Sightseeing – CAP d’ANTIBES (Jardin Thuret)

I find the coastal area of the French Riviera groans with concrete, construction cranes, and high-rise apartments so a short visit to any area of greenery is always welcomed.

Today, because it was a lovely sunny autumn day I decided to push my son in his baby stroller to Jardin Thuret – a renown local attraction.

From central Juan les Pins (if walking), it takes approximately 20-25 minutes via the quickest and less strenuous route – walk up the gradual hill of avenue Saramartel, then turn left onto chemin du Crouton. Follow chemin du Crouton for 5 minutes then turn right onto boulevard du Cap and the garden is a leisurely 5 minutes from there on the right. Don’t be fooled by Google maps; it seems as though you can take a shortcut through avenue du Soleil Saramartel but you can’t as this is a private road for a gated residence. The garden also has numerous entry gates on chemin du Tamisier, but the only accessible public entrance that isn’t chained or locked is on chemin Raymond.

Once on boulevard du Cap you turn right onto chemin Raymond, a narrow road, and the entrance to the garden is halfway down this road. There are a few carpark spaces on this road but otherwise no parking area so bear this in mind in peak summer season. If you are traveling from central Antibes, you can also take Envibus number 2 (Eden Roc line) and it stops at ‘Chemin de la Salis’ stop near to the garden.

The garden itself is on 3.5 hectares and has over 2,500 trees and shrubs. There is the main building Villa Thuret which was closed as botanical researchers use it, also a greenhouse and a small gardien’s building with public toilet (no baby changing facility). A statue bust of Gustave Thuret (a French botanist who created the garden) casts a watchful eye from under the canopy of pine trees.


Villa Thuret

Most trees have signage with their latin names, species and place of origin.  It was nice to see Mediterranean species, also trees from Chile, Australasia and south-east Asia.


Jardin Thuret

We saw cyclads, pine trees, conifers, palms, eucalyptus trees, cypress trees, water lilies and there is even a small bamboo forest.


pond with water lilies


bamboo forest

As you meander along the paths, keep alert for wildlife – birds, insects, lizards and squirrels. And mosquitoes, so bring insect repellent. The paths are made of small gravel chip so it is accessible for baby strollers/buggies though it’s suited for sturdier off-road types of buggy. There are no stairs in the garden but wheelchair visitors may struggle as there are big rocks occasionally in the path, and also the site is on a slight incline.

The upsides:
– Relatively quiet botanical garden with huge variety of trees and shrubs
– Easily accessible from Antibes or Juan les Pins, and suitable for a short visit of 30 minutes – 1 hour.  I wouldn’t recommend it for a longer visit unless you have a particular interest in botany as there are no facilities onsite (e.g. cafeteria, playground, boutique)
– Free entry
– Stroller/buggy accessible (though it is not paved, it is doable)
– Onsite public toilet

The downsides are:
– Carparking may be difficult in summer
– Nowhere to sit! there are no park benches, only a handful of seats made from tree trunks so it lacks somewhere to rest or enjoy a snack or the view
– Mosquitoes

As I find with many attractions in France, they don’t capitalise on tourism potential. This would be a lovely site for a tearooms in the Villa Thuret! or even a shaded terrace to eat an ice-cream and enjoy the green view.  We enjoyed our visit to Jardin Thuret and I appreciate and understand they probably would like it to remain unspoiled, it has an almost overgrown, unkempt feel about it and perhaps that is one of it’s charms.

Villa Thuret, 90 chemin Raymond, Cap d’Antibes
Open: Monday-Friday 08:30am-5:30pm (winter), 08:30am-6pm (summer) (year-round it is closed weekends and public holidays)
Free entry (excluding large groups who must prebook and pay a nominal fee)


Eat and drink – JUAN LES PINS (Londinium)

We chose this restaurant for a couples dinner and after looking at the menu’s along the seafront the prices here seemed reasonable.

They had 4 formule menus on offer, though most had fish or shellfish options so if you don’t eat seafood like me you are better to choose something a la carte (off the menu by dish).

We both chose the €17,50 menu which consisted of a main and dessert. The main options were lamb chops, or magret de canard (duck) or dorade (fish). The lamb and fish were served with rice, grilled tomatoes and basil which sounded nice. Duck was served with julienne vegetables and paysanne potatoes. We ordered duck and the dessert was fruit salad with a scoop of strawberry icecream.

