42nd Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo

The Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo is a yearly circus festival hosted under the Chapiteau (big top) at Espace Fontvieille in Monaco.

This year, it will run from 18 to 28 January 2018.

What To Expect

The Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo is a traditional type of circus with acrobatic troupes, aerial artists, jugglers and clowns.   Also, it’s important to note that there are animal acts.

Last year there were over 120 artists from 16 countries so there is a good spread of talent and the standard is very high.   In particular, the acrobatic troupes and balancing artists are always exceptional.

Les Simets Astronauts (image: Ezekiel Coppersmith Photography – Monte Carlo Festival)

An international jury hands out awards each year under the presidency of H.S.H Princess Stephanie for outstanding acts. The awards (Palmarès) are clown-themed and acts can win a Gold, Bronze or Silver Clown.

For the 2018 Festival, the Festival is celebrating 250 years since the first staging of a circus – believed to be in 1768 by English cavalryman Philip Astley.  The vintage-inspired poster for the 2018 event was designed by artist and ringmaster Alain André as a nod to the history and development of circus acts over the past two and a half centuries.

Tickets for the Circus Festival

Children under 5 years can sit on their parents lap and do not need a ticket.  Kids prices are applicable for ages 5 to 12 years.

Note:  Sunday 21 January and Sunday 28 January have shows at 10.30am (2 hour duration) at reduced ticket prices.  The Gala show is on Tuesday 23 January.

monte carlo circus festival

Acrobatic troupe from Shanghai (image: Monte Carlo Festival)

All tickets can be purchased online at www.montecarlofestival.mc or at the ticket counters at the Chapiteau which will be open during the Festival from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm.

Transport to/from the Circus Festival

By car:  Go via the A8 in the direction of Italy and take ‘Sortie 56’ for Monaco.  A map for parking locations is below:

car parking monaco

Car parking for the Circus Festival

By train:  The Gare de Monaco/Monte-Carlo is 15 minutes walk to Espace Fontvieille or take bus lines 4 or 6 to Fontvieille and get off at stop ‘Heliport’.

By helicopter:  The Monaco Heliport is right near the Chapiteau venue.  Flight time is 6 minutes from Nice Cote d’Azur Airport.

Spectacle New Generation

Additionally, on 3 and 4 February 2018 the 7th edition of a mini festival will be hosted for young circus performers, magicians, acrobats and clowns who will perform before an international jury to win awards.

Ticket prices are very reasonable and it is a nice family-friendly way for children to experience a circus atmosphere.

new generation monaco circus

The 7th New Generation festival is a mini circus festival for young performers

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2017 In Review: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned This Year

I sure have learned a lot this year.

From content writing to press work and juggling family life, I thought I’d share some things I’ve experienced this year – the highs, the lows, the achievements and the challenges!

Here are ’10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2017′:

  1. Freelancers can’t work solo

It’s fantastic to have the flexibility to work when and where I want, but I have found networking is vital to maintaining my sanity.

It can be a lonely time running your own businesses so it’s helpful having a support group.

Being part of a community of people who have different success levels and opinions is great for inspiration, motivation and bouncing around ideas.   I am part of various entrepreneur and business groups and I find it energising to be around people who are entrepreneurs or have a positive mindset.

2. Stay focused

I have a vision board in my work area to stay focused with my goals and fine tune what is urgent or important.

I use content tools to manage my workload and everyone who knows me knows I don’t go anywhere without my diary!

Some tools I use regularly to stay on focus and organised are Google Keep, Dropbox, Evernote and Slack.

Evernote is one of my favourite tools for staying organised and on track

3. Always keep learning

I follow a lot of business forums for tech, aviation, travel, yachting and luxury sectors so I can start updated with trends and forecasts.  I watch a lot of webcasts and try and complete one educational course of interest yearly and this has lead to work opportunities for me.

I’m still plugging away at learning Mandarin Chinese, it’s a slow process (much slower than learning French!) but I can reflect on when I first started learning French and how progress gets easier.

4. No magic formula for blog success

People often ask me if blogging is hard work or where I find the time to write posts.   If you aren’t passionate about what you do, you won’t find time to do it.

For my own blog, I always write about things I’m interested in, unusual insights for the French Riviera or useful tips and this moulds itself into posts that my audience enjoys and shares.

If you write about things you’re interested in, you will stay motivated

5. Celebrate your achievements

No one has overnight success.  I was really happy to hit the 250,000 visitors mark for my blog this year, but it made me realise that it was even more important to not use this milestone as an excuse to just sit on my coat tails and assume my blog would stay popular.   I had to take time to reflect on why I started it, where it’s at now and where I hope to head in the future. 

I believe that success shouldn’t be purely based on page views, traffic, income or social media followers.  

I earn an income from my blog however the best rewards come in the form of lovely comments or emails from readers who I have helped.

6. Allow yourself a break

The world is not going to fall apart if you take a break or holiday.   We had our first child-free holiday this year and it was great for recharging our batteries.

It’s important to find a balance between work, your family and taking care of yourself and you will come back more productive than ever.

Some days my working day is very traditional – 9am to 4pm – and some days it is chaotic and interrupted by the daily grind, school run, sickness, sport etc.

We all need time out from work, family and life

As a working mum, I have found another level of busy that I didn’t think was possible but for me personally I need to ensure I get enough sleep, exercise regularly and have a social life.

7. Accept that things may not go to plan

You can’t solve everything and you may have to accept that your ideas won’t work or people don’t want it to work.

I have had a few media projects this year where I had to wait on other people to finish their input for the project and it delayed my deadline.  This is reality.  Accept the flow of things, adapt if necessary and refocus.

8. Give to others when you can

I’ve become much better at saying ‘No’ to people.  Especially people who contact me for ‘free’ business advice or marketing tips and then they disappear off the face of the planet and you never hear from them again until the next time they need something.

Saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean you’re selfish, rude or unhelpful – it means you are placing a conscious decision to put your time into your family, paid work, your health or your hobbies first.

It’s perfectly wonderful to help other entrepreneurs, community groups or businesses when you can, but be wary of the leeches.  It’s not cynicism, but you can get burned by people you help and expend a lot of energy, time and patience without receiving a thank you.

Saying ‘No’ can be beneficial to your work/life balance

9. Don’t be afraid to take risks

The first step in starting a business is often the most difficult but you need to crawl before you can walk.

Big adventures start when you least expect them and I would never have thought 18 months ago that I would start up five new business projects in the past year.

If I had thought for one second that I wasn’t capable, someone else would have been there doing exactly what I intend to do.

10. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

In this crazy age of social media, it is incredibly easy to be lead into a false sense of inadequacy about your worth as a business owner and/or parent, self-esteem, looks and work skills.

I see a lot of people daily who are seeking higher recognition from people who don’t matter.  I have unfollowed a lot of accounts on Instagram because they aren’t relevant to my lifestyle or career goals; people who just post selfies and have nothing else to contribute.

It is easy to think someone else has greater success in business or life than you, but don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

Don’t compare yourself with others

Here are some of my most popular posts that readers loved in 2017:

The Lavender Route

Top 15 viewpoints for amazing photos

The 70th Cannes Film Festival:  The Ultimate Guide

Secret French Riviera:  Hidden spots worth visiting

How to visit Monaco on a shoestring

7 reasons NOT to visit the Cote d’Azur in winter

The Lavender Route was another popular post this year

To end this blog post, I would like to wish all my readers a fantastic New Year and a huge thank you for supporting my blog.  Every one of your comments doesn’t go unnoticed.   Roll on 2018!

 

Christmas 2017 : Festive events and activities on the French Riviera

The Zone B school holidays over the Christmas period run from 22 December and finish 7 January so it’s a good time to use the fortnight’s break to partake in some festive activities.

As well as the usual Christmas markets that pop up each year in every town, there are themed activities and shows with plenty of options to choose from that will suit all ages.

Here are some ideas for things to do during the Christmas period on the French Riviera:

ANTIBES

From 15 December, the Antibes Christmas markets will be open with small animations and stands at Place de Gaulle and Place Nationale with a larger market area at Esplanade du Pré des Pêcheurs opposite Port Vauban.

The ice skating rink is back!  Very popular, it’s located in the Christmas market area opposite Port Vauban, opening hours are from 10.30am to 8pm daily (until 10pm on Saturdays).  From 18-22 December, it is reserved for school groups during the day so the rink is open to the public from 5pm to 8pm.

The Antibes ice skating rink is free entry for 2 to 10 years; €3 for adults or kids older than 10 years.  You must take your own gloves as they don’t supply or rent gloves.  Skate hire included on entrance and there are a few skating support aids for young skaters/novices.

(image: Jacques Bayle)

CANNES

Cannes Christmas festivities will run the entire school holidays.   The traditional Christmas market is based at the Allées de Liberté opposite Vieux Port and open daily.   Santa’s House will be located in a chalet here where kids can meet him from 2pm to 6pm on 16, 17, 20, 23 and 24 December.

This area also hosts kids craft workshops in a chalet there – until 20 December, the workshops are open weekends and Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm.  From 22 December, kids workshops are on every day during school holidays from 2pm to 6pm.  The types of things that kids get to make are Christmas lanterns, key rings, mini chocolates.

christmas market cannes

Marché de Noël in Cannes (image: ©Mairie de Cannes)

For theme park rides, a big area is set up right beside the port with arcade games, dodgems, bouncy castles etc and open daily from 2pm to 10pm. There is a cost for each ride, generally around €2,50 to €3 for a single ticket or the cost reduces if you buy a few tickets.

On 24 December, Santa and his sleigh will parade down rue d’Antibes at 3pm.

The Cannes ice skating rink is open daily from 1pm to 8pm (open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).  Note:  From 10am to 1pm daily, the ice skating rink is exclusively just for kids aged 4-10 years, free entry but €3 for accompanying adults.  After 1pm, the rink is open to everyone for 1-hour sessions and a cost of €3 per person including skate hire.

There will be a number of shows held at the Cannes ice skating rink (therefore the rink will close to the public), the show dates are:

  • Friday 15 December :  Live music on ice with Blue Ice Cocktail
  • Saturday 16 December : Generation Top 50 with DJ Max and Charly la Voute
  • Friday 22 December :  ‘Frozen’ with Elsa, Anna and Olaf
  • Saturday 23 December : Christmas Party with Santa and his elves
  • Friday 29 December : Crazy skating party with DJ Mozart, fancy dress compulsory
  • Saturday 30 December : Disco party
  • Friday 5 January : Snow storm party with mascots
  • Saturday 6 January :  ‘Break the Ice’ demonstration of freestyle skating
patinoire cannes

Cannes ice skating rink with host a number of shows over Christmas (image: Press Agence)

There will be fireworks on New Years Eve from 11pm in the bay of Cannes.

JUAN LES PINS

On Saturday 23 December in partnership with the Belles Rives Ski Nautique Club, Père Noel arrives by water ski at 10.30am.  He lands on the beach by La Jetee / Reve Plage and hands out a chocolate/bon bon to each child.

pere noel ski nautique juan les pins

Père Noel arrives by water ski each year in Juan les Pins (image: Centre-Ville en Mvmnt)

From 24 December to 30 December, there will be free pony rides and a mini farm set up at Pinede Gould with rabbits, sheep, goats etc.  It is open from 10.30am to midday and 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

On Saturday 30 December, floating lanterns will be released from Ponton Hollywood at 5.30pm.  (Ponton Hollywood is the concrete jetty by Café plage).

