Riviera Restaurants: L’Ecole de Nice

Riviera Restaurants: L'Ecole de Nice

“Travellers love Nice for its reliable sunshine, handsome 19th Century architecture, lively street life, great museums and palm tree-lined beach. Unsurprisingly, the city has also become popular with young chefs looking to open their own restaurants. The new table everyone’s talking about is L’Ecole de Nice, opened last year by Michelin-starred, Japanese-born chef Keisuke Matsushima. What draws the crowds is the arty, stylish decor – the walls are hung with works by the likes of Arman, César and Pignon-Ernest – and the excellent, market-driven cooking of young Japanese chef Yoshinobu Seki, who trained with Matsushima.

Riviera Restaurants: L'Ecole de Nice

The menu changes regularly, but runs to witty, delicious riffs on Niçois classics with an intriguing Japanese sensibility. I was impressed by Seki’s impeccable rendering of one of the city’s great gastronomic classics, les petits farcis (stuffed baby vegetables), along with his succulent flank steak with an onion sauce that was inspired by pissaladière, the open Niçois tart of sautéed onions, anchovies and black olives, served avec polenta fries; and a clever reworking of tourte aux blettes (Swiss chard pie) as a dessert, served with vanilla ice cream. The rosemary- flavoured runny chocolate cake is outstanding, too.”

L’Ecole de Nice. 16 Rue la Buffa, 06000 Nice. +33 4 93 81 39 30. Closed Sundays. Average à la carte €25.

Source: France Today – Alexander Lobrano

Personal Note:  I have not yet tried this restaurant – sounds classically French!

Do expats enjoy living in France? – The Riviera Times Online

France: Recent survey reveals how expats feel about living in France

Do expats enjoy living in France?

France has ranked 9th for overall quality of life in the latest Expat Insider survey conducted by InterNations, which asked expatriates from over 160 countries about their experiences living abroad. And the top reason for moving to France? Love of course.

France ranks 9th for overall quality of life in recent expat survey

Around 13,800 expatriates representing 165 nationalities and 169 countries of residence participated in the online survey, which ran from 10th June to 30th June 2014.

According to the survey, the top three nationalities of expats in France are British, US American and German. The majority of foreigners living here appear to be satisfied with their overall quality of life, which may be thanks to the admirable health care system: 80% of participants described the quality of French medical care as good or excellent. It is a significantly higher proportion compared to the global average of 53%.

But what attracts expats to France in the first place? The main reason seems to be love, with 16% of participants saying that they moved because of their partner, compared to the worldwide average of 11%.

France also proves to be an ideal location for expats with families. The country ranked 3rd in the survey’s Family Life Index, beaten only by Sweden and Denmark. 84% of respondents are satisfied with family life in France, whilst a vast majority of participants (93%) are happy with their children’s well-being. Family life in France is also improved by the education system, with the country taking 3rd for cost of education as two-thirds agreed that schooling is affordable, compared to the worldwide average of 29%.

France also ranked 6th for availability of childcare and education, and 9th for overall quality of education.

Working in France seems to have its positives and negatives, however. The country has the 7th shortest working week, with an average of 37.6 hours in comparison to the global average of 41 hours. But it ranks 48th in 61 countries for overall satisfaction of working abroad, perhaps due to the fact that many participants felt career opportunities were scarce in France compared to expats in other countries. France could only muster 44th position for job security. And France came in at 52nd out of 61 in the Personal Finance Index, with 11% dissatisfied with their personal financial situation.

But it seems that one of the biggest issues confronting expats in France is difficulty settling in, with the country placing seventh last in ease of settling in. Many foreign residents appear to experience problems fitting in with the locals, with only 14% of expats saying that the locals are friendly, as opposed to a worldwide average of 27%. A large number of respondents went so far as to say they felt unwelcome in France, with the country ranking 39th in the welcoming category, and 50th for ease of making friends.

These issues may be linked to the language barrier though, as 64% of participants said it was difficult to live in France without learning the language, compared to the global average of 33%.

