Secret French Riviera : Hidden Spots Worth A Visit

This month, for my contribution to All About France blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo, I’m sharing a few secrets about the French Riviera.

When you live somewhere, you are privy to local tips and things that you learn about your home town or region that tourists perhaps don’t see or aren’t aware of.

Yes, TripAdvisor and tourist offices can be great sources of information but if you want to find where the tastiest food is, the most uncrowded attractions or coolest activities at a great price, then ask a local.   Whenever I travel, I like to see where the locals eat, where they shop and where they party (!) because this is often where the hidden gems are!

Here are some of my Secret French Riviera suggestions:

Top chefs under the radar

One of the nicest things about living in France is the fact you can find a top chef in a humble setting and people are either unaware of their ‘fame’ or don’t make a fuss.

There are ex-chefs who run restaurants at camping sites, high-profile chefs who grill fish in summer at beachside kiosks before skipping back to the galleys of top kitchens and chefs who own orchards and vineyards far off the tourist path.

One of my great finds here is My French Burger, which is often parked at  Zone Industrielle Des Terriers near Decathlon and Animalis in Antibes.  The owner is Grégory Leriche, previously a top pastry chef at Lenôtre who has always dreamed of having his own food truck making burgers from scratch with homemade mayonnaise, ketchup and bread buns.  Of course, he sells his patisseries which I would sell my soul for.  If you’re nice, ask him to show you his photo album with photos of A-list stars he has taught to cook.

Grég’s chalkboard with Paul Bocuse’s quote

There are other great chefs in many other dining establishments across the Côte d’Azur.  Most tourists are familiar with the Michelin or Gault Millau guides for restaurant suggestions, but are you aware of the ‘Maître Restaurateur’ title or ‘Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’?

The title of Maître Restaurateur is the only title awarded in France by the state for professional catering whereby the chef themselves (not the restaurant) is audited by an independent body on 30 criteria.  This includes signalling when recipes are home made, freshness of products, service quality and decoration.  The title is valid for 4 years, after which the chef must be reaudited so the standards remain high.

To see the list of Maître Restaurateurs for the French Riviera (06 Alpes Maritimes), visit

maitre restaurateurs

Maître Restaurateurs are worth finding for fine chefs

Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (better known as MOF) is a prestigious award in France according by category of trades where the competitors are judged on technical skills, innovation, respect for traditions, speed and other criteria and awarded points.  The categories are diverse – some of the categories include clockmaking, cabinetmaking and silkscreen printing.  For hospitality, competitors can excel in butchery, pastry making, chocolate making and more.  Some of the famous winners are Paul Bocuse, Roger Vergé and Joël Robuchon.

Famous locations mostly unknown by tourists

Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoléon I) has left a number of locations to visit on the French Riviera including Cannes (he camped at 15 Rue des Belges near Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Voyage church) and in Nice (6 rue Bonaparte was the residence of Napoléon in 1794 where he discussed plans with his generals and Palais Hongran de Fiana, a complex of holiday rental apartments beside Ma Nolans Irish pub is where he slept briefly after the building was confiscated in the late 18th century; look for the commemorative plaque on the façade).

6 rue Bonaparte in Nice

The town of Mougins has many famous locations including homes where Christian Dior and Yves St Laurent lived.  Edith Piaf stayed at La Gatounière in 1963, and Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and Pablo Picasso drifted in and out of the town.  Artist Maurice Gottlob was the communal rural policeman.

mougins history

Mougins has many famous locations visited by writers, film stars, artists and politicians

Picasso has a lot of history with Mougins; Villa Vaste Horizon (previously Hotel Vaste Horizon) is the town’s cultural centre today, but back in the 1930’s Picasso arrived with his bags.  He painted the walls in his room, only to be told to cover over his work with white paint the next day by the hotel owner.  He used to dine at Place de Mougins which used to be Le Feu Follet.  Most famously, he lived near Chapelle Notre Dame de Vie (1 Rue Eglise) at his estate, L’Antre du Minotaure (the Minotaur’s Lair).  The chapel garden has a tomb that was built for the Guinness family.

vaste horizon mougins

Pablo Picasso at Hotel Vaste Horizon in Mougins (© Lee Miller Archives, England 2015. All rights reserved. ©Succession Picasso/DACS, 2015).

You don’t need to go far to see the wide influence on the French Riviera credited to the monks from the Lérins Islands.  Running a functioning monastery and vineyard (as well as a gift/liqueur shop) on Île St-Honorat today,  the Lérins monks are due some credit for the town of Valbonne in its modern incarnation.

Augustin of Grimaldi, Bishop of Grasse and abbot of Lerins decided in the 16th-century to rebuild a town (wiped out from drought, barbaric invasions and the Black Plague) on the land beside the Abbey of Valbonne; the town layout of Valbonne is unique on the French Riviera in that it follows a Roman plan with a central street and perpendicular streets around a central square, now Place des Arcades.  There is also a private estate nearby, Domaine de la Sylviane, where this former stone Monastery built by the Lérins monks still produces olive oil under the label ‘Domaine de la Sylviane’.

la sylviane valbonne

Domaine de la Sylviane near to Valbonne is a former Monastery built by the Lérins monks

Other locations that exist thanks to the Lérins monks include Hostellerie Jérôme that is a wonderful restaurant in La Turbie set in the old presbytery of the Lérins Abbey, and Domaine de La Royrie, an olive grove in Grasse that was planted by the monks in the 15th-century and offers tours of the estate and tastings of their AOC Nice olive oil.

