Welcome to the French Riviera Blog


Welcome to the all-new French Riviera Blog! The aim of this website is to provide totally opinionated information for visitors to or residents of the French Riviera to make the most of their time here, avoid getting ripped off at tourist traps and to enjoy the very best that the area has to offer, for all sorts of budgets.

The coastline off Villa Hanbury, just across the border in Italy near Ventimiglia

Naturally, all the opinions provided are totally personal and unbiased: I simply recommend places that I have personally visited and where I have had an enjoyable experience (and I do enjoy eating out and sampling lots of places). There is therefore never any form of bribery involved for a good review!

Reviews will tend to be more oriented around the, prettier in my opinion, area between Nice and Monaco, simply because I live there and therefore have easier access to the destinations.

What are my qualifications for writing about the Riviera? Well, as a foreigner who has lived in Monaco since 1989, I have always perceived the area as a place where there is constantly something new to be discovered, unlike London which is where I was born and bred.

In September 2004, I figured it would be fun to run my own business and, despite never having worked in the tourist industry, therefore decided to purchase a small hotel in the centre of Nice, Hotel Notre Dame: life was a rollercoaster ride ever since, with enough interesting adventures within the day to day management of the hotel to write a very thick novel.

Hotel Notre Dame in Nice, where it all started...

One of the advantages of the hotel however was that, given the hugely cosmopolitan nature of the client base – this may seem like a cliché but in my case, the clients really did come from all over the world – it was a real pleasure to chat with them, exchange information about the Riviera and to learn more about their own cultures.

I ended up selling the hotel in March 2007 and am now back in Monaco doing something completely different but still enjoying life here.

I have tried since I moved here in 1989 to glean as much practical information as possible about what to see, do and where to eat in the area, and figured that a blog would be an ideal platform for potential visitors to learn more about the Riviera, beyond the stereotypes of glitz, glamour and Z-list celebrities that may be spread around by the press (with the notable exception of St Tropez in the summer!).

And finally, I have done quite a fair bit of travelling myself, all around the world. Some of these experiences will find their way onto this blog in due course.

Professionally, I have done all sorts of things in addition to owning and running a hotel: after studying in London and York in the UK and living/working in Brussels and Beijing, I returned to live in Monaco in 2002. My experiences here included a role as purchasing manager in textiles, as commercial manager for a company selling Italian food to supermarkets all over France and my last position, in the first half of 2011, as part of the press team at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco helping to promote the Monaco Royal wedding in July, a once in a lifetime experience.

I have also been, since 2003, an active member of the Junior Chamber International in Monaco (JCI Monaco), an amazing global association promoting leadership and entrepreneurship among young people aged under 40. In March 2009, I was fortunate enough to have been elected as National President  of JCI Monaco for 2010 and the organisation has helped me meet some amazing people from all over the world and gain some fabulous experiences, some of which will be recalled in this blog. So I can definitely recommend joining, especially for new residents to meet like-minded people in a friendly atmosphere.

JCI Monaco, an ideal way to meet like-minded young people in Monaco

Anyway, enough talk… I hope you enjoy reading my posts and if you have any feedback, positive or negative, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me – I won’t bite!

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52 thoughts on “Welcome to the French Riviera Blog

  1. Great to read your success story! I have found your blog worth studying in detail, as will visit this area December 1-6, 2012, and for sure will follow your tracks! As former meeting and events manager of 5* international brand hotel in Riga, Latvia (It’s EU), I feel there is a lot of common interest for us. Thank you!

  2. Great blog, Kevin! I very much appreciate your effort and initiative, never mind the wealth of information that can be gleaned from it for visitors and potential residents alike. Chances are that I’ll be in Monaco around the EC 2013, so if you have a gap, I’d love to meet you for a chat and drink.

    Peace and blessings from the Mother City, Cape Town.

  3. Hello Kevin.. I came across your blog this evening when I was browsing to find info about Cap D’Ail as I would like to relocate from Ventimiglia to France suburb… It was very interesting to read and impressed by your entrepreneurial endeavors… I don’t know if you may be interested by a good friend that owns a hotel (family owned) in Ventimiglia across the ‘new’ port is looking for an investor to buy it as they are getting older and can no longer run it… do you know anyone that might be interested? Thanks for keeping us all informed about the “French Riviera”…

  4. Kevin,

    I absolutely love the detail, and incredible pictures, in your blog. My family are planning a trip to Monaco later this summer. Do you have any guides that you would recommend for a personalized tour of the city?