On New Years Day, the public fireworks display starts at 6.30pm in the bay of Juan les Pins.

NICE

On 17 December at Parc Carol du Romanie from 10am to 5pm, a Christmas day with Père Noel, candy floss machine, Christmas stands and a show at 3pm

All through December until 1st January 2018, Nice will celebrate Christmas with the theme ‘Dans l’Espace’.

The main Christmas festivities are centred around Jardin Albert 1er, place Massena and Promenade du Peillon and open daily from 11am to 8pm (9pm on Fridays and Saturdays).  Here you’ll find the Christmas chalets, the ferris wheel (open 11am-11pm), carousels (paying) and pony rides.   The Apollo fountain will be illuminated, there will be 6 illuminated rockets and Christmas trees decorated in keeping with the space theme.  A giant Christmas tree 20-metres high will be placed at Promenade du Peillon.

marche de noel nice

Christmas in Nice is centred around place Massena, Jardin Albert 1er and Promenade du Peillon (image: nice.fr)

The ice skating rink has moved this year from below the ferris wheel to the Fontaine des 3 Grâces.  Ice skating is €5 including skate hire and sessions go for one hour at the following times 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm and 6.30pm.

Santa’s House is located at Theatre de Verdure and open daily during school holidays from 2pm to 7.30pm until Christmas Day.

chrismtas in nice

Marche de Noel in Nice (image: Nice Matin)

THÉOULE SUR MER

Santa’s House will be located at avenue Charles Dahon where kids can get a souvenir photo from 2pm to 6pm on 16, 17, 20 and 24 December.

22 December – There will be a Christmas parade from 5pm on avenue Charles Dahon.  Espace Botta will have a mini farm for kids to see animals.

29 December – At the Salle des Fêtes there will be a marionnette show ‘Pierre et le loup’ at 4pm.  Entry is just €1. Limited places, book via the Office de Tourisme, Phone 04 93 49 28 28,  2 Corniche d’Or, 06590 Théoule sur Mer.

noel theoule sur mer

Pierre et la Loup marionnette show in Théoule sur Mer over the festive period

On until 7 January, every day during school holidays a santon fair at the Espace culturel will showcase crèche decorations, painted figurines and miniature Provençal houses.

This is not an exhaustive list for activities over the Christmas school holidays, just simply some inspiration to enjoy some of the French Riviera’s programme over the holiday period.  Access Riviera wants to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable festive season!

Joyeux Noël ! 

Grave Ramblings: Dark Tourism and the Cemeteries of the French Riviera

My contribution to this month’s All About France blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo is nothing at all to do with Christmas.  In fact, it’s as unfestive as you can get but I thought I would write about dark tourism and some of the famous people who lived and are laid to rest in the cemeteries on the French Riviera.

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark tourism is travel (and tourism) that involves visiting places connected to death, tragedy or disaster.   There is a growing interest in places that historically may have been off-limits to visit, but there’s no denying that people are attracted to sites like this.

War tourism – visiting battlefields and famous fortresses – has been firmly stamped on tourism sectors for decades, and now tour operators are expanding their tour itineraries to cater for dark tourism.  Everyone from National Geographic to the Economist is debating whether it’s the right thing to do.  Regardless, this market for tourism is here to stay.

Some of the world’s most popular dark tourism locations include visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris to see the gravesites of Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf, seeing the Phnom Sampeau killing caves in Cambodia, visiting Chernobyl’s fallout zone or learning about the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

pere lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is one of the world’s most visited cemeteries

It does seem strange to say a location is ‘popular’ because of its macabre or sombre history, but you’ll find wherever there is death or tragedy a tour operator will be waiting in the wings to snap up income from keen tourists.

Dark Tourism on the French Riviera 

The sunny French Riviera doesn’t escape dark tourism.  While we always see promotional tourism here highlight the beaches, the Riviera lifestyle and year-round activities, there are many tourists who are visiting to catch a slice of history and follow in the footsteps of famous people who lived, and more profoundly died here.

It could be possible I’m the only blogger highlighting the region’s cemeteries as a tourism attraction?!   Undoubtedly, not only do cemeteries on the Côte d’Azur have famous ‘residents’, but many of them occupy prime real estate with some of the best views in south-east France!

cemetery in menton

You can’t deny this spectacular view! Vieux Château cemetery in Menton (image: Menton Tourism)

Here are some grave ramblings for the French Riviera:

Paul Ricard

The founder of Ricard pastis bought the tiny Île de Bendor at Bandol which is home to two museums – the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux that houses thousands of bottles and glasses, and the Museum of Advertising Objects that is dedicated to pastis advertising.  Near Le Brusc, the Île de Embiez was bought by the Ricard Trust and is a tourist getaway from the mainland with no traffic jams, pleasant restaurants and walking trails.  Paul Ricard is buried there at the highest point on the island overlooking the sea.

paul ricard grave

The Île des Embiez is the final resting place of pastis icon, Paul Ricard

Roger Vadim

Roger Vadim was a director, producer, writer and actor and is perhaps just as well known for his many marriages (including to Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda) as his films such as And God Created Woman (1956) and Barbarella (1968).