Swimming spots tourists don’t often visit

The French Riviera has some great beaches ranging from family-friendly options to full-service beach clubs for a day of lounging and soaking up the sun.

However, some of the most beautiful swimming locations are not found at beaches, especially in the height of summer.  You don’t have to venture too far from the coast to enjoy some really stunning river, waterfall and lake swimming spots.

Some great places for a refreshing dip in warm months are:

The Gorges du Loup & Rives du Loup:  Less than 40 minutes from the coast, Pont-du-Loup is a small hamlet best known for its aqueduct ruins and Confiserie Florian candy factory.  However, it’s a great base for escaping from the summer heat; the best pools are 2 kilometres upstream along the D3 road and you can find places to jump from or sunbathe on large rocks.  This area is popular for canyoning trips, so choose from a number of professional guiding companies if you fancy climbing and sliding into pools.

Gorges du Loup

The Parc Departmental Rives du Loup has some great river spots that are quite shallow so ideal for small kids.  For families, Ludiparc near La Colle sur Loup, has access to the river with a pebble beach as well as tonnes of fun activities and a mini water park.

La Brague:  Between Biot and Valbonne, the Brague River has shaded forest trails next to refreshing water where you can dip your toes in on hot days, including this small pool where I snapped this photo of two of my favourite people skipping stones.  I find there can be issues with mosquitoes, so take insect repellant!  We park at Sophia Antipolis near La Veirière, a few minutes from the Air France headquarters.  A map of river walks along the Brague is here:

Parc de la Brague has forest paths beside the River Brague

The Siagne River & Lac St Cassien: Head to Chapelle St Cassien de Bois, find a park and walk from there.  The Siagne River has lots of current-free sections with some small cascades.  Lac St Cassien is excellent for families with lots of watersports equipment for hire such as pedalos, inflatable climbing frames, kayaks.  Lots of picnic spots and some good restaurants.

La Clue d’Aiglun, Pont de la Cerise, Riou de Pierrefeu and Clue du Riolan:  About 1.5 hours from Nice, the Esteron River is a stunning colour and you can find perfectly tranquil sections of river with jade and turquoise plunge pools amidst white rocks, caves, lush ferns and medieval bridges.

From the village of Sigale, Aiglun is 7 kilometres west. Park in the village, find the canyoning sign, and follow the canyon return path for 1 kilometre down to a series of pools, about 200 metres upstream of the road bridge. You can also access the river directly from a narrow path from the road bridge, 1.5 kilometres beneath the village, and you’ll find there are pools under the bridge, too.  Riou de Pierrefeu is great for families and Clue du Riolan is popular with canyoning enthusiasts.

Gorges du Cagnes (Gorges du Riou):  Rocks, waterfalls, moss – it’s the French Riviera’s secret swimming hole fantasy near to Vence.  Beware: The path is not well marked and there are loads of signs saying ‘rock fall’ and similar so watch for loose rocks, the stairs are not fenced and the pool is not deep enough for diving!  Other than that, it is so quiet you’ll probably have the place to yourself.

Riou swimming spot near Vence

Gorges de Pennafort:  We discovered this little gem with many swimming holes a few years ago and the bonus is that the journey is just over 1 hour from Antibes.  The best part is its proximity to some great wineries and a good restaurant across the road at Hostellerie des Gorges de Pennafort.  You can find out more about the area around Gorges de Pennafort here

The Gorges de Pennafort are a great place for a cooling swim on a hot day

The Gorges du Verdon:  One of the most beautiful regions in France and only a few hours drive from the French Riviera, there are many zones perfect for kayaking, pedalos and swimming.  The most crowded lake is Lac St Croix, but there are other excellent places including Lac de Castillon.

Gorges du Verdon are a must-see in France

Do you have any secret places you like on the French Riviera?  If you liked this post, make sure you join my mailing list to get updates to your inbox – simply add your email address on the right-hand side of the home page.  Feel free to share this post!

Lou Messugo


Joutes Provençales at Vieux Port in Cannes

Hosted at Vieux Port in Cannes, this summer families can enjoy free events that demonstrate the old tradition of provençale joutes.

Cannes : History of the Joutes Provençales

Joutes provençales originate from the Egyptian era; fishermen from the French Riviera originally set up a ladder on their boats and over time it has become a true festival with nautical combats and dives, practised in Provence.

The city of Cannes acquired two jousting boats in 1949, suitably named Le Sainte-Marguerite and Le Saint-Honorat, but with a lack of jousters the boats remained in storage from 2004.  After the election of David Lisnard to the position of Mayor, he relaunched this Cannois tradition in 2014 to support local culture and encourage visitors to Cannes.

