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Paris for Kids

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Disneyland

Although Paris is a City destination there’s still plenty for kids to do. There are attractions designed specifically for children in Paris and also several of the major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower will delight your children. Some of the attractions in Paris designed specifically for children are:

Disneyland Paris – The only Disneyland in Europe and boasting major attractions and a Walt Disney Studios complex.  New attractions include the Jedi Training Academy,  Frozen themed attractions, character meets and shows.  www.disneylandparis.co.uk

Parc de la Villette – is city-based complex for children which includes a Science & industry Museum, a Natural History Museum, a Naval Museum which contains a real submarine, an IMAX cinema, and a Music-based activity center.  Their website is only in French but the Wiki page gives you enough information to decide if this is worth a visit for you.  wiki/Parc_de_la_Villette  http://lavillette.com

Musee de la Curiositie et de la Magie – a Museum of Magic with hourly magic shows, and optical illusions.  A must-see attractions for children fascinated by magic.  The website is only in French www.museedelamagie.com

Musee National d’Histoire Naturelle – is the major Natural History Museum in Paris.  It has collections of animal skeletons, plant fossils, and dinosaur models.  It will entertain children of all ages who have an interest in animals and dinosaurs.  www.mnhn.fr

Paris Zoo – is one of the biggest zoological parks in Europe and is full of natural landscape enclosures rather than cages.  www.parczoologiquedeparis.fr

Cirque de Paris – is an interactive Circus with human and animal performers.  Children can learn to tight-rope-walk, and have their faces painted like clowns.  The website is only in French www.cirque-paris.com


When to Visit Paris

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Paris can be beautiful any time of the year like any city, and different seasons highlight varying aspects of the city. But people will often ask when to visit Paris. By looking at the information below you will hopefully be able to decide when to organise your trip to Paris.

Summer – is June through to September and is similar to New York weather, varying from around 60-80F with occasional rain showers.  Light warm long evenings extend your day and make leisurely strolls through the city at night very pleasant.  Bastille Day the major national holiday celebration takes place on July 14th and brings a parade and cyclists to the Champs-Elysees, as well as thousands of visitors.  It can be a great day to be in Paris, but will be busy and accommodation will be expensive.   August tends to be quiet in Paris with most Parisians taking their annual vacations for the whole month and driving to the South or to the coast for better weather and relaxation away from the City.  Although it will be quieter in August it can lose some of its ambience.  Another fun thing to do in Summer is to visit the beach in Paris…yes beach…sand is brought into to the City for the summer and beaches are created on the banks of the River Seine, deck chairs are available, and you enjoy a beach holiday in the City.

 

 

Fall – in Paris is beautiful in the many parks with the multi-colored leaves falling to the ground.  The temperature can fluctuate between 40-70F and there will be rainy days.  Although the days are shorter it can be a great time to visit Paris as the locals are back to their routines after Summer and several trade shows and festivals take place.

 

 

 

 

Winter – is magical in Paris especially if you are there for snowfall.  Temperatures will stay around 35-45F and days are much shorter.  This weather stays until late February.  The build up to Christmas in Paris is big in the Paris shopping districts with the Galleries La Fayette the focal point, as well as Christmas fairs in the Saint-Michel district.  There are always several open-air ice rinks in the City which is always fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jardin du Luxembourg

Spring – brings the greenery in Paris to life again after the cold winter and flower markets and gardens bloom with flora.  The parks and paths of the Seine river are delightful places to take a walk this time of year, but make sure you have layers of clothing with you as temperatures can fluctuate between 40-65F.  Surprisingly March and April have the least rainfall of the year, but always have a raincoat or umbrella to hand in case you’re caught off guard.


Paris Art Galleries

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Some would say the whole of Paris is a piece of art, one that changes every hour of every day, every day of the year, art in motion.  It certainly houses beautiful parks, fascinating people, stunning views, grand statues, impressive buildings and a symphony for the senses.

However if you’ve come to Paris to enjoy the art galleries as well as the City you’re in for a treat as Paris houses some of the most astounding collections of art in the World, as well as some of the most famous pieces by leading artists.  The major Paris art galleries of note are:

The Louvre – although officially a Museum the Louvre is home to world famous art and is an unmissable attraction for art-lovers.

Musee d’Orsay – set in an old but very grand railway station this gallery is home to Impressionist masters including several of Van Gogh’s paintings, some of Manet’s paintings, Monet’s famous Blue Waterlilies, and Edgar Degas’ Dancers statues.  The galleries are set over three floors with most of the popular Impressionist work on the upper floor.

