Fete du Chateau this Weekend

fête du château 2015 posterThis Saturday and Sunday is the one weekend a year when you can go up to the majestic Chateau du Nice at night …although admittedly it looks a little less than majestic filled with hippies and sausage stands…!  It’s the annual Fete du Chateau, a funky free local music festival sponsored by the French Communist Party that attracts a colorful crowd with their musical hodgepodge, and is very family friendly with lots of food stands and picnicking.
The scene itself should absolutely be experienced even if you don’t stay long, and since the elevator to the Chateau is free, and the festival is free, there is no Photo: www.naviquan.comreason not to pop up for a rare summer night hilltop stroll. Check out the music, enjoy a little vin d’orange, and marvel at a sunset/moonlight view over Nice that you rarely get to see.   …And how often can you say you partied with Communists?

So don your hippie duds and then rock, reggae, or swing amidst the aromas of beer and barbecue.  Click here for the official Fete du Chateau page for the bands, schedule and a little preview.  To make it even better, before you go check out a little quick Chateau history and find out what went on up there, and what happened to the actual chateau that gave this hill its name.

Chateau du Nice


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How to see the Monaco Grand Prix for Free

In my last post I gave you the scoop on how to do the Cannes Film Festival without a badge, …well here’s how to see the Monaco Grand Prix without a ticket…!

The most glamorous and prestigious racing event in the world, the Monaco Grand Prix… has a free day. It’s not publicized and most locals don’t even know about it, but the Friday before the big race is always free:  It’s hard to believe that you can just walk right in to the most exclusive racing event in the world without a ticket… but it’s true.

OPastor_Maldonado_2009_GP2_Monaco_Grand_Prixkay, you won’t see any Formula One‘s on the free day, but you will see the Porsche Supercup as well as GP2‘s.  You’ll experience the whole crazy scene, with all of the same deafening engine noise, burnt tire smells, bone-rattling vibrations, sensations, crashes, and excitement… but no ticket required.

Here are the two races being held this Friday, May 22nd:  The Porsche Supercup Qualifying Trials from 9:45-10:15am. and the first race of the GP2 Series from 11:15am-12:20pm.

Make like a millionaire and try out different grand stands and vantage points, worth hundreds of euros on the other days, so that if you ever do buy a ticket, you’ll know where you want to be.

Click here and scroll down more detail including insider tips for what to do after the races, options for how to get there, and a link to the official race schedule and ticket information… but note that there are no tickets showing for Friday… because it’s free!

If nothing else, it’s worth it for the world-class selfie.  Take your earplugs…

See Related Page: What’s happening in May in and around Nice

Photo credit: Pastor Maldonado racing a GP2 in the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix by Pat Guiney, licensed under Creative Commons.

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Cannes Film Festival? Yes You Cannes!

Jean Dujardin at Cannes by Totally GoneThe Cannes Film Festival is mythic… if you are on the Cote d’Azur during its 12 crazed days, it’s almost a crime not to experience it.  On its face it is an industry-only event requiring a badge for everything including entering the lobbies of the best hotels… but if you know the tricks (…and don’t mind waiting in lines… which feature hilarious people-watching by the way…) you can see both films and stars.  This year, look for Catherine Deneuve, Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, Woody Allen with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone, Cate Blanchett, The Coen Brothers, Snoop Dog, Paris Hilton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller, David Cronenberg and Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Salma Hayak, and so many more… and you’ll probably see Sylvester Stallone hanging around as well: he doesn’t have a film but is showing his paintings (?!) in Nice this week at the Museum of Modern Art.

As a Festival veteran since crashing it for the first time in ’98 (and working it in subsequent years), I know all the angles:  Here is your Best of Nice exclusive insider’s guide to Doing the Cannes Film Festival without a badge.

See Related Pages: What’s Happening May in and around Nice

Photo credits: Jean Dujardin on the Red Carpet by Simon Saunders @totallygone.com.

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Last Few Days for Nice Jazz Fest Discounts

July is the month of amazing jazz festivals, which is great on the ears …but can be hard on the wallet!   To combat the ticket-sticker-shock, the Nice Jazz Festival is offering discounted early-bird ticket prices, which end in just a few days, on Friday, May 15.

Until Friday May 15th, Nice Jazz Festival  tickets can be had for just 31€ (normally 35€) which is quite a deal for 6 concerts a night.   But if you are going for more than one night, an even better bargain is the 2-night pass for 55€, or the 6-night pass for 135€ which works out to just 22.50€ a night… and these multi-night passes can be purchased anytime, so no rush.

