NICE is Nice!

Living in NICE is Nice….VERY Nice!

Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, is proactive in improving Nice and has big plans for the capital of the Riviera in the coming five years:

  • Place Pierre Gautier near the Cours Saleya is to be renovated, giving the heart of Old Town a fresh look
  • Rue des Ponchettes will be the site of a green, rooftop walkway to stroll and enjoy views of the sea and Old Town
  • Line 2 of Nice’s Tramway is in the works, linking the Port of Nice to the Airport of Nice
  • A future TGV train line will link Nice with Marseille

In 2016 Line 2 of Nice’s successful Nice Tramway, Nice’s tramway system will be completed.  The route will connect the airport to Place Massena, before slipping underground to Nice Port and up to the city’s northern suburbs, allowing passengers to hop off a plane and into town in around 15 minutes.  The council’s magic wand will also be passed over the old Gare du Sud in the Libération area (which will host new stores and a media centre).

And finally, in 2025, a new TGV high-speed train line will link Nice with Marseille in just over an hour. The final journey from the capital of the Riviera direct to Paris will be just under four hours.

French Winemakers Concerned Over ‘Chateau’ Change

Photo credit: ALAMY

“French winemakers are concerned their US competitors may be given permission to use the symbolic “chateau” label on bottles exported to Europe, destroying the meaning of the term.
French winemakers concerned over ‘chateau’ change.

A committee of representatives from the Bordeaux region were among the first to denounce the initiative, which they claim would confuse French consumers, and ruin the tradition of chateau wine production.

In France, wine labelled “chateau” is associated with a product entirely made from grapes grown on a “terroir” – a specific patch of land- giving it a unique identity and flavour.

But a new proposal by the European Commission, to be addressed later this month, would allow American wines made with a mixture of grapes purchased from different growers, to use the title as well.

A committee of representatives from the Bordeaux region were among the first to denounce the initiative, which they claim would confuse French consumers, and ruin the tradition of chateau wine production.

Representatives, who base much of their sales on the use of coveted chateau titles in their region, are to meet on Monday in an attempt to push the French government to veto the initiative.

“There is a great danger that the notion of the chateau will disappear in France … the consumer is going to feel lost,” said Laurent Gapenne, president of an organisation that guarantees wine labels represent their geographic origin and quality in the Gironde region, which includes Bordeaux.

Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper, Mr Gapenne added that the “chateau” label accounts for up to four fifths of sales for winemakers across France, because it represents “a reference of quality” for consumers.

“It is unthinkable that the European Commission, which is supposed to defend our interests, approves of this measure,” he said. “In the United States it’s different, they use the term chateau to create a brand name like Coca Cola or Nike.”

Mr Gapenne said the proposal was made as part of an “exchange” that would allow European wine producers to rely more on the American labelling system, which traditionally highlights grape variety, rather than where the fruit was grown.

He said that if Stéphane Le Foll, the French agriculture minister, refuses to fight the measure, wine producers could seek legal action.

French winemakers also fear that if the move is successful it could spread to other countries, and spike competition with American wines.

“Today the importation of American wines in France is marginal. That could change with this opening,” said Mr Gapenne.

Bernard Farges, vice president of the Federation of Great Wines of Bordeaux, said: “Such an authorisation could create a precedent for the ensemble of the terms synonymous with winemaking,” such as ‘cru’ (vintage) and ‘domain,’ among others.”

EU representatives in charge of the measure could not be reached for comment. The European Commission’s Common Organization of Agricultural Markets will preside over the discussion of the measure later this month.”

Source: The, written by Devorah Lauter, Paris

Yes – you “Cannes”!

Cannes France, is one of the best-known cities of the French Riviera, a busy tourist destination and host of the annual Cannes Film Festival. The population was 70,400 as of the 2007 census. Cannes is the home of numerous gated communities. The city is also famous for its various luxury shops, restaurants, and hotels. (Source: Wikipedia )

Seems everyone who visits the French Riviera wants to go to Cannes (pronounced like can) because of the notorious film festival. I had recently eaten lunch in this famous city and enjoyed a leisurely stroll, while window-shopping – or to be more exact, window hopping. I have also watched the International Fireworks competition from a boat anchored in the bay of Cannes – a really amazing sight/site!
Have you ever visited Cannes?

(YouTube: The World of Travel)

French Bureaucracy – Oh, la, la, la, la!

As followup to my previous post about the new driving laws in France, there has been a new development reported – there’s a new deadline!

The requirement to have a alcohol breathalyser in your car has been pushed back four months until March 1, 2013, due to continual problems in supplying the demand for the kits in time for the already revised deadline.

Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, reportedly stated that the increase in the time for the legislation to come into force would be used to review the effectiveness of even requiring motorists to have an ethylotest – Allez savoir !

