Top 4 : The Best February Festivals On The French Riviera

There are plenty of reasons a festival might make your bucket list, however when you have children you often need to compromise with schedules, facilities and transport.

One of the best ways for kids to experience arts, music and culture is to join in on the festival atmosphere at local events.

From big-hitting carnivals to small traditional celebrations, the French Riviera has plenty of festivals for all ages and attention spans!   Here’s my pick of the Top 4 family-friendly festivals happening during February on the French Riviera.

  1. Nice Carnival  :  15 February – 29 February 2020

One of the world’s biggest carnivals, the 2020 theme for this annual event is ‘King of Fashion (Roi de la Mode)’.  Fabulous flower battles, afternoon and night time parades with floats, lights, costumed actors and animations ensure a family-friendly event with plenty of entertainment.

The Bataille des Fleurs takes place at the same location as the main parades; at Place Massena and around Jardin Albert 1er gardens.

The parades are spectacular, with floats taking hundreds of hours of work to create.  Parades last around 1.5 hours.

My top tips: 

To get access to your seats, be sure to use the correct entrance number which is shown on your ticket or else you will be diverted elsewhere.

Before you go to Nice, check the road restrictions on the official website because there are many roads closed 3 hours prior to the parades as well as restrictions on parking zones.  You can find the information under ‘Practical Information – Access, Transport and Parking’ on the Nice Carnival website.  Some parking zones including Port Lympia and Nice Etoile have a special parking offer where you pay just €5 for 5 hours parking.

Don’t forget if you dress in fancy dress, you get FREE standing entry in Zones A and B for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.   Persons with disabilities also get FREE entry for standing Zone B for the Flower Parades, Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights.

Children aged 0-10 get FREE entry in Zone B (Standing around Jardin Albert 1er) for the Carnival Parades and Parade of Lights which is excellent for families to be able to enjoy the festivities!

For the official carnival programme, go here:  Nice Carnival 2020 

Watch a video below of one of last year’s Corso carnivalesque illuminé below (courtesy of Nice Côte d’Azur Tourism) showing what to expect during this 2-week party:

2. Fête du Citron : 15 February – 03 March 2020

The 87th edition of Menton’s wonderful Fête du Citron kicks off the same day as the opening of Nice Carnival, running from 15th February to 3rd March 2020.

It’s a unique festival attracting around 200,000 visitors annually who visit to see around 140 tons of citrus fruit in sculptures and parade floats.

We particularly love seeing the large-scale citrus sculptures in the Jardins Biovès which are 5-10 metres in height and engineered from wire framing and thousands of oranges and lemons.  It’s a good outing for families as the exhibition zone isn’t too big, nor do you have to wait too long for the action to start.  The gardens are open during the day, and there is evening admission when the sculptures are illuminated with sound.

Adjacent to the gardens is the Palais de l’Europe which has an artisan market selling things such as limoncello or Provençal linen decorated with lemons, alongside an orchid display.

The parades include street performers, dancers, confetti and bands with the night time parades having lanterns or fireworks as well.

This year the theme is ‘Les Fêtes du Monde’.

My top tips:

Taking the train is a good option because the Jardins Biovès and the parade circuit is about 5 minutes walk from the main train station.  Menton has 2 train stations so you need to get off at Gare de Menton and NOT Menton Garavan station.

If you drive, beware that streets in and near the festival are closed to traffic and if you are going to the Sunday Golden Fruits parades to arrive before midday.  There are 3 carparks available to use on Sundays (Golden Fruits parade days) – they are located near the Italian border (Rondelli Stadium), at the Intermarché car park near the Vallée du Carei motorway exit and the Val d’Anaud Stadium.  These carparks are free and shuttle buses run to/from the festival zones. Check the shuttle information here:  Fête du Citron shuttle buses

Wheelchair users can access the garden display, as well there is a designated viewing area for the parades at Place Saint Roch which is the eastern end of the parade route.  If you have restricted mobility and want to access the beach, go opposite the Belle Époque Hotel Royal Westminster – the entire seafront of Promenade du Soleil is wheelchair accessible.

