on the French Riviera include:

Antibes

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

Biot

  • Musée Fernand Léger

Cagnes-sur-Mer

  • Musée Renoir
Musée Renoir, Cagnes-sur-Mer

Musée Renoir, Cagnes-sur-Mer

Cannes

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

Fréjus

  • The archaeological crypt

Le Cannet

  • Musée Bonnard

Lucéram

  • Église Saint Marguerite

Menton

  • Jardin Fontana Rosa

Montauroux

  • Moulin à huile

Nice

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

Musée National Marc Chagall (image: kfntravelguide)

Sospel

  • Maginot de l’Agaisan

Vallauris

  • Musée Magnelli

Vence

  • Musée de Vence

Villefranche-sur-Mer

  • Église Saint Michel

Villeneuve Loubet

  • Château de Vaugrenier, the medieval fortress in the village

Chateau Vaugrenier (image: Platforme Events)

TRANSPORT for Journées du Patrimoine

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOURNÉES DU PATRIMOINE CÔTE D’AZUR SITES

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

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