Hottest July on Record: Four Ways to Beat the Heat

beach in Nice FranceIt’s shaping up to be the hottest July on record, and with no relief in sight, here are a few ways to beat the afternoon heat in Nice…

Shady Spaces:  Head for the Hills… like the Chateau “Castle Hill” in Old Nice, for example. You can take the free elevator up from the Promenade, and once on top you will find woodsy bliss with lots of shade and cool breezes (not to mention the incredible views). For an even more foresty experience, just take bus #14 to Mont Boron (15 minutes) for an authentic hilltop forest with few people and plenty of peaceful little walking trails.

water jetsGet Sprayed:  On your way down from the Chateau, enjoy the ultimate refreshing pause in the effusive cooling mists from the massive waterfall… ahhh.   And right in the middle of town, the Jets d’eau off Place Massena are the best, with cooling fountains that you can just stroll through, getting cooled, misted, spritzed, moistened or soaked… as you wish.

Have a Ball at the Mall:  The heat of the day is the perfect time to refuge in a little air-con, and the Nice Etoile Shopping Center, Galeries Layfayette, and FNAC all provide ample amusements in climatized comfort, and Sundays are the best day to browse
Fenocchio ice  cream in Nicewithout the crowds.  Another idea for climate controlled spaces are Nice’s fabulous selection of museums, where you can beat the heat while treating yourself to an afternoon of brain candy.

And finally, if all else fails: Fenocchio.

Photo credits: Beach, Jets d’eau, and Fenocchio by Best of Nice Blog

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Nice Jazz Festival in Full Swing: 3 Days Left

Nice Jazz Festival - Alain MoranaThe Nice Jazz Festival is definitely hitting its groove, and if you haven’t been, you owe it to yourself to go.   The 35€ ticket price might seem a bit steep, but not when you consider that you get a full night of 6 concerts, from 7:30pm until after midnight, so you can really make a meal out of it, so to speak.   The early concerts are much less crowded, so you can sit in the shade and have your space as the sun sets. There are numerous food booths plus 20 picnic tables, so space out your eating to coincide with each round of concerts:  socca and rosé for the early concert, main course during the sunset middle concerts, and crepes and champagne for dessert when you’ll be on your feet, in the crowds, grooving under the stars.Nice Jazz Festival - Alain MoranaTonight’s theme is Dance Culture, and starts off at 7:30pm with Hugh Coltman singing Nat King Cole in the Theatre de Verdure, followed by Eric Legnini, and then Yael Naim at 10:30.  For the Massena stage, put on your dancing shoes for Liv Warfield, then Hindi Zahra, and crescendoing with Cerrone, the French disco legend.If you are not a huge jazz fan and are not sure that you can take a full night of it, Saturday is your night with a diverse mix under the Block Party theme, with accessible jazz and more high energy dance music.And Sunday is the bonus day: a free gospel concert at 11am in the morning with the amazing London Community Gospel Choir, then a special dance party with the Soul Rebels followed by disco icons Kool and the Gang for a reduced price of 20€ a ticket.

The number of trams are reinforced at the start and the end of the festival each night, making access really easy, and you can use the free park and rides for the price of your tram ticket.

See Related Page:  Everything you need to know about the Nice Jazz Festival

Photo credits: Alain Morana

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Nice Jazz Festival starts tonight!

Nice Jazz Fesival - Alain MoranaThe Nice Jazz Festival bursts on the scene tonight, launching 6 nights of dynamite concerts under the stars.  The festival’s 2 stages each offer a different feel and ambiance, with seated, intimate concerts in the Theatre de Verdure, overlapping with more brassy and boisterous acts on the massive Massena stage with standing room only.

Tonight’s theme is Nouveau Swing with Fred D’Oelznitz Trio kicking things off at 7:30pm, followed by the Omer Klein Trio and and then Cassandra Wilson on the Verdure stage; and on the Massena stage Too Many Zooz at 8pm, followed by Caravan Palace, capped off by the night’s headliner and festival ‘godfather’ Jamie Cullum tearing up the piano at 11pm.

