Heritage Days on the French Riviera

JEP

September 19 and 20, 2009 are European Heritage Days. Every year at the end of September, many historical buildings open their secret doors to the public. And in France, over 12 million visitors trot through these doors on Heritage Days.

What's open to visit? In Paris, the Assemblée Nationale, the Hôtel de Ville, the Elysée Palace.

We knew Paris would offer tons of tasty heritage site visits, but what's on for the French Riviera?

JEP2 

The most popular spot for last year's Journée du Patrimoine on the French Riviera? The 18C Villa Arson in Nice for its reputed Arts school and its pretty Niçois hilltops views. 

What else could I visit on the Côte d'Azur during these open days? Here's a full list of open visits for the 2009 Journées du Patrimoine across the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. See the "Voir la fiche" link for more info on individual offerings (in French).

Our piece of advice? Come early for the more interesting sites - entrance is free, lines are long.

In the Var:

1 - Bagnols-en-Forêt - ANCIENNES TAILLERIES DE MEULES DE MOULINS ET OPPIDUM DE LA FORTERESSE> Voir la fiche
2 - Bagnols-en-Forêt - MUSÉE ET CHAPELLE SAINT-DENIS> Voir la fiche
3 - Bormes-les-Mimosas - FORT DE BRÉGANÇON> Voir la fiche
4 - Brignoles - VILLE DE BRIGNOLES ET SES MONUMENTS> Voir la fiche
5 - Cabasse - ÉGLISE> Voir la fiche
6 - Fréjus - AMPHITHEATRE ROMAIN> Voir la fiche
7 - Fréjus - CHAPELLE NOTRE-DAME DE JERUSALEM> Voir la fiche
8 - Fréjus - MOSQUÉE SOUDANAISE> Voir la fiche
9 - Fréjus - MUSÉE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE> Voir la fiche
10 - Fréjus - MUSEE D'HISTOIRE LOCALE> Voir la fiche
11 - Fréjus - THEATRE ROMAIN> Voir la fiche
12 - Grimaud - CHAPELLE DES PENITENTS> Voir la fiche
13 - Grimaud - CHATEAU> Voir la fiche
14 - Grimaud - EGLISE SAINT-MICHEL> Voir la fiche
15 - Grimaud - MUSEE DES ARTS ET TRADITIONS POPULAIRES> Voir la fiche
16 - Grimaud - VILLAGE DE GRIMAUD> Voir la fiche
17 - Hyères - "OLBIA LA MASSALIOTE" : SITE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE GRÉCO-ROMAIN D'OLBIA-POMPONIANA> Voir la fiche
18 - Hyères - COLLEGIALE SAINT-PAUL> Voir la fiche
19 - Hyères - EGLISE PAROISSIALE SAINT-LOUIS> Voir la fiche
20 - Hyères - MUSÉE DU VÊTEMENT PROVENÇAL> Voir la fiche
21 - Hyères - TOUR DES TEMPLIERS> Voir la fiche
22 - Hyères - VIEUX CHATEAU> Voir la fiche
23 - La Celle - ABBAYE ROYALE DE LA CELLE> Voir la fiche
24 - La Garde - CHAPELLE ROMANE NOTRE-DAME> Voir la fiche
25 - La Seyne-sur-Mer - FORT DE L'EGUILLETTE> Voir la fiche
26 - La Seyne-sur-Mer - MUSÉE BALAGUIER> Voir la fiche
27 - Le Pradet - MINE DE CAP GARONNE> Voir la fiche
28 - Le Thoronet - ABBAYE DU THORONET> Voir la fiche
29 - Les Arcs - CHAPELLE SAINTE-ROSELINE> Voir la fiche
30 - Mazaugues - GLACIERE DE PIVAUT> Voir la fiche
31 - Nans-les-Pins - RUINES DU VIEUX NANS> Voir la fiche
32 - Ollioules - EGLISE SAINT-LAURENT> Voir la fiche
33 - Ollioules - MAISON DU PATRIMOINE> Voir la fiche
34 - Ollioules - OPPIDUM DE LA COURTINE> Voir la fiche
35 - Pierrefeu-du-Var - PARCOURS DÉCOUVERTE DE PIERREFEU-DU-VAR> Voir la fiche
36 - PORQUEROLLES - BATTERIE DU LEQUIN> Voir la fiche
37 - PORQUEROLLES - FORT DE L'ALYCASTRE> Voir la fiche
38 - PORQUEROLLES - FORT DE LA REPENTANCE> Voir la fiche
39 - PORQUEROLLES - MOULIN DU BONHEUR> Voir la fiche
40 - Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baum - BASILIQUE SAINTE MARIE-MADELEINE> Voir la fiche
41 - Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baum - COUVENT ROYAL> Voir la fiche
42 - Saint-Raphaël - CENTRE CULTUREL> Voir la fiche
43 - Saint-Tropez - CITADELLE DE SAINT-TROPEZ> Voir la fiche
44 - Seillans - CHAPELLE NOTRE-DAME DE L'ORMEAU> Voir la fiche
45 - Seillans - VILLAGE MÉDIÉVAL DE SEILLANS> Voir la fiche
46 - Six-Fours-les-Plages - BATTERIE DU CAP NEGRE> Voir la fiche
47 - Six-Fours-les-Plages - CHAPELLE DE PEPIOLE> Voir la fiche
48 - Six-Fours-les-Plages - COLLEGIALE SAINT-PIERRE> Voir la fiche
49 - Solliès-Pont - FOUR À CADE> Voir la fiche