A Wine Rip-off & Tourist Trap

I was meeting friends (and their out-of-town friends who I hadn’t met before) for un aperitif at one of the cafés at the Port in Nice, before going to another friend’s “vernissage” held just around the corner. When I arrived, I found them sitting out front of  “Le Privé du Vieux Port“; they had just ordered a bottle of  rosé wine. We were busy making introductions and chatting when la serveuse  brought the wine, and began opening it.  I did notice out of the corner of my eye that she unscrewed the top, as there was no cork – a bit strange I mentally noted.  After we all tasted it and agreed it was too sweet and didn’t really like it, we checked the bottle label – “Gallo” from California.  My friend told me she had ordered “a rosé Provençale/locale” and that the girl had brought the wrong wine.  In the meantime, the waitress brought a bottle of red (with a cork) that one of the group had ordered – also “Gallo” brand.  As we debated and discussed the rosé error, with the bottle having been opened and 1/2 already poured into glasses, it was left undrunk, as we sipped on the red (better tasting, but still just an ordinary table wine).

We needed to get going, so decided to chalk it up to a live and learn moment ….. until ….. we got the bill:   60 Euros for the two bottles on wine!!  I asked the group if they had ordered from a wine menu – No!  Now it was time to verbally tackle the waitress (I also wanted to physically) and state that the price was outrageous for this wine, albeit “imported” from California, that most quality wines don’t even cost that much, and that she had in fact given us the wrong wine (apparently, the Provençale wine would have been even more expensive).  After arguing (politely) with her and a male worker, they finally reduced the bill to 50 Euros.

There were errors made on “both sides” of the table, to be sure, but I personally felt that they were taking advantage of foreigners/my friends.  There was a chalkboard propped near the entrance door that apparently had wines and prices listed, but my friends hadn’t noticed it nor had it been presented to them by the waitress.


– always ask for “la carte de vin” (wine/drink menu) before ordering
– ask the price if it’s not listed or you aren’t sure
– check the bottle’s label BEFORE it’s opened, in case of a misunderstanding
– don’t be shy or afraid to confirm any information you are clear about
– don’t let one incident dictate your overall perspective or viewpoint

As the saying goes, “you’re never too old to learn” – some life lessons just cost more than others!

Should’ve, Would’ve, Could’ve….

I believe having regrets is a waste of time and energy, and that it’s best to learn from our past in order to move on.  However, in everyday language we use the expressions, “should’ve/would’ve/could’ve” often to justify, reason, and explain a given situation, especially by adding the word “if.”

In French, “should have, would have, could have” is expressed by the past conditional tense:  formed by using the conditional of the helping verbs “avoir” or être” + the past participle of the verb.  It takes practice, so here’s some sentences to translate (and a beautiful song):

(See answers below, and enjoy a video song called  “shoulda, woulda, coulda”)

1.  I would have gone to France, but I didn’t have enough money.

2. I would have liked to see her.

3. We would have returned to see the movie.

4. I would never have done that.

5. You could have done it yourself.

6. He should have been there.

7. She ought to have saved some money.

8. They could’ve driven to Monaco tomorrow.

9. We should have left early.

10. We would have arrived on time, if he had not come late.


1-Je serais allé(e) en France, mais je n’avais pas assez d’argent.; 2-J’aurais aimé la voir.; 3- Nous serions revenu(e)s voir le film.; 4-Je n’aurais jamais fait cela.; 5-Tu aurais pu le faire toi-meme.; 6-Il aurait été là.; 7-Elle aurait dû économiser de l’argent.; 8-Ils auraient pu conduire à Monaco demain.; 9-Nous aurions dû partir plus tôt.; 10-Nous serions arrivés à temps, si il n’était pas venu en retard.

“Une Affaire” To Remember

I am a nervous flyer – always have been. When I travel to the U.S. to visit family, I always dread the long flight in coach class. However, for my recent trip, I decided to buy a one-way upgrade to business class at a reasonable price – the difference was like night and day, and I even forgot, well almost, where I was!

It was very interesting to see how the ‘other half’ flies! I had priority status, which included access to the Air France lounge in Paris, where I ate a free breakfast and hung out until flight time. The height of the ramp to the upper/top seating level of the aircraft matched my upper level of anticipation and excitement for being able to totally recline in the oversize seat and have quality & service. True enough, I was drinking champagne before the cabin doors were closed and sitting alone, like a queen on a throne.

In contrast, on the return flight in coach class, I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me. So, I had more space and wasn’t as crowded as usual, which was nice. That being said, it wasn’t quite the same an flying in “La Classe d’Affaires” – a very pleasant and memorable trip, and now I’m spoiled!

“Les Peintres dans la Rue” (Painters in the Street)

A nearby town’s square was hosting their annual Art Show/Contest, with artists vying for the best artwork and stand presentation. I also noticed five painters actively creating a personal work of art, while visitors wandered among the stands. There was classic art, impressionist style, abstract art, still life, and amusing, satirical pieces – a hodge podge of styles, colors, and artistic subjects.

I met and spoke with Monsieur BOOS, an artist with a studio in Nice, who was also walking around and taking in the views. I learned that he was one of the jurors for the day’s competition, with prizes going to the individual painter in action, and to the art stand deemed the winner.  I also spoke with him about his being an artist, which would give him a different perspective for judging today’s event – a kind of insider’s view from canvas up.  He also told me that there is an artwork show every weekend, all year long, at the Port in Cros de Cagnes-sur-Mer. As we said “au revoir” and continued on our way, I couldn’t help but wander who was going to be the winner.

