French Riviera Travel Savings

To help tourists diversify their holidays, and experience as much of the French Riviera as possible, the Comité Régional  du Tourisme Riviera Côte d’Azur has launched a new pass called the Côte d’Azur Card: a prepaid electronic passport that provides access to over 110 activities in the region- from the coast to the mountains – museums, nature parks, water sports activities, excursions, and tours. There’s something for everyone and every interest, so check it out!

Priced at €39 for a three-day adult pass, the Côte d’Azur Card is also a great value. According to the Côte d’Azur Tourism Office, an adult pass has the cash value of nearly €1,000, and a child pass corresponds to a cash value of nearly €560. The card can be purchased online or at local tourist offices.


Source/credit:  France Today

Head into the Massif de Maures for an Authentic French Holiday

The following is a post, kindly submitted by Eve Walsh, a freelance writer with a keen interest in travel writing, as well as a dear love of France and French culture. It is her dream to retire to Brittany and immerse herself in French life fully.

The Riviera has long been the go-to holiday destination for the rich and famous as well as people from all other walks of life – old, young, families and couples alike are drawn to the glamour of the big resorts such as Cannes, St Tropez and Nice. Whilst these destinations are great fun to visit, for many people the big names on the Cote D’Azur hold less allure and it’s the smaller, arguably, more authentic towns and villages set back from the coast that attract them back year after year. Pretty stone-built villages set in the cooler hills of the Massif de Maures, behind St Tropez, make for a perfect base from which to explore the rest of this truly stunning region of France.

The best ways to explore

Depending on where your base is and how long your holiday is planned for, there are a few options for exploring this area of France. If you have driven then you can obviously use your car to get around, or, if you are feeling particularly fit, then hire or bring a bike with you as the area has a wealth of bike routes mapped out. Some of the terrain may be hilly but you will be richly rewarded with some delightful scenery and the opportunity to slow down (metaphorically as well as in reality!) and really drink in your surroundings. Other options for travel to the area include flying to Nice and then picking up a car from the airport. Or, you could take one of the many cruises whose itinerary includes a stopover at Nice; the cruise industry has been witnessing a real renaissance and this looks set to continue into 2014 and beyond. Many of these cruises also offer the opportunity to cruise and stay; stopping over can give you the flexibility to take in some of the gems that the Mediterranean region has to offer. As travel specialists Planet Cruise say, the only difficulty is deciding whether to tour the east or west Med!

Once on the Riviera head inland and you will find a variety of picturesque villages that beat to a quieter drum than those on the coast. Grimaud, La Garde Freinet and La Môle, all offer a more laid back version of Rivera life and are well worth visiting.

La Garde Freinet

This pretty town is accessed via winding roads that takes you up and out of the built-up St Tropez peninsula into the hills behind, passing by vineyards and forests as you go. As one of the villages that is set in the heart of the Massif de Maures the town has a number of places to stop awhile and have a drink or a bite to eat. The main street is pedestrian only so you can take a leisurely walk along and look at the interesting independent shops on offer. There is a twice weekly market that offers locally produced food as well as crafts and really brings the town to life. Surrounded by chestnut, oak, cork oak and pine forests there are also a number of walks that start from the centre of town and lead up into the countryside – many of them offer stunning vantage points across to St Tropez and the sea.


With its 11th century chateau at its peak Grimaud has a commanding position over the Golfe de St Tropez below. The village itself has been sympathetically restored and whilst it is close to St Tropez it manages to retain an authentic French feel against St Tropez glitzier image. Stop off at the tourist office and pick up a map showing a walk around the town – it will take you along some of the narrow medieval streets, old fountains and past some of the 15th and 16th century village houses. Interestingly, cactus is popular here along with the ubiquitous but glorious bougainvillea. Numerous cafes and restaurants can offer respite to this quirky and engaging town.

La Môle

This smaller village offers a breath of fresh air and can act as a great base for exploring the wider region. It has a selection of year-round markets within easy reach so is not solely a summer destination – and it will be far quieter if you visit out of the peak summer season. There is plenty to do here to keep you busy with chateaus to visit, scented pine forests to explore and a number of local family owned wineries where you can taste the local grape.

With so many villages in this area of France to explore these really are just three to get started with. Notably, Cogolin and Le Plan de la Tour are two of the other must sees if you are in the region – if you can’t fit them in this trip perhaps a return visit will need to be planned!

Château de La Napoule in Mandelieu

American artist, Henry Clews, and his American wife,  Marie,  re-built the medieval fortress/chateau in the 1920’s, as it had mostly been destroyed during the French Revolution (except for an exterior wall and a portion of one of the wings).  Henry was a painter and sculptor, who abhorred the arrogant bourgeoisie (as depicted in the carved wreath of faces photo) and also  made fun of doctors for their sense of superpower and condescension.  He caricatured American critics, not appreciated by Henry, through his animal-sculpted wooden doors.

Henry had tried to follow in his father’s footsteps, by being a banker on Wall Street, but left to become an artist and follow his passion. He had ties with Rodin in Paris, which helped him connect to the Parisian art world.  Both Henry and Marie had been previously married with children; they felt passionate about each other and about art and had one son together.