The duck itself was cooked perfectly in the middle, but the edges of the duck were overcooked and it resembled steak as it seemed to be flame-grilled.  This was saved however by a lovely honey sauce accompanying the duck. The julienne vegetables was a tasty stir-fry assortment,  and the potatoes were light and fluffy inside and lightly roasted on the outside – really delicious.  Portion sizes were OK – I did end up feeling slightly hungry so nibbled on some bread.

The dessert was disappointing.  Fruit salad with watermelon, rockmelon and pineapple topped by strawberry icecream.  The watermelon was overripe therefore it was soggy and soft.  We ordered café noisettes which were over-extracted.

The wine list had a reasonable selection, and many drink prices were lower than neighbouring restaurants. (€18 for an AOC bottle of white wine which is fair for this area, and many liqueurs and spirits were cheaper than bars only 200 metres away, some had a variation of being cheaper by €4 a drink for a Kir. Bottled water was also cheaper than neighbouring restaurants).

Service was prompt on arrival, with a nice greeting from the owner and the waiter explained the specials.  Our waiter was friendly and polite, though he was overworked as he was the only server for outside tables until another waitress arrived.  The barman was also friendly.

There are numerous tables outside on a terrace that can be covered from the sun, and it is a big restaurant inside also so good for a group booking.  There were 2 baby high chairs for patrons to use and the staff were friendly towards the families dining.  There were accessible toilets with no stairs.  Good selection of English music playing Top 40 hits.

Would recommend, their prices for set menus are very reasonable compared to restaurants right on the beach.  We paid just over €60 euros for 2 main courses, 2 desserts, a bottle of wine,  a 500ml bottle of Badoit sparkling water and 2 coffees.


Eat and drink – JUAN LES PINS (La Grappa)

On Friday evening, Juan les Pins was relatively busy with locals and tourists alike eager to catch a glimpse of the annual ‘Bataille des Fleurs’ (Battle of the Flowers) parade.  There were floats decorated with flowers, Brazilian samba girls and brass bands.  Occasionally, the parade participants would throw a spectator a flower to pass onto their beloved.

Before the parade, we were eager to eat dinner quickly and with a minimum of waiting as we had three children with us (aged 19 months to 6 years of age).  We stopped by La Grappa (12 avenue Maréchal Joffe, 06160 Juan les Pins.  Telephone: 04 93 65 93 13), a family-run Italian pizzeria located on the street leading from Juan les Pins train station to the seafront.

La Grappa is unpretentious.  Because it is on the street leading to the beach area it doesn’t have a scenic view, however it has good tasty pizza for a reasonable price for Juan les PIns.  We reserved a table for seven people (including the children) and were promptly given menus on arrival, and drinks orders taken.  We waited no more than 10 minutes for our delicious wood-fired pizzas to be served.  The waitress was friendly and attentive; the pizza chef was friendly also and showed my son how he put the toppings onto the pizzas and then into the wood-fired oven.

The pizzas were very tasty – perfect thin crust (not soggy or burnt around the edges), lots of toppings and cheese – our bill was 66 euros which was good for Juan les PIns – including 5 large pizzas, a pichet of rosé, 2 large beers and water.  The restaurant is located at street level and has a couple of bistro-type tables outside on the sidewalk, and there is just one small step into the main dining area so it is accessible for both baby buggies/strollers, and/or wheelchairs.  The toilet is also accessible for wheelchair users.

We will definitely return again to La Grappa.

PLAYGROUNDS on the French Riviera

The French Riviera offers lots of options for playground fun.

Here are a few options for places to take your kids to burn off that excess energy.

I have included mostly free options (if there is an entrance fee I have specified where relevant).

This list is current as at January 2016, for any corrections or additions I welcome your feedback:


– There are 2 public playgrounds in Antibes old town on rue Republique, beside the carousel and main post office (La Poste).

– 2 public playgrounds at Salis beach (plage du Ponteil) – one is nearer to the Archaeology Museum beside the boules pitch and there is a public toilet beside that; the other is very small and located opposite Royal Beach restaurant and the carpark at the beach.

