This is a beautiful photo illustrating the elegance of the city of Genoa in Italy and the lovely Piazza Ferrari. Located only around 2 hours drive from Nice, this lovely coastal city, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, has had plenty of influence on the historical development of the eastern part of the French Riviera, notably Monaco. Its UNESCO heritage city center is unforgettable, as are the views and the food. I’m planning to write a proper article over the coming weeks about my recent visit, so watch this space!
THE iconic angle looking west over Monaco, taken from the former Vista Palace hotel in Roquebrune, an eagle’s nest perched 330m above the Mediterranean. To get here, you need a car and drive up towards the motorway access ramp in the direction of Italy – lots of construction work near the hotel which is being rebuilt going on but it is worth it, especially at sunset!
Forget the bling-fest that is normally associated with the French Riviera. I much prefer the down to earth way of life that has made this area thrive from generation to generation… And what better way to discover this than by walking through a typical market where the locals buy fresh produce that ensures that the best products end up on their dinner tables? This weekend I visited Menton and had a lovely walk through the local market, a great way to get a feel of the real French Riviera!
Beautiful February sunset captured in Monaco! One of the unfortunate particularities here is that you never actually see the sun set as the Principality faces east towards the sea and the sun drops down in the evening behind the 550m wall of the Tête de Chien mountain located to the west. However there are certain evenings, especially in winter, where the cloud patterns over the Italian mountains capture the final rays of the setting sun and set the sky on fire in a truly splendid manner – this is a perfect example and great to reminisce over as I fly towards Sofia in Bulgaria, my home for the next 5 days (perhaps some of the next daily pictures will come from there!).
It’s the start of the week and I’m already thinking of escaping! Actually, one of the great advantages of the French Riviera is that it’s really easy to escape plenty of wonderful places within a short drive, especially in Italy, something I take advantage of a lot. Each time I drive down the motorway, past Menton, into this tunnel and emerge from the tunnel into Italy, I definitely feel like I’m experiencing the dolce vita as one can immediately feel the change of vibe and scenery, even on the motorway. I recall in the 1980s when I came here on holiday crossing the border by train, having a passport check and then changing money from French francs into lira – so much nicer no longer to have all that hassle, I hope that we don’t go back on this in the future as from a purely practical perspective, a united Europe is brilliant!
This rather bizarre lunar landscape caused by both sea and wind erosion can be observed at the tip of Cap Martin, between Monaco and Menton. On a stormy day, the views looking west towards Tête de Chien and Cap Ferrat in the distance are particularly stunning! The walk from Monaco to Menton via the tip of Cap Ferrat takes around 3 hours along the Sentier des Douaniers and is a great breath of fresh air, just make sure that you bring plenty of sun cream and water in the summer – find out more in this article.
Place Massena in Nice early on a January morning, bathed in the winter sunshine… The main square of Nice, located just 2 minutes from the Promenade des Anglais, is named after André Massena, duke of Rivoli, a Napoleonic general born in the city in 1758 when it was still part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Built over the mouth of the Paillon river on the ancient location of the “Pont Neuf”, it achieved its current look in 2007 when it was pedestrianised for the construction of the Nice tram line and is now the major hub of the city and where most major events take place, such as the Carnival in a couple of weeks. Some people dislike the modern sculptures (which are undoubtedly a hub for bird droppings!) but I personally like the cleaner appearance of the current square and feel that it really represents the vibes of this unique city. Read more about Nice in the essential guide of Nice in a nutshell.
The hinterlands of the French Riviera are absolutely outstanding both in terms of natural beauty and architectural splendour and give an extra depth to a visit to this beautiful part of the world. Each valley has its own particular character, none more so than the Roya river valley that stretches in the extreme eastern part of the Maritime Alps, between France and Italy. A summer visit is an ideal way to escape the summer heat and there are some absolute gems, such as La Brigue, a medieval village tucked away just off the main road, and Notre Dame des Fontaines, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Southern Alps” thanks to its beautiful 15th century frescoes, which I will be covering in this article although there is much more to see.
This excursion that can easily be done in a day from the coastline in Nice or Monaco or else on the way up to Turin and Piemonte in Italy and will enable you to discover some spectacular mountain scenery without having to take any difficult mountain roads, whilst enjoy some great food and drink and simply enjoy the culture shock compared to the busy resorts of the coastline.
Every summer all across the French Riviera coastline, the night sky is lit up by hundreds of spectacular colours and festive bangs to celebrate the balmy weather and the holiday season. The Principality of Monaco is no exception, since pretty much every evening around midnight, a short fireworks display is launched during the Sporting Club summer festival after each concert for the benefit of the viewing public who have paid for the privilege.
But in terms of fireworks, the centrepiece remains the Monaco International Fireworks Competition (officially the “Concours international de feux d’artifice pyromélodiques de Monaco”) which blocks off the whole town for 20 minutes of magic set to synchronised (the organisers hope!) music, highlighting the talents of fireworks artists from all around the world – obviously everything is free!
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