Which painting style do you prefer in works of art?

The Real Reason (?) French Women Don’t Get Fat

I have read the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” about “classic principles of French gastronomy” without feeling guilty or depriving oneself of culinary pleasures for experiencing the joie de vivre. So, I was curious when I came across the following article, although I generally don’t wear perfume; the composition of perfume is fascinating.

“The Real Reason French Women Don’t Get Fat “

“There’s no doubt that certain smells can make you lose your appetite. (Ever catch a whiff of a New York City subway on a hot summer day? Vile.) Turns out there may be a way to produce a similar (but less offensive) effect: makers of a new French fragrance claim that smelling a pretty perfume can lead you to eat less and look slimmer.”

[Has anyone tried one of these fragrances?]

Prends-Moi photo credit: Women’s Health Magazine[/caption]“The perfume, Veld’s Prends-Moi (or “take me” in English), bills itself as the “world’s first slimming perfume.” According to company data, 75 percent of testers experienced fewer food urges by spritzing the scent on in the morning and in response to cravings, and massaging it on problem areas twice a day. Moreover, 82 percent of testers reported feelings of comfort–a side effect welcomed by emotional eaters who tend to turn to food for comfort (raising my hand). Skeptical? Here’s what makes this potion potent, according to its makers:

1. Appetite-curbing scent: Prends-Moi also contains betaphroline, an ingredient said to stimulate skin cells to release b-endorphins, chemicals in your body that send feel-good signals to the brain. The brand claims that these pleasurable feelings will curb the need to eat compulsively. (Read up on other tricks to effectively suppress your appetite.)

2. Slimming ingredients: Prends-Moi contains caffeine, carnitine, and spirulina extract (algae), often found in anti-cellulite products. Because these elements are said to help break down fat when massaged on problem areas, Veld’s claims that topical application of Prends-Moi helps slim.

Experts Answer: Does It Work?

Can sniffing this make you skinny?

Could Prends-Moi be the real reason French women don’t get fat? Slim chance, says scent psychologist Avery Gilbert, Ph.D. The product may stimulate skin cells to release endorphins—to some degree, he says. But enough to send a message to the brain, creating a sense of well-being that leads to weight loss? “It’s quite a stretch,” says Gilbert.

However, there may be some science behind Prends-Moi notes. “Odors can be used to help people lose weight.” says Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, whose studies have shown that food flavors—green apple, banana, and peppermint—are more effective than non-food scents, including florals, for weight loss. Prends-Moi has notes of bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lilac, vanilla, patchouli, and sandalwood—a lovely, citrusy-floral-woodsy blend “The grapefruit, mandarin, and vanilla in this fragrance may have some effect,” he says. A separate study from Osaka University in Japan found that rats exposed to grapefruit oil three, times a week for 15 minutes intervals, not only had less of an appetite, but also lost weight. So maybe there was something to that grapefruit diet: its zesty scent. (Use grapefruit and any other scents your nose desires to make your own scent.)

Because the brand offers none of their own research to substantiate the fat-blasting power of Prends-Moi, we asked dermatologist David E. Bank, M.D., to weigh in. “Caffeine, carnitine, and spirulina supposedly work by reducing the storage of lipids and promoting collagen production, which will decrease fat and cellulite,” he says. They have a temporary firming and plumping effect on the skin, smoothing out the appearance of cellulite, but that vanishes once you stop using them, he says.

Bottom line: Prends-Moi is no magic bullet for weight loss—even if was developed in a country where women eat buttered croissants and drink copious amounts of wine—and stay slim. Le sigh. But if the mere act of spritzing on a fragrance keeps your hands out of the cookie jar, then by all means, spritz away. (It’s harmless in comparison to the crazy cleanses being pedaled out there.)

How to Sniff Yourself Slim

Prends-Moi (42 euros or roughly $53, is currently not available in the U.S. If you can’t get your hands on a bottle (according to Britain’s Daily Mail, there was a 6,000-person waiting list when Prends-Moi hit the UK market), channel its appetite-curbing power by taking a whiff of one of these whenever the kitchen calls your name:

Harvey Prince Eau De Lite Eau de Parfum ($55, is a minty, fruity scent make with craving-calming peppermint, green apple, and vanilla.

DKNY Be Delicious Heart NYC Eau de Parfum Spray ($65, offers fresh notes of green apple and grapefruit.

Kiehls Aromatic Blends Fragrant Body Spray in Nashi Blossom & Pink Grapefruit ($40, or Nest Grapefruit Votive Candle ($14, both offer a light grapefruit scent.”


Source: Women’s Health Magazine online, by Krista Bennett DeMaio

Prends-Moi photo credit: Women’s Health Magazine online

Restaurant in La Grande Motte

While I was visiting the Montpellier area, I ate at a boardwalk restaurant in La Grande Motte. What a great place to people watch, while remembering sitting at this place years ago, enjoying a Kir Royale aperitif (video below).

Kir Royale

I ordered one before lunch, as a toast to great memories during my summers in this town. The lunch was delicious, and the people watching equally entertaining – just as I had remembered!