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 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

 

 

 

Advertisements

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!

Monaco Yacht Show 2018 Guide : What to expect

Monaco Yacht Show is one of the key superyacht events in the Mediterranean and will be hosted at Port Hercules from 26th to 29th September 2018.

Each year, exhibitors from across the nautical industry join around 120 superyachts that are displayed, with 40 yachts being world premieres and 50% of the yachts being less than 2 years old.

Monaco Yacht Show 2018 Exhibitors

The hundreds of exhibitors that attend Monaco Yacht Show are a representation of all sectors within the superyacht sector.

They include yacht designers and naval architects, shipyards, engineers, yacht brokers, charter agents, shipyards, marine supplies, yacht toys, tenders, marinas, tourism companies and crew.

The show is separated into zones to differentiate sectors:

  • Quai Albert 1er will host yards, naval architects and brokers adjacent to the yachts they’re displaying
  • Quai Jarlan will host part of the tenders zone
  • Parvis Piscine and the Upper Deck Lounge will display prestige luxury goods, furnishings and interiors
  • Darse Sud has marine suppliers and technical equipment
  • Quai Antoine 1er has the Tenders & Toys zones, the Art Pavilion, the luxury Car Deck, Press Centre and the Starboard Lounge

To find out who is attending, click here Monaco Yacht Show 2018 Exhibitors List

exhibitors mys 2018

Monaco Yacht Show is one of the most important annual boat shows for the marine industry (image: MYS)

Monaco Yacht Show 2018 Yachts

Visitors and exhibitors at MYS are always eager to learn which yachts will be on display.  This year, some of the boats include:

6.31m Williams Diesel Jet 625

williams tenders mys

The Williams Diesel Jet 625 will be on display at MYS 2018 (image: Boat International)

10m Pascoe Open Limousine

33.5m Riva 110 Dolcevita, Riva

yachts monaco yacht show 2018

Riva 110 Dolcevita (image: MYS)

Tansu Yachts 43.7m Cyclone

47.2m Sanlorenzo 500xp, Sanlorenzo

49.98m Cecilia, Wider Yachts

cecilia wider yachts

MY Cecilia by Wider Yachts (image: MYS)

49.9m Flying Dagger, Rossinavi

50m Latona, CRN

54m El Leon in the new Mangusta GranSport line, Overmarine

55.5m Power Play, Damen

57.7m Volpini 2, the first hull in the limited edition 188 series by AMELS

volpini 2

M/Y Volpini 2 by Amels (image: MYS)

72m Solo by Tankoa

74.5m Elandess, Abeking & Rasmussen

77m Go, Turquoise Yachts

superyacht go turquoise yachts

M/Y GO by Turquoise Yachts (image: MYS)

90m DAR a.k.a Project Shark, built in the Netherlands by Oceanco

dar project shark mys 2018

DAR a.k.a Project Shark was built in the Netherlands by Oceanco (image: MYS)

95.2m Kismet, Lurssen

To find out which yachts are attending MYS 2018, click here Monaco Yacht Show 2018 Yacht List

VIP Experiences at Monaco Yacht Show 2018

Private superyacht clients can join tailor-made experiences at Monaco Yacht Show.  The Sapphire Experience and ‘Infinite’ are the official VIP programs of the show and include an invitation to the opening gala, participation in the Monaco Yacht Summit, a courtesy car service and private visits on board yachts at the show.

Monaco Yacht Show has official VIP programs called the Sapphire Experience and ‘Infinite’ (image: copyright 2017 MC-Clic)

At the show

In-show transport

At the show, there are plenty of options to move between exhibitor zones and stands.  Make use of the shuttle boats that cross the port between the main quays, and the electric golf carts that travel between Quai Rainer II and Quai Jarlan.

Here is a Map of Shuttle boat routes at MYS and golf carts.

Food & beverage

Feeling thirsty or peckish?  Here are the in-show food and beverage options:

  • The restaurant and Champagne bar at the Upper Deck Lounge is open from 10am to 6.30pm daily (lunch service from midday).
  • The café at the Starboard Lounge opens daily from 10am to 6.30pm (lunch service from midday).
  • Coffee/snack zone at Café Lucciana on Jetée Lucciana from 10.30am to 6.30pm daily.
  • For uniformed crew, you can visit the C&C Lounge between 8.30am and 7pm.

