Activities/Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Pain, Amour & Chocolat, 14-16 February 2014)

Pain, Amour et Chocolat – or Bread, love and chocolate – may seem like an odd choice of name for a festival for non-French people however these three things are very important in France.

phoca_thumb_l_Prodotti_esposti_2013%2025This local festival held in Antibes on the weekend of Valentines Day (14 February) has a theme based around love, and the market stalls sell products including confectionery, gifts such as ceramics and jewellery, bread, pâtisseries, chocolate and conserves.

 

phoca_thumb_l_Prodotti_esposti_2013%207This year’s programme also includes Italian marching bands, circus parades through the streets of old Antibes, workshops for children (designing chocolates and pizza making), a fashion show of hairstyles themed around love, a perfume-making workshop and an archery game with a prize to win a dinner for two at a local restaurant.

phoca_thumb_l_Prodotti_esposti_2013%2021What: Pain, Amour & Chocolat festival

When: 14-16 February 2014 from 10am-7pm

Where:  place Nationale, Antibes

Free entry (excluding purchases of any products !)

Tips:  Unfortunately, Antibes old town is not the best town for free street parking, but you can locate pay-per-hour carparking at various locations. The nearest pay-per-hour carparking facility is at Parking la Poste (avenue Paul Doumer), or the new underground parking at Antibes port but be aware pay-per-hour parking is pricey – around €6 for two hours.  Both carparking facilities are less than 5 minutes walk to the festival on flat, paved surfaces.  The closest accessible toilets to the festival are located at Hotel le Cameo on place Nationale, Café brasserie Le Vieil Antibes (rue Thuret) which is next to the fountain beside the festival, or automated public pay toilets are on rue Lacan opposite Appart’the (known locally as ‘The Tearooms’).

General information – Tourisme et Handicap sites

I am currently reviewing the information given on the website http://www.handitourismepaca.fr regarding wheelchair-friendly accessibility in the French Riviera region.

This website also covers Provence and Sud Alpes regions, and provides tourism information for wheelchair-bound travellers, and hearing and sight-impaired travellers by the Comité Regional de Tourisme Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

The website has good information regarding transport sectors and accessible beaches, however I have run a few searches and found that it is lacking in information regarding restaurants (none viewed across the entire Riviera region), suggested outdoor itineraries (only 6 suggested walks across the region) and leisure activities (only 3 activities displayed in searches in the region for wheelchair-bound travellers in Antibes, Cannes and St-Maxime).

The website is in French only so I have emailed the Regional Committee to enquire about an English equivalent and if not I will be translating it for them and suggesting other accessible options obtained during my own research via my blog.

Will keep you posted on progress!

Activities – ANTIBES (La Ferme du Far West)

La Ferme du Far West is one of the theme parks that make up the big Marineland complex.  You can buy a stand-alone ticket for just the farm, or buy a pass to combine it with entrance to the adjacent parks Aquasplash, Marineland and/or Adventure Golf.

The entire site is flat and reasonably well-paved (aside from a few potholes) so it is easily accessible for families with baby buggies/strollers, or travelers with reduced mobility.

We visited with our 21-month old son and there were not many activities for children this age.  It is more suitable for children aged 4 years or older as some of the attractions/rides have a minimum age (e.g. ‘Playmobil’ playroom children must be 3 years and older; inflatable slides 4 years and older etc).

The park has farm animals to pet including goats, rabbits, sheep and ponies.  There are various rides suited to our son’s age with adult supervision (Wild West train, ride-on galloping ponies).

Wild West train

There is a restaurant onsite selling sandwiches, French fries and icecreams but the park doesn’t have picnic tables so it is not suited if you are planning to take a picnic yourself and stay for the day.

Upsides:

Our son enjoying the hands-on animal experiences – petting the goats and rabbits, watching roosters wandering around freely, looking at horses, cows, llamas, geese, guinea pigs.

farm animals

There is a playground so if your child gets bored with the rides you can let them run around there.

If all else fails, buy an icecream.