– Small fenced playground on the corner of avenue Philippe Rochat and avenue Mas Ensoleillé

– Medium-sized fenced playground between route de Grasse and Hameau de la Palmeraie with climbing structures, rocking horses, slides

– Parc Exflora, chemin du Vallauris, Antibes les Pins:  Large open grassed area for picnics and kicking a ball (no playground equipment).  Small lake for feeding ducks.  You can obtain access to the public beach via a tunnel under the coast road/railway line.  Across the road from Parc Exflora on the corner of chemin des Eucalyptus there is a boules pitch and small playground with public toilets nearby.

– Parc Départemental Valmasque:  Between Antibes and Mougins this large park has forest walks, fitness trails and playground equipment.  Lots of shady trees, picnic tables and toilet facilities.

– Parc de Vaugrenier:  2 kilometres towards Nice from Antibes this park has walking paths, picnic tables and forest walks.  A children’s playground area, nature trail, wooden confidence course and accessible toilet facilities are at the eastern entrance.  There is also a lookout hut over the lake to view turtles.

Indoor soft play centre – Royal Kids – has slides, ball pits, motorised cars. Suitable for babies up to 12 years. Admission fee applies.


– Palais area, boulevard de Croisette (near to the public beach where the Petit Train departs from):  Children’s entertainment area including carousel, funfair stalls, snack kiosks. Public toilets are nearby on the beachside of the Croisette.

– Further along boulevard de Croisette in the direction of Port Pierre Canto, there is another public playground at the end of the beach with playground equipment.


– Indoor soft play – FunCity, 47 avenue Maurice Chevalier, 06150 Cannes la Bocca:  Indoor playground facility with designated playareas for different ages, large climbing frames with tunnels, nets, slides, trampolines, soft toys, ball pits, inflatables, mini-karts, onsite restaurant for snacks and gift boutique.  Entrance fee payable


– Small playground at Square Nabonnand on the main road by the post office.


– Main playground is at Pinède Gould (also known as Jardin de la Pinède) with playground equipment, mini-train, dodgem bumper cars and mini-carousel. (Rides are chargeable). There are also squirrels to watch that roam free in the pine trees in the park.

– Another carousel is on avenue Guy de Maupassant on the Juan les Pins promenade beside Le Ruban Bleu restaurant, and just along from the carousel toward Sun7 cafeteria there are go-karts and trampolines in summer.

– There is a public playground/park at Jardin Pauline (corner of rue Pauline and boulevard Raymond Poincaré)

– Another small fenced public playground at Square Duluys (corner of rue St-Marguerite and boulevard Raymond Poincaré)


– Ludiparc, 1401 route du Pont de Pierre, 06480 Le Colle sur Loup: Park set on 4.8 hectares with trees and river frontage, playground equipment, climbing frames, trampolines, inflatable castles, mini-golf, ping-pong tables, restaurant onsite for snacks, carparking onsite, Wifi connection, baby changing table.  Entrance fee payable €4 (free for children under 3 years)  Note:  The terrace and toilet facilities are not wheelchair accessible.

– There are a few public playareas in La Colle sur Loup – on rue Max Barel in the village, at Jeu de Baume down from the rue Clémenceau, and at the Parc de la Guérinière.


While not technically classed as part of France, I have included Monaco/Monte Carlo as many visitors stay in Monaco or daytrip there.

– If you have children you can stop at Parc Princesse Antoinette (Princess Antoinette Gardens), La Condamine, 54 bis boulevard du Jardin Exotique, 98000 Monaco – a free park with go-karts and a playground.  Older children can be entertained there by mini golf, badminton, ping-pong, a football pitch and basketball courts.

– There are carousels near the Stade Nautique, and on the Larvotto Esplanade. – In the Fontvielle area, there is a playground by the Princess Grace Rose Garden and a carousel near the Fontvielle Big Top. Kids can wander around the Trocadéro Gardens, or after some retail therapy the family can enjoy time out at the children’s playground area at the end of the pedestrianised rue Princesse Caroline.

– Another great spot to take the kids and escape the bustle of Monaco, is the free Japanese Garden on avenue Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo – a real oasis of serenity with   waterfalls, stone bridges and Zen gardens.


-Playground at the Château


– Free entry playground at Ecoparc Mougins, on chemin de Fontaine de Currault. Accessible eco-toilet onsite at the playground, climbing frames, swings, rope course, playhouse, balancing beams. The ground surface is made of recycled car tyres so is soft and rubbery, and the play area has seating and lots of trees for shade. Nearby at the Ecoparc centre is a cafeteria that sells cold drinks and icecreams.