He died in Paris in 2000 but is buried at the Cimetière Marin in Saint-Tropez – his tomb goes unnoticed to many visitors as it says ‘Vadim Plémiannikov’, not Roger Vadim. 

cemetery st tropez

The Cimetière Marin in St Tropez with sea views (image:  Axel Hupfelds)

This seaside cemetery in Saint-Tropez beneath the Citadelle has a host of interesting people buried there such as Alexandre de Paris who was a celebrated French hairdresser who created Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyle for Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot’s’ parents, painter Henri Manguin and jazz figure Edouard Ruault (Eddie Barclay) who has a tombstone decorated with LPs.

cemetery st tropez

Eddie Barclay’s gravesite in Cimetière Marin in St Tropez (image: mapio)

Jean Marais

Jean Marais was a French actor, director, writer and sculptor who acted in over 100 films including Jean Cocteau’s 1946  Beauty and the Beast.  He received an Honorary César Award in 1993 (Césars are the national film award of France).  Five years later, he passed away in Cannes and was buried in the village cemetery in Vallauris.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognised names in creative arts and was a familiar figure in Côte d’Azur art circles. He lived and worked in his villa Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins, nicknamed the Minotaur’s Lair.

mas notre dame de vie

Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins was Pablo Picasso’s last home (image: Christies)

The villa was previously owned by the Guinness family of Irish beer fame.  Picasso died at his villa in April 1973, but he isn’t actually buried in Mougins – he is buried in the grounds of Château de Vauvenargues.

The villa was sold by auction in October 2017 for €20.2 million.  Video : Picasso’s Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie

Marc Chagall

‘When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is’ – Pablo Picasso 

Marc Chagall was born in Belarus and created works in many styles including painting, ceramics and stained glass.  His stained glass projects can be seen everywhere from the ‘Peace Window’ he created for the United Nations building in New York to the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Reims.

While he is best known for his art, he also worked as a theatrical designer including a commission to create the set and costumes for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance in the late 1960’s of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  His association with France was lengthy and he received France’s highest accolade, the Grand Medal of the Legion of Honor in 1977 and left a rich legacy of work.

The Musée National Marc Chagall is one of the top cultural attractions in Nice and is the largest public collection in the world dedicated to over 800 of his artworks, predominantly his art inspired by religion.

musee marc chagall

Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice is the largest public collection of Marc Chagall’s work (image: Musées Nationaux)

Marc Chagall is buried in the cemetery below the town walls in the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Aimé and Marguerite Maeght who founded the nearby Fondation Maeght art museum are also buried in this cemetery.

Yves Klein

You may be familiar with the striking artworks of Yves Klein who was born in Nice and remembered for the Nouveau Réalisme movement.

In particular, his vivid blue works are quite memorable – you can see his 1962 Venus Bleue at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins (Mougins Museum of Classical Art) where it is displayed beside Venus interpretations by Cézanne, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.   There aren’t many places in the world where you can find artwork from these 4 artists in the same display cabinet!

Klein died in Paris and is buried in the cemetery in La-Colle-sur-Loup.  I’m sure he’d love tourists to the French Riviera to visit the Mougins Classical Art Museum because it really is a fantastic collection of interesting and rare pieces.   .

mougins classical art

The Venus cabinet at the Mougins Museum of Classical Art holds Venus Bleue by Yves Klein

Henri Matisse

Matisse lived in Nice for 37 years and it is here that his presence on the French Riviera is most significant.  He is well known for his work on the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, but the Musée Matisse is the crowning achievement of his legacy.

musee matisse

Musée Matisse is located at Cimiez and the neighbouring cemetery has Matisse’s grave

The museum is located in Cimiez and Matisse is buried in the neighbouring Cimetière du Monastère de Cimiez which also has the grave of artist Raoul Dufy.

Isadora Duncan

The Promenade des Anglais in Nice was where American dancer Isadora Duncan tragically lost her life in 1927 in a freak accident.  Known as ‘the barefoot dancer’, she was driving along the road and her scarf blew over the side of the car and wrapped around a wheel, dragging her from the car and breaking her neck.  A small street is named after her, rue Isadora Duncan, leading off Promenade des Anglais.

Emil Jellinek

The name may not ring a bell, but Emil (Emile) Jellinek had a firm influence on the automobile industry.  Born in Germany in 1853, he worked at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) autos and proposed to car designers to create a lighter vehicle with a bigger engine.

The result was the Mercedes 35hp and it lead Wilhelm Werner to claim the first victory for Mercedes in a car race, the Nice-Salon-Nice in 1901.  Jellinek’s world-famous trademark he launched in 1902 was named after his daughter, Mercédès.  He changed his surname to Jellinek-Mercédès in 1903.

mercedes nice salon nice

The 392 kilometre Nice-Salon-Nice race in 1901 was won by a Mercedes car for the first time (image: Daimler Media)

He came to Nice and later worked as the Austro-Hungarian Consulate General owning properties on the Promenade des Anglais – Villa Mercedes at number 57, Villa Mercedes II at number 54 as well as hotel Le Royal.  The family yachts on the French Riviera were also not surprisingly christened Mercedes and Mercedes-Mercedes.   His daughter Mercédès supposedly married her first husband Baron Karl van Schossler in Nice, but I couldn’t find any record of where their huge wedding was held.  I’m sure the details are part of Daimler’s archives 🙂

Monsieur Mercedes as Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès was nicknamed, is laid to rest in the tomb of his first wife Rachel Goggman Cenrobert in the Cimetière Colline du Château at Castle Hill (Colline du Château) in Nice.

emil jellenik mercedes

Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès , Pioneer of Automobiles, is buried in the Cimetière Colline du Château in Nice

This cemetery and the adjacent Jewish cemetery have amazing views over Nice.  There are thousands of graves with some elaborate and beautiful tombstones and cenotaphs.

Many notable people are buried here including:

  • Writer Gaston Leroux
  • Director and screenwriter Georges Lautner
  • René Goscinny who was one of the creators of French comic book Asterix
  • Garibaldi’s mother Rosa Garibaldi
  • Alfred van Cleef of the Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery family
  • Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otéro who was a famous actress/courtesan/dancer whose breasts supposedly inspired the dome design of the Intercontinental Carlton hotel in Cannes
  • Menica Rondelly who wrote the Niçois anthem Nissa la Bella
  • The daughter of Henri Matisse
  • Polishman Baron Leon Wladyslaw Loewenstein of Lenval, who founded Lenval Hospital in Nice after the death of his son in Nice at 11 years of age

Cimetière Colline du Château has wide-reaching views over Nice (image: Tripadvisor)

To reach the cemeteries, you can take the stairs or elevator from the end of Quai des États-Unis up to Parc du Château or walk up Montée Menica Rondelly from Place Ste Claire in Nice Old Town.  The petit train (white tourist train) also goes up to the park.

