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On the discovery trail of ...

 

… Antibes :

Visit this beautiful town with its historic old town, cathedral, Fort Carre (Square Fort), pretty Commune de Saffranier and stunning sandy beaches.
Antibes has the largest pleasure boat port on the Mediterranean, walk to the end of the main quay, under the barrier (pedestrians are allowed to) and you will find the biggest, prettiest mega yachts in the world. Spielberg, Abramovich berth their boats here and King Fahad of Saudi Arabia had an even bigger quay built at the end because his yacht was too big for the “normal” mega yacht quays!
Visit the Picasso museum, next to the cathedral in the old town. It was recently beautifully refurbished and was the Artist’s workshop (atelier) for part of his life. You will see work from his “blue period” as well as his actual painting on its walls.
Parking in Antibes isn’t too bad but you have to pay for it; just persevere.
www.vieil.antibes.accueil@wanadoo.fr
Marineland – the biggest marine life park in Europe, with killer wales, dolphins, a shark tunnel and, most recently, Polar bears.
Well worth a visit but quite expensive.
Open every day at 10am; shows periodically throughout the day (do pick up a programme on arrival).
There are evening shows in July and August. Do ask Tom or Ruth for advice on how to plan your day.
Marineland is in Antibes but is actually by Biot railway station near the seafront road between Villeneuve Loubet and Antibes town. It is 20 minutes away.
See more about Marineland in “kids” below. www.marineland.fr

Discover the beautiful Cap of Antibes. Take the coastal path, 2.7km long and bordered by the Aleppo Pine or White Provencal Pine (Pinus halepensis). This path takes you right to the end of the most southerly point of the Isle-like Cap between the town of Antibes and Jean les Pins. See the stunning villas – it isn’t just millionaires row here; it’s billionaires row. See the beautiful coastline bordered with the, sometimes, snow-capped Alpes then make your way (by car) to the Light House of the Garoupe (La Phare de la Garoupe). This is the highest point of the Cap and offers stunning panorama. There’s also a nice ice cream shop here for a little light refreshment.

... Nice :

The fabled heart of the Riviera, the Promenade des Anglais (English Boulevard) lines the Bay of Nice.
Top tip: Municipal museums in Nice have free opening on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month. It includes the Archaeological Museum and Site of Cimiez (pronounced Simier) MAMAC and the Matisse and Chagall museums.
The picturesque quarters of Old Nice and the Cours Saleya quartier with its flower market (mornings only).
Place Massena.
The Gardens of Mont Boron with panoramic views of the Bay of Nice and as far as the Esteral hills to the east of Cannes.
The Cathedral of St Nicolas, Orthodox Church and symbol of the Russian imprint on the Riviera; The oldest and most important outside Russia.
Avenue Nicolas II – Boulevard Tzarevitch à Nice.
The Cimiez Arenas; remains of the Roman town of Cemenelum, in the heart of an ancient olive grove. It is near the Museum of Archaeology.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAMAC). Open every day from 10m to 6pm, except Mondays, the 1/1, 1/5 and Easter Sunday. www.mamac-nice.org

... Villefranche sur Mer to Monte Carlo in Monaco:

Head for Monte Carlo in Monaco taking the Basse Corniche (coast road). On route make a stop in Villefranche, Beaulieu sur Mer (visit the Villa Grecque Kerylos) or St Jean Cap Ferrat (visit the Villa and Gardens Ephrussi de Rothschild). These famous towns are well worth a visit. Come back by motorway or do this visit vice-versa taking the motorway to Monaco and back by one of the Corniches.
Be aware there are 4 ways to cross from Nice to Monaco; the Basse Cornice (coast road), Moyenne Cornice (half-way-up-the-mountain coast road), the Haute Corniche (top-of-the-mountain road) and the motorway A8.
See also Eze village a stunning perched village on the Moyenne Corniche. Its tropical gardens on the very top are beautiful – you’ll see 2m tall cacti and spectacular panoramas over the Riviera.

In Monaco :
The Oceanographic Museum – great for a rainy day. www.oceano.mc
The Prince’s Palace on top of the rock next to the old town.
The Exotic Garden open every day t 9am.
In 1308 the Grimaldi family acquired Lordship of Monaco and since then the title of Prince of Monaco has been borne by its heirs. The Principality covers just over 371 acres; the Palace defence walls interlock to the rock face with its Moorish style entrance tower www.jardin-exotique.mc www.visitmonaco.com
If you want to spoil yourself why not visit the Monaco Grand Prix. Prices are not as crazy as you may think. Look at www.amc.mc (Automobile Club of Monaco’s website) to buy tickets on-line.