Today, the sport is hotly contested by 16 joutes provençales companies from the Var and Côte d’Azur including Cannes, Théoule, Agay, Fréjus, La Ciotat and Saint-Raphael with the ‘rules’ being that opponents stand on a boat and try to send their opponent into the water using a wooden spear (opponents wear a wooden breastplate to protect them).

joutes provencales

The Joutes Provençales hosted at Vieux Port in Cannes

One opponent is the ‘jouster’ who stands on a raised platform called a teinteine; the other team member ensures the jouster does not catch the spear.  Contestants must place their left food forward of a white line on the platform, otherwise if their right foot crosses the line at the time of joust they are disqualified.

quai st pierre events

Come to Quai St Pierre to watch the Joutes provençales in summer

When are the ‘Joutes Provençales’ in Cannes?

Starting from tomorrow (18 June) and running until 18 August, Cannes will host 5 Joutes Provençales events on various Friday nights and all-day selected Sundays.

One of the monks from Ile Saint-Honorat joins the nautical jousting

Organized by the Mayor of Cannes David Lisnard, in collaboration with L’association des Jeunes Jouteurs suquetans and CCI Nice Côte d’Azur, all are welcome to Quai Saint Pierre to enjoy this traditional activity.  The 2017 Joutes Provençales programme is:

  • Sunday 18 June 2017 from 9am to 6pm (Round 1 of the Var-Côte d’Azur championship to qualify for the French championship staged in Istres, L’Estaque, Agay and Martigues this summer)
  • Friday 23 June 2017 from 7pm to 11pm (Challenge of the Rotary Club Cannes Pays de Lérins tournament sponsored by Rotary)
  • Sunday 23 July 2017 from 9am to 6pm (Another round of the Var-Côte d’Azur championship)
  • Friday 04 August 2017 from 7pm to 11pm (‘Tournoi de la St Sauveur’, in the presence of various teams of the region)
  • Friday 18 August 2017 from 7pm to 11pm (Challenge Le Mashou)


  • Watch a video of the Joutes Provençales in Cannes here (video:  CannesWebTV):




Fête de la Musique 2017 – Wednesday 21 June

One of my favourite days in France – Fête de la Musique – is a family-friendly day to discover different music genres and new musicians.

Held on the same date every year, 21st June, all across France you can find free public concerts from emerging and established musicians, singers and bands.

Here are some of the Fête de la Musique 2017 concerts for the French Riviera:

Antibes / Juan les Pins

Antibes is usually very good for Fête de la Musique!   Here is the official schedule from the Tourist Office for public concerts:

Aside from this programme, other happenings in Antibes & Juan les Pins for Fête de la Musique 2017:

  • JP the Barber Shop will have classic pop rock from 2pm (21 Rue Général d’Andréossy, 06600 Antibes)
  • Blue Note will have DJ Debector with accompaniment from Pastor from 7pm
  • Blah Blah is performing at Le Latino’s from 7.30pm
  • Happy Face will have DJ Flim till late.

Fete de la Musique 2017 in Antibes with Blue Note

Beaulieu sur Mer

From 9pm, Serpico will perform at Place Marinoni.


Various music from 6.30pm-11.30pm at Place de Gaulle, Place des Arcades, Jardin Frédéric Mistral.

Cagnes sur Mer / Cros-de-Cagnes / Haut-de-Cagnes

From 5pm, at Place de la Marine in Cros-de-Cagnes there will be a concert from the Conservatoire municipal de Musique.

From 8.30pm, centre-ville / Place de Gaulle will host a variety of genres : Skyveul (Pop-Rock Blues), DJ Foxxer,  DJ Lucas Carrera.

From 9pm, Place du Château in Haut-de-Cagnes will have a concert by New Voltage.

Place du Château


From 2pm, Kiosque des Allées has various music.

From 6pm, Jardin Médiathèque Noailles will host Ensemble El Encuentro (Argentine music and dance) and Prince & Jeff Trio (Blues & jazz occidental)

A historic venue in Le Suquet, the Moulin Forville, will host an evening of singing, poem recitals and animations organised by ArtLive, le Moulin Forville and the Association Les Mots d’Azur.  Held from 6.30pm to 10pm in the gardens of the Moulin. Cost €7.

Plage Belle Plage (Boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert, 06400 Cannes) will have deep house and electro DJ’s from 6.30pm :  DJ Jerome Foster, DJ Cyril VaLone, DJ Uncle Jim’s.
Place de l’étang from 8pm: Blue Cocktail – International cover songs.
Place du marché in Cannes La Bocca from 8pm: Spoon performing pop folk ‘n’ roll.
Port Canto from 8pm: Concert from the Regional Orchestra of Cannes PACA

Golfe Juan / Vallauris

At Espace Grand Jean from 2pm-6pm, there will performances from the music school and karaoke.  From 8pm, there will be a salsa show.

The Fete de la Musique festivities continue on Friday and Saturday in Golfe Juan, more info here:


Grasse will have many locations set up with concerts at various times from 2pm till late including Cour d’honneur de la Mairie, Garden of Villa Fragonard, Scène Place aux Aires, Scène Cours Honoré CRESP, Scène Évêché, Scène Jeu de Ballon.

Night owls can stay out for the DJ set’s till midnight at Place du Petit Puy, Scène Cours Honoré CRESP and Cour d’honneur du MIP.

La Colle sur Loup

The locations for the public concerts will be the jardin public, Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, Place du 8 mai (rue Foch), Place de Gaulle and Placette de la Poste.