50 - Solliès-Toucas - OPPIDUM DU CASTELLAS                                        > Voir la fiche

51 - Solliès-Ville - EGLISE SAINT-MICHEL> Voir la fiche
52 - Solliès-Ville - MUSÉE DU VÊTEMENT PROVENÇAL> Voir la fiche
53 - Toulon - BATTERIE DE PEYRAS> Voir la fiche
54 - Toulon - CENTRE ARCHEOLOGIQUE DU VAR> Voir la fiche
55 - Toulon - ÉGLISE ST LOUIS> Voir la fiche
56 - Toulon - FORT DE BALAGUIER> Voir la fiche
57 - Toulon - FORT DE L'EGUILLETTE> Voir la fiche
58 - Toulon - FORT DU GRAND SAINT-ANTOINE> Voir la fiche
59 - Toulon - FORT LAMALGUE> Voir la fiche
60 - Toulon - HÔTEL DES ARTS> Voir la fiche
61 - Toulon - MUSÉE D'ART> Voir la fiche
62 - Toulon - MUSÉE DES ARTS ASIATIQUES> Voir la fiche
63 - Toulon - MUSÉE NATIONAL DE LA MARINE> Voir la fiche
64 - Toulon - OPÉRA DE TOULON> Voir la fiche
65 - Toulon - PREFECTURE MARITIME> Voir la fiche
66 - Toulon - TOUR ROYALE> Voir la fiche
67 - Varages - ARTISANS FAÏENCIERS DE VARAGES> Voir la fiche
68 - Varages - EGLISE NOTRE-DAME DE NAZARETH> Voir la fiche

In the Alpes Maritimes:

1 - Antibes - FORT CARRE> Voir la fiche
2 - Antibes - FRANCE 3 MÉDITERRANÉE> Voir la fiche
3 - Antibes - MUSEE D'ARCHEOLOGIE> Voir la fiche
4 - Antibes - MUSÉE NAPOLÉONIEN> Voir la fiche
5 - Antibes - MUSÉE PICASSO D'ANTIBES.> Voir la fiche
6 - Antibes - SÉMAPHORE DE LA GAROUPE> Voir la fiche
7 - Antibes - SÉMAPHORE DE LA GAROUPE> Voir la fiche
8 - Beausoleil - L'OPPIDUM CELTO LIGURE DU MONT DES MULES> Voir la fiche
9 - Beausoleil - RIVIERA PALACE ET SERRE JARDIN DU RIVIERA> Voir la fiche
10 - Biot - CENTRE HISTORIQUE DE BIOT> Voir la fiche
11 - Cagnes-sur-Mer - MAISON-RENOIR, MUSÉE DU SOUVENIR> Voir la fiche
12 - Cagnes-sur-Mer - MUSÉE-CHÂTEAU DE CAGNES> Voir la fiche
13 - Cagnes-sur-Mer - VILLE DE CAGNES> Voir la fiche
14 - Cannes - ABBAYE DE LÉRINS - MONASTÈRE FORTIFIÉ> Voir la fiche
15 - Cannes - CENTRE D'ART "LA MALMAISON"> Voir la fiche
16 - Cannes - CHAPELLE ET BUTTE DE SAINT CASSIEN> Voir la fiche
17 - Cannes - FORÊT DOMANIALE DE L'ILE SAINTE-MARGUERITE> Voir la fiche
18 - Cannes - HÔTEL DE VILLE> Voir la fiche
19 - Cannes - MUSÉE DE LA CASTRE DE CANNES> Voir la fiche
20 - Cannes - MUSÉE DE LA MER> Voir la fiche
21 - Cannes - TEMPLE MACONNIQUE DU GRAND ORIENT DE FRANCE> Voir la fiche
22 - Cannes - VILLA DOMERGUE> Voir la fiche
23 - Cannes - VILLA MONTROSE> Voir la fiche
24 - Cannes - VILLA ROTHSCHILD> Voir la fiche
25 - Castellar - CHAPELLE SAINT SÉBASTIEN> Voir la fiche
26 - Castellar - PALAIS LASCARIS> Voir la fiche
27 - Coaraze - CHAPELLE SAINT-SÉBASTIEN> Voir la fiche
28 - Contes - MOULIN A FER> Voir la fiche
29 - Contes - MUSEE DE LA VIGNE ET DU VIN> Voir la fiche
30 - Contes - SITE DES MOULINS> Voir la fiche
31 - Gilette - MUSÉE LOU FEROUIL> Voir la fiche
32 - Grasse - ANCIENNE CATHEDRALE> Voir la fiche
33 - Grasse - ANCIENNE USINE DE PARFUMERIE ROURE> Voir la fiche
34 - Grasse - EGLISE SAINT-LAURENT DE MAGAGNOSC> Voir la fiche
35 - Grasse - MUSEE D'ART ET D'HISTOIRE DE PROVENCE DE GRASSE> Voir la fiche
36 - Grasse - MUSEE INTERNATIONAL DE LA PARFUMERIE DE GRASSE> Voir la fiche
37 - Grasse - PALAIS EPISCOPAL - HOTEL DE VILLE> Voir la fiche
38 - Grasse - THÉÂTRE DE GRASSE> Voir la fiche
39 - Grasse - TOUR DE L'ÉVÉQUE> Voir la fiche
40 - Grasse - VILLA-MUSÉE JEAN-HONORÉ FRAGONARD DE GRASSE> Voir la fiche
41 - La Brigue - CHAPELLE NOTRE-DAME DES FONTAINES> Voir la fiche
42 - Le Cannet - EGLISE SAINTE-CATHERINE> Voir la fiche
43 - Lucéram - EGLISE SAINTE MARGUERITE> Voir la fiche
44 - Menton - BASILIQUE SAINT-MICHEL-ARCHANGE> Voir la fiche
45 - Menton - CHAPELLE DES PÉNITENTS BLANC OU DE L'IMMACULÉE CONCEPTION> Voir la fiche
46 - Menton - CHAPELLE DES PÉNITENTS BLANCS> Voir la fiche
47 - Menton - CIRCUITS DECOUVERTE DU QUARTIER DE LA MADONE> Voir la fiche
48 - Menton - FONDATION BARIQUAND ALPHAND> Voir la fiche
49 - Menton - HÔTEL DANIEL D'ADHÉMAR DE LANTAGNAC> Voir la fiche
50 - Menton - JARDIN FONTANA ROSA> Voir la fiche
    