Musee Picasso – another must-visit art gallery especially for lovers of Picasso is the Musee Picasso in the Marais district.  Its homed in a restored hotel and contains an extensive collection of Pablo Picasso’s work, and his own art collection.

 

Musee National d’Art Moderne – is situated in the controversially stunning Pompidou Centre which looks like an inside-out Sesame Street factory!  Exhibitions of new art are held throughout the year, but resident art is here with over 1,500 pieces on display.  Children will love this museum, the building and the contemporary fountains outside.

Musee Rodin – is the site of some of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures including The Thinker and Burghers of Calais set in stunning gardens surrounding Rodin’s mansion.

L’Orangerie – houses several of Monet’s waterlilies paintings as well as collections by Renoir and Picasso among others.

Musee Marmottan – features some of Claude Monet’s lesser known works, a collection of over 150 pieces.

Espace Montmatre – is an underground museum which is a perfect home for some of Salvador Dali’s lesser known works.

Maison Europeenne de la Photographie – is for photography fans with several large portrait collections as well as landscapes and contemporary collections.


Paris Bridges Across the River Seine

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

There is no doubt that the lifeblood of Paris is the Seine, people particularly locals gravitate toward it, and you have to cross it several times per day to see the highlights of Paris.  The bridges (ponts) across the river are not merely functional and are monuments and fine architecture in their own right.  In total there are 36 bridges linking the two main banks and islands in the city.  The Paris bridges that are most ornately designed and worthy are discovery are:

Pont Alexandre III

 

Pont Alexandre III – is arguably Paris’s most beautiful bridge with its cupids and lamps.  It crosses between the Grand and Petit Palaces and the Hotel des Invalides.  This is one of the most picturesque places in the city with amazing views both ways up the river.

Pont Neuf – another favorite of many visitors, and the oldest present bridge although ironically Neuf means New in French!  It is over 400 years old and at the time controversial but now very much a piece of the Paris landscape.  This bring crosses the Western end of Ile de la Cite joining the island and the two

banks.

Pont de L’Ama – is a famous bridge as it crosses the tunnel in which Princess Diana died in 1997, and is a place of pilgrimage for good wishers.

Pont des Arts – crosses between the Louvre and Faubourg St Germain and is often the site of street performances and festivals being at the heart of the City.  It is a more modern bridge made of steel arches with wooden pedestrian foot boards – it does not have access for vehicles.  It is also one of the famous locations of the love locks in Paris, with the keys thrown into the Seine the locks engraved with the lovers name remain there to symbolize everlasting love.

Pont Royal – bridges the Tuileries with the Faubourg Saint-Germain region and once one of the main bridges.  It has five classical arches.

Pont de Bir-Hakeim – is a double-decker Art-Nouveau bridge carrying a road and the metro line.  Its an exciting ride across it on the metro line as the bridge rattles and you get a glimpse up and down the river.

 


Modern Architecture in Rome

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

A visit to Rome is all about architecture, the ancient ruins at the Roman and Imperial For, the churches, the fountains and the palaces. Rightly so modern architecture has been kept out of the old town to preserve its aesthetic appeal. However, if you’re a fan of more modern architecture you can go a bit further out in Rome to enjoy some more modern wonders of Rome.

Renzo Piano’s Auditorium
The Olympic Village in the Parioli area has views down across the city and from here you can see the Auditorium of Renzo Piano in its full glory. The building looks like a collection of three large scarab beetle. Each houses a concert hall surrounding a semi-circle shaped open-air theatre. The building actually uses traditional materials, the same travertine and brickwork that make up many of the buildings in the old town, but here they bring together music and its audience in a more contemporary setting.

MAXXI
The MAXXI is the National Museum for the Arts in the Flaminio district. The building was designed by Zaha Hadid, the first woman to be presented with the Pritzker Award. The development is described as a delta with various rivers, eight longitudinal volumes, interwoven and shaped as loops with large radiuses of curvature, running through an area of 30,000sqm. Not something you can visualise but once you’re looking at it, you will stand in awe for a long time taking in this architectural masterpiece.

EUR District
The EUR, Esposizione Universale di Roma, was built for an exposition in 1942 which never took place due to the war. However the original buildings still stand, with new ones added regularly, and the location has become a fixture in modern Rome. Among them are the Square Colosseum, the Cloud, and the new Congress Centre designed by Massimiliano Fuksas.


The Rome Pass

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

The Roma Pass tourism and cultural visitor pass are valid for 3 days and currently, costs €36.00.  It includes free entry to the first two museums or archaeological sites you visit and free travel on the entire public transport system.  Further museums, attractions, shows and events you visit will also provide you with a discount on entry with your pass.

