ENTER THE WORLD OF THE LITTLE PRINCE AT FRANCE’S NEWEST AMUSEMENT PARK

Article publié aujourd’hui dans Riviera Buzz (article published this morning in Riviera Buzz).

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The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s golden–haired character may have turned 100 last year, but his popularity shows no sign of decline.

Alongside Astérix, our Petit Prince has the rare honour of having an amusement park named after him. It’s also thefirst aerial park in the world, and only just opened on the 1st of July this year.

Saint-Exupéry’s timeless classic has been translated into more than 270 languages and sold over 150 million copies around the globe, making it one of the most read books. While there is a feature length film and an opera about his adventures currently in the works, this new theme park intends to take children into a poetic and philosophic journey that will help them see what is really important in life.

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Located in Ungersheim, in the heart of the Alsace region, just 50 kilometers away from the Swiss border and 15km from the German border, the 24-hectare park is more about slowing down and appreciating the little things around us than big thrills.

Among the 31 attractions based on the theme of flight – Saint-Exupéry was first and foremost an aviator and theLittle Prince a space explorer, – there are no roller coasters or scary rides. Instead, one finds hot-air balloons that take visitors 150 meters into the sky to enjoy superb views over the Vosges mountainsflying chairs, a largebiplane from the 1940’s, slides, a labyrinth of roses, a butterfly garden, a farm featuring baby foxes, a herd of sheep and a Border Collie, as well as four movie theaters offering films in 2D, 3D and 4D about deep-sea mysteries and the world of the Little Prince.

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“I know a planet where there is a certain red-face gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, I am busy with matters of consequence”, noted the Little Prince after meeting a businessman. At this new theme park, while their kids follow in the young hero’s footsteps, adults will also be reminded of what it is like to be a child again … and that’s what the Little Prince is all about!

The park is open from 10 am to 7 pm until the 31st of August and then from 10 am to 6 pm from the 1st of September to the 31st of October. Tickets cost €22 for adults and €16 for children, and all of the activities are offered in both French and German.

CONTACT DETAILS
Le Parc du Petit Prince
68190 Ungersheim
Haut-Rhin

All images courtesy Le Parc du Petit Prince website

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/travel/item/719-little-prince-amusement-park.html

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Première Participation à un Concours de nouvelles – First Participation in a Short-story contest

En début d’année, j’ai participé pour la première fois à un concours de nouvelles organisé par la Vie des Livres. Mon texte “Un locataire encombrant” est arrivé 3ème ex-æquo. Earlier this year, I participated for the first time in a short-story contest organized by La Vie des Livres. My text ” Un locataire encombrant” finished tied for 3rd place. 

la vie des livres

Un colocataire encombrant

Deux mois. Il fallait que je tienne deux mois. Cela a été ma première pensée lorsque l’on m’a annoncé que nous allions devoir cohabiter, toi et moi, dans mon petit chez moi.

Sur le moment cela m’a paru insupportable, je dois bien le reconnaitre. Après tout, nous ne nous connaissions pas. J’avais certes entendu parler de toi au détour de quelques conversations, tu ne m’étais pas complètement inconnu, et je connaissais ta réputation. Mais je n’aurais jamais imaginé que nos chemins se croiseraient un jour. Pas maintenant en tout cas.

Mais puisque je n’avais pas vraiment le choix, je me suis fait une raison. Finalement avoir de la compagnie allait me faire du bien. Depuis mon retour en France après 9 ans passés en Californie, je recherchais un sens à ma vie. Entre un nouveau travail décevant et une vie sociale à reconstruire, je ne savais plus trop qui j’étais, ce que je voulais. Ma vie américaine était derrière moi mais je n’étais pas encore vraiment redevenue française.

Les questions étaient nombreuses, les réponses, en revanche avaient du mal à se dessiner. Alors je courrais dans toutes les directions. Je saisissais toutes les occasions, me dispersais, et à force de tout vouloir, de tout essayer, je me perdais.

Tu n’étais que de passage, tu ne donnais pas l’impression de chercher une relation à long terme, les risques étaient donc limités. Nous ne deviendrions pas amis, les choses étaient claires dès le départ, mais je pouvais bien faire des efforts et apprendre à te connaître. Ce que tu attendais de moi m’importait peu. J’allais faire contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur et mettre tout en œuvre pour que cette situation que l’on m’imposait se déroule au mieux. Alors j’ai mis mes projets de voyage de côté. J’ai cessé de sortir à tout va et me suis concentrée sur une autre personne que moi. Toi !