Click here for 2015 Nice Jazz Festival tickets and don’t miss the last few days to cash in on the early-bird deal!

See Related Blog Post: Nice Jazz Festival line up Announced

See Related Pages:  Nice Jazz Festival, Jazz in Nice, Summer Jazz Festivals

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Fifty Shades of Nice

It’s a page torn right out of a bad novel:  A smolderingly sexy Frenchman deftly seduces willing women through internet dating sites, ultimately proposing a daring bondage-and-blindfold first encounter at his seaside Promenade des Anglais bachelor pad…

The “blindfold game” was working really well for this Nice Lothario… until one of his dates impulsively tore off her blindfold and switched on the lights to find, to her horror, that the hunky model she had just let ravish her was actually… a short, paunchy, wrinkled old man!

This was not the first time that the frisky marauder was unmasked, but once discovered (after the sex, bien sur), most of the victims were too humiliated to tell anyone that their Christian Grey turned out to actually be Quasimodo.

The 68-year-old lech had been getting away with this blindfolded bait-and-switch in Nice for years, posing on internet dating sites as a hot 37-year-old model named “Anthony Laroche”, using sultry photos from a 2009 jeans ad he found on the web.

What set this date apart is that she had the moxie to go to the police, file charges for rape and take a lawyer.  It seems that at least two reports had been filed in the past but were never followed up on, but the publicity from these charges could encourage the potentially hundreds of other local women to overcome their shame and come forward.

Read more on this sordid tale from The Telegraph and from The Daily Beast.

Photo credits: Fifty Shades of Grey and Beauty and the Beast both available through Amazon.com


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Nice Jazz Festival line up announced

Nice Jazz Fest 2015 gridThe Nice Jazz Festival 2015 has just been unveiled, and headliners will include Jamie Cullum, Asaf Avidan, Lauryn Hill, Yael Naim, The Roots, plus a new final night dance party added with Kool and the Gang.

Every year the festival has a parrain, or godfather, that oversees the programming and influences the feel.  This year’s godfather is baby-faced jazz/pop singer and piano impresario Jamie Cullum.  Last seen here as a headliner for the 2014 Jazz à Juan, he gives a wild concert, will be in Nice next week to shoot a new music video, and hosts a weekly jazz show on TSF radio Tuesdays at 7pm. His influence on the programming is evident in the emphasis on young, British, and music that makes you want to get up and dance.  Click here to go to the official Nice Jazz Festival site for the complete program.

The festival usually runs 5 nights, but this year they’ve added a 6th on Sunday, which will start with a free Gospel Mass at 11am with the London Community Gospel Choir, and will finish with a double-concert dance party featuring Kool and the Gang.

Happily, our jazz festival will remain the most affordable bang-for-the-buck jazz fest on the Riviera.with 6 concerts a night for 31€ (if you buy before May 15) or 25€ if you fall into one of the numerous reduced ticket categories.

Click here for all the details of the Nice Jazz Festival in English, and click on the video below for a little taste of what’s to come…!

See related pages: Jazz clubs in Nice, and Nice by Month – July

Posted in Festivals, Musical Interludes | Tagged | 1 Comment

April Fool’s Day, Niçois-style

Update:  Catch the Ville de Nice’s very fishy one-day-only Poisson d’Avril tribute just off Place Massena…!

April Fools Day is Poisson d’Avril in France, and the first prank that every French child learns is taping a paper fish on the back of an unsuspecting host.   As we get older the pranks become a little more subtle, and my favorite is the Nice Noon Cannon.

The Nice cannon has been making tourists jump and pigeons soar with its noon blast for over 150 years.   It started in 1860, when very punctual Scotsman Sir Thomas Coventry and his easily-distracted wife were living in Nice. Having become increasing frustrated by his wife’s tardiness in presenting the noonday meal, he approached the Mayor to propose a daily noon cannon shot just like back home in his Scottish village, and offered to foot the bill.   Some years later, Sir Coventry returned to Scotland, taking his little cannon back with him, but by that time the locals were so used to their midday marker that they petitioned the city to continue the tradition, and it continues today.


The miniature cannon has been replaced by a jumbo-sized firecracker, which for the past 20 years has been fired from the Chateau at exactly 12 noon by pyrotechnic expert Philippe Arnello. In two decades, 7 days a week, rain or shine, he has only missed twice, both times due to being stuck in the notorious Nice traffic.

