Christmas in Nice: Hidden Holiday Treasures

Christmas lights in NiceEveryone knows about the Christmas Village at Place Massena, the giant Winter Ferris Wheel, and Christmas eve Midnight Mass in Old Nice (…which actually starts at 11pm, btw), but here are a few little local holiday gems that you might not know about:

Discover the 400 quirky nativity scenes (creches) hidden in every nook and cranny in the charming medieval village of Luceram. It’s just a 1-hour drive from Nice, (or take bus 340/360).  An easy, fun and unique day-trip.

For a pretty impressive nativity scene closer to home, check out the almost hidden Eglise Sainte Rita in Old Nice, which features a fascinatingly vast creche inside, with hand-made santons representing every profession in the village.  The deceptively discrete church entrance can be found just off Cours Saleya on rue de la Poissonnerie.  The kitschiest scene can be found at Place Rossetti, and features oversized automated animals.

Don’t miss the pheasants and fowl that festoon the Boucherie St. Francoise for the holidays, along with the traditional wild boar sitting right out front. Rue Pairoliere in the Old Town.

All the local Christmas Villages have miniature ice rinks for the kiddies, but did you know that one of the most spectacular outdoor ice skating rinks in the world is in Monaco?  In the winter, Monaco’s Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool becomes a huge fabulous ice skating rink.  Where else can you ice skate under the sun with views of super-yachts, the Royal Palace, Monte Carlo, and the Mediterranean sea, all for for less than 7€?

For holiday thrill-seekers, did you know that the rinky-dink Luna Park winter carnaval set up outside the Acropolis actually has a massive indoor amusement park inside the Palais des Expositions?  With all sorts of gravity-defying stomach-churning fun, the 25€ all-ride pass presents a unique solution for a rainy winter afternoon…

If out for an evening stroll in the Old Town to see the holiday lights, don’t miss rue Droite, where the magnificent Eglise du Gesu throws its massive doors wide open every night until midnight.

Check out the free Christmas concerts coming up in Nice…

  • Saturday, Dec. 16 at 4pm, Cantori Libri at the Eglise Saint Francois de Paule (across from the Opera), free.  At at 3pm at the Theatre de Verdure there is a free Christmas concert especially for kids.
  • Sunday, Dec. 17 at 3:30pm, the Orchestra d’Harmonie at the Eglise du Port at 3:30pm, free
  • Thursday the 21st at 7pm the excellent Cafe Zimmermann at the Cathedrale Sainte Reparate in Old Nice (not free, but tickets start as low as 11.80€).  Line up early for this one!
  • For kids, there are free Christmas concerts/plays and shows every day at 3pm from Dec. 23-Jan. 1 at the Theatre de Verdure.

…And on New Years Day, the best of all is the free and fantastic concert with the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2400-seat Acropolis theater at 11am.  There are no tickets or reservations this year, so just line up early…  

See related page What to do in Winter in Nice 

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Transport Strike Strategies

French strike signIn France, autumn brings falling leaves… wild mushrooms… the grape harvest… and of course, the most French of all, strike season!

Thursday October 19 will feature a train strike plus a general protest march at 10am between Place Garibaldi and Place Massena, which will tie up downtown traffic and block the tramway for several hours.  Friday October 20, it’s more strike fun when the bus drivers get to take their turn, so expect almost no buses (including the airport bus) and zero trams the entire day.

The locals are of course annoyed by these annual transport strikes, but just accept them as part of life… they do their Gaelic shrug, and just get on with it.  Now you can too: here is a page of strike strategies and work-arounds for dealing with the bus and train strikes in Nice.

See original imageThis month’s transport strikes are due to a set of reforms to the French labor law that hardly affects anything: it makes businesses more likely to hire new workers by making it slightly less impossible to lay off unproductive workers with jobs-for-life if the business is losing money.  Even though these tiny changes have already become law, the unions want to express their displeasure by inconveniencing as many innocent travelers as possible.   Sympa!

Now go perfect that Gaelic shrug…!