Puis, alors que je pensais être bientôt débarrassée de toi, on m’a annoncé que tu allais rester plus longtemps. Six ou sept mois de plus, ça restait vague et ce n’était pas négociable. La nouvelle m’a fait l’effet d’une bombe. Pourtant, j’avais bien compris ces dernières semaines que tu te sentais à l’aise chez moi. Tu prenais de plus en plus de place et sans que je m’en rende compte, progressivement, mon chez moi était en train de devenir ton chez toi.

Une nouvelle fois, j’ai encaissé le coup. Une nouvelle fois, je n’ai pas trop voulu montrer mon trouble mais la vérité est que je commençais à avoir peur. Et si ces six ou sept mois se prolongeaient encore ? Aurai-je le courage de résister ? Ne finirais-tu pas devenir le maitre des lieux ?

Pourtant, il faut bien que je sois honnête, notre cohabitation s’était plutôt bien passée jusqu’ici. J’avais imaginé le pire mais tu t’étais bien comporté. Tu étais parfaitement fidèle au portrait que l’on m’avait fait de toi, j’aurais pu « plus mal tomber ». Mais voilà, je n’ai jamais aimé les surprises et je voulais retrouver ma petite vie d’avant. Rentrer le soir du boulot et m’effondrer sur le canapé puis regarder des inepties à la télé sans avoir à faire la conversation à quiconque. Manger ce que je veux sans avoir à me soucier des désirs d’un autre. Rester au lit toute la journée ou au contraire partir sur un coup de tête en Italie. En bref, n’avoir de rendre de comptes à personne d’autre que moi.

C’est marrant comme d’un seul coup cette existence qui me paraissait si fade juste deux mois auparavant, devenait maintenant un idéal à retrouver. Je n’avais plus l’impression d’avoir fait le mauvais choix en tout quittant pour recommencer à zéro. Ma vie n’était pas parfaite, certes, mais c’était la mienne, celle que je m’étais bâtie des deux côtés de l’océan. Et je l’aimais cette petite vie, j’en avais maintenant vraiment conscience !

Alors j’ai serré les dents et me suis accrochée. J’avais bien tenu deux mois déjà, même si cela me coûtait, je pouvais bien jouer les prolongations. Je n’étais pas la première à qui l’on imposait une cohabitation non-voulue, je pouvais le faire ! On apprend de toute situation, et celle que tu m’imposais allait sans doute me rendre plus forte. Je l’espérais en tout cas et j’ai à nouveau courbé l’échine.

Mais rapidement tu es devenu plus agressif et mes bonnes intentions ont volé en éclats. Je m’étais pourtant montrée conciliante jusque-là, trop gentille sans doute, et toi, tu en voulais encore plus. C’est vrai que cela aurait été idiot de ta part de ne pas en profiter. Je t’avais laissé entrer chez moi, sans le vouloir au départ soit, mais à présent tu étais là et bien là, confiant et triomphant.

Subrepticement, insidieusement, tu avais pris le dessus sans que je m’en rende compte vraiment. Moi qui aimais tout planifier, je ne contrôlais plus rien. Je ne me reconnaissais plus dans cette personne qui laissait un autre décider pour elle. Ma vie était devenue la tienne. Je vivais au gré de ton rythme et de tes désirs. Tu me définissais à présent et comme dans un vieux couple, nous ne faisions plus qu’un.

Même mes amis ont commencé à prendre peur. Je ne sortais plus sans toi et même chez moi, lorsque je te croyais assoupi, affaibli, tu revenais toujours à un moment donné te rappeler à notre bon souvenir. Ton omniprésence les impressionnait et certains en ont profité pour prendre la tangente. Pas tous heureusement et je dois à ceux qui sont restés d’avoir trouvé en moi la force de me sortir de ces mauvais draps!

Cette situation n’avait que trop duré, il fallait maintenant que j’affronte la réalité, avec la tête froide et un moral d’acier. Alors je me suis retroussée les manches, et de victime passive, je suis devenue soldat. Te chasser de chez moi est devenu mon seul objectif, ma lutte de chaque minute. Il était hors de questions que je te laisse gagner plus de terrain, j’allais récupérer ce qui m’appartenait. Dans cette guerre que je t’avais déclaré, il n’y aurait qu’un seul vainqueur. Toi ou moi, il n’y avait pas de solution intermédiaire.