Wifi

The show Wifi hotspots will enable you to connect to Wifi to reach out to clients and keep on top of your business during the week.  Here is the map of Wifi zones and mobile charging spots – note:  All zones are accessible for show visitors, except the MYS Captains and Crew Lounge is for uniformed crew only.

wifi at mys

Wifi at Monaco Yacht Show 2018

Monaco Yacht Show 2018 parties

During the 4 days of the show, there are a number of charity galas, social meet-ups and cocktail parties.  Here are some of the parties and social events during Monaco Yacht Show 2018:

Tuesday 25 September

The London 2 Monaco charity cycle ride in support of Blue Marine Foundation has their after-party for all the riders and teams after they arrive at the Palace of Monaco – the London 2 Monaco party is sponsored by Icon Connect.

L2M after party

The London to Monaco cycle ride after-party last year (image: Icon Connect)

The MYS Inaugural Gala Party also takes place on the Tuesday night where 400 invited guests attend the 5th Monaco Yacht Show Superyacht Awards; more info is here MYS Inaugural Gala Party.

Wednesday 26 September

4.30pm-6.30pm  Informal business drinks at the Isle of Man stand at Darse Sud

5pm onwards  Yachtneeds hosts drinks, live music and entertainment at their stand (DSE7)

7pm till late The Monte-Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean under the High Patronage of H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco (invitation necessary)

monaco gala for the ocean

Monte-Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean (image: Getty Images/FPA2)

7.30pm till late IGY Marinas James Bond party at the Monaco Yacht Club (invite only)

8pm till late  The SXM Crew party at the ACREW and IMM Crew Lounge at La Rascasse.

Thursday 27 September

5pm onwards  Yachtneeds hosts drinks, live music and entertainment at their stand (DSE7)

yachtneeeds mys 2018

YachtNeeds has live music, drinks and entertainment every day during Monaco Yacht Show 2018

6pm onwards Invite-only cocktail party hosted by Zytexx at La Rascasse.

8pm-10pm  PYA Sea Changes rooftop networking drinks, sponsored by Onshore Cellars and Ocean Pantry. This event is part of the PYA Sea Changes Forum which is free for PYA members; others must register and pay a small fee via the PYA Monaco Sea Changes forum Eventbrite page.

Friday 28 September

5pm onwards  Yachtneeds hosts drinks, live music and entertainment at their stand (DSE7)

5pm-7pm  Drinks and nibbles courtesy of TINO Stone at the ACREW & IMM Garden Lounge at La Rascasse.

6pm-9pm Club Vivanova Summer Yacht Party at Le Méridien Beach Plaza (entry fee applies).

7pm-9pm  Yacht Chandlers hosts an event strictly for Captains and Crew at the Star Deck at Stars n Bars. Details below:

Other events during the week include the Amels/Damen party, Boat International party (video of 2017 party shown below), Feadship’s event, Lurssen’s popular soirée, My Yacht Group’s annual yacht party and China Night.

Monaco Yacht Show 2018 tips

  • Wear comfortable footwear – you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  • Check the weather forecast – it may be a hot sunny week or thunderstorms; pack for the weather conditions.
  • There is no coat check or luggage storage facility at the show, so bear this in mind if you have valuable items with you, jackets or laptops.
  • Visitors are permitted to take photos and videos within the show zone. The exception is the use of drones which are forbidden inside the MYS perimeter (aside from the official drone operator, MC Clic).
  • Download the Monaco Show app for maps of the show.  You can get it on the App Store or Google Play.
  • Check train schedules to and from Monaco as evening trains run less frequently.  Taxis can be quite pricey, so plan transport in advance.  Monacair offers promotions for helicopter transfers between Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and the heliport at Fontvieille including private car transfers to the show or any address in Monaco.  Use promo code ‘MYS2018’; to book a heli transfer you can download the Monacair app or visit them at the show above La Rascasse at point N on the show map.
  • Follow the show on social media and use hashtags #MYS2018 #monacoyachtshow #MYSexperience
shuttle boats monaco yacht show

Make use of the in-show transport to save time at Monaco Yacht Show 2018 (image copyright Alina Garazhenko / Ameller Malcorps)

MYS 2018 at a glance

Monaco Yacht Show adapts each year ensuring owners, potential buyers and the industry itself evolves through B2B networking and feedback.  Here’s the show at a glance:

Monaco Yacht Show (image: copyright 2017 MC-Clic)

Yearly visitor numbers:  36,400 (stat from 2017 show)

Exhibitors:  590 exhibitors from 38 countries

Yachts:  120 superyachts, 40 debuts, 50% are less than 2 years old, 49m is the average length of yacht on display at MYS.