The passes can be bought at www.romapass.it ahead of your journey or at one of the tourist information offices across the city.  The pass comes with a map of Rome; a list of museums, galleries, and sites where the pass can be used; and a code to download a Rome app which provides information on the main attractions in Rome.

There is also a 48-hour pass costing €28.00 with entry to one attraction.


British Embassy Contact Details

Friday, July 15th, 2016

If you’re a UK citizen in Nice caught up in the shocking attack on Nice, here is the Embassy in Paris’ emergency 24 helpline number +33 1 44 51 3 100.

Further information is being posted as it happens on the British Embassy in France Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/ukinfrance


Uber cheaper than a taxi on the French Riviera?

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

road-street-car-driving

Since the launch of Uber in 2009 the company has quickly disrupted the private and public hire taxi service in major cities around the world by offering a cheaper car share alternative.  Uber now operates in 66 countries and 449 cities.  Despite controversy over its use of non-licensed drivers the Uber model has gained popularity because of its platform which allows drivers and passengers to rate each other, thereby ensuring both are well behaved and can continue to use the platform.  Uber pricing also means most trips are cheaper with an Uber driver than with a taxi, especially if you’re sharing the ride with other paying Uber customers.  Another part of the operating model which differentiates it from a taxi service is that no money exchanges hands between the driver and passenger, this is all done electronically via the app.

Taxi journey’s from Nice Airport to Cannes typically costs €75 but with Uber would be around €60 but could be cheaper if the route is quiet and your destination is easily accessible from the motorway.  Uber is available in most towns on the Cote d’Azur including Nice, Cannes, St-Tropez, Monte Carlo and Marseille.

A further advantage of the Uber model is that you can be picked up anywhere rather than having to go to a taxi point, therefore a journey from the beach back to your hotel for example is a lot easier to book as your mobile device indicates your current location if required.

The Uber platform is currently being assessed by the French courts as to whether it is legal in France, due to using unlicensed drivers.  However until a decision is made the model will continue to operate, and may be adjusted to accommodate French laws.  In Paris there have been some violent demonstrations and clashes between taxi drivers and Uber drivers and their passengers, however this hasn’t been seen outside of Paris.  Taxi drivers believe Uber drivers have an unfair advantage because they don’t have to pay the same fees and abide by the same regulations as them.

To use the Uber platform, get a quote on a journey and a journey and book a ride you have to download the Uber app to your mobile device or use their website.  All prices are transparent, you know what you’re going to pay before you book the ride.  However one element of Uber’s pricing which has been met with criticism is its surge pricing, which means ride prices increase during times of high demand, for example the Cannes film festival, or during work commute times.  At these times a taxi may be cheaper…if one is available.

 

 


Stade de Nice – Euros 2016

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Allianz Riviera Stade de Nice

During June 2016 Nice Airport will welcome travellers from across Europe as the city hosts four of the Euro 2016 football games.  The matches played at Stade de Nice will be:

Sunday 12 June, 18.00 (Nice): Poland v Northern Ireland – Group C

Friday 17 June, 21.00 (Nice): Spain v Turkey – Group D

Wednesday 22 June, 21.00 (Nice): Sweden v Belgium – Group E

Monday 27 June, 21.00 (Nice): Runner-up B v Runner-up F – Match 8

Set to be one of the warmest locations in the Euros, Nice could certainly suit the current Euro holders Spain but Turkey should also find the climate bearable.  On the other hand, Poland, Northern Ireland, Sweden and Belgium could all struggle with the heat and humidity.

Stade de Nice

The Stade de Nice is a new stadium opened in 2013.  Also known as the Allianz Riviera it is home to OGC Nice and has a capacity of 35,624 seats.

The stadium is just 6km from Nice Airport and 12km from Nice city centre.

For information on accommodation and travel from Nice Airport please refer to the other sections of this Nice Airport Guide website.

Map of the Stadium’s location:

Address of Allianz Riviera Stade de Nice Stadium: Boulevard des Jardiniers, 06200 Nice, France


A visit to the beautiful Luberon Valley

Friday, May 13th, 2016

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Provence…just the word conjures up many images, and if it’s somewhere you’ve visited then probably aromas, flavours and fond memories as well. For me it’s the warmth of the sun, beautiful views across vineyards to hilltop stone villages, the smell of lavender in the area, crystal clear rivers, fresh and tasty food and delicious wines. I’ve visited Provence several times, done the tourist trails by car, hiked, kayaked, even rode a horse through some wonderful countryside; and for me, the real heart of Provence is The Luberon.