J’ai alors tout encaissé, tout accepté pour pouvoir m’en sortir. La route a été longue, plus d’une fois j’ai trébuché et si j’y ai laissé beaucoup de moi, je savais que le jeu en valait la chandelle. Ma vie d’avant, celle que j’aimais tant à présent, m’attendait au bout du chemin. Alors, même avec dix kilos de moins, chauve, à moitié aveugle et à bout de force, j’y ai toujours crû et je n’ai rien lâché.

Tu avais pris de l’avance sur moi dans ce combat mais avec la foi et la volonté on peut soulever des montagnes, je le sais maintenant. Quinze mois jour pour jour après avoir pris possession de mon corps, tu prenais enfin tes clics et tes clacs. J’allais enfin laissé derrière moi les longues heures à l’hôpital, les tests douloureux et les traitements invalidants. J’avais gagné, je t’avais enfin chassé de chez moi.

Cancer, tu peux maintenant aller voir ailleurs, je suis à nouveau une femme libre. Tu m’as fait comprendre à quel point ma vie était belle et valait la peine d’être vécue. J’ai bien retenu la leçon, ce n’est pas la peine de revenir. Ma porte t’est désormais fermée.

http://www.pearltrees.com/laviedeslivres/concours-nouvelles-vie-livres/id11717050

NICE’S MOST FAMOUS UNSOLVED CASE HITS CINEMAS THIS SUMMER

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

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The story of the disappearance of a glamorous heiress in Nice, a case which remains unsolved to this day, hits the big screens this summer.

Long before the sordid murder of Monaco’s wealthiest woman became a sensational tabloid case recently, another tale of seductionmoney and betrayal among the French Riviera’s rich and famous made the headlines of all the local newspapers: the infamous Le Roux Affair. Today, famed director André Téchiné, the man behind Ma saison préférée  and Les rosaux sauvages, is revisiting this family drama in his latest film L’homme qu’on aimait trop, staring Adèle HaenelGuillaume Canet and Catherine Deneuve and shot mostly on location in Nice last year.

Released last Wednesday to mostly positive reviews, the movie has all the elements that make for a gripping story: a bitter casino war, a love triangle, an unsolved disappearance, a possible involvement of the French Connection… Sometimes reality is definitely stranger than fiction!

It all started some 37 years ago, when Agnès Le Roux, the glamorous daughter of the owner of the Palais de la Mediterranée, disappeared at the wheel of her Range Rover. At the time, Le Roux had been romantically involved with Maurice Agnelet, a lawyer and a serial womaniser, who convinced her to vote against her mother, a former model who also once dated Agnelet and was running the family-owned casino since the death of her husband, at a board meeting. This betrayal led to the take-over of the casino by Dominique Fratoni, the owner of Le Ruhl. Agnès received three million francs in return from Fratoni, but soon after the money was transferred to Agnelet’s private account, the lawyer decided to end their relationship and the heiress mysteriously vanished.

In 2007, Maurice Agnelet was sentenced to 20 years in prison after his third trial, but a few years later, a former mafia member, Jean Pierre Hernandiez, claimed that the real culprit was instead Jeannot Lucchesi, a well-known figure from the Marseille underworld, without however providing any real evidence to support his accusations.

Earlier this year, Agnelet, now 76 years old, was found guilty of the murder for the second time after his own son testified against him, and is back behind bars. However, in the absence of any witnesses and with the body of the victim still to be found, doubts remain as to identity of the culprit, and while Téchiné’s movie does a good job recreating the Nice of the 70’s, it deliberately refrains from providing an answer.

L’homme qu’on aimait trop is currently playing in cinemas all over France.

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/on-the-town/entertainment/item/710-le-roux-drama-part-2.html

 

NOT SO LOST IN TRANSLATION IN JAPAN

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

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Another perspective of this beautiful country with a culture and civilisation that is very different to ours, but so spell-binding at the same time.