La Colle sur Loup (image: Tourist Office)


From 7pm to 9pm at Place Ésterel Gallery, Marine (a semi-finalist from The Voice Kids), will sing a few songs followed by a concert from students of the Diamond School Compagnie singing soul, jazz and funk.


The Conservatoire de Musique de Menton will perform choral and orchestral concerts at the Mairie from 5.30pm.

From 9pm-11pm, Basilique Saint-Michel will host choral concerts.

Basilique Saint-Michel (image: mapio)

Esplanade Francis Palmero will have French and international cover songs by Sourires et Mélodies from 9pm-11.30pm

Monaco / Monte-Carlo

In La Condamine, there will be various free concerts throughout the day on rue Caroline, Place du Marché and at Square Gastaud.

Place des Moulins will have free music from 12pm-1pm and 6pm-8pm, Rose des Vents at Larvotto has free music from 12pm-7pm

From 9pm, the main event is a free concert with ‘Junior’ and ‘ Deluxe’ at Port Hercule.

Fete de la Musique Monaco 2017


Various public concerts held from 6.30pm till late at the Parc du Chateau, the lavoir, Hotel de Ville and Place de l’église.


The public music school will have a recital at L’église Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur from 7.30pm.

From 8pm, Eco Parc will host the Orchestra Europa with covers of popular music from Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Adele and more!


Bmvr Bibliothèque Louis Nucéra (2 Place Yves Klein) DJ and live music from 3pm-4pm
Homme5 (8 avenue Malausséna) from 5pm-7pm
Place Pierre Gautier from 6pm-midnight

Le Petit Conservatoire De Pessicart (178, Avenue De Pessicart) : From 6.30pm, the Petit Conservatoire de Pessicart under the direction of Magali Pika de Coster, 7.30pm Gérard, 8pm Bluesberry, 9pm Blacklisted

Restaurant Le Choucas (Place Vieille Nice) from 8pm, pop rock concert for Syndrom & Torrancesv2
Parc Chambrun from 8pm-10pm

Parc Chambrun (image: freeriders)

Jardin du Musée des Beaux Arts (Jules Chéret – 33, avenue des Baumettes), Concert from 8pm-11pm from Philarmonic Orchestra of Nice (limited seating 400 places only)
Saint Laurent du Var
There will be a ‘white party’ at Square Bènes from 6pm-midnight; white attire compulsory!  Concert and meal costs €10
Saint Paul de Vence
Concerts from 6pm-midnight, the programme is here:  Fete de la Musique St Paul de Vence 2017
Near to l’Hôtel de ville from 7pm Fete de la Musique will open….From 7.30pm-10.30pm Jazz’Bonne Festival ( Big Band then at 10.30pm All Groove and July Tuvi DJ.
Place des Arcades from 7pm-1am: Nom-name, Con2mime , Tchapakan et Pandore Orchestra.

Place des Arcades in Valbonne (image: kiechle)

From 6pm-midnight, six stages will be located in Vence with over 40 groups/performers Grand-Jardin, Place Clemenceau, Place Godeau, Place Frêne, Place Maréchal Juin and Cour de la Prévôté.
Villeneuve Loubet
From 7pm-midnight, various genres will perform jazz, electro and pop.
If you are a musician, band or singer and want to be included on this free list please send me an email to be added with details of your genre, French Riviera town and time of concert. 


The Best Places to Spot Dolphins, Whales and Turtles in the Mediterranean 

Discover the Mediterranean hot spots for dolphin and whale watching. Find out where you can see turtles swimming in the wild and maybe even join them. 

Nature lovers will enjoy a Mediterranean yacht charter for the stunning scenery, but during the summer season there is the unexpected bonus of some spectacular marine life. We’ve selected the best places for you to spot dolphins, whales and turtles in the wild this summer.

wildlife viewing yacht charter

Seeing marine wildlife on yacht charter is an unmissable experience!


Dolphins are not only the most Intelligent and sociable cetaceans in the Mediterranean, but they are also the easiest to find. Their penchant for jumping and playing will delight kids and adults alike.

Italy is a wonderful place to spot dolphins, with the highest concentration of them in the Ligurian Sea, the east coast of Sicily and the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea. The latter is one of the best “feeding grounds” in the world where the dolphins breed well and enjoy chasing boats.

They can also be spotted from the deck of a Sardinia yacht charter in the Golfo Aranci, close to the glamorous Costa Smeralda.

dolphin spotting Mediterranean

The Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea is a great place for dolphin spotting in the Mediterranean

Spain is another great place for dolphin-watching, particularly in the Balearic Islands where they swim alongside boats and can be seen in coastal coves. Species found in Mallorca include the common dolphin, Risso’s dolphin (easily recognised by its unusual scratched, scarred skin), the bottlenose dolphin, and the white-sided dolphin.

dolphins yacht charter

Risso Dolphins seen on yacht charter

The bottlenose dolphin is a common sight in the Aegean Sea and justifiably popular since it is one of the most acrobatic and playful dolphins in Europe. The large (up to 4 metres) grey animals will happily frolic in the bow wave of your yacht, following or diving underneath the boat. The striped dolphin is the most prevalent type of dolphin and particularly at home in deep water. It gets its name from black stripe along its body and is very gregarious, swimming in large groups and making frequent leaps out of the water.