The Luberon is a protected national park comprising rolling lush green valleys and hills. It officially contains several of the most beautiful villages in France. Is home to vineyards, cherry orchards, as well as lavender and sunflower fields. The rivers Le Calavon, La Sorgue, and Le Coulon are a draw for watersports enthusiasts and are perfect for kayaking.

What’s special about the Luberon is that it straight away feels like home, a home you never knew you had. It takes you back to your inner desire for living close to nature, eating and drinking fresh local produce from the land, waking with the dawn awoken by the call of a cockerel and watching the sunset over a distant hill each balmy evening while sipping red wine.

So what are some of the things you should see and do on a holiday to the Luberon?

Tour of Luberon villages

An easy way to organise your itinerary is by touring the villages in the Luberon. Each village is unique, and if you time it right you can either attend or avoid the weekly market most village has which attracts locals and visitors alike. Within each village, you should find bed and breakfast type accommodation, or if you enjoy driving through gorges and valleys each day (which I do) then find accommodation in a nice central spot and drive out each day. If you intend to eat out at restaurants, which can soon add up – usually around €30 per person for the set menu du jour – then you’ll need to ensure you’re in a village which has restaurants during the dining hours which can be quite strict. You can struggle to find places which will serve you found between 3pm-7pm. Another option is to pick up your lunch in local shops or the market, there’s some wonderful selections of cheeses, pates, bread, olives etc, and then head out to a nice spot by a river or at the top of a hill to enjoy your picnic.

The main villages you should try and visit are:

Ansouis – topped by a well-preserved castle, Ansouis is a quiet cobbled village with a handful of restaurants.

Bonnieux – is for me one of the highlights of the Luberon.  Start at the bottom of the village and walk to the top through the winding cobbled streets, past the gothic church to the top of the village where you have outstanding views across the valley.  The village has several excellent restaurants and a pizzeria on the main road.  It is the junction point between North and South valleys and could easily be driven through, but make sure to stop here even if it’s just for the walk to the top of the village and some light refreshments.

Cucuron – is one of the lesser known villages as it’s in the southern half of the Luberon which gets ignored by most visitors, but it is is certainly worth a visit.  The town square contains a man -made walled lake surrounded by restaurants and towering Plane trees.

Fontaine de Vaucluse – sits at the source of the Sorgue river, which at its most powerful point drives an old wooden waterwheel.  Because of its location in central Provence and at the top of the Luberon it is one of the busiest villages and has succumbed to some tacky nicknack shops.  However there’s no denying its beauty and it has several good lunchtime restaurants and is a nice village to wander around on a cool morning or evening.  Close by Fontaine de Vaucluse are several of the main kayak operators, and a lazy paddle down the river is a highlight of your trip to the Luberon.

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Gordes – is stunning on approach, a stone man-made hill covering (photo above).  The village itself is one of the largest in the area and with plenty to explore down its tight and winding alleyways with its art galleries, restaurants, and shops.  Just outside Gordes is the famous Senanque Abbey with its picture postcard lavender fields as you will see in the photo at the top of this article.

Lourmarin – is very different from most other villages in the Luberon as it’s not set on a hill but is on a flat plain.  This has enabled Lourmarin to expand larger than most and has adequate parking for its visitors, which can be at a premium in other villages.  It has one of the largest markets, held on a Friday which is definitely a good day to visit, and the village has several good restaurants and cafes.  Also home to one of the most extensive castles in the region.  There are also vineyards in its vicinity which do wine tasting and tours.

Roussillon – is another picture postcard of Provence.  It sits on red cliffs, and its houses are painted with local ochre shades of reds, oranges and yellows.  It is another good-sized village with plenty of restaurants and shops to peruse.  However it is again on the Provence tourist trail so is busy in high season.

Outside of visiting villages, there is plenty to do in the Luberon that could easily fill a month long holiday.  You can venture out to some of the larger towns on the periphery of the valley such as Avignon, Nimes, and Arles.  Alternatively, if you want a bit more action there are plenty of places you can go kayaking, cycling, hiking, horse riding and camping.  For gastro-lovers, the region is rich with fantastic fare, with local vineyards to visit, small local cheese makers and much more.

If you are looking for a holiday away from the busy beaches of the Cote d’Azur then this could certainly be a good alternative for you.  The Luberon is accessible from many local airports, and with quiet roads once you get off the motorways driving a hire car can make travel around the Luberon very enjoyable.  From Nice Airport to the central valley it takes about 2 hours.  You can also fly to Marseille or Nimes with driving times reduced to an hour from these smaller airports.

Big thank you to Andrew Taylor for the photos!

 

 


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