    Art

  5. As a result of your blog, we connected with Boba Vukadinovic, boba@yourguideboba.com, http://www.yourguideboba.com , and had an incredible 4 hour walking tour of “the Rock” and all of it’s treasures. Boba’s depth of knowledge of the history of the country and it’s people is stunning. And she related to the interests of my group spanning 8 to 65 years!. I would highly recommend her for anyone that is interested in any tour of Monaco or any location in the French Riviera. She is a very special person, with a true encyclopedic knowledge of history, and an incredible love of the south of France. Thanks for linking the two of us!

  6. Hi Kevin,
    Just found your blog and am really enjoying. I’d love to talk to you about your writing a guest post for my blog, ProvencePost.com. If you have time and interest, we could bounce some ideas around. My email is provenceblog@aol.com and I’d love to hear from you.
    Thanks!
    Julie

  7. Hello, Kevin,
    I’m planning a trip to Nice with friends next spring, and I came across your blog quite my accident. But I am so happy to find it; it sure will help in providing options that appeal to all of us.
    I do have a question which you may or many not be able to answer. One of my friends has celiac disease and must avoid gluten at all costs. I’m sure this will be a challenge in France. But wondering if you know of any restaurants in Nice and surrounding area that would be able to accommodate this.
    In any case, thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Karen, a friend of mine gave me this website that lists all the non-gluten restaurants in France, here’s the page concerning the French Riviera region http://sortirsansgluten.com/?page=departement.php&dpt=06 – unfortunately there isn’t a huge amount of choice of restaurants.

      Incidentally, my friend also runs a very informative blog in French focusing on good gluten-free products, feel free to recommend this to your friend: http://www.bonsansgluten.com/

      Have a great trip and I hope that the blog can be of assistance in organising it, let me know if you have any further questions and I’ll be happy to help, Kevin

  8. Hi Kevin,

    I just found your blog and have enjoyed getting an “insider’s” perspective on the French Riviera.

    My fiancée and I are considering making a trip to Nice and visiting the surrounding towns (Cannes, Monaco, St-Tropez) next year. Is there any chance you could give me some advice for when to go? We are debating going in early May or early June as we aren’t sure going during the big film festival would be wise. I would appreciate any feedback about travel during these times.

    Thanks,
    Taylor

    • Hi Taylor,

      Thanks for the positive feedback and for the encouragement!

      If you can, and unless you’re a fan of films and/or of fast cars, I’d advise you to avoid the Riviera during the periods of the Cannes film festival/the Monaco Grand Prix. Flight tickets, hotel and restaurant prices are inflated and it’s pretty crowded, especially on the weekend of 24/25 May (F1 GP and the awards ceremony of the film festival). Also avoid Monaco 2 weekends earlier (91 to 11 May) as there’s the Historical Grand Prix next year so the consequences will be similar. If you can, wait until early June (weekend of 31 May) as hotel prices will be a little lower and the weather is likely to be a bit warmer too.

      Any other questions, please let me know.

      Best wishes,
      Kevin

  9. Really enjoy your blog. It’s one of my favourite areas and your illustrated perambulations are always interesting. (Might I suggest you increase the size of your photos, though – they warrant it.) I spend far too much time checking out property for sale with the idea of a bolthole in Menton…But in the meantime, I await your next installment.

    • Hi Colin, Many thanks for your kind and positive feedback! Yes, you will see that I followed your advice regarding the photo size on my latest post of last night about the Cinqueterre villages!

  10. Hi Kevin,
    Love your blog, full of positive energy 🙂
    Do you have an email where I can send you details of 3 flats I owned on the beautiful rue St Francois de Paule ? I am renting them occasionally and would make a special offer to your followers, if you think they are nice enough of course.
    Best,
    Philippe

  11. Hi Kevin,

    I’m really impressed by your blog. I came across it because I’m an editor for a company that produces in-depth reports on world countries for students. I’m looking for someone who lives in Monaco to review our current report. If you’d be interested in this paid project, please contact me at your earliest convenience. Hope to hear from you!