Dolphins can generally be found everywhere in the Mediterranean from the French Riviera to Turkey, but it’s important to note that you should wait for them to come to you. The boat motor should be switched off or maintained in neutral and you shouldn’t stay with them for longer than 30 minutes at a time. It’s also important not to feed them or try to touch them.

dolphins spain

Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most playful dolphin species and love to ride bow waves


The Mediterranean is not typically considered a whale watching hot spot, so you might be surprised to learn that there are eight different species of whale. The most famous of these include pilot whales, sperm whales and even killer whales.

whales mediterranean

Pilot whales are a wonderful experience to be seen in the Mediterranean

The Strait of Gibraltar and the coast of Tarifa are ideal places to seek long-finned pilot whales on your next Balearic yacht charter. It is also the best place to see killer whales, a beloved family favourite recognisable to everyone. Killer whales chase the fishing boats around Tarifa in search of tuna throughout the summer, and they are spotted in the Strait in late August as the tuna starts to migrate back across the Atlantic.

whale watching Mediterranean

The coast of Tarifa is an excellent vantage point to view killer whales (orca)

Spain is one of the best places in Europe to see cetaceans in the wild, but to see the most diverse selection, head to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean where 30 species can be found in waters that reach depths of 2,500 metres. Tenerife is the best spot to see sperm whales because the deep sea is abundant in their favourite snack, giant squid.

Elsewhere, you can spot the 20m fin whale in the Ligurian Sea between the Italian Riviera and Corsica in the summer. The fin whale is the second largest animal that has ever lived on our planet (after the blue whale), so it is a real privilege to see them up close. They can also be spotted in the Peloponnese in Greece and elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean where as many as 2,000 of these whales live on a diet of krill (tiny shrimp). A top tip is to look for pilot whales, which can be distinguished by a visible, black, balloon-shaped head. These whales often swim near to much larger species, and if you see one there’s a strong chance you’ll also see much larger whales nearby.

To summarise, these are the main hot spots for whales in the Mediterranean:

  • Strait of Gibraltar
  • Andalucian Coast, Spain
  • Ligurian Sea, Italy/Corsica
  • Peloponnese, Greece
whale watching europe

Whale watching can be done on yacht charter in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy/Corsica


Turtle conservation is big news in the Mediterranean where rampant tourist development and net-fishing still threaten populations. The best places to find sea turtles is off the coasts of Greece and Turkey where they have lived for millions of years and are contemporaries of the earliest dinosaurs.

Iztuzu Beach in South-west Turkey is a narrow strip of sand separating the Dalyan River from the Mediterranean. It has been aptly named “Turtle Beach” since it is one of the main breeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and has been protected for almost 30 years as a response to continued attempts to develop tourist resorts on the beach. The landscape of a river delta meeting the sea amid the mountains is worth visiting alone but the turtles make it all the more special.

loggerhead sea turtles turkey

Iztuzu Beach in Turkey is aptly named ‘Turtle Beach’ as it is a breeding ground for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta)

The Kaptan June Turtle Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation has a done a great job of creating an eco-tourist attraction that is educational and interesting for travellers of all ages. It provides a safe summertime nesting ground for the hatchlings to make their moonlit journey to the sea guided by the glimmering reflection of the stars on the water. At one end of the bay, there is a sanctuary for injured turtles. Further along the coast, you may find yourself swimming amongst turtles in shallow waters like Oludeniz lagoon near Fethiye.

turtles greece turkey

Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) can be seen in yacht charter destinations Greece and Turkey

The same species of loggerheads can be spotted in Zakynthos, Greece. The turtles have large heads with a horny beak that is thicker than other sea turtles and are a golden brown colour. Most of the turtles are located across the bay of Laganas, which extends from the end of Cape Vassilikos to the end of Keri Cape. Turtles swim in the shallow water of the bay and you can watch from a boat. The best chance to see them is during June and July when they breed, but since they swim underwater and emerge at intervals of 2-45 minutes, luck plays a part in how many you’ll see.







Coming soon! Great art exhibitions to see on the French Riviera

One of the best things about living on the French Riviera is the number of art galleries, studios and exhibitions featuring classic and contemporary art.

Whether you’re a fan of modern pop-up installations or classical art, there are so many excellent places to see or visit that you’ll have trouble deciding where to go.

Art on the French Riviera

If you are visiting the region for a week or longer, there are a number of must-see French Riviera museums that have spectacular art collections including rare paintings, sculptures, ceramics or photographs.

If you are here for a weekend up to 14 days, take your pick from a handful of art-based attractions or galleries – many are free entry or very cheap to visit so perfect for people on a budget or not willing to pay a lot of money for a sightseeing pass.

Temporary Exhibitions

The French Riviera is an excellent destination for art lovers.  There are a number of interesting temporary exhibitions coming up which I thought I’d share the details of below:


On now until 11 June, the 32nd edition of Grand Prix des Artistes with exhibitions of sculpture, paintings and photography is being hosted at Espace Miramar in central Cannes.  The ‘Artiste d’Honneur’ this year is local Cannois photographer and talented graphic designer Vivi A who will showcase photos from her series Miroir Miroir.

grand prix des artistes

Grand Prix des Artistes – Exposition in Cannes at Espace Miramar until 11 June 2017

From 16 to 27 June, there will be a free photography exhibition with large format photos featuring Cassius Clay a.k.a Muhammad Ali along the Croisette.   I’ll definitely be checking this one out to see some candid snaps of one of the world’s most celebrated sports figures who sadly passed away last year.