Luxury showcases:  10 prestige cars at the Car Deck, 2 helicopters on display at Parvis Piscine and Quai Antoine 1er, luxury exhibitors at Parvis Piscine and the Upper Deck Lounge including Dassault Aviation, Paola Lenti and ProtectStone

Date / opening times :  Wednesday 26th September to Saturday 29th September from 10am to 6.30pm

Tickets:  Tickets are available for purchase on the official MYS website, or at the show at one of the three entrances.  This year, ticket prices have increased – buy MYS tickets here.  Children under 12 years of age are free.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there!  Please share this MYS 2018 guide on social media if you’ve found it informative. Thank you!

 

 

 

Family-friendly things to do during summer on the French Riviera

Summer school holidays are almost here and already plans are underway for things to keep the kids entertained until September rolls around and schools go back.

Here are some of my budget-friendly suggestions for families to stay entertained through summer:

PARC PHOENIX – NICE

Parc Phoenix is one of our favourite family attractions on the French Riviera.  Located at the L’Arénas complex near the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, it’s a great place to spend a few hours if you have kids of varying ages.

The park features:

  • A lake with ducks, fish and various water birds

  • Enclosures with animals including parrots, meerkats, wallabies, otters, monkeys, porcupines
  • Fountains, cascades and water zones with stepping stones, turtles or small fish

  • A huge greenhouse with tropical and sub-tropical plants and flowers, and animals such as alligators, flamingoes, snakes, koi carp, tortoises and iguanas.  Note:  The aquarium has been closed for some time.

  • A mini farm zone with goats, poneys, pigs and chickens
  • A large playground area with various climbing frames, slides and play equipment suitable for 1 year upwards.  The playground zone also has accessible toilet facilities with a baby change table.
  • A small restaurant sells snacks and drinks – paninis, salads, crepes, fries, ice creams, coffee, cold drinks. There are tables and chairs with umbrellas.
  • Temporary exhibitions of art or photography; often themed around science, animals or botany

The park is stroller-friendly; wheelchair access is wholly possible for the park grounds, excluding some areas in the greenhouse that have stairs.

Super tips

Carparking:  Visitors to Parc Phoenix get 2 hours free parking at Parking de l’Arénas next to the park every day in summer from 15 June to 15 September, during Zone B school holidays, on weekends and on bank holidays.

2-for-1 attractions:  An extra bonus is that if you visit Parc Phoenix you can also visit the Musée des Arts Asiatiques next door, which has free entry.  Guided tours, workshops, audioguides and the tea ceremony are additional cost. My opinion is that the Asian Arts Museum is more suited to adults, but it’s a lovely light-filled building with some excellent displays and temporary exhibitions.

Special events:  The park’s restaurant can arrange catering for birthdays, weddings, conferences.  They also host an Easter Egg Hunt at Parc Phoenix every year where toddlers look for eggs in straw, and older children follow a treasure hunt for chocolate eggs (for the Easter activity, reservation is not necessary).

Opening hours for Parc Phoenix

Summer hours 01 April to 30 September:  9.30am to 7.30pm

Winter hours 01 October to 31 March:  9.30am to 6pm

Note:  The park is open every day, including bank holidays.  The ticket office closes 1 hour before park closing times.

Entry price

Adults €5 each (or €3 with the Musées de Nice pass)

Kids under 12 years are FREE

Find out more about the opening hours and map for Parc Phoenix here:  Parc Phoenix 

RIVER WALKS – VILLENEUVE LOUBET, SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS AND LA COLLE-SUR-LOUP

When it’s hot and crowded at the beaches, we love to visit some of the river locations a short distance from the coast where you can walk along shaded forest paths and/or swim in cool water.

Here are 3 family-friendly river walks located within 15 minutes drive from the coast.  The first one is baby stroller and bike-friendly; the second and third options follow dirt / gravel paths but there are some areas of big rocks or tree roots on the pathways, so while it’s manageable for bikes it’s not particularly pram-friendly by the end of the tracks.  All walks below are a short distance from the carpark area, maximum 10 minutes walk one way, so perfectly manageable for ages 18 months old upwards.