– Parc du Chateau, rue de Foresta/Montée Monfort:  Located at the end of quai des Etats-Unis overlooking Nice, this park is on the hilltop with old ruins, a waterfall, playground, restaurant, lookout points over Nice city and port and snack kiosk.  There are public toilets onsite.  You can take an elevator up from quai des Etats-Unis, or if you are stroller-free walk up the numerous stairs for a wonderful view from the top.

– Parc Phoenix (see separate post under Sightseeing – Nice).

– Located on the western edge of the ‘Musiciens’ quarter in Nice (so named because the streets and squares are named after famous musicians such as Verdi) you can find the Jardin Alsace Lorraine, 30 boulevard Gambetta, with park benches, statues and a fenced in children’s playground.

-Parc Carol de Roumanie with water sprinklers and play equipment

– Central Nice play area – There is a carousel at Albert 1er gardens, also the Promenade du Paillon/Couloir Verte playarea at place Massena with sprinklers, wooden play structures, swings.  Accessible toilets onsite.

– Parc du Castel des Deux Rois not far from Nice Port with playground, water sprinklers in summer, mini-farm, accessible pay toilet, snack kiosk, lots of grass to kick a ball around, cycle paths


Parc du Castel des Deux Rois, Nice


– Parc de Loisirs on the Carrefour du Piol, D3 d’Opio-Valbonne is a great park with roomy playground with play equipment for just-walking age, toddlers and older kids.  Slides, climbing ladders, basketball court, exercise station, cycle paths, grassy areas for kicking balls around, accessible public toilet, picnic tables. No snack kiosk onsite but there is a bakery nearby towards Valbonne. Between May-mid June they install skate ramps for initiations in skateboarding and roller blading.

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)


– Plage des Graniers, located beneath the St Tropez citadel gets busy in summer but is family-friendly and offers a few different playgrounds beach-side.

– Plage des Jumeaux, route d’Epi, Plage de Pampelonne, Ramatuelle is a good place to take kids where adults can watch the kids on the playground on the beach.


– Playground in Valbonne village on route du Plascassier next to the Skate park.

– Parc des Bouillides, route du Parc, 06560 Valbonne Sophia Antipolis:  It is closer to the Sophia Antipolis area than Valbonne but is zoned as Valbonne by the local parks.  Access from Antibes is via route du Parc and look for the small side road on the right-hand side with a small sign leading to the restaurant ‘La Source’ and carpark. Fenced playground with soft matted area, running track, walking trails, also has municipal sports athletics club, climbing wall, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, skate park.  Picnic tables all through the park, and paved pathways good for scooters and bikes.  No toilet facilities onsite.


– A public playground is located at les Jardins de l’Octroi, Square François Binon, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer.

– Another small public playground is also beside Port de la Darse, you can reach it via the coastal pathway below the Citadelle but be aware that this pathway while paved is uneven in places.

public playground by Darse port

public playground by Darse port

NOTE:  I have seen and tested all of the playgrounds listed above so the comments are my honest opinion of each play area.  For a map and more details of other playgrounds in the region, Nice Matin has a great interactive map with location pins that you can find here: Playgrounds on the Côte d’Azur


Eat and drink – JUAN LES PINS

Children are welcome in restaurants, cafés and bars, however not all restaurants will provide special facilties for families such as high chairs.  Most restaurants do not offer children’s meals (the range may be limited for children to fries, chicken nuggets and similar) but those that do specifically offer children’s menus have fixed-price menus at reduced prices.

Biocoop Les Pins, 8 rue Saint Honorat:  Eco-friendly store selling bio/eco food products and cosmetics. Open Monday-Saturday.

Casino supermarket, 138 boulevard Wilson/9 avenue Beautheville:  Major chain supermarket, open 6 days (and Sunday mornings in summer), wheelchair accessible.

Casino supermarket – Juan les Pins

Leader Price supermarket, 71 boulevard Raymond Poincaré:  Low cost supermarket, not a big range of products compared to Carrefour or Casino but is open 7 days in summer and is wheelchair accessible.

Marché Plus supermarket, 122 boulevard Wilson:  Small supermarket open 7 days, wheelchair accessible.