Downsides:

If you park your car in the big Marineland carparking area, it costs an additional 7€ for parking fees on top of park entrance fees.  The only machines to pay for parking are situated by the carpark exit.

Maintenance for the park should be a better standard – there were large potholes filled with water, refreshment machines selling cold drinks were out of order, the gold mine exhibit had lightbulbs not working, ride-on toys out of order.  For the entry price you pay, they should be upgrading or at least maintaining attractions.

The children’s playground onsite has no shelter from the sun so make sure you have lots of sunscreen and a hat for your children.  My recommendation is the park installs a sun-shade over the playground.

The ‘Magic River’ ride is closed for La Ferme patrons until mid-September as they allow access in summertime for people at the adjoining Aquasplash water complex.

The pony rides (3 years and older with adult supervision) are free for your first ride; additional rides cost 2€ each (something you will not find mentioned on their website).

Ride-on mechanical horses, wagons etc are coin-operated and around 2€ per ride.

The entrance price for the park is 13€ per adult, 10€ for children from 3 years upwards and free for under 3 years.  A fairer price based on the restricted number of attractions would be 8€ per adult and 6€ per child.

Overall it is an OK theme park to spend a few hours experiencing a few rides and the farm animals close-up, but it is not somewhere to spend a whole day.

Activities – ANTIBES (Les Nuits Carrées 2012)

Experiencing music in another country is a must-do for me.  Music conveys many emotions and creates memories.   I have heard the passionate beat from Cook Island drummers in Rarotonga, trekked through rice fields to listen to traditional Indonesian folk songs in Bali, camped at a 3-day music festival in a vineyard as the sun comes up in New Zealand and been chilled by a solo Irish harpist playing on a deserted riverbank in the United Kingdom.

Living in France exposes you to a wide range of music and whether your tastes range from huge stadium concerts, to intimate jazz bars, I highly recommend everyone enjoys a concert or musical event whilst living or visiting here.

My pick for this week is ‘Les Nuits Carrées’ held over 2 nights, Friday 29 June and Saturday 30 June – a relatively young festival held at the amphitheatre beside Fort Carré in Antibes.   Les Nuits Carrées is an eco-festival of sorts; you purchase a reusable ‘happy cup’ when you arrive and refill it through the evening to recycle at the end.  No discarded styrofoam cups or aluminium cans littering the ground here.

Les Nuits Carrées 2009 – eco-festival, Antibes

Even the toilets are eco-friendly; instead of those horrible smelly Portaloos with chemicals that are regular features at music festivals the toilets are constructed of chip-board and there are buckets of sawdust – yes, sawdust – to tip into the bowl afterwards.  No smell and much more pleasant.  There is always a wheelchair-accessible toilet with ramp.  My tip:  Take a small torch for later in the evening, the toilets have no lighting.

The festival billing showcases hip-hop, reggae, jazz, electro, funk and the setting is magic at the amphitheatre as the sun sets.  The ground is flat (though can be stony) so the venue, refreshment areas and toilets are wheelchair accessible, though the amphitheatre obviously has graduated steps.

amphitheatre at Les Nuits Carrées 2010

Tickets are a bargain at 10€ per night or just 15€ for both nights.  Visit the festival website for details on where to purchase tickets and the line-up for both nights www.nuitscarrees.com

Enjoy!

Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Fête de la Saint-Pierre)

One of the benefits of living in France is the regular occurrence of free traditional festivals.  You can absorb as little or as much as you like of the heritage and culture of religions, local customs, food and community spirit.

Next week over 3 days (29 June-01 July) – I am hoping to attend the ‘Fête de la Saint-Pierre’ held in Antibes old town.

Saint-Peter (Pierre) is the Patron Saint of fishermen, and he is honoured every year with processions through the streets, dualling competitions on boats, games, water skiiing displays, parades with paper lanterns, regattas and music.

