Nice Jazz Festival How To Guide

The Nice Jazz Festival 2017, photo by Alain Morana

Here are my insider tips on making the most of  The Nice Jazz Festival, July 16-20, 2019.

Arrival:  Tight security causes a bit of an entry bottleneck at the start of the concerts, with the line sometimes wrapping around the block, but once the first concert gets underway the lines quickly abate. 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!

What to bring: To stay hydrated, bring an empty plastic bottle that you can refill in the water filling stations.  Wear comfortable shoes or flip-flops; one stage has seats but the other main stage is standing room only.  Between the two stages, you’ll find plenty of picnic tables and grassy space 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.

What to eat: Best food trucks are chez Pipo for socca, and Mother Trucker for artisanal cheeseburgers.  The food truck lines are slow, but the music is great, so nobody seems to mind.  At the drink stands you have to buy a reusable Nice Jazz Festival cup, so if you kept yours from last year, bring it.

Fan fun: 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.

Free concerts:  On Tuesday night the concerts on the Verdure stage are free, but space is limited to line up early at the entrance across from the sea.

Passes and discounts:  The Nice Jazz Festival is one of the best music bargains on the Riviera, with 5-6 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 17€, and kids under 10 are free.   A festival pass for all 5 nights is just 130€, or get a 2-night pass for 60€.  The ticket booth is on the other side of Place Massena, or buy online here.

Best parking deal:   The best deal is to leave your car in one of the three free Parc Azur park-and-ride lots along the tram line,where parking is free upon presentation of your round trip tram ticket (3€, or 2€ if you have a 10-trip card).  The tramway will be reinforced with extra trams, running every 10 minutes from 9pm to the end of the night.

Click here for the stellar line up

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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Winter in Nice

Winter in NiceIt’s a bit counter-intuitive, but winter can be one of the best times to come to Nice.  Not only are apartment rentals half-price in winter, but the town is filled with locals instead of tourists, and everything is easy and uncrowded, from restaurants, markets, museums, and concerts, to local transport for much easier day trips.  Nice has 300 sunny days a year, so whereas you might get a few days of rain, you are much more likely to hit a week of winter sun.

Here is a list of my favorite things to do in Nice in winter, plus what goes on around Christmas and New Year’s in Nice.

Did you know that 100 years ago, the French Riviera was only a winter resort?   No one came here in the summer (too hot!)  and the hotels even closed down as there were no guests.  It took a tradition-flouting American couple, the Murphy’s, and their entourage of fabulous friends (Cole Porter, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, just to name a few…), to make the Cote d’Azur the fashionable summer resort it is today!

See related page:  21 Fascinating Facts about Nice

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Transport Strike Strategies

French strike signUpdated July 2:  The 3 months of rolling strikes are finally over, but the train unions are making one last stand, and doing another 2-day strike July 6-7.  

The train union is flexing its muscle, and will be screwing up everyone’s travel with rolling strikes all through April, May and June.   Two days of train strikes, then 3 days no strike, then 2 days of strikes again, and so on…

On strike days, there will still be a quarter of the trains running; click here for the day’s train schedule from Nice, plus the private Italian Thello trains should be running as well, 5 a day to all the main stops in both directions.  And click here for a whole page of my strike strategies and work-arounds. 

See original imageThis train strike is due to the projected privatization of the French train system, which is famously inefficient, late, and beset with surprise cancellations.   The train workers’ union has amassed enormous power by threatening paralyzing transport strikes (often targeting peak travel weeks like spring break), resulting in an amazing array of perks for coddled train workers and their families …far beyond those of any other workers in France.  Hence those privileged few will do anything to hold on to their awesome perks, including screwing up everyone else’s travel as much and as often as possible.  Sympa!

See related pages: Strike Strategies, Transport in Nice

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

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It’s Snowing in Nice!

Snow in Place Rossetti

Old Nice in the snow, 2009

The Siberian cold snap has descended on Nice, and with it, a rare snow storm!  Okay, it’s not exactly a storm, but it still feels quite dramatic to see the normally sun-drenched French Riviera coated in a layer of white fluff…!

Aside from a light dusting in 2010 and in 2009 (photo, left), the last serious snow was in 2005, when there was enough of a dump to build snowmen on the beach!  By cosmic coincidence, the Carnaval theme that year happened to be King of Crazy Climate Change, and there was one carnaval parade which started off sunny, went to rain, full sun again, and then finished with snow, as if to make its point.

Here are a few other historic photos of snow in Nice from this morning’s Nice-Matin, including one from 1944, during the German occupation of Nice in WWII, where it must have seemed like divine confirmation that the world was truly turning upside down.

Photos of snow on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Nice-Matin 1/26/18:  ‘Every Time it has Snowed on the Prom’

See Related Pages:

Photo credits: Old Nice in the snow by Best of Nice, historic photos courtesy of the Nice-Matin

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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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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…

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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.

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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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