See related pages: Strike Strategies, Transport in Nice

Photo Credit: Striking Students by Papillus. licensed under GNU Free Documentation License

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Nice Jazz Festival How To Guide

De la Soul at The Nice Jazz Festival 2017 photo by Alain Morana

After a year’s absence, The Nice Jazz Festival roared back last night, with a triumphant opening night filled with stars.  Enthusiastic music-lovers were treated to 6 amazing concerts on 2 stages, starting with Trombone Shorty, a festival favorite who wowed the crowd, and culminating with the mythic jazz-great Herbie Hancock.

Tight security caused a bit of an entry bottleneck at first, with the line wrapping around the block, but once the first concert was underway everyone relaxed to the beat, and the lines quickly abated. I recommend arriving around 8:15pm – you will miss a little of the first concert, but you will get right in, plus avoid the heat as that’s just when the sun dips behind the palms… perfect!

Inside, the Ville de Nice has made lots of little tweaks to increase the space and ease the flow, and so even though there was a healthy crowd last night, there was still plenty of picnic tables and grassy space between the two stages to relax.  Bring a wrap to spread on the grass, which will also soften your seat if you are seated on the steps at the Verdure stage.  To stay hydrated, bring an empty plastic bottle that you can refill in the drinking fountains.  Wear comfortable shoes or flip-flops; one stage has seats but the other main stage is standing room only.  And my best tip: after each set, the headliners on the Massena stage often pop out the side entrance behind the right side of the main stage to meet the fans, so that is where to hang out if you want to get an autograph or a quick selfie.

The quality and number of food stands seemed to be taken up a notch from previous years, and although the food truck lines were slow, the music was great, and nobody seemed to mind.

The Nice Jazz Festival is one of the best music bargains on the Riviera, with 6 concerts a night for a ticket price of just 39€, and only 29€ if you are 16-25, over 65, a student of any age (bring proof!), or coming with a large family. Teens 10-16 are 14€, and kids under 10 are free.   The ticket booth is on the other side of Place Massena, or buy online here.

The Nice Jazz Festival only goes through this Friday, July 17-21, so don’t drag your dancin’ feet:  click here for the line up for the rest of the week.

Welcome back, Nice Jazz Festival… we missed you!

UPDATE: After the Jazz Fest is over, the music continues with Nice Music Live, with a week of stellar concerts on the Jazz Fest stages.

See Related Pages: Nice Jazz Festival,  Jazz Clubs in Nice,  What do do in Nice in July,  Summer in Nice: how to Beat the Heat in Nice

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Nice Jazz Fest Kicks ‘OFF’ with Free Concerts

Nice Jazz Festival logo 2016 with Melody Gardot

Photo by Alain Morana

The Nice Jazz Festival is already known as the Riviera summer jazz festival with the most bang for the buck, but did you know that they also have a completely free side festival, the Nice Jazz OFF Festival?

Beyond the many partner concerts at bars, restaurants, jazz clubs and art galleries all over Nice during the lead up to the official festival, there are also a bounty of free high-quality open-air concerts …sometimes where you would least expect them!

Musical Markets, weekends July 1/2 and 8/9

For the next two weekends, shop with a swing in your step as Nice’s open-air morning markets (Saleya, Liberation and Saint Roch) will be serenaded with jazz.

Toe-tapping Tramways, weekends July 1/2 and 8/9

Between 10-11:30 and 4-5:30pm Saturdays and Sundays, roving musicians with be rolling through the trams…

Concerts in the Park: top of the Promenade du Paillon gardens

  • Wednesday July 5, 8pm:  James Andrews, the brother of Trombone Shorty, direct from New Orleans.
  • Saturday July 8 at 8:30pm: Sophie Malbec plays the Blues, followed by an open-air film on Women in Blues
  • Sunday July 9, 8pm:  Prepare to be surprised with the fusional world music/jazz of Nadiamori
  • Monday July 10, 8pm: Come see the winner of last year’s Tremplin, Les Mutants de l’espace (The Space Mutants)
  • Tuesday July 11 at 6pm: Avant garde electro house fest with Radio FG Cote d’Azur

Gospel Concert at Place Massena, Sunday July 16 at 11am

A Nice Jazz Festival tradition is always a massive free outdoor gospel concert with the London Community Gospel Choir.  Not to be missed.

See Related Pages: Nice Jazz Festival, Jazz Clubs in Nice, What do do in Nice in July, Summer in Nice: how to Beat the Heat in Nice

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‘America First’, okay, …but France Second?