  1. River Loup walk from Villeneuve Loubet village:  At the entrance to Canyon Forest, cross the road bridge and park at Villeneuve Loubet village at Parking du General du Gaulle. Cross the river via the bridge beside the carpark and follow the riverside path.  It is firm dirt so fine for bikes, scooters, baby prams and electric wheelchairs.

rives du loup walk

2. Pont de la Veirière along the La Brague river:  The access is a bit tricky to locate as it’s not particularly well sign-posted.

There are 2 options:  From the Fitlane in Sophia Antipolis, follow route des Crêtes passing Air France on the left until it joins onto route des Macarons. Continue straight ahead, you will pass the large Fire Station on the right-hand side before the road reaches a left bend.  Here, you can park at ‘La Veirière’ carpark and walk downhill to the river following the gravel path.

The other preferred option that we take is to park at the carpark shown as (B) on the map in this link:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NuAMu0iFhY-EGRqA0Y-GD4lQEXPCAyo7&usp=sharing     Once you park, go left along the river 5-10 minutes and there are plenty of swimming holes and shaded areas to access the river.

There are no toilet facilities of course, but plenty of places for a riverside picnic, swimming, climbing trees, skipping stones in the river.  If you have toddlers, there are lots of places for a shallow splash in the water.  Great place to walk dogs too!

This is a great river walk for nature spotting for kids; we always see lots of butterflies, birds, dragonflies and small fish.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NuAMu0iFhY-EGRqA0Y-GD4lQEXPCAyo7&usp=sharing

3. Kayak Club river walk along the River Loup at La Colle-sur-Loup:  The town of La Colle-sur-Loup is located just 10 minutes drive from the coast.   From the town, head towards Ludiparc along route du Pont de Pierre, turn left into chemin de la Fuontsanta and park at the Spcoc Canoë Kayak Club.

The carpark is well shaded and you can follow the river to the left along flat ground for 15 minutes, passing shaded swimming holes and picnic tables along the river.

balade rives du loup

The Kayak Club river walk along the River Loup at La Colle-sur-Loup is an easy family walk that is great for hot days! (pic: Couleur Montagne)

Eventually, you get to a large pebble beach area, with a great outlook of the river and limestone cliffs that are popular for rock climbing (the climbing spot is called La Bagarée with varying degrees of difficulty.  The list of climbs available is here).  This area is part of the Parc Natural Départemental des Rives du Loup.

la bagaree

A wonderful riverside pebble beach that’s great for picnics and swimming in cool water (pic: Couleur Montagne)

Note: There is limited shade at the main pebble beach, so take an umbrella.  Don’t walk underneath the cliffs as there are sometimes rock falls.  There are also small rapids so take care with small kids; the river is not so fast-moving that the kayakers will suddenly be approaching but do keep a look out for some!

Again, no toilet facilities at the pebble beach and take all your rubbish home with you.  There are lots of butterflies, birdlife and insects along the forest path, as well as small fish in the river.

Here’s a map of how to find the Kayak Club in La Colle-sur-Loup:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uwP6BFyE8oUPUqdwP11vzkIQTisoDeIM&usp=sharing

FAMILY-FRIENDLY BEACHES – JUAN LES PINS, CAP D’ANTIBES AND THÉOULE-SUR-MER

With the redesignation of public versus private beaches on the Côte d’Azur, there is now more room for a spot on the sand (or pebbles).  When you have children, there are some main factors you may consider regarding beaches:

  • Availability, ease and cost of carparking
  • Shade
  • Clean and shallow water
  • Toilet facilities
  • Food & beverage outlets
  • Beach activities
  • And for me, the less crowded the better!

Not all of these are ‘must haves’ to ensure a great time at the beach, however if a beach has at least 5 of these it gets a thumbs up from us for family-friendliness.  Here are a couple of my summer picks for family-friendly beaches on the French Riviera:

Plage de la Gallice is a small public beach located at the port in Juan les Pins.  Coming from Hôtel Belles Rives direction toward the Cap d’Antibes, you’ll find pay carparking at Port Gallice and even in the height of summer there is usually a space. Pedestrians will see a set of stairs 300 metres from the Belles Rives that leads down to the snack kiosk and beach. You can also walk to the beach along the seafront via a concrete walkway, passing Le Provençal Beach and the Belles Rives.