51 - Menton - MUSEE DE PREHISTOIRE REGIONALE> Voir la fiche
52 - Menton - SERRE DE LA MADONNE> Voir la fiche
53 - Nice - ABBAYE DE ROSELAND> Voir la fiche
54 - Nice - CENTRE DU PATRIMOINE> Voir la fiche
55 - Nice - CIRCUIT DU VIEUX NICE BAROQUE> Voir la fiche
56 - Nice - MUSEE DU PALAIS LASCARIS> Voir la fiche
57 - Nice - OPÉRA DE NICE> Voir la fiche
58 - Nice - PROMENADE DES ANGLAIS> Voir la fiche
59 - Nice - SANCTUAIRE NATIONAL DE NOTRE-DAME AUXILIATRICE> Voir la fiche
60 - Nice - SANCTUAIRE NOTRE DAME AUXILIATRICE SAINT-JEAN-BOSCO - EDIFICE "ART DÉCO"> Voir la fiche
61 - Nice - VILLA ARSON> Voir la fiche
62 - Puget-Théniers - OFFICE DE TOURISME> Voir la fiche
63 - Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - CHATEAU MEDIEVAL> Voir la fiche
64 - Saint-Paul - LE VILLAGE DE SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE> Voir la fiche
65 - Sainte-Agnès - FORT MAGINOT> Voir la fiche
66 - Saorge - EGLISE PAROISSIALE SAINT-SAUVEUR> Voir la fiche
67 - Saorge - MONASTÈRE DES FRANCISCAINS DE SAORGE> Voir la fiche
68 - Tende - MUSÉE DES MERVEILLES DE TENDE> Voir la fiche
69 - Valbonne - ABBAYE SAINTE-MARIE DE VALBONNE> Voir la fiche
70 - Villars-sur-Var - VILLAGE MEDIEVAL> Voir la fiche
71 - Villefranche-sur-Mer - CITADELLE SAINT ELME> Voir la fiche
72 - Villeneuve-Loubet - ESPACE CULTUREL ANDRÉ MALRAUX> Voir la fiche
73 - Villeneuve-Loubet - FONDATION AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER> Voir la fiche
74 - Villeneuve-Loubet - GROUPE SCOLAIRE LES PLANS> Voir la fiche
75 - Villeneuve-Loubet - MAIRIE> Voir la fiche
76 - Villeneuve-Loubet - MARINA BAIE DES ANGES> Voir la fiche
                                                     

French Riviera: Too hot for canicule?

Umbrellas

 .

Pfew, even under the shade of a yellow beach umbrella, it's chaud chaud chaud on the French Riviera.

In fact, the news du jour in France this week is whether or not we have a canicule (heat wave) on our hands in some parts of France.

Whatever we call this weather, it's simply HOT here on the French Riviera. In Menton, we had 33°C, in Nice, 32°C; inland such as in Carros in the Alpes-Maritimes and in Draguignan it's a couple of degrees warmer with zero chance of cooling off in the sea. We can't complain too loudly as we're not the hottest. Today, Avignon is in the oven at 38°C.

It's hot but then again this is August on the French Riviera. As we talked about before here in our post about average temperatures on the French Riviera, August is the hottest month on the Cote d'Azur.

How does it look for the rest of August? Meteo France gives us a clear picture for at least the rest of the week. It's going to be a tad cooler on the Côte d'Azur, but still warm beach weather.

For me, hiking is off until September. I can't get enough of a group for an early morning hike on the count of late summer nights.

Instead of hiking, there's swimming. The sea helps to cool off with waters around 27°C. Lots of folks head for the mountains to escape the heat. The Gorges du Verdon are full right now.

Be aware that storms come quickly in the pre-Alps. In the upper Vésubie (Saint-Martin-Vésubie), a flash storm can pour down without warning under this kind of weather. They come down fast and very heavy. If you're planning to hike in that region of the Mercantour, please check weather conditions.