The new US Administration insists that it’s now ‘America First’, …but which country is second?  Holland was the first to vie for second place, and now many countries have released videos to win his favor…  Watch as France tries to convince the US President in terms that he will understand…

Posted in Life Imitates Comedy | 2 Comments

Big Changes for the Nice Carnival

Nice Carnival 2017Love it or hate it, the Nice Carnival is upon us, with the first Bataille de Fleurs this Saturday at 2:30 pm, and the first Corso illumine light parade that night at 9pm.

There are big changes this year:

  • New routes: The Bataille de Fleurs and Carnival are now both sharing a new 100% secure route, looping around the Promenade du Paillon.
  • No free: Sadly, the free zone has been eliminated, and in fact nothing is free this year (unless you costume up), but tickets can be quite cheap (5€ for adults and free for kids under 10), and the standing zone B, which covers 80% of the route, is much more fun than sitting, especially if you follow my insider carnival strategies
  • No Silly String!  Say it ain’t so!  And much more difficult to walk away with a good bouquet at the Bataille de Fleurs.
  • Major Security: You’ll feel really really safe, but the downside is that, to avoid spreading the police too thin, they cancelled three quirky side-fests for this year:  Queernaval, the Rock and Roll 10k, and the homegrown Carnaval Independant.

Now, take the true/false Carnival Quiz:

“Nice Carnival is…

a) …The 3rd largest Carnival celebration in the WORLD.”                    TRUE!  After Rio and Venice comes Nice!

b) …based on a 2000-year-old Catholic tradition of church-sanctioned debauchery… which has now evolved into commercialism and marketing gone wild.”                                                                                                     Absolutely TRUE

c) …The start of 3 weeks of unpredictable traffic-hell that locals dread.” FALSE!   The dreaded traffic hell is completely predictable… just avoid downtown and the Prom on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday evening and Wednesday… and you’ll be fine.

d) …Is super expensive and only for tourists.                                              FALSE!  Every year I drag some naysayer into the melee and they emerge converted:  Carnival is provocative and irreverent, the floats are weirdly impressive, and if you do it right it can be fun, cheap, quick, easy, and totally worth experiencing at least once each year!   But doing it right is the key… click here for my hard-learned  Insider Carnival Tips.

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Million Women March goes Worldwide… Even to Nice

The momentum for the anti-Trump Million Women March in DC, the day after the inauguration, has gone worldwide with simultaneous gatherings in over 600 international cities, including Nice.   Stand up and express yourself at 3pm at Place Massena, Saturday, January 21.  Everyone is welcome.

Update January 21: Even without the permit, it happened!

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Burkini Ban in Nice

Burkini Catholic-Style

…Not in Nice, you won’t!

I was travelling most of August, so imagine my surprise upon returning home to find Nice splashed all over the news yet again… but this time for the completely ridiculous and reactionary burkini ban!  …And the viral video of armed Nice police passing their time making women disrobe on the beach for ‘good morals’?! Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

The burkini ban sprouted from an extremely misguided knee-jerk reaction against radical Islamic terrorism… which the attack in Nice wasn’t, by the way! News stories keep co-mingling the Paris and Nice attacks as if they were the same thing, but they were absolutely not.   The Nice attack had far more in common with the pathetic German Wings pilot that wanted to end his sad life in a blaze of glory by plowing an airplane into a French hillside taking as many innocent people with him as possible. That’s what this was here in Nice, no more no less, except instead of an airplane, a truck.

Here are 5 things that you might not know about the Nice attack:

  • While perhaps technically a Muslim, the perpetrator was not at all religious: he ate pork, drank alcohol, took drugs, was a petty criminal and a womanizer, didn’t pray, didn’t observe Ramadan, and never went to the mosque.
  • He was a lone wolf and had no direction from anyone in Isis.  Isis was more than happy to take credit for the carnage but actually had absolutely nothing to do with either the planning or execution.  It was all him.
  • He had been planning his attack for over a year: He had photos on his phone from the 2015 Nice Bastille Day.  Ominously, his photos were not of the fireworks, but only of the crowds of families and children that lined the Promenade des Anglais.  His interest in Isis only started just two weeks before the long-planned attack date, maybe as a way to find a justification.
  • The very first person that he swerved onto the sidewalk to mow down and kill was a veiled Muslim mother of seven, wearing a full hijab.  If he was making a statement against Western values, would this really have been his first target?
  • A third of the 86 people killed by this psychopath were Muslim.  And now their families can’t go to the beach?  Hello?