Tickets are 35€, a bargain for 6 concerts, and there are numerous broad categories for reduced-priced tickets at 25€.  Legendary after hours jam sessions follow at local jazz clubs like Shapko and B-spot, where you never know who will show up…

To help you choose your night, here are the nightly themes (click here for details):

  • Wednesday: Jungle Fever
  • Thursday: Urban Groove
  • Friday: Dance Culture
  • Saturday: Block Party
  • Sunday: Soul Spirit, with a free Gospel Mass at 11am with the London Community Gospel Choir, and the Jazz Festival caps off with The Soul Rebels and 80’s icons Kool and the Gang for just 20€.

And the following Tuesday once the Nice Jazz Festival wraps up, the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra will take over the massive Massena stage for a free symphony concert under the stars… To get in on this, pick up your free tickets available at the Nice Opera while they last.

See Related Page on Nice Jazz Festival with details on pricing, transport options, and more…

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Good-bye Uber-Pop. Hello Uber-X…!

Taxi signThe taxi union’s intimidation tactics succeeded in killing off the wildly popular bargain ride-sharing service Uber-Pop this week.  …But from the ashes has emerged… Uber-X!

Before we had Uber-Pop, which was staffed with moonlighting non-professional drivers, and Uber Black Car which are legal VTC’s in luxury sedans driven by chauffeurs in suits and ties.   Now, with Uber-Pop gone, another category of Uber has emerged on the app: Uber-X.  These cars are also VTC’s driven by professionally licensed and insured drivers, but as the vehicles are normal model cars (as opposed to the luxury sedans) they are very moderately priced, around half the price of a taxi, especially on short trips. Uber-pop was about 1/4 the price of a taxi, so Uber-X is a bit more, but still a super bargain in comparison to taking a taxi, with better service, no rip-offs, and perfectly legal.

After all the bad blood generated by the taxis in the last few months, most locals will never take a taxi again.  The taxi union, instead of realizing that they need to offer non-abusively priced tarifs, and a friendly efficient service, have dug their heels in to fight for their right to give the same surly overpriced service that they have fed us for the last 20 years.

In fact, last week within an hour of the end of the taxi strike that paralyzed traffic in Nice for a week, some friends of mine took a taxi from the airport.  Not only did he drop them off 3 blocks from their destination (so that he could turn around easier to hurry back to the airport), but he overcharged them 40€ when it should have been 30€ or 35€ max, knowing they would be too intimidated to protest (Uber X would be 20€ by the way). After paying 40€, they arrived panting and sweating from dragging their heavy luggage 3 blocks in full sun.  Sympa.

Au revoir Uber-pop, you will be missed, but in the meantime, helloooo Uber-X!

To get 10€ off your first Uber ride on any Uber service, enter promo code uber-get-ten when you sign up.

See Related Pages: Taxis in Nice, Using Uber in Nice

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Jazz Fest Kicks ‘OFF’

Nice Jazz Fest 2015 gridThe Nice Jazz Festival starts next Tuesday, but all this week, they’re giving out free samples with a free mini-Nice Jazz Festival showcase at Place Massena featuring local acts, including such local luminaries as Pierre Marcus, and running every evening at 7pm up to the start of the festival.

In the lead up to the festival this week, the local jazz clubs around town are featuring an eclectic mix of programming in association with the Nice Jazz Festival, and then once the festival starts, the headliners themselves are invited to cut loose at the nightly after-party/jam sessions, at The B-Spot from 10pm-3am.  All free with no cover charge.

If all this whet’s your appetite for the Official Nice Jazz Festival, tickets are available here.  Can’t wait!

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Fete du Chateau

Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28, 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.
Photo: www.naviquan.comThe 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
reason 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.

Canon__Small_

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.

Posted in Life Imitates Comedy | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Life Imitates Comedy | 1 Comment

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 luxury sedan by a professional chauffeur in a suit and tie.

Uber-X, the moderately priced service (roughly 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of a taxi) where you have a professional driver, but the car is a normal model, not a luxury sedan.

Uber Pop, the super-bargain-priced service from moonlighting drivers, kind of like AirBnb.  (Update – the Pop service has been discontinued in France thanks to the taxi union)

In each case you order the car online, and you immediately get a 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-X 18-20€, an UBER-Black Car 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.

Update July 4:  The taxi union killed Uber-Pop, but the bargain Uber-X and the luxury Uber Black Car are still perfectly legal and going strong.

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

Posted in Carnival, Urban Hazards | Tagged , | 2 Comments

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)

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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…!

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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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