This beach is more of a locals hangout than a tourist spot, so if you arrive early in the day it’s a fantastic beach spot and gets some shade in the morning from a high wall bordering the length of the neighbouring properties. There is a snack shop there, beach showers and accessible toilet facilities.

Note:  Usually the water is quite clean, however sadly this beach did lose it’s Pavillon Bleu (Blue Flag) status this year which is awarded for environment excellence and high water quality (that being said, because it’s located right by the marina it’s monitored regularly for water quality, so check the noticeboard at the entrance to the beach).

Plage des Ondes is another public beach located on the Cap d’Antibes.  The beach is a small sandy strip, but has a wonderful view of the bay, across to the Lérins Islands and the picturesque Port de l’Olivette.  There are beach showers and toilet there, but the downsides are intermittent shade, no food outlets and limited carparking on surrounding streets.  The main road beside the beach can get quite busy with road traffic in summer, so exercise caution if you’re walking.

It is however a great beach for families if you go early in the day, and older kids will enjoy climbing up the tower which you can read about here on I Love Cap d’Antibes blog.  I also visit this beach regularly for paddle boarding as the water is usually calm and beautifully clear.

Super tips

If you have children, the end of Plage des Ondes closest to the toilet cabin gets some shade early in the day, as seen in the second photo below.

Just behind the toilet cabin, is a small sheltered swimming area (with pebble beach) which is great for snorkeling, shown in the first photo below.

plage des ondes cap d'antibes

Plage des Ondes, 8am and no one around !

Plage de la Figueirette is located at Miramar in Théoule-sur-Mer and is an excellent choice for families.  The beach is split in two with the end closest to Port de la Figueirette having fine white sand, beach showers and more space; the western end has gritty sand and more pebbles in the water so kids probably would appreciate aqua shoes.

plage de la figueirette

The beach at the port end of Plage de la Figueirette has fine white sand and clear water

Free carparking is at the port or by Le Panama restaurant.  Free public accessible beach toilets and beach showers are located at the carpark next to Le Panama restaurant with ramp access to the beach.

Plage de la Figueirette has a few beach restaurants:

  • At the port, there is a small restaurant at the entrance to the port also a restaurant named La Marine that has a shaded terrace overlooking the bay, as well as a shaded snack restaurant offering paninis, fries, steak, salads and pizzas (friendly service, good prices, baby high chair, accessible ground-level toilet).
port de la figueirette

The view from the restaurant terrace at La Marine, Port de la Figueirette

  • Bondi Beach is a chic beach restaurant with lots of beach loungers, beach bar, some tables under trees, kids menu. There is also a small playground area.
  • Le Panama has indoor and outdoor dining areas, kids menu, beach loungers for rent.

Next to the port is a Jetscool tiki hut where you can hire flyboards and jetskis, including kids electric jetskis. The kids electric jetskis run on an inflatable course; hireage is for kids aged 4-10 years with an accompanying adult, the cost is €20 for 15 minutes.

electric jetski theoule sur mer

Kids electric jetskis can be rented at plage de la Figueirette for use within an inflatable circuit (with adult supervision).

At the western end of the beach you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, catamarans, windsurfers and Optimists with Bat’Ski.

During summer, the Navette Maritime Esterel ferry also operates between Cannes-Mandelieu La-Napoule-Théoule-sur-Mer and Port de la Figueirette.  This is a great scenic boat trip for families along the coast (journey is around 1 hour oneway between Cannes and La Figueirette) and runs 4 departures daily each way with stops at each port on the way.

The Navette Maritime Esterel costs €10 per adult for a day pass, kids aged 3-10 years cost just €5 return, kids under 3 years are free.  It really is excellent value as you can’t get a boat trip or cruise locally for that price!

Find out the timetables here:  Navette Maritime Esterel and watch the trailer video below (video from Films06 / Communauté d’Agglomération des Pays de Lérins):

Super tips

Beach inspiration:  Curious to find other great beaches on the French Riviera? Cannes Estate has curated a huge list of 104 beaches on the Côte d’Azur and Phoebe from Lou Messugo shares her Top 12 favourite beaches on the French Riviera.