It is normal that people want someone or something to blame for an act so incomprehensible, but to turn their fury on women’s swimwear, seems very strange indeed.

Photo credit Nuns Having Fun Calendar by Maureen Kelly and Jeffry Stone

Update: The Nice Burkini ban was suspended by the courts last Thursday, with the ruling that the terror attack in July was ‘insufficient grounds’ to justify it.  Ya think?

Posted in Social Unrest | 3 Comments

Nice after the Attack

I’ve Truck attack in Nicetried to write something each day since the horrendous truck attack in Nice, but my words seemed so inadequate I couldn’t bring myself to post them.
Today marks a week since a deranged psychopath purposely drove a truck into the Bastille Day crowds, intentionally killing as many innocent people as possible.



Truck attack in Nice memorialsIn the space of a week, the Promenade des Anglais has gone from one of the most beautiful spots in the world, to a horrific body-strewn massacre, to a sequestered crime scene, to a spontaneous memorial with shocked and silent mourners covering each and every blood stain with flowers, candles, notes, photos, and stuffed animals.  Half the Prom remained closed most of the week as these early piles of flowers grew into mountains…

Every day I walked the trace of the carnage, passing so, so many piles of flowers… and every day, the final stack sent cold shivers: a circle of people silently staring at a pile of dirt and rocks in the middle of the road, the spot where the killer was finally shot dead.  People spit on it as they passed, or violently flung another handful of dirt.  Many of the stones contained anguished messages like “Assassin!” “Burn in Hell!” and “Why, why, why??”

A ceremony was held on the Prom which attracted 40,000 mourners, all still in shock but with some lashing out, searching for someone, anyone, to blame for this unimaginably senseless act.

Truck attack in Nice flowers on the Promenade des AnglaisThat night, knowing that the Prom had to eventually reopen, hundreds of people gathered in the moonlight to create a mile-long human chain, passing all the flowers, notes and toys, one-by-one, from the spot where each victim was felled, to a memorial at the gazebo, and when that was full, they lined the seaside.

One week later, the Promenade des Anglais is open, and if you lived in a cave and had no knowledge of what transpired, you would not know that anything was out of whack until passing the stretch that is lined with flowers.  The Old Town is less crowed than a normal high-season, but in a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, plus an unwillingness to be cowed by fear, it is absolutely full of life.  The beaches are full of sunbathers, the beach volleyball court is active day and night, the street musicians are out in force, the restaurants and full, and there was even an open air salsa dance in the Place Palais de Justice last night.

The funerals are just starting and the full list of victims has only just now been released.  A third of the victims were Muslim, including the first woman that the killer veered onto the sidewalk to hit, a mother of 7 who was wearing a traditional headscarf.  This is not about religion, or politics, just immense sadness.

Photos by Best of Nice

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Discover France: 5 Bloggers Share Their Insider Tips

biking on the promTravel website GoEuro hand-picked a diverse group of travel bloggers to share their insider tips on the Cote d’Azur, and the result is Discover France: Insider Tips to Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur, a great overview for anyone planning a trip to the French Riviera.

The selected local bloggers included veteran travel writer Jeanne Oliver with French Riviera Traveller and Riviera Beaches, Monaco resident Kevin Hin who writes French Riviera Blog, and of course, yours truly, Best of Nice.

For a visitor’s perspective, travel aficionados Jenny and Arun were asked to weigh in, both of whom having detailed their trips to the Cote d’Azur on their travel blogs Lady Relocated and MyTravelpedia.

This latest entry into the Discover France series includes advice spanning the Cote d’Azur from Saint Tropez to Monaco with nods to Marseille and Provence; and covers favorite places, suggested day-trips, best things to see and do, and, bien sur, favorite food tips, …not to mention the gorgeous photos.  Check it out!