Stay cool!

Sunonsea


Tour de France on the Riviera

BrignolesMapGIF

With the Tour de France 2009 beginning in just over a week, many of you have been asking for a map of the Tour de France's stops on the South-Eastern side of Provence, Côte d'Azur. Until recently, details were a bit sketchy. Thanks to GeoAtlas.com, we now have a map.

After starting in Monaco, the TdF 2009 rushes to its second stop: Brignoles in the Var department.

Stay tuned on AzurAlive.com where we'll soon deliver the secrets of the long-time snubbed town of Brignoles in the Var...


A World Oceans Day on the French Riviera

A Med Day

Worldoceansday_2009

As of 2009, "World Oceans Day" or "Journée Mondiale de l'Ocean" has been officially declared by the United Nations: it will be on June 8th each year.

According to its organizers, the Ocean Project, World Ocean Day is a chance to celebrate our personal connection to the sea.

That, my friends, is a life-long process. But if a single day can raise awareness about the lives that hide in our seas and what threatens them, we're all for it.

A single day is just a beginning.

 What's happening on the French Riviera on World Oceans Day?

JMO

Most of the activities planned around la Journée Mondiale des Océans won't take place on June 8 this year. Why? Well, it falls on a Monday... Best to organize it around the weekend, when more folks are free to participate.

  • At Monaco's wonderful Oceanographic Museum, the whole day is dedicated to the Mediterranean and Climate. Program here (in French): http://www.oceano.mc/nouveau/progJMO09.pdf
  • At Marineland of Antibes (and elsewhere in France) Tetra organizes fun workshops for 8-12 year-olds to teach them about aquatic fauna: June 10 and 13, 2009.  More on Marineland here.
  • In Saint-Raphael, on June 7, 2009 at the Port of Santa Lucia, kids & parents can board a sailboat to learn about the fauna and flora of the Mediterranean: June 7, 2009. This outing is organized by the "Bienvenue à Santa Lucia" organization, to help families affected by muscular dystrophy - helping hands welcomed at 9:30AM and outing at 10AM.
  • In Hyères, the diving center of la Tour Fondue (on the Giens Peninsula) organizes a clean-up dive at the tip of the Giens Peninsula: June 7, 2009 from 9AM. Phone: 04 94 57 90 80
  • Further west, at the Islands des Embiez, the Institut océanographique Paul RICARD will present some of its scientific initiatives to the public from June 8 to 13. On June 13 &14 sailboats WWF Columbus (from WWF France) and Garlaban (from the Institut océanographique Paul RICARD) will represent the Armada Bleue: June 8 to 13, 2009.

Wearblu The Ocean Project group tells us to Wear Blue and to Tell Two folks about the event.

Possibly more important than wearing blue:
If you're by the beach, pick up a piece of trash (or one more than usual). Forgo plastic or paper throw-away coffee cups. Be done with disposable plastic bags for shopping, and adopt one of these wide wicker baskets so popular in French open markets. 

Just a blue thought for Mare Nostrum on her special day. And why not, think blue thoughts all year long.



Marseille 2013 European Cultural Capital

MarseilleBanner

On May 12, 2009, the European Commission of Cultural Ministers unanimously voted Marseilles (in French, Marseille - we need a counsel on international city spelling :) as the European Cultural Capital for 2013. Two cities are picked each year for this title.

For 2013, two countries had been pre-selected:France and Slovakia. Winning cities for the 2013 were chosen this week: Marseille and the Slovak city of Kosice.

The French winner is more broadly Marseille-Provence which includes 130 associated local towns.

Marseille's history is made up of cultural exchanges: as a vibrant Greek trading port beginning in 600 BC, as a Roman port, as a fortified town often times fiercely independent from local governors and central governments, as modern naval center, as a revived and always as a melting pot.

How are cities selected?