Brothers in arms

War cemeteries are places of loss, remembrance and sadness but they also have an aura of calm.  One such cemetery that has a picturesque setting is the Belgian Military Cemetery that is located at Pointe Saint-Hospice on the St Jean Cap Ferrat peninsula with a chapel there having a lovely outlook over the sea.

King Leopold II of Belgium converted Villa Les Cèdres into a military hospital during World War I, however many soldiers succumbed to their injuries received from German gas attacks.  The cemetery is a dedication to 90 Belgian soldiers who lost their lives.   Sadly, the cemetery has graves of brothers who died just months apart so its a very poignant place to visit.  We won’t ever know if they got to appreciate the beautiful setting, but visitors to the peninsula can reflect and remember them here.

Video by Gralon:  Belgian Military Cemetery, St Jean Cap Ferrat (Cimetière militaire des Belges)

Princess Grace  

One of the most famous personalities that captured the hearts of France, Monaco and the world was Grace Kelly, an American actress, who became the Princess of Monaco in 1952 when she married Prince Rainier III.

Her global appeal and classic beauty transcended from life to death; even after she lost her life after a car crash on a road bend at Devil’s Curse above Monaco, over 100 million viewers watched her televised funeral.

grace kelly car crash

Contrary to popular belief Grace did not die on the road where she filmed the scenes in Hitchcock film ‘To Catch a Thief’. As you can see from this map, the accident site was miles away. Her life support was turned off a few days after the crash (map: Reel Reviews)

If you visit the Principality and are looking for things to do in Monaco, you can follow a free tour in Monaco with information about Grace, or visit her tomb beside Prince Rainier in the Grimaldi family vault inside the Monaco Cathedral, the same church where they wed.

Other well-known people who are laid to rest in Monaco include entertainer Josephine Baker, artist Jean-Michel Folon who was commissioned for murals at Waterloo station on the London Tube and designs for Puccini’s opera La Bohème, English writer Anthony Burgess who penned A Clockwork Orange and Iranian Princess Ashraf Pahlavi who are all buried in the Monaco cemetery near the Jardin Exotique.

Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret was born in Switzerland and moved to Paris where he took the pseudonym he is best known for, Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier changed the face of modern architecture and his furniture and buildings are contemporary studies for design and technology.   Seventeen of his works over seven countries are UNESO World Heritage-listed.

He drowned off the coast of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and is buried in the Roquebrune cemetery.  There is a lovely coastal walking path from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to Monaco named after him, Promenade Le Corbusier, and you can visit his minimalist beach cabanon as well as Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 by booking through Cap Moderne.

corbusiers cabanon

Le Corbusier’s Cabanon can be visited by booking through Cap Moderne

William Webb Ellis

Englishman William Webb Ellis was credited for creating the game of rugby and keen rugby enthusiasts will agree that his final resting place has one of the best views on the French Riviera.  The Vieux Château cemetery in Menton is worth a visit and has spectacular panoramic views over Menton and the sea.

webb ellis grave

William Webb Ellis’ gravesite in the Vieux Chateau cemetery in Menton

Interestingly, I already knew that the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup but I didn’t realise that Menton has a rugby-specific trail that features 25 plaques about rugby starting at the Menton train station and leading to the cemetery.  Something I learned while researching this blog and definitely a potential blog topic for the future!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’ve researched a fair bit and learned a lot about famous lives and deaths on the French Riviera.  Have you been to any famous cemeteries or dark tourism sites in France or around the world?

Lou Messugo

10 Top Tips for a Skiing Holiday in Courchevel   

For the international jet set, the winter months offer the perfect opportunity to escape to the glamorous alpine ski resorts for family time spent on the slopes. Few ski resorts are as luxurious as Courchevel – France’s winter equivalent of St Tropez with regards to style, scenery, and fun. We consulted with seasoned skiers to compile these 10 top tips for a ski trip to Courchevel.

So wrap up, don your skis, and take to the slopes like a local.

Tip No.1: Arrive in Style 

There’s only one way to arrive at your destination, and that’s by Courchevel helicopter transfer. Exceptionally quick, unsurpassably stylish and undeniably cool, arriving by Helicopter not only makes you feel like a VIP but it also provides views of a lifetime.

Tip No.2: Learn a New Skill

For those of us who are more comfortable with a little more stability than skis provide, it is possible to learn to ride a snowmobile with Courchevel Adventure, a winter sports company. Everything’s more fun with friends and this is certainly no exception; take a group and you’ll soon become pros at navigating the 700m course.

snowmobile courchevel

Learn a new skill – go snowmobiling in Courchevel (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 3: Go Off-Piste

Go off-piste! And we don’t just mean when it comes to the slopes. There’s so much to experience in the resort of Courchevel that it’s genuinely just as magical a destination for non-skiers as it is for seasoned pros. If you’re a fan of luxury spas, then you’re in for a treat with the Aquamotion Centre. It offers sensational mountain views, heated pools, outdoor jacuzzis, water slides, and even a spa and wellness zone where you can enjoy a sauna and relaxing massage.

off piste courchevel

Go off piste in Courchevel! There are plenty of things to do when you’re not on the slopes (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 4: Eat Well

Make sure you sample as much as you can of Courchevel’s sumptuous cuisine at some of the resort’s Michelin-starred restaurants. We recommend Pierre Gagnaire pour Les Airelles, and you’d struggle to come across a disappointing meal at this illustrious spot in the mountains.

top restaurants courchevel

Eat well in Courchevel at some amazing restaurants with spectacular views (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 5: Get in the Alpine Spirit

You’ll be transported to another era when you ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the picturesque mountain village. The stunning white horses are a sight to behold in the snow.

