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? 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!