Visit the official Lemon Festival website here:  Fête du Citron 2020

If you have never visited the Fête du Citron before, you may be wondering what happens to the incredible amount of fruit that is used!  A lot of it is thrown away due to rot or composted after the festival, however once the main sculptures are disassembled the remaining fruit is sold publicly.  You can buy bags of oranges and lemons for less than €1 – there is no limit.

You can see some of my photos from previous festivals below:

Things to see and do in Menton

Menton is a lovely destination to visit year round with a backdrop of mountains, an Italianate Old Town and a promenade stretching to Cap Martin.

Other things to do when you’re in Menton include discovering the Musée Jean Cocteau, visiting the churches Basilique Saint Michel and Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, exploring the gardens such as Serre de la Madonne or Jardin Fontana Rosa and taking in the panoramic view from the Cimetière du Vieux Château, high above Menton.

If you want to do a day trip while you’re visiting Menton, you can head over the border to the Italian towns of Ventimiglia or Sanremo that have great food markets, or read more on Christie from Scribbles and Smiles blog and add Sainte-Agnès to your itinerary.

Sainte-Agnès is off the beaten track but worth visiting (photo: menton.fr)

3. Fête du Mimosa : 19 February – 26 February 2020

The mimosa is already flowering and is a welcome end to winter days.  The annual Fête du Mimosa is held in the streets of Mandelieu-La Napoule where the golden bloom is celebrated with flower battles, music and activities.

For more information about the Mimosa Festival programme and tickets, visit the Office de Tourism website here:  Fête du Mimosa 2020

Fête du Mimosa in Mandelieu-La-Napoule (pic: Mondoramas)

As well as the main festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule, other towns host mimosa festivities and parades including Pegomas, St Maxime and Tanneron.

Route du Mimosa walking trails

You can also do a variety of walking trails if you want to see mimosa forests – the best family-friendly trails we’ve found are between Mandelieu-Tanneron-Auribeau-Pégomas.

If you start at Mandelieu, take Boulevard Paul Tarascon, then Boulevard des Termes, heading towards Tanneron on the Route de Tanneron (D92).  After driving about 10 minutes from Mandelieu, you reach the Circuit du Grand Duc and there is an easy walking trail with great views of the hills covered in mimosa.  This trail is super popular at weekends and there is limited carparking, so go early!  Here is the map:  Circuit du Grand Duc.

For other mimosa trail options, refer to ‘La Route du Mimosa’ for more information.

4. Festival International des Jeux : 21 February – 23 February 2020

A fun festival for families with all types of activities, games and toys to try out.  You can find everything from classic and contemporary board games, Cosplay, video games, escape games, simulators, toys, sci-fi and fantasy games, wooden games, models, trading cards and more.

Entrance is free, however they also have a payable VIP option where you get fast access entry and a free game.

My top tips: 

There are a few restrictions for this festival for items that you can and can’t take into the venue.  For example, you can’t take your own food into the Palais, unless it’s vacuum sealed sandwiches/crisps etc and a plastic water bottle up to 50cl.  There are food outlets inside the Palais; prices are OK for an event venue.

You also can’t take baby prams or large backpacks inside; last year there was a luggage check facility to leave these items and it cost €2. I couldn’t find any more information on their website if the luggage facility is chargeable this year?

Find out the full programme and list of exhibitors here:  Festival International des Jeux

Note:  Last year, getting into the Palais was a bit of a mission as the entrance queues were long and there was only one person on the first security bag check (!!).  I hope they rectify this for this year, because there were lots of families with small children who waited a long time.  Regardless, the festival is worth checking out over the 3 days that it takes place.

Have you been to any of these festivals?  Which one is your favourite?  Like or comment on this post. 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! We’re closed over Christmas and New Year

I will be in the UK for Christmas and New Year, therefore Access Riviera will be quiet until early January.