Marseille2013BeautyThree major criteria count for selection by the European Counsel: 

  • Scope: Projects have European wingspan
  • Cooperation: They reinforce public cooperation among EU countries
  • Urbanism: Projects highlight city's role in the development of culture in Europe

Why does it matter?

The showcased city will bathe in media. This gives government and municipalities a strong incentive to fund associated cultural programs.

Marseille2013The concept of focused cultural exchanges itself is important. It's the building of a bridge, a chance for increased cooperation and understanding through culture and the arts.

Marseille-Provence's current budget for the effort? Close to 100 million euros for all cultural programs, much of it coming from local authorities.

What are some of the Marseille projects?

Marseille presented 78 projects as part of its bid. They focus on art as a living urban experience that thrives on exchanges between people and cultures. Here's a sample:

  • The opening of a long-desired Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM).
  • A Centennial exhibition to celebrate the 100th year birth of Albert Camus (born 1913).
  • Two new festivals: InterMed for contemporary arts in the Mediterranean and Via Mars where art will live alongside every day city scapes.
  • Some 200 Ateliers de l’Euro-Méditerranée (Euro-Mediterranean Workshops).

More info?

Check out the official web site, with press releases both in French and English.


Lamb jumps over the Sainte-Baume

Sheepish Above: Picture by AzurAlive of newly born lamb by the Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez.

Easter Monday here on the Côte d'Azur, France: A cute lamb falls 20 meters off the cliff of the Saint-Pilon in the famous Massif de la Sainte-Baume mountainous ridge. Caught by a safety net set-up to catch falling rocks, it survives.

Side note: according to legend, Mary Magdalene retired in a cave in the Sainte-Baume mountains.

Now local authorities face a dilemma: should it be saved or roasted?

Saving the lamb means calling the a special-operations team called GRIMP: Groupe d'Intervention en Milieux Perilleux. This is a highly-trained team that saves people in cliff-hanging situations that surpass the training and equipment of regular fire-fighters. In the Var department of South-Eastern France, the GRIMP team most frequently intervenes in the Gorges du Verdon and at the Sainte-Baume. They're few, experts, expensive.

The other option is to watch the lamb dangle, suffer and die.

Naturally, GRIMP tackles the cliff and hauls the injured lamb to safety, gently carrying it on their human backs. It is now recovering at the vet's in Carcès. 

This stunt-loving sheep may still end up in a provençal lamb stew, but for now, it's a very lucky little lamb.


French Riviera: Whether to Weather

BeachLapTop Here are the two most common questions we hear on the French Riviera, especially in early Spring:

  1. What will the weather be like?
  2. Will it be warm enough for us to swim in <your-chosen-town> on the Côte d'Azur in <your-chosen> time to visit?

Here's the most annoying answer: it depends.

The fact is that, aside from Summer when it's reliably warm to hot, Spring, Fall and Winter weather n'en fait qu'a sa tête. It's warmer on average than in Brittany, Normandy or Paris. But it varies. Yesterday, we froze our butts. Today, sunshine.

And it also depends on your definition of warm and warm enough to swim. I swim in the sea from May, sometimes even April all the way to October. Some people swim year-round.

To help you gauge your chances of "warm enough", here's a nifty chart I found courtesy of the Golfe de St Tropez tourism association. It shows average water and air temperatures by month of the year and number of sunny days. I've not double checked with weather stats, but they seem spot on with our experience. Click on it to enlarge.

SunnyDays


Drought behind us on the French Riviera

Pluie By all accounts, winter 2008-2009 has been one of the wettest on record. In all of 2008, Nice registered some 1030 millimeters of rain, while the norm falls around 800mm for an average year. In the Côte d'Azur town of Menton, 2008 saw 165mm of rain for November and 142 for December. While the wettest months have been October, November and December, all of these months also experienced a number of days of pure sunshine. This past Sunday, we hiked under blue skies and warming sun. And this coming Sunday, February 15 2009, Météo France tells me that we're in for "beau temps ensoleillé" sunshine. Yet we're not entirely out of the woods for the Winter. Weather predictions call for a few more days of rain and wind over the French Riviera.