Muhammad Ali, Cannes 1982


From 14 July to 10 September 2017, the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco will host an exhibition, The Forbidden City in Monaco: Imperial Court Life in China, about the Imperial Chinese dynasty (1644–1911).

Jointly curated by Jean-Paul Desroches, honorary general curator, and Wang Yuegong, director of the Imperial Court Life Department at the Forbidden City – the exhibition will bring together some 200 historic exhibits, from the former palace of the emperors and loans from major European and American collections: the Musée Cernuschi and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the V&A in London, the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington.

The personalities of the Qing emperors are a crucial element of the exhibition, most notably in the cases of Kangxi (1662–1722), Yongzheng (1723–1735) and Qianlong (1736–1795) and will feature ceremonial costumes, portraits, furniture, precious objets d’art including ceramics and lacquerware, displays of calligraphy, and scientific instruments, some of which are ranked as national treasures.

The Forbidden City is one of the most impressive palace complexes, and the world’s most popular tourist venue, with some 10 million visitors annually.

I am looking forward to this exhibition and seeing how they bring to life the Temple of Heaven, the Throne Room, the Buddhist temple, the Temple of the Ancestors and the tea pavilion.   Tickets cost just €5 per adult, with free entry for 18 years and under.  Tickets are sold via Monte Carlo Ticket : Forbidden City


From 23 June to 15 October at the Galerie Lympia at Nice Port, an exhibition will showcase 50 major works of Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) including sculptures, paintings, lithographs and drawings.   Thanks to the Giacometti Foundation, the artworks will show the variety of techniques he used through his career.

art nice french riviera

Giacometti at the Galerie Lympia in Nice

Galerie Lympia has an interesting history – known as Lou Barri-Lonc, it is the oldest building at Nice Port. In the 19th-century it was transformed into a prison with the convicts put to work building the roads that connect the port area to Nice city (prior to that, the area was a penal colony where the prisoners from Villefranche were employed to dig the basins for Port Lympia).  Consisting of 2 buildings (the penal colony building with roof terrace and the Clock Tower), it has been restored and now offers an original art space with an eclectic programme forecast to broaden Nice’s art venues.

Galerie Lympia at Nice Port

Saint Tropez

Summer time alludes to al fresco living and where better than to host an art exhibition that Pampelonne Beach?

From 29 June to 02 July, Art Pampelonne will present a selection of international galleries showcasing contemporary artists at 20 Route d’Epi at Ramatuelle.

Located a short walk from Nikki Beach’s famed property, Art Pampelonne will host an elite audience of tastemakers with a selection of curated events that engage the international art community including VIP benefits and free entry for kids under 12 years of age.

art st tropez

(logo: Art Pampelonne)

The schedule is:

Thursday 29 June

12pm-2pm     Vernissage (VIP Invitation + Press Preview only)

2pm-9pm       Public Opening

Friday 30 June , Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July*

From 12pm-9pm     General Show Hours (*12pm-8pm on Sunday)

Note:  Press accreditation is at the organiser’s discretion and includes the vernissage as well as public show hours.

Tickets for Art Pampelonne can be purchased here:

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Les Voiles d’Antibes 2017

The 22nd edition of Les Voiles d’Antibes – Trophée Panerai starts today based until 4 June at Port Vauban in Antibes and marks the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Mediterranean.

voiles d'antibes 2017

Les Voiles d’Antibes – Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2017

Why attend Les Voiles d’Antibes

The event will welcome over 80 magnificent vintage and classic yachts ranging in size from 7 to over 60-metres representing countries including France, Italy, England, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United States.

(image: Laurent Masson)

Keep a look out for  Moonbeam IV; built in 1914 by the Fife yard in Scotland and once owned by Prince Rainier of Monaco, Moonbeam IV is the most successful yacht on the circuit winning the Big Boat trophy four times since 2011.

Three 19th-century yachts will compete this year – Lulu, launched in 1897, who has been awarded national historic treasure status in France, Tigris (1899) and 18-metre Marigold, built by Camper & Nicholson in 1892, who still retains her original interiors and lines.

Over 500 crew are expected to attend alongside thousands of visitors who can admire the yachts berthed dockside during the event.

The actual races commence on Thursday 1 June with a total of four races scheduled – one each day. The prize-giving ceremony takes place after the last race on Sunday.

As well as the yacht racing, Le Village is a dedicated zone set up at Bastion Saint Jaume with exhibitor stands from Yacht Clubs, Selliers, Sailmakers, Photographers and yachting-related businesses.

Les Voiles d’Antibes is free entry and a nice family-friendly event to admire some truly stunning yachts.   I feel its important to mention that in the evenings after 8.30pm the crowd at the Village is large so bear this in mind if you have smaller kids to watch as there is no security fencing between the Village and the port.

Entertainment at Les Voiles d’Antibes

From 6pm each evenings, Le Village is an excellent place to enjoy free live music and buy a drink at one of the pop-up bar zones.