What’s amazing is that after Henry’s death, Marie stayed at the château through the years of German occupation, having hidden and buried all of Henry’s art work, humbly welcoming Germans to stay at the château as a cover.  Her strength of character and passion for her husband and his works of art helped save the immense collection that is currently on display – a remarkable love story!

Located West of Cannes, this lovely and historical château is well worth a visit.

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What’s your take on Monaco?

Most visitors to the French Riviera express a desire to see two places in particular: Cannes (due to the famous film festival) and Monaco (due to its reputation for fame & fortune). Interestingly enough, the majority of my friends, who have visited Monaco, were not impressed/disappointed, even referring to it as a “concrete jungle.”

Of course, Monte Carlo has many beautiful sites: the ports, casino square, the rock, and local parks. So, just wondering what’s your impression?

National Day of Monaco – 19 november

Photo credit: Michelle Locke, Associated Press

Photo credit: Michelle Locke, Associated Press –

Riviera earns its reputation as a global destination

Provence & Côte d’Azur: Tourism in the Riviera represents one per cent of all global tourism

It has been yet another excellent year for tourism on the Côte d’Azur with upwards of 11 million visitors to its shores. Putting a global spin on the figures is the fact that the region has claimed one per cent of all international tourism worldwide and almost 10 per cent of France’s total number of visitors.

Foreigners made up half of the vacationing population, with Italians (19 per cent), the British and Irish (18 per cent), Americans (eight per cent), Scandinavians (seven per cent) and Russians (six per cent) dominating hotels and holiday establishments.

Over half of all tourists travelled to the Riviera by car and 27 per cent arrived in its airports. This latter statistic has cemented the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport’s status as France’s second airline travel hub and Europe’s third business aviation point of call.

Proving that it has earned its place among favourite international destinations, almost three quarters of visitors had already stayed in the Riviera before and more than nine out of 10 said that they were “very satisfied” with their holiday in the south of France.

Spending by tourists topped the five billion euro mark in 2013. Over 60 per cent of all spending was done by foreigners – the equivalent of 90 euros per day – while business clients demonstrated their spending power with an average daily outgoing of 163 euros.

In 2013, tourism provided an estimated 75,000 jobs, of which just 17.5 per cent were seasonal positions. The industry is the region’s leading sector and represents 16 per cent of total employment.

Source/Credit: Elsa Carpenter for The Riviera Times Online

4 Things to Consider When Planning Your Trip to France

The following article is a guest post:

Have you been dreaming of climbing the Eiffel Tower and seeing the breath-taking view of Paris with your own eyes? Maybe you just want to soak up the culture and enjoy the delicious wine and cheese, while sunbathing in lavender fields in Provence. Whatever your reason for wanting to travel to France, there are a few things to consider to make sure you get the most out of your trip.

1. Buy your Euros before you arrive

If you can, avoid buying your Euros last minute at the Airport Bureau de Change as once you are there, you will be constrained to extortionate exchange rates with mark-ups of around 10% added to the ‘real rate’. Likewise, 0% Commission advertised in High Street Banks should largely be ignored, as they also tend to add high mark-ups, leaving with you less spending money. Buying your travel money in advance is the best way to get a cheap and fair deal. Currency comparison sites such as allow you to compare live Euro rates and will even deliver your travel money to your door the next day.

2. Learn some basic French

As with any travel destination, it is polite and courteous to attempt at least a please and thank you in the local language. That’s ‘s’il vous plaît’ and ‘merci’ to you in French. With so many tourist attractions and famous landmarks to visit, you don’t want to spend half your time staring at a map trying to navigate your way round on your own. The French will be more than happy to help and give you directions so it generally helps to be able to differentiate left from right before you ask. Not only will you be able to get around quicker, but the French love and appreciate tourists that make an effort.

3. Plan an itinerary

With an abundance of tourist attractions, museums and galleries to see, there are sufficiently steep entry fees that come with it. If you have a general idea of places you would like to visit, then there are a couple of things you can do to save a few Euros here and there. Try visiting a gallery’s site or giving them a call to find out if they have a free entry night or any concessions. You will often find that there will be one day a week with reduced entry that often only the locals know about. That way, you can plan your trip, maximising your Euros along the way.

4. Consider how you’ll get around

With some of the most beautiful sights and quaint villages being in the middle of nowhere, the best option is to rent a car to allow you to explore the country to your heart’s content. However, France’s rail system is extremely advanced, linking over 50 cities and serving over 3,000 stations allowing you to get anywhere within just a few hours. Single tickets can work out to be quite expensive, so consider how much you will be travelling within the country before you go; TGV rail passes are available for given periods, allowing you unlimited travel at a good price.

Hopefully these tips have set you up, ready for an enjoyable trip to France and knowing you might even save some Euros along the way.


Daniel Abrahams is a passionate travel blogger & start-up entrepreneur. Daniel has Co-Founded the award winning travel money comparison website, MyTravel & MyCurrencyTransfer. He passionately writes about his experiences across Israel, Europe & Australia & recently launched the Travel Blogger University – hoping to inspire the next wave of travel bloggers.

