Picture of the Day: the Monegasque barbaguian

When I’m asked what sort of typical dishes one can eat in Monaco, the barbaguian is the first thing that springs to mind! This delicious snack is made out of a very light pastry stuffed with a mix of Swiss chard (blettes in French, a kind of spinach), then fried until golden brown. The origin is of course under debate between the local villages but the general consensus is that it’s mainly a speciality from Monaco… You can find them in the market at the Place d’Armes and in the A Roca stores amongst others but generally the best ones are to be found at the Bar Américain of the Hotel de Paris or at the Café de Paris, bon appétit!

Picture of the Day: the Café de Paris – in Macau!

The influence of the French Riviera truly stretches all around the world! I’m currently touring around East Asia and was pretty surprised when I came across a subsidiary of the glamorous Café de Paris of Monte Carlo, not on Casino Square but in the lobby of the palatial Galaxy Hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau in southern China, also a global gambling capital. Was very happy to see a nice sculpture of the late Princess Grace and some vibes back from home, even on the opposite side of the world by the Pacific Ocean…

Picture of the Day: sunset over Eze

Pure serenity in the Mediterranean air on a blissful evening! Driving back home after a perfect afternoon this weekend in Villefranche, Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu, I stopped over on the quiet road at the entrance of the Cap Estel Hotel and snapped this lovely sunset looking back over Cap Ferrat and Cap Roux in the foreground. Wishing everyone an amazing week!

Picture of the Day: the waterfront of Villefranche sur Mer

It certainly already feels like spring, now that March is upon us and yesterday I decided to go on a lovely day trip around Villefranche, Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu under the sunshine. Why not do the same today and enjoy a nice lazy Sunday lunch sitting on a table by the water, like the people on this picture? Check out l’Oursin Bleu there, lunch there was amazing and I’ll be posting a full review on it soon. In the meantime, to optimise your day in Villefranche, check out this in depth blog article and have a wonderful Sunday!

Picture of the Day: Prince Albert I of Monaco

The western side of the Rock of Monaco really has the stamp of Prince Albert I, who reigned from 1889 to 1922 and was also known as the “Navigator Prince”. Nowadays his statue is in a prime position in the beautiful St Martin gardens, directly overlooking the museum who he initiated and opened in 1910, the world-famous Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Find out more about the Prince and the museum in this article, it’s a great way to spend this beautiful Sunday!

Restaurant review: Valentin, Monaco, a hidden gem in the heart of Monte-Carlo

A great place with a true heart and soul to unwind after work or have a quick business lunch, hidden away in the centre of Monte-Carlo

It’s not easy to find good, reasonably-priced places to go out after work in Monaco, especially in the Monte-Carlo neighbourhood where plenty of offices are located, unless you are willing to break the bank! But I recently discovered Valentin, a wine bar and restaurant and a little gem of a place hidden in the heart of Monte Carlo, just behind the Allées Lumière bus stop at the back of the mini shopping centre opposite the tourist office.

Opened in 2012 by Pier and Simona, a couple of passionate Italian restaurateurs who used to run a hotel-restaurant in the village of Triora just across the border in Liguria, it’s a great place for a quick and reasonable lunch if you are working in Monaco, with a new “plat du jour” every day. Continue reading

The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco: the Principality’s legendary temple of the sea!

 

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For over a hundred years, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco has been one of the jewels in the crown for tourists in the Principality thanks to its famous aquarium and an international reputation. However, there is much more to this venerable institution than just a spectacular shark tank and some exotic stuffed animals – walking around the impressive marble walls of this beautiful building, you are treated to a journey through time and space and can really sense the passion of the man whose brainchild this museum is, Prince Albert I of Monaco. This in-depth article will obviously guide you through the main attractions of the museum but first it’s important to understand the historical context and the contribution that the museum is still making to the conservation of the oceans around the world.    Continue reading

Enjoying a hassle-free Monaco F1 Grand Prix experience: a full practical guide for first-time visitors

(C) K. Hin

The Monaco Grand Prix is probably the biggest and most prestigious regular event on the French Riviera calendar, ahead of the Cannes Film Festival and the Carnival of Nice. Each year, it brings a magical atmosphere to the Principality, really kick-starting the summer season with plenty of private parties on the yachts in the harbour, a very cosmopolitan atmosphere and huge amounts of visitors (and therefore VAT income for the Monegasque government!). Of course, the Grand Prix completely changes the face of the Principality for 3 months, as the roads are full of temporary grandstands, crash barriers, tyres and blockades which are prepared two months in advance and take a month to dismantle afterwards, so there are huge logistics behind the event, the statistics provided by the Automobile Club of Monaco are impressive (see the “presentation” tab). Since the turn of the millennium, there has also been a Historic Grand Prix, which runs every even-numbered year two weeks before the main race, rather interesting to remind spectators of the race’s heritage as the first Monaco Grand Prix was run in 1929, though the first official race in the Formula 1 calendar was in 1950. And in 2015, the first electric Grand Prix, run by FIA under the name “EPrix” took place took two weeks before the F1 event and now also runs every two years.

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On the golden trail of the mimosa trees in Tanneron: an early spring hike in the Var

Tanneron (C) K. Hin

At the start of every year, from December to March, the sunny hills on the western side of the Alpes Maritimes spring alive in a golden explosion, thanks to the blooming of the mimosa trees, with their bright yellow flowers. The tiny village of Tanneron in the Var department is the hub of this “mimosa trail”. Having had a brief walk around there in 2004, I decided to go on a proper hike in the area and see this golden vision for myself…

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Day trip to Saint Paul de Vence, Vence and Saint Jeannet: a taste of Provence just a stone’s throw away from Nice

St Paul Ramparts (C) K. Hin

The legendary ancient Provençal village of Saint Paul de Vence is an ideal destination for a day trip away from the coastline of the French Riviera, especially if you are feeling in an arty mood and want to discover a different side of the area without having to travel too far. Saint Paul ticks all the boxes of Provence stereotypes, as depicted in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence – old men playing pétanque, beautiful views over the hills, manicured gardens, communal laundry troughs, squares with brown stone fountains, small alleyways and expensive art galleries – but does it all in incomparable style. In the following itinerary, I combine the fairytale beauty of Saint Paul with the more down to earth charm of nearby Vence, both easily accessible by public transport from Nice, but if you are travelling by car, I’ve added an extension to the surprising village of Saint Jeannet.

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