When Lorraine Davidson wrote an article about her trip to Japan earlier last year, I, like half the people I have talked to since, had no intention of visiting that country, at least not in the near future, as many other foreign destinations seemed to me way more appealing. I really enjoy Haruki Murakami’s books and indulge in sushi every now and then, but I have never been by any means what you would call a Japanophile. But I listened with interest to what Lorraine had to say and after finding out that many people in my inner circle were actually big fans of the country, I decided to jump the fence and to book myself a plane ticket for the Land of the Rising Sun.

And what a good idea it has been. I have travelled to many far remote places such as IndiaLatin America andLibya, but never before that trip have I experienced such a big culture shock and be blown away by anothercivilization.

Being in Japan in April during the cherry blossom season, the country’s iconic sakura, certainly added a festive and magical twist to my trip, as everywhere I went, I was surrounded by blankets of beautiful pink and white flowers and people were out celebrating. Knowing exactly when the trees will be in full bloom is not an easy task as the dates change every year, and differ from one part of the country to another. There are a few websites that can help you track down the weather forecast for each season and if you are a bit flexible, you can easily plan your trip accordingly. That said, Japan is a country that can be visited anytime of the year, and I have been told that fall with the maple trees gradually turning from a beautiful green into yellow, orange, and finally a shiny red, is also particularly beautiful.

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Aside from picking the best dates to visit the country, planning your trip ahead of time is also helpful for saving big bucks on transportation, as when you start doing some traveling, this is usually where the bulk of your budget is spent. Luckily, the Japan Rail Pass, which can only be purchased from outside the country and is sold in 7, 14, and 21 day increments, allows you unlimited travel on almost all JR trains, including all bullet trains, theShinkansens. Upon purchase, you will be given a receipt, which can be exchanged at Japan Rail Offices at most stations in Japan (including all of the stations nearest to airports), for the Japan Rail Pass itself. You will save both a lot of time and money!

On the other hand and contrary to what most people may thing, eating in Japan is relatively inexpensive and so you should have plenty of occasions to sample a lot of different dishes in a very nice atmosphere. In Japanese culture, you eat with your eyes first so the visual presentation is almost as important as the taste of the food itself.

Japan offers a wide range of types of accommodation and for a perfect cultural experience, you should try at least one night in a Ryokan, a type of traditional Japanese inn that features tatami-matted rooms, traditional food, public baths and opulent meals. Or why not check in to a capsule hotel that basically contains nothing but a bed, a television, a shared bathroom and some coin lockers.

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It is also true that a majority of Japanese people do not speak English, and since most signs are in Japanese and the streets do not always have a name, it can be a bit difficult to find your way around. But thankfully, Japanese people are also very helpful and do not hesitate to go out of their way to show you the right direction. As far restaurants, you will also usually find food models in the windows so even though the menus are in Japanese, you can always grab a staff member and point to what you want.

As long as you respect the etiquette and do not commit any big behavioral faux pas, people will treat you with upmost respect. Thank God some of my friends are familiar with all the do’s and don’ts of Japanese society, and they gave me some very good advice ahead of my trip. I thus knew that eating while walking down a street is considered rude and that leaving the chopsticks sticking straight-up in the food is a big no-no.

With that in mind, I was set to go, and if two weeks are not enough to discover all that the country has to offer, I nevertheless came back from my trip with wonderful memories and beautiful images engraved in my mind.

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In Hiroshima, it was hard not to get emotional while visiting the National Museum of Peace, which tells the story of the bombing of the city by the Americans from the perspective of the victims. Without forgetting the role Japan played during War World II, the goal is to educate the public about the devastating effects of nuclear weapons. Aside from the many people who died when the bomb was dropped, many more developed illnesses in the following years due to radiation. One of those victims was Sadako Sasaki who was two years old in 1945 but came down with radiation-induced leukemia at the age of twelve. When hospitalized, Sadako folded paper cranes, which according to Japanese legend gives one health and longevity if one folds 1,000 of them. Sadako did not survive but a statute today pays tribute to her memory and that of all the other young victims of that tragic event. A few meters away, theAtomic Bomb Dome (pictured above) which what was once the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Halland is the only monument still standing, is a chilling reminder of all the horrors of that fateful 6th of August, 1945.

Less than an hour away, Miyajima Island with its “floating tori gate” (see below) is definitively one of the most scenic spots in Japan. This is where I tasted the region’s culinary specialty, the Okonomiyaki, a thick savory pancake stuffed with cabbage, bean sprouts and meat or seafood that is being prepared right in front of you. Yummy!