  12. I have a blog called Southern Fried French, we live in Burgundy. We are in Cap Ferrat for a while, we come every year. So happy to find your blog! Your post on the Italian market was just what I was looking for, will go this week.

  13. Mr.Hin,
    I am trying to register to receive your newsletter. Could you please let me know how to do that ?
    Thank you,
    Céline

    • Hi Céline, sorry but I don’t have a newsletter – just press the “follow” button on this blog and you will automatically be notified when there I post a new article, like just now!

  14. Super blog ,gave us a good start for things to do and see while in Nice ,Monaco and Italy. I don’t think we could have packed so much in to our weeks holiday if it wasn’t for your recommendations! Thank you .

  15. Kevin,
    First of all a Happy and healthy New year 2015 !
    I am planning to return to the south of France in the springtime. I am trying to find a café, coffee shop in Monaco where it would be possible to buy soup or sandwich.
    As I will be traveling solo, I want a small place where I won’t feel ” out of place “!
    Do you know if it is possible to eat something at the ” Salon de Thé ” of the Chocolaterie on Place de la Visitation ?
    Thank you, Merci,
    Céline

    • Hi Céline,

      Happy new year to you too! The Chocolaterie is nice, but I don’t think they actually have anything except from chocolate on the spot – there are some other places in the Old Town where you can get a sandwich but they are a bit more touristy, without being horrendously bad.

      I reckon the best small places for people watching are the small coffee shops lining the Place d’Armes market square at the foot of the Old Town, you can eat both outdoors and indoors at reasonable prices and they are pretty cosy. Another very nice and small place, just up the road (one block from the local Starbucks), is Emilie’s Cookies http://www.emiliescookies.com/monaco.php , which is very friendly and cosy – they have home-made cookies but also sandwiches and other savoury food.
      Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions,
      Kevin

  16. Wow…what an exciting lifestyle.. really enjoyed 🙂 Personally, I believe french riviera is far more beautiful than Paris… weird I know. But really, people of Southern France are much more welcoming and more cosmopolitan. Had a great time there. 😀

  17. Hi Kevin! Discovered your blog via Instagram and would love to invite you to join Tripbod, a TripAdvisor team that works with local experts around the world to help travelers plan their perfect trip. We are always looking for travel-lovers and local experts around the world to join the community and take part in paid projects for TripAdvisor, so do let me know how I can contact you with more info – or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

    – Nina

  18. hi Kevin, we plan to spend 3 days at early Aug at arear around Ville Franche-sur-mer and Monaco. Would you recommend we book a hotel room at Monaco or elsewhere as the base and then do day trips by car?

    Rachel

    • Hi Rachel, it depends if you have a car or not. If not, I would recommend to stay in Nice and then do day trips around the area by train or by local bus – or if you have a bit more of a budget, stay in Monaco or the neighbouring town of Beausoleil as long as you’re close to Monaco train station. If you do have a car, it makes things a bit more flexible, then you can stay in Villefranche or one of the nearby villages and visit some of the hinterlands as well. Hope this helps, best wishes, Kevin

  19. Hi Kevin. Happy New Year from New Zealand! You have a great blog and very informative too. How about an article based on where to go/what to see using public transport -for those of us who don’t drive. And it would be great to have a little write-up about some mid-range, good value hotels in Nice or VSM (coming from NZ we have to be very organised and sometimes need to book a year in advance). Keep up the good work please.

    • Hi Johanna, actually public transport is going to be my next article, as soon as I have a moment to write it up, 2016 is going to be a very busy year for me! Happy new year to you too from Monaco!

  20. Hello Kevin, so pleased to have discovered this blog. Have been to your area a few times but reading about your travel and local info makes me realise it’s been far too long since I last visited. You will definitely provide inspiration for my next holiday in that wonderful area. Thanks, Jen x

  21. Hi Kevin. I’ve enjoyed reading your articles about the Côte d’Azur. I’m actually in the area at the moment to record interviews for our podcast. I wonder if you’d be willing to take part in an interview? I’d be grateful if you could get in touch with me. Many thanks, Mark.

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