One thing I’ve learned through blogging is that it is OK to step away from time to time and reenergise your mind and body.  In the beginning, I was learning new things and trying to express my thoughts here – now, I can do things in my own time and not feel obligated to post every week because I have a family and other projects on the go.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned this year running Access Riviera:

  1. That the message matters more than the medium.  This year, there’s been a pull towards jumping onto the latest tools and trendy social media such as TikTok, but I’ve learned to gravitate to what works best – for Access Riviera’s audience that is maintaining a presence via my subscriber list, on Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Good images and good storytelling still rule.
  3. Blog analytics are so valuable for defining what posts are doing well (and also what content is a complete flop) so I can create more of those winning posts.
  4. That there is no trickery in running a top blog.  This year, I’ve had a big part of my time taken by client projects, so regular posts onto my blog have been neglected and this has definitely reflected in the drop of visitors to my blog.  Blogging isn’t ‘easy’ because it demands consistency and fresh content.
  5. That whatever I blog about can still be relevant months and years later.

Thank you for all your support this year – Merry Christmas and best wishes!

Ultimately, Access Riviera is part of my life.  It grew from a hobby to a business, and I’ll continue to enjoy the experience of it.

I have some incredible client and personal projects launching in 2020, so I hope this little community I’ve built through my blog writing sticks around!

What were my most popular blog posts in 2019?

My 5 most popular blog posts by views this year are below – interestingly, two were published this year, two were from 2017 and one I wrote way back in 2014 proving that old content can still do well! :

35 Family-friendly Things To See And Do For Christmas 2019 On The Côte d’Azur

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

Secret French Riviera:  Hidden Spots Worth Visiting 

7 Reasons Not To Visit The Côte d’Azur In Winter

And my most popular blog post?  A guide about car parts and mechanical terms in French !  I’m not sure why people love this as a reference source, but it’s very popular in searches and 5 years after going live this is still my highly-visited post each year by thousands of views.  Take a look here:  Car Parts & Mechanical Terms in French 

Thank you to all my followers who have liked, commented or shared my posts throughout the year – I see every comment and your support is greatly appreciated!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

See you in 2020!

35 Family-friendly Ideas : Christmas Holidays 2019 on the French Riviera

The French Riviera is the ideal destination to soak up the holiday season with everything happening including Christmas markets dressed in their finest decorations and lights, food festivals and winter activities.

There’s plenty for families to see and do, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune – here are 35 of my best suggestions to get into the festive spirit on the French Riviera:

Admire the illuminated light shows

As well as the Christmas markets with beautiful light garlands and displays, there are a few worthy mentions for places to go to see spectacular lights at night during these Christmas school holidays.

Saint-Laurent du Var projected video show

On Wednesday 18 December, a free sound and light show will be projected at 6.30pm on the facade of the Hôtel de Ville in Saint-Laurent du Var.   At 6.45pm, the Enchanted Forest displays will be opened along with mulled wine and hot chocolate offered by the municipality.

(photo: Recreanice)

Nice, baie des lumières

Nice, baie des lumières is being hosted at Parc Phoenix in Nice until 23 February 2020.  It comprises of around 550 illuminated Chinese lanterns, including a Great Wall, pandas and dragons.  The festival also includes kung fu demonstrations, tea ceremonies and traditional dance performances.

See Chinese lanterns at the ‘Nice, baie des lumières’ display at Parc Phoenix until February 2020 (photos: baiedeslumieres on Instagram)

Note:  Nice, baie des lumières displays are only on from Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesdays).  It is open every day during Christmas school holidays, including Christmas Day and New Years Day.

In my opinion, I think €17 for adults and €12 for children (5-17 yrs) is quite pricey for a static festival, especially when I’ve experienced free Chinese lantern festivals overseas, however it’s worth visiting as it’s not something that happens regularly in this region and kids can get a glimpse into another culture.  My top tips are to buy a Family Pass, or visit on Wednesday or Thursday when admission is at a reduced price.

More information about Nice, baie des lumières is here: https://www.baiedeslumieres.com/index_en.html . There is also a similar Chinese lantern festival being hosted in Marseille until 19 January 2020, details are at this link for Les Lumières Légendaires de Chine.

Take advantage of the great outdoors

The Côte d’Azur is blessed with mild weather year-round, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get outdoors.  Even if the temperature is a bit cooler, you will still experience mostly blue skies and be able to soak up the beauty of nature.