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In Osaka, I got blinded by all the neon signs and in Kyoto, I got overwhelmed by the beauty of all the temples and the tranquility of the philosophers’ path which followed a canal lined up by hundreds of cherry trees. Not too far away, the ancient capital city of Nara is a must-see destination, with its numerous historic treasures and so is theFushimi-Inari Shrine (pictured above) with its countless arcades of vermilion torii spread across a mountainous path.

The more I traveled around, the more I fell in love with the country. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, and before I knew it I had to fly back to France. I do not know if I will be able to return to Japan anytime soon, but in the meantime, I have decided to learn Japanese while of course keeping on enjoying Murakami’s books and my regular dose of sushi!

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http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/travel/item/697-japan.html

THE MANY LIVES OF ROMAIN GARY

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

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Famed author Romain Gary would have turned 100 this year, and Nice, like the rest of France, is commemorating this special anniversary.

war hero, an ambassador of France, a world-renowned writer…Romain Gary’s mother had many hopes and dreams for her son, and sacrificed everything for him. Sadly, she dies before she sees her only child succeed beyond what would have been her wildest expectations.

Romain Gary is indeed much more than just one of France’s most successful authors. Born Romain Kacew to a single mother of Jewish origin, he grew up fatherless first in the Russian empire and then successively in Vilnius,Warsaw and Nice. After fighting in the air force during World War II, he was awarded the Legion of Honour and theOrdre de la Libération among many other medals, became French General Consul in Los Angeles and published over fifty novels under five different names.

Often considered as an eccentric character despite his refined manners, Gary was also a womanizer. First married to British writer Lesley Branch, he then took as his second wife American actress Jean Seberg, with whom he had a son, Diego.

A man of mysteries, he is also the author of what is probably to this day France’s biggest literary hoax when he became the first and only writer to receive the prestigious Prix Goncourt twice. According to the rules of theGoncourt academy, this annual award for the best novel written in French can only be given once in a lifetime but Gary, who had already received the prize in 1956 for Les racines du ciel, managed to fool the academy when he published La vie devant soi under the pen name Emil Ajar in 1975.

If some critics saw some similarities between the works of Gary with that of Ajar and expressed doubts as to the identity of the later, the secret was only divulged in 1980 in the suicide note the author left behind which ended with those words: “I have had a lot of fun. Good-bye and thank you.”

Last December, the mayor of NiceChristian Estrosi, unveiled a plaque on the façade of the former Pension Mermonts, the small family hotel run by Gary’s mother , at 7 rue François Grosso. Meanwhile, theÉditions Gallimard are publishing the author’s books in their La Pléiade collection, which gathers only the greatest names of literature, and are releasing the first book he ever wrote, Le vin des morts, which had never been made public before.

Who knows what Romain Gary would have become next had he not committed suicide? He was still pretty young (66) when he took his own life but for someone who has been carried from an early age by the dreams of a doting mother, maybe that love was too strong. As he wrote in La promesse de l’aube, a beautiful ode to his adopted country, France, and a splendid tribute to his mother:

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http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/local-buzz/item/687-romain-gary-remembered.html

DESMOND TUTU AND HIS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT HONOURED IN MONACO

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

tutu

Truly a legend in his own time, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was recently in Monaco as part of the 54th Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo.

Like every year, the Monaco TV festival has been flooded with glitz and glamour since it opened last Saturday, with an array of stars of the small screen walking the red carpet to the delight of screaming fans.

Regardless of who wins one of the coveted Golden Nymph awards on Wednesday, the big star of the 2014 edition is definitely archbishop and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize LaureateDesmond Tutu who, alongside H.S.H Prince Albert II, attended the world premiere of the documentary made about his life, Children of the Light, on Sunday night last.

Narrated by the great man’s own daughter, Naomi Tutu, the film not only shows the crucial role played by the archbishop first in the fight against apartheid and then in his country’s reconciliation process, it also takes us around the globe – South Africa, Burma, East Timor, India and Peru – to see the work of five young activists who have been inspired by the example of Tutu.

I am humbled that my life and my work can be the inspiration even one person needs to commit to making a meaningful act,” said Tutu. “As one human family, we need to create change every single day because it is each one of our small acts, added together, that truly will have the power to change the world.”