The Friday night particularly is legendary and well known as one of the best nights out in Antibes – I’ll be heading along to see Al and the boys from Blah Blah on Friday night who always put on a superb show!

Here is the schedule of concerts for Les Voiles d’Antibes 2017:

31 May :  5.20pm  Lohen, then at 8pm SBK 06

01 June: 9pm Namaz Pamous

02 June:  9pm Blah Blah

03 June:  9pm With U (Tribute to U2)

04 June:  8pm DJ Arthur, then at 9pm D & S Project which is Cyrille a.k.a DJ Seven and Laurent a.k.a Debector

For an aerial view of the event location, see below:

Les Voiles d'Antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes

Carparks near Les Voiles d’Antibes

The car parks marked as blue ‘Ps’ on the map above are usually very busy, especially the underground parking at Pré aux Pêcheurs opposite the port.  It’s crucial you check exit times for carparks to avoid lock-ins!

Note:  The map above from the official website shows the carparks at place Nationale and rue Lacan, but these are both currently closed due to construction.

Alternative secure underground pay carparks not shown on this map are at Parking Poirier on boulevard Dugommier, or Parking avenue Frères Olivier. Click here for details of carparks in Antibes.

Trains, buses, taxis

If you’re traveling by bus or train, please note that public transport after 9pm is usually limited.

Timetables for local buses are found at or for train times and information regarding strikes.

The Nice to Cannes number 200 bus line also stops in Antibes from Nice direction at ‘Dir. Chaudon stop’, (15 minutes walk to the port) or from Cannes direction at ‘Dugommier’ stop or ‘Pole echange Antibes’ stop (both are 10 minutes walk to the port).

Taxis can be found outside the Antibes train station.

Les Voiles d’Antibes Programme

For the list of registered yachts, visit

For the programme schedule, visit Les Voiles d’Antibes Programme (in French only).


Accessibility information for Les Voiles d’Antibes

The quays at Port Vauban and the Village zone are on flat ground and accessible for families with baby strollers, or persons with reduced mobility | wheelchair-bound.

In this photo below, the light brown area in the central area of the Village is temporary decking set up for the bar zone and concert stage and it should be noted this is raised and one step up to the bar areas, so its not wheelchair-friendly.

les voiles d'antibes

Le Village at Bastion St Jaume at Port Vauban is the hub of all the action during Les Voiles d’Antibes

There are onsite toilets at the Village – these toilets are in trailers accessed by stairs only, therefore the closest accessible ground level toilets are on the quay near plage Gravette, at both Félix Café and Gusto pizzeria just inside the first archway to the port and at automated pay toilets by the boules pitch near the Capitanerie.

Enjoy Les Voiles d’Antibes and please share this post if you found it useful!  Thank you


4 Amazing Events To Find Fashion and Famous Faces In The Next Week

The month of May sees visitors to the French Riviera pack their stylish best for a number of high-profile events including Cannes Film Festival 2017 and Monaco Grand Prix 2017.

If you’re looking to find the latest designer looks,  then follow these top events in the next week for a glamorous window into luxury fashion and lifestyle.

Saturday 20 May 2017 : Cannes Fashion and Global Short Film Awards – InterContinental Carlton, Cannes

This exclusive event founded by entrepreneur and designer Andres Aquino is the sister event for Couture Fashion Week New York.

The evening will take place in the stunning InterContinental Carlton at the heart of the Croisette with a red carpet, Champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception followed by a gourmet dinner.  There will be fashion shows by designers Andres Aquino, Lucian Adulari, Jeanne Jean, GSA Couture, Hany El Behairy, Tjasa Skapin, DiDomenico Designs and Duonvlang.

The Global Short Film Awards, established in 2015, recognizes excellence in short films under 15 minutes long in a variety of subjects. Filmmakers can submit their films in 2D and/or 3-D format in one or more subject category. An awards presentation will take place for the winning short films listed here:


Best 3-D Film: Last Day of War (Russian Federation)

Best Action Film: Asphyxia (Italy)

Best Animation: The Vast Landscape (Singapore)

Best Beauty Film: Efímera (Spain)

Best Comedy Film: Must Escape (Ukraine)

Best Dance Film: Platform 13 (Japan)

Best Drama Film: Save (Germany)

Best Fantasy Film: Mr Dentonn (Spain)

Best Fashion Film: Bunny (Serbia)

Best Music Film: Crude Furie (Russian Federation)

Best Nature Film: Zion (USA)

Best Romance Film: Hugo (UK)

Best Sci-Fi Film: A Shadow of Dara (Bulgaria)

Best Social Concern Film: Mother (Georgia)

Best Special Effects: Light Sight (Iran)

Best Travel Film: Redwood (USA)

Best Young Talent: Grace Wethor, ClockMaker (USA)

Festival Director’s Choice: ClockMaker (USA)

Special Awards: Best Actor. Best Actress. Best Film. Best Director. Top Model. To be announced at the event.