Mountain life

Head to the mountains where you’ll find over 30 ski resorts just a few hours drive from the coast, catering for everyone from novices to expert.  Most ski resorts have rental shops where you can hire skis, helmets, snowboards, boots or toboggans/sleds.

If you don’t have a toboggan/sled, you can hire one for around €10.

There are also group or private ski lessons available, as well as the addition of kids clubs so you can have qualified carers mind your little ones while you get in a few runs and a post-ski vin chaud.

Ventes flash:  Don’t miss the opportunity for discounted adult ski passes for Auron and Isola 2000 – look for the flash sales online on Tuesday nights at 8pm where you can buy an adult ski pass for 50% off.  Stock is limited and basically runs until the last one sells.  Be ready to buy one!  Go here for the flash pass links:  Auron and Isola 2000 Flash Sales

100% Neige ski buses:  Ski buses run to and from Nice to selected mountain resorts during winter season.

I’ve previously used them and they are great if you want to avoid driving winding roads or for a half-day trip to the mountain without worrying about parking, petrol costs etc.  The downside is that the ski buses times don’t really sync if you have group ski lessons booked (morning and afternoon sessions), but you can always reserve a private lesson at a time that suits you best.

The 100% Neige ski buses serve :

  • La Colmiane, with a navette to Boréon : Bus #90; was previously known as bus number 730; daily service until the close of the ski season.
  • Auron, with a navette to Roubion :  Bus #91; was previously number 740; daily service until 19 April 2020.
  • Isola 2000 : Bus #92; was previously number 750; daily service until the close of the season.
  • Valberg :  Bus 770; daily service until 9 March 2020.

The cost for the ski buses is €6 oneway per person with pre-booking, €12 return.  (Note: There are also regular bus lines that service the mountain towns).

The best stop to get on the ski buses in Nice is right outside the Nice Ville train station, opposite the post office; the name of the bus stop is ‘Poste Thiers – SNCF’.  You must book online and you are sent an e-ticket to print and give the bus driver.

For ski buses to La Colmiane, Auron, Isola 2000, book online at www.lignesazur.com

For ski buses to Valberg, book online at zou.maregionsud.fr

The 100% Neige ski bus timetables are here: Valberg ski bus and Bus 100% Neige – Auron, Isola 2000, La Colmiane

Other attractions in the mountains include Parc Alpha Loup, Vesubia Mountain Park and Via Ferrata at Lantosque.

If you’re visiting the ski resorts during Christmas 2019 school holidays, there’s loads of activities and events happening such as torchlight mountain descents (24th and 27th December and 3 January in Valberg), Santa arriving by various modes of transport including skis, husky dog sled or zipline, fireworks displays, free concerts and cinema screenings such as Frozen 2 which will be screened in Auron, Valberg and Valdeblore.

(photo: Auron)

Family-friendly walking trails

Winter is a fantastic time to experience many of the region’s walking trails, without the crowds from summer.  Three family-friendly walks are:

Cap d’Antibes loop walk : nice coastal scenery, toddler age will need supervision as there are some steep sections and uneven surfaces, the pathway has some stairs so it’s not suitable for prams/baby strollers.  The full walk from Plage Garoupe past Villa Eilenroc is around 1.25-1.5 hours; the mini loop walk from the side track opposite Château de la Croe takes about 25 minutes and is ideal for families with small children.

The Cap d’Antibes coastal walk, also know as the Sentier Littoral, is a scenic coastal pathway for families to discover.

Villeneuve Loubet seafront : flat seafront walkway from Marina Baie des Anges towards Cagnes sur Mer with cafeterias along the way, plenty of carparking at Marina Baie des Anges and accessible toilets.

There is plenty of carparking at Marina Baie des Anges if you want to walk along the seafront at Villeneuve Loubet towards Cagnes sur Mer.

Parc du Paradou between Golfe Juan and Cannes : Has limited carparking but lots of great views across the sea, wear comfortable footwear as the path can be rocky in places, take a picnic as there’s no food outlets nearby, lots of trees and chances to see birds and other wildlife. Great location for dog walking too! For directions, click here:  Parc du Paradou map

Parc du Paradou is never crowded and offers a local nature walk with views of trees and the sea.