Held this year from Friday 29 June-Sunday 01 July at Plage de la Gravette on Antibes port (accessible for baby buggies and wheelchairs)

For the programme itinerary click on the following link http://www.antibes-juanlespins.com/agenda-culturel/autres-manifestations/icalrepeat.detail/2012/06/29/462/150/fete-de-la-saint-pierre

Eat and drink – ANTIBES

Sometimes all you want when you are hungry is to find an old favourite – a restaurant where you can order your favourite dish and know that the quality will be consistently good and the service great.   For me, one of those restaurants is La Cave Provençale at 7 rue Aubernon.  You could easily walk by La Cave Provençale and not blink an eye; there is nothing outstanding about the façade or decor, and the location is on a busy through-road which does not allow for meandering strolling.  However, what brings me back to La Cave Provençale is my ‘favourite dish’ the ‘Gourmand’ salad – a delicious, fresh mix of rocket, coppa, jambon cru, roquefort, roasted pinenuts, olives and mini toasts with lightly melted chevre cheese, mmmmm!  The salad is a decent-sized portion, tastes fresh and is priced well for Antibes.  Service is friendly and prompt even when tables are full.  When I visited last week on a hot day (with friends and two children under 18 months of age) the waiter bought chilled water for the children, and put out the sun awning to avoid sunburn for the children.  The menu offers burgers, salads, pastas and the like.  Downside is there is no high chair for families to use. The toilet is accessible for those with reduced mobility.

Sightseeing – ANTIBES

I have friends visiting here from Sweden and as the sun is shining we have many options for sightseeing due to good weather but unfortunately the car battery has died overnight!   Two families navigating busy streets with 2 baby strollers means that planning and easy accessibility for restaurants at meal times and toilet breaks is crucial.

We decide on an afternoon stroll from Juan les Pins to Antibes walking up the small hill on Chemin des Sables and over to Salis beach.  There is a children’s playground near the boules court, and many park benches to admire the view of sailing boats.  Beside the boules court is a public toilet (accessible) with coin donation to the attendant.

Afterwards, we follow the path along the Antibes remperts which is wheel-accessible, though busy due to tourists enjoying the sunshine.  The path snakes along the old Roman wall with views across to the Baie des Anges, Nice and Monaco in the distance.  We stop beside the Picasso Museum to take in the views, before pausing to take photos of Plage Gravette.

Continuing walking down the hill toward the port we pause at Félix Café near the arched entrance to the port (50 Boulevard Aguillon) for a pizza lunch, the waiter is friendly and charming and the ‘Felix’ pizza delicious.  A high chair was available, and there is ample room for a stroller (or wheelchair) to access the toilet facilities.

We cross the road and have trouble choosing which gelato to tickle our tastebuds – my final selection of mango and passionfruit is mouth-watering – and we finish our leisurely stroll along the Antibes port admiring the superyachts on the International Quay.

Eat and drink – ANTIBES

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.

Le Moulin, 7 boulevard Maréchal Leclerc (Telephone: 04 93 61 23 60):  Italian-run restaurant situated near to Salis beach serving pizza, pastas and the like.  Large outdoor terrace for dining in the sun.  Ample room for wheelchair users and/or families with strollers but reservations are recommended as this restaurant does get busy.  Easy access to toilet facilities as restaurant is ground level.

Eat and drink – ANTIBES

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.

Félix Café, 50 boulevard Aguillon, (Telephone: 04 93 34 01 64): Has ramp access inside the restaurant to disabled toilet facilities.  High chair available for families. I recommend the ‘Felix’ pizza.

Fleur de Café, 2 avenue du 24 Août, (Telephone: 04 93 34 43 89): Stroller-friendly café serving cakes, muffins, coffee – has a baby change table, no stairs inside café to toilet facilities.

Restaurant L’auberge Provençal, place Nationale, 61 rue de la République (Telephone: 04 93 34 13 24): Has ramp access inside the restaurant to the rear dining terrace and toilet facilities.

Carrefour supermarkets, one in central Antibes town at 5 avenue Pasteur, and the bigger hypermarket is around 15 minutes drive from Antibes town on Chemin Saint Claude (Telephone: 04 92 91 46 79):  Both are wheelchair accessible.

Intermarche supermarket, 2 boulevard Albert 1er: Wheelchair accessible.