Tip No. 6: Take Some Lessons 

Book taster ski sessions with an experienced teacher if you’re a first-timer. You’re sure to find out that you’re a natural and you’ll be independent in no time, but it’s always best to find your ski-legs first.

ski lessons courchevel

Take some ski lessons in Courchevel and you’ll be ready to enjoy the alpine ambience in no time! (Image: Monacair)

Tip No.7: Live it Up in the Resort’s Best Hotels

Spend your stay in the lap of luxury at the Grandes Alpes Private Hotel, Hotel Carlina or Hotel de la Loze and expect stunning views, world-class service and beautiful, Courchevel-cosiness.

courchevel accommodation

Courchevel’s hotels and luxury chalets are some of the finest in Europe (Image: Monacair)

Tip No. 8: Indulge Your Inner-Child

Families with children – and those without – will relish the opportunity to try their hands at sledging, a wickedly fun alternative to skiing that is highly addictive. Beware though, it’s not as gentle as it might sound – you can reach some astonishing speeds on these steep slopes.

Tip No. 9: Take to the Skies

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s a truly incredible experience! You can go on a helicopter tour over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys. There’s just something about experiencing the landscape from the air that’s truly out of this world.

helicopter tour courchevel 3 vallees

A helicopter tour over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys is a wonderful way to see the mountains (Image: Monacair)

Tip No.10: Wear Sun Cream!

Many people fail to realise that the sun shines brightly on Europe’s highest peaks. The snow acts as a mirror and reflects the sun’s rays; a burnt nose is nothing to sniff at, so take care of your skin and enjoy your holiday!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post in partnership with Relevance.

 

7 reasons NOT to visit the Côte d’Azur in winter

Over a century ago, the Côte d’Azur was a destination for those who wintered here for health reasons and old money who holidayed here, drinking red wine and wondering how to magically transport the sky, sea and sunshine back to their own part of the world.

Faced with grey skies and snowfall that encourages marathon Monopoly sessions by the fireplace, many tourists could easily just skip going on a winter getaway, right?  Here’s 7 reasons NOT to visit the Côte d’Azur in winter:

1. Having to decide between the beach or ski resorts

Do you prefer beaches or the mountains?  Well, don’t visit the French Riviera in winter if you need an easy choice because you can do both in one day, if you like.

That’s right, you can be on the slopes in the Alps in the morning and enjoying a late afternoon snack at a coastal cafeteria on the same day.   Sound impossible?  Well, it’s not.  And while swimming in the sea may be out of the question for most and only the brave dip into the Mediterranean during winter, we are very lucky to have the chance to do this!

The French Riviera in winter : it’s possible to enjoy the sea and mountains in one day

The geographical location of the French Riviera stretches from the Mediterranean coast to hinterland communities and Mercantour region that includes alpine towns.   The Alpes Maritimes region has easy access to established ski resorts, and you’ll find no shortage of pistes to ski or snowboard including Isola 2000, Auron, Valberg, La Colmiane and Val d’Allos La Foux.  Gréolières is the closest to the coast and while it doesn’t have the amenities of the other resorts it’s perfectly fun for a day out with the family.

Even if you don’t ski there are many exciting things to do at the mountain resorts such as toboganning, DJ concerts on the pistes or simply visit one of the restaurants for a lovely meal overlooking the mountains.

Of course, if winter isn’t your thing then the mountain resorts can also be visited in warmer months when the wildflowers are in bloom, walking trails are beautiful and other attractions and activities are open such as the zip line at La Colmiane, the luge at Valberg, Vesubia Mountain Park with climbing wall, swimming pool and canyoning, Parc Alpha Wolf Park and the natural pool at Roquebillière.

2. Too many winter options for families

If you prefer to have a relaxing winter with your family, the French Riviera isn’t for you.  How could you possibly decide what to do when there are ski resorts, Christmas markets, ice skating, food festivals and traditional celebrations such as the santon fairs or local events including the Lucéram nativity / crèche displays?

Not to mention, the weather is usually mild throughout winter so you can still play outdoors at any of the numerous French Riviera playgrounds.

Lucéram has a nativity crèche display each Christmas with around 450 displays throughout the town

3. Uncrowded walking trails

It rarely rains for days on end throughout winter on the French Riviera so people simply dress up warmer for their regular promenades through town.

However, it seems the change in weather causes a mass exodus from popular walking routes and hiking trails.   If you prefer busier walking paths (excluding the Promenade des Anglais in Nice and Croisette in Cannes which generally have foot traffic all year), go on holiday elsewhere as you’ll likely have little or no company on many walking trails here during colder months.

4. Seasonal winter food

I do sometimes hear from visitors that the restaurants here are tourist traps churning out average food in high season.  So, if you’re a ‘meat-and-three-vegies’ kind of traveller then don’t come back in winter!

The cooler months kick start some absolutely lip-smackingly good food fairs, the popular truffle season, oyster sales, chestnut festivals, grape harvesting and more.  Also, one of my favourite festive season pastimes is a glass of vin chaud and a slice of pain d’épices at the Marché de Noëls 🙂

Marrons chauds (hot chestnuts) are found at many winter festivals

5. No long queues at tourist attractions

Many of the Côte d’Azur’s tourist attractions close over winter or have reduced hours, but there are still plenty of attractions that are open and you won’t have to brave long queues of tourists to enjoy them.