Cycle trails

Cycling is a wonderful activity where all the family can participate.  The variety of cycling routes on the Côte d’Azur is excellent, ranging from flat coastal pathways to hilly climbs for more experienced cyclists. Interest in cycling is steady year-round with events such as Nice Ironman and Tour de France 2020 helping boost the profile of cycling.

Expert cyclists can take on hill climbs such as Col de Vence and Col de la Madone, but in general family-friendly cycle options are most accessible near to the coast.

Families can avoid traffic by using the region’s coastal cycle paths – the routes are usually paved, smooth and pot-hole free!  They are also near to restaurants, snack kiosks or picnic areas so you don’t have to cycle too far if you have small children.

Here’s three fun places to go cycling en famille:

Cagnes sur Mer : The seafront has a marked cycleway, also the Jardin de la Villette playground at 7 Maréchal Juin in the centre of Cagnes sur Mer has a mini roadway marked out so younger cyclists can practise their riding or play on their scooters in a fenced, safe environment.

The playground at Jardin de la Villette in Cagnes sur Mer has a separate mini road zone so kids can ride in safety.

Nice : A cycle journey on the French Riviera can’t be done without discovering Nice by bike!  Did you know that Nice has over 125km of cycleway paths and dedicated parking for anyone on 2 wheels?   Hire a Vélo Bleu bike, or take your own.

Casual cyclists can pedal along the Promenade des Anglais enjoying the view across the turquoise sea, while serious cyclists may opt to stop in at Café du Cycliste at Nice Port which retails cycle gear, rents bikes and serves pedal-worthy coffee.

Café du Cycliste in Nice

Sanremo:  OK, not exactly the French Riviera I know, however the Pista Ciclabile / Ponente Ligure cycle path is worth mentioning if you fancy a day trip just over the border in Italy.  The cycleway follows an old railway line and covers 24 kilometres from San Lorenzo al Mare to Sanremo (Ospedaletti).  You can stop and start wherever you like!

Along the way, the route is a mix of quality paved coastal path and tunnels with plenty of locations to rent bikes, stop at beaches, sit on benches to admire the view and grab a drink at pretty Italian villages.  Highly recommended.  For the route map and more information, you can click on this link to Pista Ciclabile.

(images: viagginbici and Pista Ciclabile)

Get creative

School holidays are a great time to get creative with Christmas-themed craft workshops, fun events and kids cooking classes.

Kids cooking classes

Until Saturday 21 December, Jacobs Création in Nice is running kids patissier classes.  Classes from 18 December onwards include making reindeer popcakes, emoji cookies, bûche de Noel and a special themed workshop on 21 December based on Disney’s Frozen with cooking and craft sessions. Reserve a place via Jacobs Création.

Jacobs Création in Nice is hosting kids cooking classes over Christmas school holidays (photo: Jacobs Création)

Christmas craft workshop

On Sunday 22 December, the Médiathèque in Vence is hosting a Christmas craft workshop from 10am to 4pm with origami, card making and other activities.  Reserve a place by telephone:  04 93 58 02 12

The Médiathèque in Vence is holding a Christmas craft workshop

BrickLive Monaco / BrickLive Christmas

Last year, we had a fantastic day at the BrickLive Monaco event at the Grimaldi Forum where the kids got to play in different Lego®-style zones making their own creations out of mini bricks for Star Wars, Friends, animals, cities and more.

Last year’s BrickLive Monaco was awesome – I wonder what this year’s event will be like?

The good news is that BrickLive Monaco is returning!   Head along to the Grimaldi Forum from 21 December 2019 to 5 January 2020 for more interactive, hands-on construction.   Don’t miss the special displays featuring ocean creatures and a life-size Lego® version of Felipe Massa’s Formula E car. 

Watch the promo video here:  https://tv.grimaldiforum.com/video-413-bricklive-2019-2020#embed270

My tip is to ask for the special combination ticket deal at Grimaldi Forum where you can get entry to BrickLive Monaco AND the Monaco Oceanarium for great prices.