… Saint Paul de Vence :

The City of Artists and the Maeght Foundation. Sitting on a rocky spur and encircled by its ramparts built by command of Francois I. It is one of the most
beautiful villages of the Riviera. It is full of galleries which can be visited forfree.
The Maeght Foundation, a world renowned museum of contemporary and modern art and sculpture. In an iconic building, set in beautiful art-bedecked gardens, this museum, inaugurated on July 28th 1964 and entirely conceived and financed by Aime and Marguerite Maeght, presents modern and contemporary art in all its forms. See Giacometti, Miro, Braque, Chagall, Calder, Leger.Open every day from 10am, closed for lunch out of season.
Walk the ramparts of St Paul de Vence, marvel at the prettily cobbled streets and take a coffee or beer at the petanque or boules pitch café in front of the town gates to watch the world go by. This really is the “Fabled Cote d’Azur”; in as much as Antibes has the big boats, St Paul de Vence and Vence have the serious villas.
www.fondation-maeght.com
www.saint-pauldevence.com

... Col de Vence, Greôlières, the Gorges of the Loup and Gourdon:

A short but very pretty drive. Take Vence then Col de Vence, direction Coursegoules (100m past Coursegoules stop the car by the bend in the road, look back and you will see a beautiful scene of the village nestled in the mountain-side. It is just like in the film “Chocolate”.)
Continue up to Greolieres Villages then back down to the Gorges du Loup (the gorges of the river Loup); take the right hand side of the gorge (with the sea in front of you) to climb up to the village of Gourdon which is a stunning “Village Perche” (perched village) with “eagles After visiting Gourdon go down either to the sea, say Antibes for dinner, using the D3 via Valbonne or via Grasse for the perfumeries (this will make your trip longer).
Lunch at Gréolieres Village, there is a sweet little restaurant called Le Cheiron which has dishes like venison stew (daube de biche). It is 20 yards before the church on a tiny square. Do not get mixed up between Greolieres Village and Greolieres les Neiges which is the ski station 20km further up the mountains. If you would like to see two fantastic topographical
examples of a “Plateau” and have a beautiful drive on “Top Gear” quality roads then follow Greolieres les Neiges from Gréolieres Village. Climb up to the first plateau – the Plan du Peyron then continue up to Greolieres les Neiges where you will see the second plateau – almost “bowl-like” and as flat as a pancake.

… The Hinterland – The Cians and Daluis Gorges –

A lovely route for motorcyclists! Go to Puget Théniers by taking the RN 202 (>Vence>St Jeannet>Carros>Cross the River Var using the “iron bridge” and turn left) direction Digne, Grenoble and Valberg.
This picturesque drive is unique to this region and has been classed as “3 star” in the Green Michelin Guide. You can see the erosion on the wine red, iron stained rock. Stop in Valberg, one of our local and very pretty ski resorts. You can golf, cycle or simply walk.
Come back through the Daluis Gorges via Guillaumes. Stop at the medievil Entrevaux on the way.
On Sundays from mid-May to mid-October take a trip on a steam train on the Chemin de Fer de Provence (see more details above). From Puget Theniers to Annot you can ride on a 1909 Steam train classed a “historic monument”.
More information and reservations can be made by calling the Puget Theniers Tourist Office 04 93 05 05 05.

- Saint Martin de Vésubie -

Visit the village, walk, picnic, paddle in the water (or do Canyoning in a padded wetsuit where you romp down ravines). The Vésubie Valley is stunning.
Visit Alpha Park, a wolf sanctuary and nature park where you can see the interaction between wolves and man. www.alpha-loup.com

- And also ... -

Les Iles de Lerins – The Lerins Islands. 20 minutes by boat from Cannes.Ste Marguerite, its prisons made famous for incarcerating the « man in the iron mask » during the time of Louis XIV. St Honorat with its historic Abbey and Monastery. It is a real oasis of calm (the monks take a vow of silence and you must respect this). It is beautiful to visit, an old castle, made safe but brilliant for romping over with the kids. Visit the old gun emplacements and pill boxes. Best is to take a picnic as the restaurant is quite expensive, though very nice and their coffee is good for your morning coffee (use our local boulangerie at the first roundabout out of our carpark for your picnics). Don’t forget water. It can take you just 3 hours as a quick visit or make it part of a longer day, the parking is quite expensive but it is worth it. Why not dine in Cannes afterwards. Visit also the « Palais des Festivals », the « Red Carpet Steps » used for the fables Cannes Film Festival.
http://www.cannes.travel, www.cannes-ilesdelerins.com

And for your last few days… The Abbey of Thoronet in the Var (about and hours and a half away); Frejus, St Tropez (well worth a visit but quite hard work to visit in The Season); Ventimiglia in Italy (Friday is market day); The National Park of The Mercantour up in the mountains.
The Rosary Chapel « La Chapelle du Rosaire » (Chapelle MATISSE) in Vence.
Conceived and built by Henri Matisse and the residence of the Order of Dominican Nuns to whom he gifted it. This beautiful Chapel contains the Masters works including ceramics of the Stations of the Cross, stained glass windows, Alter Pieces and statuary all designed by him. Ask the Nun on duty for a guide, it will enlighten your visit.
Opening hours are limited; ask Tom or Ruth for details which are contained on the reverse of Vence’s town map. On Sundays it is only open for mass at 10am.
www.dominicaines@wanadoo.fr

Vence Cathedral of the Virgin of the Nativity « Cathédrale de la Nativité de la Vierge ».
Alexandre Farnèse, Bishop of Vence became Pope Paul III in 1507. There is an original mosaic by Marc Chagall “Moses saved from the Waters”; given by the artist to the town.
The Burning of St Paul de Vence; usually on the second Sunday of August. An unmissable pyrotechnic spectacle with a firework display over the village followed by it being « set alight ». Book your restaurant and be there early as the village is closed after 9.30pm when it starts. There is a super place to watch it from just 2 minutes walk away – ask Tom or Ruth.
www.saint-pauldevence.com

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