Overall, France came in 40th position out of 61. The top 10 locations for expats were:

1. Ecuador

2. Luxembourg

3. Mexico

4. Swizterland

5. USA

6. Singapore

7. Spain

8. Philippines

9. Australia

10. Hong Kong

Interesting October Facts in French history

(source/credit: Rootstock Ads)

We thought it’d be fun to take a cultural look at the country in which we live, October being especially well stocked in fascinating dates.  After only a quick glance we found it all simply too fascinating not to share and hope you agree…

Did you know the calendar we all use today is called the Gregorian calendar ? It was first adopted in France and other Catholic countries on 4th October 1582. On this date, which happened to be a Thursday, Pope Gregory XIII issued a decree stating the following day would be Friday 15th October 1582, correcting a 10-day error accumulated by the Julian Calendar. Britain and the American colonies didn’t follow suit until much later in 1752.

Friday 13th

According to legend the modern day superstition of unlucky ‘Friday 13th‘ started on 13th October 1307 in France. On this day King Philip IV had the Templar Knights rounded up and arrested. The day before he dispatched secret orders to his governors across the kingdom to arm themselves. Templars within France were arrested at break of day on the 13th, their property seized and they were imprisoned and tortured. Pope Clement V dissolved the order in 1312 and Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master, was publicly burnt at the stake in Paris on 18th March 1314 for heresy.


On the 14th October in 1793 Marie Antoinette appeared before the revolutionary court. Hated by the newly liberated French people she so poorly understood, witnesses said she seemed aged but maintained her dignity when called to defend her life in the face of certain doom. Widowed 9 month earlier, it was probably not a surprise when her fate was announced and she was guillotined on the 16thOctober.

On 15th October in 1815 Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on the Island of St. Helena beginning a British-imposed exile following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. On the same date in 1917 World War I spy Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad at barracks just outside Paris, while in 1945 Pierre Laval, the former premlier of Vichy France, was executed for collaborating with Nazi Germany during World War II.

The Battle of Trafalgar took place between the British Royal Navy and the combined French and Spanish fleets on 21st October in 1805 in which the victorious British ended the threat of Napoleon’s invasion of England. British naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson was mortally wounded aboard his ship The Victory on this date.

statue of liberty

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France commemorating the French-American alliance during the American Revolutionary War, was dedicated on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbour on28th October 1886.

The pedestal contains the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


NOTE: Nice inaugurated a miniature status of Liberty, facing the sea and situated on the Quai des Etats-Unis.  Many cities around the world, such as Las Vegas, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo, have replicas of the famous statue. The bronze one in Nice is 1.35 meters high and weighs 80 kilos.

French Internet Slang: How to Chat Online Like a Native

You just received your first instant message from your new French pal!

Excitedly, you take a look.

That excitement quickly turns into perplexed frustration once you read the first line:

          Cc cv twa?

Before you can even begin to decipher it, a second line pops up:

TLM x ke tu es choouu!

What?! You’ve studied a great deal of French grammar, everyday slang and even idioms, “So why don’t I know what the heck this means?” you ask yourself.

The French tend to shorten many words down to the bare minimum when chatting online or sending a text message – even down to just one letter! And this can make for a few headaches and choice expletives when trying to communicate, which is why this guide will be so helpful in making sense of it all.

Here are some handy tips and common internet slang that you would encounter in an honest-to-goodness French casual online conversation. By the end, you’ll know the meaning of your French friends’ messages and texts tout de suite (straightaway) like a true French mec or meuf (guy or girl)!

14 French Internet Slang Basics

  • Abbreviations: DSL = desolée (sorry), PDP = pas de problème (no problem)
  • Apostrophes are almost never used: j’ai = jai.
  • Accents such as cedillas (ç) and circumflexes (â) are ignored.
  • Using letters that are pronounced the same but look completely different: o = au
  • Silent letters are cut off completely: hier = ier, parle parl.

Useful Examples of French Internet Slang

1. C
This may just look like a simple, innocent letter, but in French internet slang it takes on many forms. “C” can mean ça, c’est or ce.

Example: C la vi = C’est la vie (That’s life), Cvça va (How’s it going?).

2. Cc
When this comes at the start of a message it means Coucou!, a very informal way to say “hey!” to family and friends. For those who have brushed up on their French greetings, recognizing tis at the start of a message will be a piece of cake.