…Except for April Fool’s Day, when every single year Philippe shoots it off at the wrong time, just to mess with everybody.  Sometimes it goes off at 11am, sometimes 1pm, but either way it’s guaranteed to cause a mild panic amongst the locals… until they realize that it’s a special April Fools prank, Niçois-style.

Related page: Fascinating Facts about Nice

Photo credit Nice-Matin Blog de Vieux Nice

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The Picasso Affair: How it Ended

UPDATE on the Picasso Affair:  Guilty!  The Le Guennecs must not only forfeit the €50 million worth of original Picassos to the Fondation Picasso, and each get a two year (suspended) prison sentence, but they also each have to pay punitive damages of… 1€.  So in other words, it was a crazy couple of years for the elderly couple, but now life goes on more or less just as before.   I just hope ol’ cousin Teddy Bear takes pity on them and cuts them in on a little of his Picasso action!

Photo Credit: Picasso from 1947 art poster owned by Best of Nice Blog.

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The Picasso Affair: Is he Guilty?

The judgement on the most curious Picasso Affair is due this week… here’s the story of €50 million worth of previously unknown Picassos that sat for years in a cardboard box in the garage.

Danielle and Pierre Le Guennec in front of their Mouans-Sartoux home.  Photo by A.B.-J. courtesy the Nice-Matin

Danielle and Pierre Le Guennec in front of their Mouans-Sartoux home. Photo by A.B.-J. courtesy the Nice-Matin

A treasure trove of Picassos came to light in 2010, when retired local electrician Pierre Le Guennec and his wife decided to pull out the box of little Picasso scribbles, paintings and notebooks that Picasso’s wife Jacqueline had given him 40 years ago after he installed alarm systems in Picasso’s various Riviera homes.

The almost forgotten box in the garage was ‘remembered’ when Le Guennec and his wife started thinking about wanting to leave something for their sons, so they took some photos and sent a letter to Claude Picasso, the artist’s son who manages the estate and represents Picasso’s heirs.  No response.  Another letter, then another… no response from Claude, who dismissed the photos as fakes and the couple as nutters.

Finally, after months with no reply, Le Guennec and his wife, both in their 70’s, stuffed as many of the original Picassos as they could (worth millions) in a shabby old suitcase, and got on the train for a 6 hour ride to Paris…!

Finally getting the attention of the Picasso Administration, the elderly couple opened the scruffy suitcase to reveal 175 of their 271 Picassos from his early years, 1900-1932.  The Picasso heirs were… speechless, first assuming they had to be fakes, but then noticing the intricate numbering system known only to the artist…

How could this be?  What really confounded the heirs, was that that Picasso was notoriously stingy and dedicated every single gift he ever gave…   Oh yeah, except for that one other time that came to light a few years before when another former employee from the early 70’s suddenly produced a huge stash of undedicated drawings that were supposedly a gift from the master.  It was a chauffeur nicknamed ‘Teddy Bear’, and he too, produced his gift of 100+ drawings years after the Picassos had died, whereupon he auctioned the works off and is now rich.

Oh, and did I mention that Teddy Bear was Le Guennec’s cousin, and got him the Picasso job in the first place?  Ah yes, the plot thickens…

The Picasso children were apparently caught off guard with ol’ Teddy Bear and didn’t prosecute, but this time the Picassos promptly had the elderly couple arrested, their modest house in Mouans-Sartoux near Cannes raided, the artworks seized, and charged them with receiving stolen goods.

The Le Guennec’s have vigorously stuck to their story and are indignant at being treated as criminals: If he had stolen the works, would they really have brought them directly to the heirs?  Would they really have kept them in a cardboard box in the garage for 40 years? …While living a quiet life on his modest pension?   They could have slagged them off one-by-one on the black market and lived it up!

You be the judge… until later this week when the actual judge will hand down the verdict.

Photo credits: Le Guennecs by A.B.-J. courtesy of the Nice-Matin, Old Suitcase by Linda Bailey, licensed under Creative Commons.

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Taxi Uber Wars!

Taxi signFist fight!  Nice taxis are expensive and often surly …and Uber cars are cheap and friendly …which makes the taxi drivers really, really mad!   So mad that the President of the Taxi Union and another taxi driver were thrown in jail last week for beating up an Uber driver at the airport!

