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

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

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

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

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

Buses

Envibus : No urban buses will circulate today.

Lignes d’Azur (Nice region):  

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

 

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

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

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

Flights

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

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport

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

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

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

Air France:

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

Last-minute delays and cancelations cannot be excluded.

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

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

Easyjet:

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

(photo: LP/Guy Gios)

Ryanair:

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

Volotea:

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

Vueling:

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

Schools

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

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

Trains

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

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

Did you know?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Azur Park, St Tropez

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

La Cabane Bambou

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

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

Tortoise Reserve at Plaine des Maures Natural Park

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

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

Aqualand

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

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

Sailing School at the Yacht Club de Saint-Tropez

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

St Tropez is the perfect location to teach children to sail

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

Author: Colette Flowerdew-Kincaid

Disclosure Sponsored post; contains external link.

Journées Européennes du Patrimoine : 21 and 22 September

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

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

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

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

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

Musée Picasso in Antibes

Musée Renoir at Cagnes-sur-Mer

Moulin Forville – Musée Victor Tuby in Cannes

Musée de la Castre in Le Suquet in Cannes

Abbey de Lérins on Isle Saint-Honorat

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

Musée Bonnard in Le Cannet

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

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

 

French Riviera Beaches

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

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

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

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

Municipal beaches

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

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

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

© Radio France – Laurent Vareille

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

Price:  A full day chair rental is €8.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beach updates

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

 

Anjuna Beach at Eze

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Jazz à Juan 2019 : What To Expect

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

pinede gould juan les pins

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

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

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

Jazz à Juan 2019 Programme  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snarky Puppy will bring the cool factor to Jazz à Juan

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

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

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

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

During the Festival, free mini concerts will be held:

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

The schedule and band list for these sessions are:

Jazz à la Petite Pinède

Jazz at the kiosque

Royal Jazz Lounge

Jazz à Juan free concert at Petite Pinède / Macha Gharibian

Jazz à Juan Facilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jazz à Juan 2019 Tickets

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Point Zero

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

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

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

Point Zero Paris outside Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral

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

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

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

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

Notre-Dame de Paris’ Gargoyles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Temple of Reason – and wine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

top french travel blog

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

How did I end up on this Top 100 list?

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

The blogs are ranked based on the following criteria:

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

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

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More in store for 2019

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

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

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

Promenade Le Corbusier

Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints

Ventimiglia : Day trip from France

Why visit Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villa Nellcote : A palatial mansion with a lengthy past

Heritage trail in Juan les Pins

Thank you for your support and following Access Riviera!