France May Not Be For You…

What others would you add?

  1. The French sure do love their cigarettes.  If you don’t like cigarette smoke, France may not be for you.
  2. If you expect to be fussed and fawned over at dinner by wait staff who act like your new best friend and offer up their name, France may not be for you.
  3. And if you may become upset and impatient when said wait staff let you relax and enjoy your meal rather than shoving you out the door, France may not be for you.
  4. If you need to touch and riffle through all the merchandise when you’re shopping and you think the customer is always right, France may not be for you.
  5. If you expect the French to smile, hold the door for you (a complete stranger) and speak to you in English, France may not be for you.
  6. If you don’t like cheese – the smell of cheese, the taste of cheese. It’s a country of over 365 cheeses and if you can’t handle that much cheese, France may not be for you
  7. If you prefer Paris sidewalks to be free of doggie doo, France may not be for you.
  8. If you’re not big on etiquette, using your manners, or going out of your way to be polite in a foreign country, France may not be for you.
  9. If you like mega-sized portions and leftovers, France may not be for you.
  10. If you thing aloof, private and reserved translates to rudeFrance may not be for you.
  11. If you have no desire to learn a bit of the language or culture before you go, France may not be for you.
  12. If you’ll be highly offended when you try to speak your best French, but you’re answered back in English, France may not be for you.
  13. If you’ll throw a hissy fit when the classy resto you’ve been looking forward to dining in won’t serve you at 3:30 for lunch or 5:30 for dinner.  France has set hours for shopping, dining, banking and other services, France may not be for you.
  14. If you’ll be uncomfortable when Parisians blatantly stare at you while sizing you up on the Metro, France may not be for you.
  15. If you can’t sleep in anything less than a king sized bed or stay in a hotel room the size of a house, France may not be for you.
  16. If you might ask a waiter for a phone book to call the health department to report the women sitting at the next table in a bistro who’s dining companion is her dog, France may not be for you.
  17. If you’re not greeted with the same sense of urgency as you’re used to in other parts of the world (ie, the U.S.), France may not be for you.” 

Reblogged: By Robin Locker Lacey via Tongue in Cheek


A Jet-Set B&B near Nice

Frank Sinatra, Aristotle and Jackie Onassis, Maria Callas, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, Jane Mansfield, Maurice Chevalier, Anita Ekberg, Glenn Ford, Charles Aznavour, and Johnny Hallyday – to name just some of the rich and famous that frequented the house that was owned by singer and songwriter, Georges Ulmer and his wife, Betty.   Purchased in 1952 and for more than twenty years, the Ulmers hosted and entertained jet-setters on the large, sunny terrace of their home-cum-restaurant/night club, “Chez Georges Ulmer.”  Betty took care of the restaurant, while George sang and played guitar on the terrace for guests; reportedly Frank Sinatra occasionally sang there too.

After the death of her husband in 1989, Betty decided to sell the house in 2002, and for the past 11 years, thanks to owners Catherine and Patrick Bouvet, this renovated, lovely stone villa has been operating as a successful and charming B&B, named “Les Terrasses du Soleil.”  I recently had the honor to spend time on the terrace with Catherine, re-living the bygone days of this historical place, imagining myself dining and dancing there as well.

The uniqueness of this Chambre d’Hôte/B&B is not only it’s jet-set past, but also the beautiful views from the grand terrace, and the homemade and varied breakfast specialties created by Catherine (yogurt, jams, unique pancakes, just to name a few).  There are two bedrooms and two suites in this three-story hidden treasure, situated near Nice in the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes-sur-Mer.  This beautiful B&B is charming and has a warm, welcoming ambiance for year-round accommodation, except when closed from November 1st to December 20th.

“PIGALLE” – Composed in 1946 and sung by Georges Ulmer (video link)

Chambres d'hôtes Les Terrasses du Soleil                                    Photos credit: Terrasses du Soleil website



Restaurant in Nice Pedestrian Zone

I met some friends for lunch, who suggested going to an Italian restaurant located in La Zone Pietonne (pedestrian zone) in Nice, since the ‘specials of the day’ menu (plat du jour) is simple and good cooking for a good price. That combination worked for me, so off we went. Had some Rosé wine as well, bien sûr!

The restaurant is centrally located and all in all, it was an OK meal.  But,  I left craving french fries!

Asperagus Risotto

Chicken Thigh and Salad

Italian Restaurant at Nice Port

“Le Local” is situated just around the corner from the “Notre Dame du Port” church , with its neoclassical edifice and topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary.  I have enjoyed lunch (dinner)  there several times.  Most recently, I met a friend for a leisurely lunch, which turned into a even more leisurely lunch (read: enough time for an extra after-lunch glass of Prosecco) due to a springtime thunderstorm passing through.

The restaurant’s “cuisine Italienne” is very good, service is friendly and accommodating, the restaurant’s location is on a side street for less Port traffic noise. Oh, and the prices are reasonable too – what more could one want?

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(This is a non-paid, personal recommendation.)