The taxis are furious at what they see as unfair competition from car services; after all, taxis have to buy a shockingly expensive taxi license …so let’s just take a look as why that is, shall we?

The number of taxi licenses in Nice has not increased since the 1960’s, thanks to pressure from the taxi union.  This keeps the price of a coveted taxi license astronomically high, currently around 300,000€, and it can only be bought from a retiring driver.  Those that have licenses have fought tooth-and-nail not to increase the number of taxis to meet the demand, using every tactic at their disposal.  A couple of years ago it was proposed to simply allow the possibility of a taxi license to be shared by one driver during the day and another at night, which would help relieve some of the pressure.  Result?  The Nice taxi drivers pulled their trademark escargot’, blocking all traffic into the airport for days, causing airport chaos as thousands of innocent travelers missed their flights, until the proposal was finally dropped.

By the way, the Nice taxis are threatening to go all escargot again in May, targeting the period that encompasses the Cannes Film Festival, Mother’s Day and the Monaco Grand Prix.

So what is this Uber, anyway?

With Uber, you sign up online in advance, and then when you want a car you have a choice of:

Uber Black Car, the more expensive (but still less than a taxi) service where you are picked up in an fancy car with a professional driver;

Uber Pop, the bargain-priced service from moonlighting drivers, kind of like AirBnb.

In each case you order the car online, and you immediately get a text message confirming the car and driver, the estimated price, and in how many minutes.   No cash changes hands, all the driver’s info is on your phone, and you rate the driver at the end of the ride.

Just for comparison, the Nice-Matin did a test of the 15-minute drive from the Meridien Hotel to the airport: an UBER-pop cost around 8-12€, an UBER-Berline around 26-30€, and taxi 35€.

Wow, no wonder the Nice taxis are so mad!

Deal Alert: Get 10€ off your first UBER ride (which could make your airport transfer free!)… just go to the UBER site and enter this promo code when you sign up: uber-get-ten.

Sources: Nice-Matin Le president des taxis nicois en garde a vue, and Quel prix pour la meme trajet a Nice?

Photo credit: Taxi sign by Simone Ramella, licenced under creative commons

See related page Taking a Taxi in Nice, Using UBER Cars in Nice

Posted in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Urban Hazards | 3 Comments

The Worst of Nice

Military guarding Old NiceTensions are running a little high around here… First a knife-wielding Parisian stepped off the tramway at Place Massena in front of Galeries Lafayette and viciously attacked the three police standing guard.

Then we learn that just hours earlier, ISIS released a video with the cheery title Hit France! encouraging any would-be jihadists that can’t make it Syria at the moment to at least try to make themselves useful… and take a knife and try to kill a few French cops.

Now, right before Carnival, the French Prime Minister has just declared the entire French Riviera on Imminent Terrorist Attack Alert, not exactly the kind of branding that the city is looking for.  The mayor insists that Carnival won’t be cancelled (Paris has been on the same high alert ever since the Charlie Hebdo attacks and life goes on, just with more police) but the proliferation of Kalashnikovs and confetti covered camouflage flak jackets will certainly put a damper on the festivities.

Did you know that the most successful recruiter at enticing French youths to run away from home and fly to Syria to join jihad, is a local boy (and career criminal) from Nice?  In fact, he’s from, and I’m not making this up, the Nice suburb of …Bon Voyage.  Read this fascinating article on the Worst of Nice, France’s Pied Piper of Jihad by Dana Kennedy for the Daily Beast.

And if our nerves weren’t already jangled enough, yesterday a local business owner in the Old Town once again barricaded himself in his empty shoe store and threatened to blow himself up along with the entire building, to protest the the tramway construction years ago that he blames for ruining his business.  Enter the SWAT teams and bomb squads… Last time, Mayor Christian Estrosi heroically talked the guy down (see blog post Nerves of Steel, Estrosi Talks Bomber Down in Vieux Nice), but this time… enough already.

Photo by Best of Nice

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Michelin Smichelin: The Best Top-End Lunch Deals in Nice

Michelin-2015-knives and forksIt’s the Academy Awards of the culinary world:  Yesterday, the Guide Michelin announced its prestigious new stars for 2015… and the the winner is… um …definitely not Nice.   Well we didn’t lose any stars at least, but out of 9 new stars awarded to restaurants in the PACA region, a resounding thud of none landed in Nice.