Drop by one of the French Riviera’s popular museums, visit the gorgeously ornate Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild or take a French Riviera art trail soaking up the sites and landscapes painted by famous artists.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a year-round attraction worth visiting

6. Quiet hilltop villages

I love the buzz of big cities, but it can be overwhelming to be constantly bombarded with urban noise from traffic, construction and city life!

If you prefer a more sedate experience, you can’t miss visiting some of the towns on the French Riviera during autumn and winter when time moves at a much slower pace.

Go to Eze, St Paul de Vence, Tourrette-Levens, Gourdon or Sainte-Agnès and stroll around appreciating the history, village houses and medieval architecture.

I also find taking photographs is great during colder months because you don’t have other people crowding the background of your panorama, you can get some fantastic photos of daily life without residents feeling they are on show (that perhaps they may feel in high season) and people are generally going about their day at a more relaxed pace.

Sainte-Agnès is exceptionally tranquil during cooler months

7.  Classy festive decorations

Some people love over-the-top Christmas decorations, but you’ll find the Côte d’Azur eases back on the tacky factor and decorations are mostly classy.

Casino Square always has an amazing festive display every year

While Christmas on the coast may be short on snow, you’ll find no shortage of festive imagination.  Expect to see garlands of festive lights, giant Christmas trees and lots of Christmas markets – without the repetitive song of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ 20 hours a day, every shop window crammed with yuletide merchandise from early November and every house decorated excessively with neon lights blinking to synchronised music.

Also, most shops tend to stick to civilised opening hours – you won’t see mass frenzies of late-night shopping at most stores right up to Christmas Eve putting pressure on consumers to grab a late Christmas bargain.

Luxury hotels have elegant displays for Noël, Casino Square in Monaco looks suitably grand during the festive season and who won’t think a torchlight descent down the mountain with fireworks over the snow isn’t a fantastic way to see in the New Year?

Some people prefer grey skies, heavy snow and freezing temperatures in winter, however while the French Riviera may not be an obvious choice for a winter getaway it is a perfectly viable destination to visit with tolerable weather, lots of activities and less crowds.

Photo Credits:  Tyrolienne La Colmiane (Neo Extreme), Lucéram image (Departement06), Marrons chauds (Provence7), Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (Paris Frivole), Ste Agnès (Notre Provence Group),

 

 

 

 

SPOOKTACULAR! Halloween activities and events on the French Riviera

Halloween, usually celebrated on 31st October each year, has slowly been gathering steam since I first moved to France, but for expats who are used to lots of activities and events during Halloween you’ll have to remember that it isn’t a traditionally observed day in France and has usually been seen as a bit Anglophone!

Never less, you can now find towns getting into the spirit (pun intended) of spooking kids on the street, as well as ready-made Halloween accessories and costumes for sale in many stores.

Halloween decorations are easy to find on the French Riviera (image: deavita)

Halloween falls during the October school holidays on the French Riviera – Vacances de la Toussaint – so there’s no excuse not to get involved in the activities and local events happening in various towns.  The following day is a bank holiday, Toussaint Day (All Saints Day) in France where the lives of deceased relatives are remembered.

Unfortunately, a lot of Halloween goods found here on the French Riviera are manufactured in China and the standards are quite low so they are ‘buy-and-throw-away’ items – just exercise caution with cheap costumes for kids because they are hugely flammable!

If you prefer to make your own costumes, food or decorations, Pinterest and Good Housekeeping have loads of DIY Halloween ideas.

Where to find Halloween decorations / accessories / costumes / carving pumpkins on the French Riviera

If you’re looking for Halloween items for décor, party items or costumes the best places to start are the €1 and €2 stores – places like Maxi Mart, Maxibazaar, Destock and the like always have low-cost Halloween accessories such as wizards hat, tridents, plastic skeleton bones, witches cauldrons, spider webs as well as trick-or-treat bags.

Spider ice cubes in your mocktail anyone?

La Foir Fouille, Fêter et Recevoir and Gifi are good stores to head to for costumes, and Carrefour usually has a good range of Halloween items.

For carving pumpkins, in the past few years local residents have found decent pumpkins at Lidl, Grand Frais, the Intermarche on boulevard République and Nice Carrefour TNL.

Neighbourhood trick-or-treating

Trick-or-treating around the neighbourhood is not that big here on the French Riviera.  In the years I have lived here, I have had maybe a handful of kids knock on our door trick-or-treating (with adult supervision) though I always have some bon bons ready just in case!

Halloween activities and events happening this year on the French Riviera

Antibes

Thursday 26 October:  Parent-friendlly cafeteria La Chapelière Toquée is hosting a Halloween party from 11am to midday which is ideal for toddlers (from 2 years).  Cost is €16 per child, reservations necessary.

Saturday 28 October:  La Chapelière Toquée is holding a Halloween yoga session from 11am to midday for kids 3 years and upwards, contact them to reserve a place via the link above.

Wednesday 25, Thursday 26, Friday 27, Saturday 28, Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 October:  Les P’tits Confettis is hosting twice daily Halloween activities for kids aged 5 to 10 years costing €15 per child – from 10am to midday and 2pm to 4pm come along for  face painting, a photo booth and candy hunt.  Reservations essential via https://www.lesptitsconfettis.com/animations-thématiques/

halloween antibes

Les P’tits Confettis is hosting Halloween activities in Antibes 2017

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Tuesday 31 October:  Free entertainment from 3pm at the Ecole élémentaire including a show, bon bons and a lantern parade.

Biot

Tuesday 31 October:  Free Halloween entertainment including a parade at 4.30pm from the entrance to the village to Place des Arcades by Compagnie Soukha, followed by a kids Halloween snack at Place des Arcades at 5pm.  At 6pm, there will be a fire show by Compagnie Soukha at Place de Gaulle.