3. É
This can mean either et (and) or est (is, from the verb être, “to be”).

4. Ki
In French internet slang, the “qu” is often replaced with “k” to shorten the word. The above example is qui (who), and this is seen with other commonly used words, like ke =que (what), parcek parceque (because), kand quand (when).

5. G
If you know how “G” is pronounced in the French alphabet, then this should come relatively easily. It is used to replace j’ai (I have), while the letter “j” is used to replace je (I).

6. Twa
Another common practice is to replace the sound “oi” or “uoi” with “wa”. Twa toi (you), Kwa­quoi (what).

For example: Cc, cv twa? = coucou, ça va toi? (Hey you, how’s it going?)

7. Ac
Nope, not short for that brilliant invention we know as air conditioning! “Ac“ means avec (with), shortened to just the first and last letter. This is also seen with similar words like Dc donc (so/therefore) and Vla = voilà.

8. Biz
Bisous, the French version of giving kisses or love at the end of a message, is often seen as biz. You would never seebisous followed by “xoxo” or “xx,” as they both mean the same thing! It is also often used in conversation at the end of a phone call, “Biz, ciao”.

9. STP 
This is a perfect example of an abbreviation in French online chat: s’il tplaît (please). Another example is TLMtout lmonde (everyone).

10. Mdr
As a French translation of the English “lol” and used in exactly the same way, mdr or mort de rire means to be dying of laughter. You know you’re chatting like a true native if you add a casual mdrrr to an online conversation.

11. X
In the context of internet slang, “X” signifies the verb croire (to believe). For example j x ke would mean “je crois que” (I believe that…). You can also see here how the word “cross” in English relates to the French.

12. Chou
Chou is slang for “cute”, very different to its original counterpart mignon(ne), which would not often be seen when chatting online.  Make sure not to confuse this one with the French chou-fleur (cauliflower)! So if someone says to you “Tu es choouu!”, it is not a bizarre insult relating to the aforementioned vegetable, but rather a sign of affection.

13. Auj
Short for aujourd’hui (today), auj is quite recognizable from the first three letters, and is one of the few abbreviations that you could likely figure out right away on your own. Bon anniv bon anniversaire (happy birthday) is another abbreviation with a very clear meaning.

14. A tt
And one final classic example that sums up the “short and sweet” approach to French internet slang.

Any idea?

Drum roll please….

À toute à l’heure! (see you soon !).  This is also often heard in conversation as “A toute!”


Source/Credit: Unknown via email


EVENT 06: Fête des Vendanges et des Châtaignes

REBLOGGED FROM The Riviera Grapevine

What have you got planned for Sunday?

If you happen to be in the area, and fancy a chance to sample some of the unique wines of the Alpes-Maritimes, why not pop into the annual Fête des Vendanges et des Châtaignes in Saint-Paul de Vence?

October 19th marks the 2014 edition of this annual harvest festival for theVins des Baous et des Collines. Translated into normal speak, this term refers to the three vineyards found high in the hills behind the Riviera coastline, near the imposing cliff face above Saint-Jeannet:

  • Domaine Saint Joseph in Tourettes-sur-Loup and Saint-Paul de Vence
  • Le Petit Vigneau/Domaine La Vasta in Saint-Paul de Vence
  • Domaine Les Hautes Collines de la Côtes d’Azur in Saint-Jeannet

The setting is quintessentially southern French, Place de Gaulle in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Fête des Vendanges et des Châtaignes

For one day only, this popular square for playing pétanque is given over to this autumnal celebration of wines, chestnuts and other delicious local specialties (my advice is to queue early for the socca).

Last year, along with my wine partners-in-crime Rod (from the Riviera Wine Academy) and Tom, I enjoyed a glorious October afternoon wandering the dozen or so stands. The three vineyards had a generous selection of their wines on tasting, which were also available to buy.

This year, I’m looking forward to tasting the 2013 vintage, although I’ll be even more excited next year as the grapes I helped harvest at both Domaine Saint Joseph and Le Petit Vigneau this September will have finally made it into the bottle!