But don’t be discouraged Nice Foodies!  Since eating well is the best revenge, instead of pouting, let’s celebrate the fantastic starred (and formerly starred) temples of gastronomy that we do have here in Nice, with the top deals for the best meals in Nice for under 30€ (Michelin version).

Of the four current Michelin-starred restaurants in Nice, one offers a stunning lunch deal at a fraction of what you would expect to pay.  And the winner is…

keisukematsushimaMichelin-starred Keisuke Matsushima! His Menu of the Moment wins the coveted Best of Nice award for best lunch deal.  It includes a Michelin-starred appetizer, main course and dessert for a bargain 28€.  Wow… the bang-for-buck, or shall we say, stars-per-euro ratio here is very high.

In the Formerly-Starred-but-still-Top restaurant category, the honors go to:

Aphrodite.  David Faure is one of Nice’s most creative and audacious chefs… so much so that it probably cost him his Michelin star last year. Undeterred, he continues his culinary creativity with a passion, and offers a sumptuous and surprising ever-changing 3-course lunch menu for just 29€.

Le Bistro Gourmand in Old Nice won their short-lived star just a year after opening, but they’re still a star in our book. For lunch they offer the starter, main, and dessert du jour for just 27€, or just 23€ if you only want 2 courses.

L’Ane Rouge.  I bet you didn’t know that the name of one of the Port’s best and oldest restaurants was Chagall’s play-on-words nickname for its original owner, his stubborn red-haired mistress.  Here, Chef Michael Devillers offers an incredible 3-course Menu Discovery for just 26€.  But best of all, it’s also available for dinner at the same price (but you have to ask for it…shhhh)

Related Pages:

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Fox News reports Muslim-Only No-Go Zones all over France

foxnews_alert_2002_aLast week, if you watched American news channel Fox News, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Nice neighborhoods of Saint Augustin, Trachel, Pasteur, Bon Voyage, Saint-André and the Ariane were official No-Go Zones: off-limits to non-Muslims, void of police, and ruled by Shariah law.

No joke, this whopper unfolded when a Fox News guest and self-described ‘terrorism expert’ informed Fox’s 2 million viewers that there are 761 No-Go Zones in France alone, and without fact-checking this rather shocking claim, Fox News… just ran with it! Fox News pundits earnestly repeated and discussed the No-Go Zones over and over again in the course of the week, concluding that ‘Europe is finished’.

Once they realized that, oops! they had been merrily reporting something that was complete crap all week long, did they correct this horrendous misinformation?   Heavens no!  They were just going to let it slide, as they have in the past when dubious ‘facts’ have later proven to be dead wrong.

Here’s the hilarious must-see clip from French TV (subtitled in English), that brought Fox News to their knees, and prompted Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News to issue an extremely rare on-air retraction and apology.  

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Posted in Life Imitates Comedy | 12 Comments

Ouch: Nice Museums go from Free to 10 euros!

Seismic shock on the Nice Museum scene: On January 1st, 2015, and with absolutely no warning, the 14 Nice municipal museums went from being completely free to costing a whopping 10€ a pop!

Locals, don’t despair: it seems that the city is really aiming the hike towards tourists… Locals can get a free 3-year all-access Passe Musee card by bringing a recent utility bill, rent receipt, or property tax bill, plus some ID to any of the museums.  There are also several other categories of free as well:

  • Children under 18
  • Students of any age with valid student ID
  • and, during most of March, anyone under 26-years-old for Mars aux Musees.

So tourists, sorry about this, but you have to admit, at ‘completely free‘ the museums in Nice were rather under-pricing themselves…

There are a couple of ways to soften the blow of the 10€ ticket.  The best deal is the 7-day Museum Pass for 20€, which is worth it if you want to see two or more museums, and will actually encourage you to see some pretty interesting ones that you might not have normally gone to see.  There is also the French Riviera Pass, which includes more museums and extras (like the hop-on hop-off tourist bus), but it is more expensive and has a much shorter time frame, so I say, relax and take the 7-day pass.  (Click the link below for more on the various passes.)

Musée Matisse Nice.JPGAlso, certain museums are grouped together in a theme, so buying a ticket for one museum gets you into a couple of others within 48-hours.  The only problem is, they are cleverly grouped so there is only one real high-interest museum in each category, and the most popular Matisse Museum is not even in a shared group (nor is the tiny Palais Lascaris in the Old Town, oddly).  So really, best just to go for the 20€ one-week pass.