More info about BrickLive Monaco is here: https://www.grimaldiforum.com/fr/agenda-manifestations-monaco/bricklive-monaco#.XfZxpG5FzIV

Bricklive Monaco will have a life-size replica of Felipe Massa’s Formula E car made entirely of Lego. (image: Grimaldi Forum)

Visit the French Riviera Christmas markets

I love taking the kids to the Christmas markets on the Côte d’Azur.  Each one is different and has anything on offer from theme park rides, music, face painting and magic shows, artisan stalls, kids craft workshops, Santa visits and food outlets selling things such as pretzels, gingerbread, hot chocolate, vin chaud or cookies.

French Riviera Christmas markets have food chalets, entertainment and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Where do you take your kids for ice skating?  Head to the Christmas markets at Antibes, Auron, Cannes, Golfe Juan (at Theatre de la Mer), Grasse, Monaco, Mougins, Nice and Saint-Martin-Vesubie which all have pop-up ice skating rinks for school holidays.

Looking for something a bit different? Here’s 6 more ideas:

  • Watch the free show ‘Moscow Circus on Ice’ at Monaco Christmas Market on Saturday 21 December from 5.30pm-8.30pm.
  • See Santa water skiing in Juan les Pins at 10.30am on Sunday 22 December.
  • Visit the Enchanted Forest at Parc Layet during Saint-Laurent du Var’s Christmas market.
  • Get up close to farm animals at the mini farm experiences during school holidays at Pinède Gould in Juan les Pins, Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and Théoule sur Mer.
  • Take a free zipline ride on Christmas Eve from 2.30pm-5pm – the zipline goes from the second floor at the Mairie in Saint-Martin-Vesubie!
  • Check out the traditional santon and crèche displays at Roquebrune Village or Lucéram over the festive period.

Experience a seasonal food festival

Whether you join in on local festivities such as the Fête de la Buche de Noel tradition that’s hosted by the Commune de Safranier in Antibes each December, or head to a truffle market, you’re sure to find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Top family-friendly picks over the holiday season are breakfast with Santa at the Hard Rock Café Nice on Saturday 21 December, the truffle market at Saint-Paul de Vence on Sunday 22 December complete with live music and truffling dogs, or head a little bit further to Aix-en-Provence for the ‘Market of 13 Desserts‘ from 17 to 24 December to sample goodies that are traditionally enjoyed at Christmas time.

Treize desserts de Noël (photo © REY Jerome / Maxppp)

Highly recommended is a visit to the southern France truffle markets that are open until March – Aups is held on Thursday morning, Carpentras is Friday morning and Richerenches is Saturday morning.  Visit https://www.richerenches.fr/ for more information.

Thanks for reading my post.  Please share it on social media and have a safe and enjoyable festive season!  

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)

 

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

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

top french travel blog

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

How did I end up on this Top 100 list?

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

The blogs are ranked based on the following criteria:

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

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

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More in store for 2019

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

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

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

Promenade Le Corbusier

Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints

Ventimiglia : Day trip from France

Why visit Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villa Nellcote : A palatial mansion with a lengthy past

Heritage trail in Juan les Pins

Thank you for your support and following Access Riviera!

 

 

 

350K visitors! THANK YOU!

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

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

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

travel french riviera

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

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

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

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

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

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

THANK YOU!

 

5 cool ideas for Christmas holidays on the French Riviera

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

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

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

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

1. Get creative at BRICKLIVE Monaco

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

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

bricklive monaco

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

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

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

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

Buy tickets hereTickets for Bricklive Monaco

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

2. Visit the French Riviera Christmas Markets

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

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

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

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

3. See the nativity crèches in Lucéram

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

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

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

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

creches luceram

Circuit des Creches in Lucéram (image: Simone Laurent)

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

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

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

4. Chill out in the mountains

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

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

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

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

valberg christmas

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

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

noel auron

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

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

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

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

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

7pm      Jumanji  (suitable for older kids)

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

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

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

5. Soar sky high over Monaco

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

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

monaco helicopter tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!