If you do plan to go, why not combine the event with an exploration of the medieval alleyways of Saint-Paul de Vence, one of the Côte d’Azur’s most charming villages? You could further spoil yourself by lunch in the village (La Colombe d’Or, I wish!) or browsing original works by Matisse, Léger and Kandinsky (to name a few) at Saint-Paul’s renowned Foundation Maeght,  currently celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Credit:  Chrissie at The Riviera Grapevine

Kitchen French: 7 French Food Idioms

It’s no secret that the French love their cuisine.

The hexagon boasts some of the best chefs, restaurants and ingredients in the world.

So it’s not all that surprising that this love has made its way into the very language… occasionally in very surprising ways!

As you’re learning French, you might hear phrases popping up here and there referencing food items. Often, these expressions will be confusing out of context, particularly if they’re unfamiliar. But French food idioms are fairly commonplace, and many of them are used in everyday conversation.

Here are seven of the most common French food expressions. Get to know them, and you’ll be seasoning your French conversations with them before you know it!

7 French Food Idioms

1. Raconter des salades. (Telling salads.)

In English, we call them tall tales. But in French, when someone tells a story that seems a bit too crazy to be true, it’s called a salade.  

The connection may seem farfetched, but this expression, which dates back to the 19th century, actually has a very interesting origin. The metaphoric expression operates with the understanding that a successful lie or tall tale is just like a good salad. A salad is a mix of ingredients that comes together to form a flavorful, varied dish, just as a good lie or tall tale combines exactly the right amount of humor, imagination, truth and untruth.  

In France, the expression is often used in the same way you might hear an Anglophone saying, “Stop pulling my leg!” When Oncle Guy is telling you about the enormous poisson-chat (catfish) he caught on his last fishing trip, so big he had to carry it home in his brouette (wheelbarrow), feel free to say, “Mais arrête de raconter des salades!”

2. Occupe-toi de tes oignons! (Mind your onions!)

When someone’s putting their nose in things that don’t concern them, this phrase will definitely come in handy. And don’t worry; it has nothing to do with the unsavory breath that can sometimes come with consuming one of France’s favorite alliums.

Occupe-toi de tes oignons is fairly similar to the English phrase, “Mind your own beeswax!” The only difference is that where Anglophones tell would-be meddlers to concern themselves with honey, French busybodies are told to tend their onions. In a country that’s not only an agricultural powerhouse but also well renowned for onion and garlic consumption, it’s really no surprise!

3. J’ai la pêche! (I have the peach!)

If you hear someone say this phrase, don’t go looking for a peach in his hands. Someone who says, “J’ai la pêche” means that he’s in high spirits or has a lot of energy. Americans often find it confusing or frustrating that there’s no real translation for the “I’m excited!” that we use so liberally, so those who enjoy declaring their good spirits will find this expression quite handy.

But peaches aren’t the only ones to be attributed to such a good mood. While “J’ai la pêche” was once a fairly slang expression reserved for youths, older folks said “J’ai la banane”, an expression that compares the shape of a smile to that of a banana. Nowadays, nearly everyone is saying “J’ai la pêche” though.

Good moods aren’t reserved for fruit either. “J’ai la patate” and even “J’ai la frite” can be used to mean the same thing. Pick your favorite; edible props are optional!

4. C’est du gâteau. (It’s cake.)

The American expression “easy as pie” is somewhat unfitting. After all, a good pie’s difficult to get right! The same holds true for the French equivalent expression; where we’d say easy as pie, the French say easy as cake. And cake in France, with its many layers of genoisefondant and crème pâtissière positioned just so, is just as difficult to get right as the perfectly flaky pie crust and latticed design Americans aspire to.

As with the English expression, “c’est du gâteau” can occasionally be used ironically. It’s perfectly appropriate to utter “C’est du gâteau” after the successful – if arduous — completion of a not-so-simple task. Don’t go too crazy, though, or people may accuse you of telling salades!

5. Vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre. (Wanting the butter and the money from the butter.)

Wanting the butter and the money from the butter. Sound familiar? It should; this French expression is very similar to our “Have your cake and eat it too.” Just as you can’t have cake and eat it, you can’t have butter and the money you made from selling it. The French will often accuse their interlocutors of wanting just that when they ask for too much.