One other thing: the very popular Chagall Museum is not municipal, it’s a national museum, so it is not even covered by this pass!  They charge 8€, but have a free day on the first Sunday of each month (as does the Museum of Asian Art, and also the Picasso Museum in Antibes, by the way).

And there is still one 100% free museum left in Nice, the tiny Franciscan Friar Museum tucked in the Cimiez Monastery …which is starting to sound a lot more interesting…!

See related pages:

Photo credits: Matisse Museum by Tubantia, licensed under creative commons.

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Opera in English coming to Nice

Nice Opera Choir, photo by Dominique Jaussein

Attention opera buffs, this might just be a first:  Opera in English on the French Riviera! The opera ‘Peter Grimes’ is salty story set in a small fishing village in Suffolk, and features British tenor John Graham Hall as the cursed hero, backed up by the choir of the Nice Opera (pictured) and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra. They will be belting out 4 performances at the Nice Opera next week starting on Sunday, and tickets range from a mere 12€ all the way to 78€.

According to Opera Online, “When Benjamin Britten unveiled his Peter Grimes just after World War II, the London public was dumbstruck by this powerful drama…. able to hold its own against the great works of Puccini and Strauss. Peter Grimes is a drama of fate: after Don Giovanni or Otello, the composer picks up the theme of the outcast, the cursed hero whose destruction is foretold. Its setting: a news item in a small village in Suffolk, to which Britten’s sea-tinged music, by turns impressionistic and symbolic, lends heartrending accents of realism and truth.”   Sound intriguing?

my wife the divaNaturally, English language theatre is a very rare bird here in Nice, and Opera in English even more exotic, so don’t miss this chance … to actually understand what they’re warbling!

UPDATE – More for Opera Buffs:  For a fun (and racy) read about the backside of the Opera business, check out My Wife the Diva by none other than John Graham Hall, the star of Peter Grimes!

See related pages: English Live Theatre in Nice

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Illegal Wine and Forbidden Cheese

Shhh… Don’t tell!

Tomorrow, being the third Thursday in November, is the official release date and festivities for this year’s  Beaujolais Nouveau, celebrated in every little wine store in France.  Having managed to get my hands on an advance bottle with the idea of doing an early review, I discovered something even more interesting: it turns out that drinking or selling this rather frivolous wine before that date is actually illegal, with the threat of a 150€ fine!  …So I can tell you that it’s light and fruity… and the threat of legal prosecution definitely gives the wine a bit more heft!

It’s all legal after midnight tonight, and tomorrow most wine shops will be offering samples, but one of the best place in Nice to try Beaujolais Nouveau is Cave Caprioglio in the Old Town.

Would you like a little illegal cheese to go with your illegal wine?   According to my favorite cheese restaurant, Le Bistro du Fromager, at one point the very possession of Reblochon cheese was proof of moral turpitude and was cause for arrest. In the 14th century, dairy farmers paid landowners grazing fees based on the milk yield.  The landowners charged abusively high fees, so to get back at them, some farmers would not do a complete milking; once all had been accounted for they would then secretly milk the cows again.  Supplemental milking produces a liquid that is almost all fat, so the resulting cheese was easily identifiable (Reblochon actually means ‘second milking’) and had to be hidden.  Possession of Reblochon cheese was proof of stealing from your landlord and could land you in jail!

See Related Pages:  

November Events: Le Beaujolais Nouveau!

Posted in Festivals | 4 Comments

How YOU can see Films at the Cannes Film Festival

Cannes 2013They deliberately don’t publicize it, but there are lots of ways to see films at the Cannes Film Festival, even without a badge.   …You just need to have the inside scoop on where to go and how to do it… and that’s just what Best if Nice Blog is here for!

  • There are free beach screenings of classic films (but not necessarily subtitled in English, so pick your night carefully…) and, with a nice Cannes touch, blankets and beach chairs are provided free as well!
  • Line up early and get free tickets to the avant garde Critic’s Week Section at the Miramar.
  • You don’t need a badge to buy tickets for the Director’s Fortnight Section at the ticket booth in front of the Marriott.
  • If you have a car, you can go to the free ‘Off” screenings in theaters around Cannes.
  • And if your French is up to it, go watch Les Guingols and La Grande Journal broadcast live each night, across from the Martinez.
  • And if you just want to star-gaze, the nightly red carpet scene is the place to be…

“Yes, you Cannes!”