Beach at Cannes (image: Fodors)

Water quality at French Riviera beaches:  French Riviera towns and municipalities take the water quality at beaches seriously.  To check the water quality at any beach on the Côte d’Azur, the French Ministry of Health provides updates on testing and analysis of water quality.  Follow these instructions below:

  1. Choose ‘Mainland France’
  2. Drop down Départment:  06 – ALPES MARITIMES
  3. Select :  A town and a beach

Click on this link to find out the latest results of Water quality at French Riviera beaches

Jellyfish alerts:  Occasionally, the French Riviera has jellyfish warnings.  Usually, it’s the purple Pelagia jellyfish which can inflict nasty stings.  The Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer researches and maps jellyfish sightings on the French Riviera, click on this link, Jellyfish Alerts French Riviera, to go to the map or to report your own jellyfish sightings.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog post – please share it on social media via Facebook and Twitter if you’ve found it informative. Thank you!

Les Voiles d’Antibes and L’Italie à Table 2018

Les Voiles d’Antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes is an annual sailing regatta hosted at Port Vauban and the 23rd edition will take place from 30 May to 3 June 2018.

This popular event signals the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge and sees the port in Antibes and surrounding sea filled with beautiful yachts including vintage yachts built pre-1950 and classic yachts from the late 1950’s onwards.

voiles d'antibes

Les Voiles d’Antibes 2018 will be held from 30 May to 3 June

As well as the yacht races, a pop-up Village is set up at the Bastion Saint Jaume at Port Vauban with exhibits about marine preservation and the sea.  A huge drawcard for the community is free nightly entertainment with live music and bars.

Les Voiles d’Antibes (image: Stilldrone)

See Les Voiles d’Antibes 2018 Programme here including times for the bands:  Les Voiles d’Antibes 2018 Programme

A map for the location of Les Voiles d’Antibes is below:

Find out more about the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge here:   Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge

L’Italie à Table

The sights and smells of L’Italie à Table will cross over the same time as Les Voiles d’Antibes (from 31 May to 3 June 2018) at Port Vauban in Antibes.

L’Italie à Table is an Italian food festival that features a number of Italian gastronomy products such as cheese, pasta, beverages, cured meats, olive oils, pastries, bread, sweets as well as recipe demonstrations, children’s workshops and live music.

The Antibes event is a sister festival to a similar festival that was recently held in Saint Raphael and another festival that will be hosted on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice from 8 to 10 June.

l'italie à table antibes

L’Italie à Table is returning for the third year to Antibes; it has been running for 14 years in Nice

L’Italie à Table Antibes is free entry to the public and opening hours are:  10am to 8pm daily; 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday.

View the programme here:  L’Italie à Table Antibes Programme

How to get there

By train: The Gare d’Antibes (Antibes train station) is just 5 minutes walk from Port Vauban; simply cross the road directly outside the main entrance to the station and walk down Avenue de la Libération to the roundabout, continue straight ahead along Avenue de Verdun.

L’Italie à Table is set up in marquees at the square opposite the marina and Les Voiles d’Antibes is taking place at Bastion Saint Jaume by the Nomade statue near the Quai des Milliardaires.

By bus:  Bus numbers 1, 8 or 200 stop outside Hotel Le Collier opposite the Antibes train station / Pole d’échanges and you can follow the directions above to get to the port from the station.  Alternatively, the Antibes Gare Routiere in old town is a 5 minute walk to the port.

By car:  You can get to both of these events by car either via the RN7 or bord de Mer (coastal road).  Because there are a number of constructions happening in central Antibes, car parking for both of these events is best at the Q-Park underground pay carpark at Pré des Pêcheurs, 20 avenue de Verdun.  Parking prices are here:  Parking Antibes port   Alternative pay carparks are located at Parking Poirier on boulevard Dugommier or Parking avenue Frères Olivier.

Accessibility notes

Both events are on flat, paved ground so they are suitable for families with kids in baby strollers, or people with restricted mobility.  Note:  The whole quay area and Village is on flat ground, however the bar area at Les Voiles d’Antibes is on raised decking and toilets at the Village are not accessible for wheelchair users. The nearest ground-level accessible toilets are by plage Gravette, at the automated pay toilet on Avenue de Verdun near the boules pitch or go to Félix Café or Gusto (pizza place) just inside the first archway to old town as both have ground-level accessible toilets.

Please share this post on Facebook or Twitter!