Another highlight of the evening will be a diverse international selection of live entertainment, music and dancing.  Scheduled performers include Melissa, Balkan Trip, Rebecca Nuez, Stella Matteoni, Kaja Pecnik, Valeria Florencio, Nikolay Gladskikh, Raghunath Manét, Princess Angeline Monet and more.

parties cannes film festival

Tuesday 23 May 2017 :  Tiffany’s Red Carpet Week Cannes Fashion ExtravaganzaInterContinental Carlton, Cannes

Season 2 of Tiffany’s Red Carpet Week Cannes Fashion Show Extravaganza will take place at the 5-star InterContinental Carlton and present 9 Designers from England, Dubai, Italy, India, France, Hungary, Nigeria, Singapore and the United States.

Founded by designer Tiffany McCall, Red Carpet Fashion Week Cannes is a spectacular production of fashion, beauty and music.

The famous Emirate Fashion Designer and Goodwill Ambassador Mona Al Monsouri will open the show with her Haute Couture Collection followed by 8 divine International Designers. There will also be a Fashion Exhibition by the Designers’ Collections during the event for all of the guests to buy their collections.

The event will offer music performances, French cuisine, Champagne and free VIP gifts and offers for international clients from beauty sponsors L’Oreal’s Redken, Champagne Römerhof, Divas Fabulous Beauty Products, Gold Energy and Carmen Steffens.

Getty Photos are available at the show for VIP guests by Consort PR, with global coverage by Luxe.TV and live streaming by Stephanie Cansell via Periscope.  The event is hosted in collaboration with the Raindance Film Festival and 2 Bulls on the Hill Production.

Thursday 25 May 2017 : amFAR Cinema Against Aids Gala Night 2017 – Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap d’Antibes

The premier event for A-listers during Cannes Film Festival, the amfAR Annual Cinema Against Aids charity gala night is the unmissable party of 2017.

Produced by AAB Productions / Andy Boose, the 24th edition is sponsored by Harry Winston and Bold Films (Presenting Sponsors), Moët and Hennessy, Persol and Renault (Signature Sponsors).

amfAR Cinema Against Aids 24 will be chaired this year by Nicole Kidman, Harvey Weinstein, Jessica Chastain, Pedro Almodóvar, Eva Longoria, Dustin and Lisa Hoffman, Diane Kruger, Milla Jovovich, David Lynch and Carine Roitfeld with Chairman of the Board Kenneth Cole joined by Fundraising Chairman Milutin Gatsby.

There will be music performances from Rita Ora and XX alongside two special parts of the amfAR Cannes 2017 evening which are the charity auction and runway show.

amfAR Cannes 2017 charity auction

The charity auction will bring together members of high society, film and entertainment stars and prominent business people to bid on a range of exclusive artworks and luxury items.

This year, the auction features :

A week on board superyacht Serenity

A 1958 Jaguar XK150

1950 Jaguar XK150 (image: amfAR)

A  7-night stay at the Finolhu Resort in the Maldives for up to 60 guests with access to the 10Ak Beach Club

A Hennessy • 8 piece with eight-ring decanter of Baccarat crystal with a chest of oak from Hennessy’s cooperage, as well as a 4-night stay in Paris and Cognac for 2 people including flights, accommodation and local transfers

A Faberge-inspired velvet armchair – the Egg Number 1, Versailles – with Swarovski crystals, 24-carat gold and a Baccarat crystal dome filter designed by French interior designer and artist Jonathan Loubens

The Egg Number 1, Versailles by Jonathan Loubens (image: amfAR)

A set of 10 signed and numbered portraits of the Golden Age of Hollywood by George Hurrell

Stunning sculptures by JR, Vasily Klyukin, Laurence Jenkell

amfAR Cannes 2017 fashion show

Carine Roitfeld will again stage the supermodel runway show with original designs from top global designers themed around the Golden Age of Hollywood and bedecked in jewels by Harry Winston.  Keep your eyes out for appearances from Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Irina Shayk,

Video below courtesy of amfAR:

Friday 26 May 2017 : Amber Lounge Fashion Show – Le Méridien Beach Plaza hotel, Monte-Carlo

The hottest ticket for the international jet set during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix are the VIP events hosted by Amber Lounge.

The Amber Lounge Fashion Show opens the festivities on Friday 26 May with a world famous runway viewing – the only catwalk to have F1 drivers, their wives and girlfriends and F1 television presenters as the models.

amber lounge

F1 drivers Fashion Show at Amber Lounge (image: Amber Lounge)

This year, the headline designer is SAFiYAA showcasing the AW17 collection and original pieces for the show, with the F1 drivers dressed in Apsley Tailors and the ladies of F1 presenting beautiful Italian designer silk scarves by Silviya Neri.

Amber Lounge Fashion Show

Le Méridien Beach Plaza is the venue for Amber Lounge Fashion Show (image: Amber Lounge)

As well as the highly anticipated Amber Lounge Fashion Show, a charity auction will feature one-of-a-kind items such as a personal Champagne pack from Hatt & Soner, racing photos donated by Sir Jackie Stewart and a framed painting by Arunas Rutkus.  Sir Jackie Stewart’s charity, Race Against Dementia, is the chosen charity this year with bids raised going to this great cause to raise awareness and fund research.

The charity event is followed by a sumptuous dinner and entertainment at the Amber Lounge with top DJ’s and live acts.

Access Riviera is proud to be a Media Partner for Cannes Fashion and Global Short Film Awards 2017, Tiffany’s Red Carpet Week Cannes 2017 and Amber Lounge Fashion Show 2017