For more details on these options and more, see related page How to do the Cannes Film Festival without a Badge



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Royale with Cheese: French McDo Loses its American Marketing Edge

UPDATE:  Good news, Pulp Fiction fans!  Not to overestimate the reach of this web site or anything, but just weeks after this blog post appeared, McDo succumbed and is bringing back the mythic ‘Royale with Cheese’.  Travolta will be so pleased.

When you think of a French McDonald’s what comes to mind?  John Travolta in Pulp Fiction explaining to Samuel L. Jackson that a Quarterpounder in Paris is a Royale with Cheese?  Well, technically, it’s a Royal Cheese… er, that is …was.

In a mystifying marketing move, McDonald’s France has eliminated a sandwich that has achieved cult status around the world thanks to Pulp Fiction: just google ‘Royale with Cheese’ and you get 29 million pages!  It’s a burger that has made McDo Paris an obligatory stop for a certain strata of American tourist, just so they can utter the words.

McDo France has decided to ban this iconic sandwich to make way for, um, newer hamburger creations.

Well today, with great fanfare, McDo released the latest and greatest of these new ways to disguise grey meat…

wait for it…

Le McBaguette.   

What would Tarantino say?


Posted in Life Imitates Comedy | 1 Comment

Big Benefits for Bilingual Brains

Bonne nouvelle, ex-pats!   Those embarrassing gaffes and awkward efforts to master French will ultimately pay off in ways you never expected… with a lean, mean brain that can even ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s!   A raft of new studies are showing that bilingual brains are not only better exercised, but actually wired differently than those that speak only one language, and that the rewiring happens even when the second language is mastered as an adult.

Unfortunately though, just having a few years of high school French won’t do it… it takes using both languages on a quasi daily basis.

Fluency won’t stop you from getting Alzheimer’s, but it will give you an average 5-6 extra years before you show any symptoms at all.  Other benefits include better problem solving, observation, anticipation, and multi-tasking.

It works like this:  You know what you want to say, but since the words and grammar are different in the two languages, the brain comes up with both and then has to make constant snap decisions as to which to use.  It turns out that for bilinguals, both language centers are always active, going through this whole effort even when using only one language, and this constant extra workout strengthens the cerebral muscles.

With neuroimaging, scientists can also see that bilinguals use completely different brain networks than monolinguals to solve problems, even non-verbal problems, as if the bilingual brain is wired differently.  This extra facility gives the brain more problem-solving paths, which is why the difficulties presented with Alzheimer’s can be circumvented through these alternate neuron pathways, effectively hiding the disease for years.  C’est excellent, ca! 

For more on the subject, check out these articles from the New York Times:  The Bilingual Advantage and  Benefits of Bilingualism… or better yet, Google Translate them into French!

Photo credit: Brain in jar by Gaetan Lee, licensed under Creative Commons.

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New Name for the Coulée Verte: and the winner is…

Coulee-VerteThe English translation of Coulée Verte is the rather unappetizing ‘Green Flow’, or even worse, ‘Green Drip’, so it’s great news that, after opening up the process to the public, Nice’s new giant public garden has a new name.   …But first, a few of the little gems that were not selected:

  • Central Park, nor its French equivalant, Parc Centrale.
  • Adeiu Parking
  • La Promenade des Niçoise (…since les Anglais already have theirs!)
  • Le-paillon_imagelargeLa Paillonade, and Parc de Paillon, in reference to the once-mighty Paillon, a river that still runs below it.
  • La Coulée des Lavandières, a nod to the laundresses that washed clothes daily in said river for hundreds of years.
  • Les Allées du Spaggiari:  He accessed the sewers from the Paillon…click here if you don’t know that story!
  • Estropvert, or Estropoganza, for our, some say, overly-ambitious Mayor.
  • Jardins de l’Endetement Inutile, idem.
  • Le Zoo du Paillon, a jab at the iron gates that will jab anyone who tries to climb into the park after its nightly closing time.
  • And finally, Caga Blea: Coulée Verte translated into the local language Nissart, which also describes what you get when you eat too much of the local specialty Tourte de Blettes.

couleeverte-5…And the winner is….

Promenade du Paillon!

Okay… not bad, but it will create confusion when referring to the Promwhich Prom??  But since most people don’t know that the boulevard and now Park traces the Paillon river, which was the physical limit of the Old Town, along with the Chateau and the sea, we think it’s actually a great name, and far superior to the dreaded ‘Green Drip‘.

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