Not great news for visitors who have only a handful of days to experience the region, but we're lucky that the rains haven't wrecked havoc on the region. Yes, some of the coastal paths need mending and we've seen a number of boats damaged during the worst of the windy period (see our article here). But most of the fix-up is either well under way or already taken care of. When compared to other hard-hit regions such as the South-Western region of France (see AFP article here), we're sheltered. And after a long bout of dry weather (since 2003, the French Riviera had experienced a drought), the water that soaks gardens, forests and replenishes reservoirs comes as bienvenue!

Now if we could just have a few sunny days to enjoy the Nice Carnival. It begins this Friday, February 13 2009 and goes on until March 1. What our site a live report late next week.


Windy Var Winter

StaygulfangryPhoto: St-Aygulf under siege
In the last couple of weeks windstorms have whipped the western Côte d'Azur.

It's not entirely unusual for the wind (Mistral in particular, but also easterlies) to pick up and whirl for a few days in winter on this side of the French Riviera. This is different. Winds are lasting longer than usual. And they're being called "tempêtes tropicales."

Today, a 6-foot wave drenched the Saint-Raphael Christmas market by the seaside promenade. Over the last week, local towns such as Cannes, Fayence, Callas, Draguignan, were all caught in whirl winds with peaks at 150 km per hour. Instead of hiking with our trekking group, we're bunkered inside and cooking.

So there you go. It's not always sunny and warm on the French Riviera...


French Riviera Holiday Shopping

Between budget squeezes, financial collapses and electoral hopes, it's easy to forget holidays approach thunder fast.

Southern France has plenty for giving. Take a look at some unique gift ideas to bring back from the Côte d'Azur.

1. Glass Art in Biot

The village of Biot, located north-east of Cannes, is France's capital of glass. You can shop at galleries but also watch glass artisans as they blow and shape melting glass into glass sculptures. Some well-known names: Novaro, Saba, and Pierini. Most of Biot's galleries will pack and ship their wares internationally.

See La Verrerie de Biot, 5 Chemin Combes, Biot, ☎ 33 04 93 65 03 00, verrerie@verreriebiot.com,

2. Perfume from Grasse

The town of Grasse on the Riviera is the perfume-making capital of France. Try one or all of the three factories open to tourists — Molinard, Galimard, and Fragonard set in a former 18C tannery.

Don't miss the newly renovated Musée International de la Parfumerie devoted to the history of perfume and its evolution through the centuries.

3. Wines from Lorgues

The French Riviera back country brims with fine Provence wines, from the Bellet variety close to Nice to the Côte de Provence wines from the Collines du Haut Pays region or from the Coteau Varois along the coast.

For an expansive selection of wines (over 600) for learning, tasting and purchasing, visit the Maison des Vins in Les Arcs. Maison des Vins des Cotes de Provence, RN 7, 83460 Les Arcs sur Argens, ☎ (0)4 94 99 50 20

4. Marrons Glaçés from Collobrières

Candied chestnuts are incontournables in France for the holidays. I admit, I'm addicted. On the French Riviera, one confiserie is especially well-known for these sugar glazed delights:

La Confiserie Azuréenne in Collobrières in the Maures Mountains behind St Tropez.They'll pack and ship.

5. Lingerie from St Tropez

Lingerie is big on the French Riviera. Actually, it's tiny but hugely popular. So it's no surprise that St Tropez offers a number of fine lingerie shops, as does most self-respecting French town.  What may surprise you is that you can buy top-of-the-line lingerie and swimwear at reasonable prices (swimwear sales usually
takes place at the end of June). Maybe for Valentine's.

Eres is a darling of fashion lingerie and swimwear aficionados and has a boutique in St Tropez at: 2 rue Gambetta, ☎ 04 94 97 27 97. Also in Paris, New York, Palm Beach and a handful of other locations.

Azuralive_esterel_judastree