Halloween 2017 in Biot includes a parade

Breil sur Roya

Tuesday 31 October:  Film screening of ‘Zombillénium’ at 2.30pm with bon bons at 4pm and trick-or-treating in the village from 4.30pm

Cannes

Tuesday 31 October: Free Halloween activities at Coulée Verte in Ranguin (will be held in the gymnasium in case of rain) – face painting, Halloween ateliers, films

Carros

Tuesday 31 October:  From 10am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm, Carros is hosting Halloween activities hosted by the Office du Tourisme at Villa Barbary.

Grasse

Saturday 28 October:  For something a bit different, kids aged 8 to 12 years can join a guided tour at 11am retelling spooky tales about Grasse.  Leaves from the Maison du Patrimoine, to make a reservation 47.97.05.58.70  or email them: animation.patrimoine@ville-grasse-fr

La Colle-sur-Loup

Tuesday 31 October:  The village will host ‘La Journée des Sorcières and Bal des vampires’ from 2pm to 8pm – head along for arts and crafts ateliers, face painting (charge applies for face painting), and costume parade. The main costume parade is from 5.45pm at St Jacques church with the ‘Bal des vampires’ and Halloween party at Place de la Libération from 6.3opm to 8pm.

halloween la colle sur loup

Halloween 2017 in La Colle-sur-Loup

La Turbie

Tuesday 31 October:  Free activities from 5pm to 7pm including a treasure hunt for candy in the village and a disco.  Hosted at Place Neuve and Salle polyvalente – espace Jean Favre.

Le Rouret

Tuesday 31 October:   Head to 1 chemin du billard from 2.30pm for face painting, followed by Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ screening at 3.30pm.  Cost is €5 euros each, under 12 years is €3 each.

Monaco

Tuesday 31 October:  Family-friendly Stars ‘n’ Bars hosts an annual Halloween event – this  year, head along from 6pm to 9pm for ghost ship, haunted house and trick-or-treating.  Cost:  €20 (5-13 years) or €10 (14 years upwards).

monaco halloween 2017

Halloween 2017 at Stars ‘n’ Bars in Monaco

Tuesday 31 October:  Adults can join the Halloween festivities at La Rascasse bar with a ‘Day of the Dead’ theme.  The table with the scariest costumes will win a bottle of Champagne!

Mougins

Saturday 28 October:  Circus Party, an indoor play centre, is hosting a Halloween party with Halloween food, decorations and prizes to win.  Cost is €20 for adults, €18 per child.

Tuesday 31 October: The Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins will be plunged into darkness and will host guided tours by torchlight at 4pm, 5pm or 6pm.  Cost is €7 per person, reservations necessary direct with the museum.

Nice

Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October:  From 9.30am to 12.30am, the Hard Rock Café in Nice is hosting a Halloween breakfast, magic show and ‘create your own magic potion’ atelier.

Tuesday 31 October:  Halloween entertainment from 2pm-6pm and also 9pm till midnight at Patinoire Jean Bouin, competition for best costume, face painting and bon bons.  Special entry fee of €2 with €2 for ice skate rental. Kids under 6 years are free entry.

St-Laurent-du-Var

Saturday 21 to Monday 30 October:  Halloween-themed arts and crafts at Pitchoun Parc

Tuesday 31 October:  Halloween Party all day at Pitchoun Parc

St Jean Cap Ferrat

Sunday 22 October: Fête de la Citrouille is a free event that will take place at Théâtre de la mer – Espace des Néreïdes from 3pm.  Face painting, pony rides (on the terraces at the port), treasure hunt in the village, for ages 2-12 years.

fete de la citrouille 2017

Halloween activities in St Jean Cap Ferrat from 3pm on Sunday 22 October 2017

St Martin Vésubie

From Saturday 21 October to Sunday 5 November, Parc Alpha Loup is hosting Halloween activities.  The park usually has an entrance fee, however on Halloween (31 October) entrance is free of charge if visitors are dressed in costume* (*A proper Halloween costume, not a simple witches hat!)

St Paul de Vence

Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October:  Aventure (Live Escape Game) is hosting a giant escape game ‘La Forêt Maudite’ on various dates at the end of October (as well as November).  The minimum age is 18+ with 6 players per team over 1.5 hours of gameplay starting at 9pm…definitely one for adults.

Tuesday 31 October:  In the village, the Halloween party runs from 1pm to 5.30pm with the popular Mexican theme, ‘The Day of the Dead’.  Activities include making castanettes, maracas, masks, treasure hunt, piñata, face painting plus a screening of the brilliant animated film ‘The Book of Life’.  Full details are found here (in French):  https://www.saint-pauldevence.com/en/fiches/tout-lagenda/halloween-mexicain/

st paul de vence halloween

Halloween 2017 in St Paul de Vence includes ‘The Day of the Dead’ entertainment in the village (image: Pinterest)

Tourrette-Levens

Sunday 29 October:  At the Château, free activities and entertainment from 5.30pm to 7pm including a costume parade and fire show.

Valbonne

Tuesday 31 October :  Every year, Valbonne is the place to be for trick-or-treating around the village shops.  The action kicks off around 5pm with kids and adults dressed in costume.  Many parents bring some extra (individually wrapped) candy to give to the participating merchants/residents as they run out early.

Villeneuve Loubet

Tuesday 31 October : Treasure hunt every 15 minutes from 3pm to 5pm – reservations are necessary with the Office du Tourisme.  Cost is 7€ / family (4-5 people) or 5€ / 1 adult + 1 kid.   From 5.30pm to 7pm, come dressed in costume and enjoy a potion at Place de Verdun.  ** Please note: Fake weapons and firecrackers are banned.

Are you hosting a public Halloween event, spooky activity or themed workshop on the French Riviera?  Feel free to drop me a line and tell me about it and I’ll add it to this list.  P.S.  This list is for public events, not week-long stages or school holiday programmes.