A slightly less polite version of the expression tacks on yet another desire having to do with the milkmaid, but you’ll have to get Oncle Guy drunk on Pastis to get the punch line!

6. Ça ne mange pas de pain. (It doesn’t eat bread.)

When something “doesn’t eat bread,” it means that it’s not problematic or too expensive. Similar to “no skin off my back,” this expression is used to mean something like, “it couldn’t hurt.”

Careful with this one; it’s not used to describe something beneficial, but rather something that isn’t negative or couldn’t do any harm. Want to double-check that you locked the door? Why not? It’s quick and easy to do, and it couldn’t hurt. Ça ne mange pas de pain. Your shoulder’s still hurting after three days? Maybe you should see the doctor. After all, ça ne mange pas de pain. 

7. Oh purée! (Oh mashed potatoes!)

One of the first things that many foreign language students attempt to learn are the gros mots or curse words and dirty expressions. What they might not learn right away are all of the expressions so frequently used to replace these less-than-savory phrases.

While the French tend to be quite liberal with their gros mots, they have just as many toned down versions, designed to be used in mixed company, phrases such as punaise (thumbtack), mercredi (Wednesday) and fils de sa mère (son of his mother).

One of these watered down expressions can be quite humorous if you’ve never heard it before; after all, seeing someone accidentally hammer his thumb and scream out, “Mashed potatoes!” could seem a bit surreal. But purée does fall into the category of gros mots safe to say in front of great-aunt Marguerite, so be sure to keep it in mind. 


SOURCE:  FluentU (French Language Learning by Immersion)

Shoes – Historical High Heels

American Duchess

American Duchess

In looking for a pair of 17th century style shoes, I came across the website “All About Shoes” which details historical facts about shoes through various eras.

“Throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, heels were an indicator of wealth and status for both men and women. In France, the wearing of heels even became a regulated expression of political privilege. In the 17th century court of King Louis XIV (reign 1643-1715), only those granted access to his court were allowed to wear red coloured heels.”  (I wonder if this is where Louboutin got the idea for his red-soled shoes!)

“Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, King Louis XV (reign 1715-1774) also left his mark on high heel history. Although men began abandoning high heels by the 1730s, heels remained important in women’s fashion. During the reign of Louis XV, fashionable heels for women were curved through the waist and splayed at the base to increase stability. The French favoured a delicate interpretation of this style, while the English preferred heels that were a bit stouter.

This combination of graceful shape and sturdy construction was revived and revamped in the 1860s. Although christened the “Louis heel,” the later heel featured a much more dramatic curve where the heel met the shoe.

Increasing criticism of frivolous extravagance heralded the end of the aristocratic age. With revolution in the air, the upper classes throughout Europe and North America began to embrace the more modest aesthetic of the rising middle class.

Men had abandoned high heels by the middle of the 18th century and, throughout the last decades of the century, women’s heels became increasing lower. Sturdy heels were replaced by more delicate and thin heels and, by the 1790s, heels usually rose no higher than a few centimetres. 

After the French Revolution, heels quickly went out of style. By the early 1800s, flats were the fashion. High heels would not be seen again in Western fashion for another fifty years.”  

Official Website HERE 


Bellet Wines in Nice

Just 30 minutes from the center of Nice is one of the oldest wine regions in France, dating back to the arrival of the Phocean Greek traders from Marseille.  Some vines are over 1000 years old and the wines of Bellet were awarded the coveted AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controllée) accreditation status in 1941.

Twice a year, the 10 AOC Bellet vineyards in the hills behind Nice open their doors and start popping corks – ‘Portes Ouvertes’ is a perfect opportunity to get tasting the local wines – free of charge!

Interactive domain map HERE (Organic wines are made at the Domaine de la Source.)

Portes ouvertes :
Samedi 24 et dimanche 25 mai 2014
Samedi 29 et dimanche 30 novembre 2014

Visitors welcome between 10am and 6pm on both days.

Enjoy a wine lover’s escape from the hustle and bustle of the city!

(Public bus transportation access or by car – Don’t forget to have a designated driver)

 See my previous post for the Chateau de Cremat in Bellet HERE

Source/Credit: The Riviera Reporter