Photo Credit: Almost Paridise in Nice France by Chris de Rham – Flickr – licensed under Creative Commons

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The Golden Ring of Vintage Shopping in Old Nice

Caprice mannequin holding 'open' signIf you like vintage glamour, second-hand chic, discount designer duds and unique fashion finds, put on your shopping shoes and head to Old Nice.  Here is a circuit over just a couple of blocks where bargain hunters will find their bonheur in boutiques ranging from vintage to retro thrift stores.

Start at 12 rue Droite, at Caprice, the number one vintage shopping address in all of Nice, with two floors of glamour and eclectic selections from the 1920’s through the 80’s.

Just across the street you’ll find Emmaus, a tiny store with a giant heart. Amongst the bric-a-brac there is one rack of retro clothing near the back, but it’s worth a quick peek for the occasional treasure at rock-bottom prices.

Continue on rue Droite until you get to the church, then look right: La Belle Epoque Vintage consignment store is tucked into the square, Place du Gesu, with a nice balance between stylish modern and vintage fashion finds.

Back to the church, continue on rue Droite and take the next right, cross rue Benoit Bunico, and you’ll find yourself in Old Nice’s tiniest fountained square, Place Veille, in front of Brok Antikart.  Woven throughout the antiques you’ll find wearable vintage wows, plus lots of glamor hats, sumptuous purses and unique accessories.

Backtrack to rue Benoit Bunico and take a left.  This is a good time for a coffee, so as you cross rue Rossetti, look up the street and under the tasseled white umbrella you’ll find Delit Delice a tiny antique-filled tea room that is half unique-boutique and half grandma’s living room.  Everything is served on vintage china plates and tea cups, and there is a nice assortment of pastries as well as fashion magazines to flip through.

Back to Benoit Bunico, where you’ll see the sidewalk sales racks beckoning you in to O’Chineur, the bargain hunter’ in French: a quality consignment boutique that lives up to its name!

Continue down the street and you’ll come across the brand new Bubulle Cafe, a Kid Cafe that doubles (triples) as a organic restaurant and a thrift store for kids clothes.  Moms take note: this place is awesome!

And finally, the finish line at the trippy Hippy Market which is one big flashback from the 60’s and 70’s, with music and clothes that are a blast from the past.  And poof, you’re back where you started.

Click here for my new Vintage Shopping in Nice page, with more info and links on each of the above, plus even more boutiques in the Port and Downtown Nice, and even a little-known but fabulous second-hand store in Monaco!

See Related Pages: 

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Nice, After the Paris Attacks

paris attacks peace signIn a state of shock after the attacks in Paris, the city of Nice has predictably doubled down on police and military presence, and cancelled all major city-sponsored events and shows over the weekend.  But even though public gatherings this weekend were strictly forbidden by the Mayor’s office, this didn’t stop at least 200 people from spontaneously gathering Saturday evening at Place Garibaldi for a candle-lit homage to mourn the victims of the Paris attacks.  Unfortunately, however, they weren’t the only ones to show up, as a well-known and rather vocal group of thirty barged on the scene, singing a loud and aggressive version of the French national anthem and brandishing signs with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant slogans like ‘France for the French’.

It is worth noting the local Muslim community’s reaction to the Paris tragedy: immediate and unanimous condemnation, responding to the senseless spilling of innocent blood by a massive turnout to donate their own blood to the local blood bank, joining other Nicois of all faiths, in a most personal show of solidarity to help the hundreds of injured.  The line at the blood bank went around the block with many waiting up to 3 hours to donate.  The influx was so overwhelming that over a 120 were asked to come back Monday.

Posted in Social Unrest | 3 Comments

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

Posted in Bargain Hunting, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | 1 Comment

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 and a 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 all 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.


Pastor Maldonaldo racing a GP2 in the Monaco Grand Prix

Okay, you won’t see any Formula One‘s on the free day, but you will see the Porsche Supercup as well as GP2‘s (pictured).  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.

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 for more detail on the free day, including the free day race schedule (usually both in the morning) and 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.

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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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 of Nice Blog is here for!

  • There are nightly 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 Hotel 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 Hotel.
  • If you have a car, you can go to the free ‘Off” screenings in theaters around Cannes.
  • If your French is up to it, go watch Les Guingols and La Grande Journal broadcast live each night, across from the Hotel Martinez.
  • And if you just want to star-gaze, the nightly red carpet scene is the place to be…

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

“Yes, you Cannes!”

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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

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