This feature-length documentary film is part of a series about Nobel Peace prize winners – the first one is aboutRigoberta Menchú-Tum of Guatemala was released in May 2012 while the next one about the Dalai Lama of Tibetis expected in December 2015 – and is produced by PeaceJam Foundation, an organization which has been promoting the involvement of young people in their communities to make the world a better place through the mentorship of 13 Nobel Peace Laureates for the last eighteen years.

On the 29th of May, it launched its One Billion Acts of Peace campaign to tackle the most important problems facing our planet and earlier on Sunday, it also held its very first PeaceJam Youth Conference in Monte-Carlo.

Lead image © Kristen Opalinski on Wikimedia Commons; licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/news/item/678-desmond-tutu-in-monaco.html

THE ABANDONED VILLA CAMELINE, ONE OF NICE’S BEST CONTEMPORARY ART VENUES

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

villa

What do you do with an old Belle Époque villa which has lain abandoned for years, home to numerous squatters, and covered with graffiti?

Hélène and François Fincker, who acquired the Villa Cameline, also known as the “maison abandonée”, in 2002, and opened it to the public a year later, have found an original solution: They have created an alternative avenuethat is slowly but surely becoming a major place for modern art thanks to a positive word of mouth. Their goal is clear: promoting all forms of contemporary creation through temporary exhibits in a house that stull bears the traces of the successive squatters.

Exhibitions are organized about four times a year, and the villa, which is otherwise empty, welcomes young and talented artists who haven’t yet found their place in galleries or museums. There they can let their creativity run wild in the midst of angels made of stucco, old chandeliers and other frescoes.

All the artists have their own universe and through the diversity of their means of expressions and methods, they offer unconventional experiences that can be funny or thought provoking, but always imaginative and very much “out of the box”.

The 2014 season started on the 18th of March and after the pictures of Antibes native Olivier Calvel and then the works of Ève Pietruschi and Rébecca François (pictured above), art afficionados will have a chance to discover the drawings of François Paris until the end of May, and then the light-heartedness and naiveté of 
Anthony Gripon, from the 6th to the 27th of June, 2014.

But the villa is not solely a part-time art gallery, it is also a place where one can attend public lectures, and this coming 14th of September at 5 pm, a tribute to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of famed authorMarguerite Duras, has been organized.

CONTACT DETAILS
Maison Abandonnée
Villa Cameline
43, avenue Monplaisir
06100 Nice

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/arts-culture/item/656-villa-cameline-in-nice.html

FORT DE BRÉGANÇON TO OPEN TO THE PUBLIC THIS JUNE

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

fort de bregançon

Good news that Fort de Brégançon in Bornes-les-mimosas will no longer only welcome French presidents on their summer jaunts!

The impressive 17th century fort perched on a rock island overlooking the Mediterranean, and which has been a state property since 1968, has been handed over to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, and will open to the public on the 26th of June.

This belt-tightening move should help the country reduce its crippling deficit. The residence, which comes with its own helipad and private beach, was indeed reported to cost the French taxpayer €226,000 each year to maintain. Pretty expensive for an estate empty most of the year!

This decision was not hard to take for François Hollande. The current French president who went there in 2012 just three months after being elected, blamed the pictures taken of him holidaying with his then girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler, while the crisis deepened, for his decline in popularity ratings. And he was not the only president to dislike the place.

His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, spent only his first vacation as head of state there, preferring going to his wife, Carla Bruni’s family residence located just a few kilometers away at Cap Nègre for all his other summer getaways.Jacques Chirac used to find the place “mad” with all the paparazzi and even Charles de Gaulle who made the fort the official residence of French presidents, preferred to go to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, in the north east of the country, instead. He was apparently bothered by the « too small » bed and the mosquitoes.

The presidents’ loss will be the public’s gain. Now everybody will have a chance to enjoy the old fortress and the amazing view on the Var region. As for François Hollande, do not worry, he will not be “homeless” this summer as he will still be able to spend time in La Lanterne, a hunting lodge adjacent to the château of Versailles that used to serve as the prime minister’s retreat.

Lead image © Patrub01 via Wikimedia Commons, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/travel/item/645-fort-de-bregancon.html

LE BLAST – A PIECE OF AMERICA IN THE HEART OF VIEUX NICE

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

blast-004

The late Sunday morning brunch has become über-cool but let’s face it, no matter how hard one tries, nobody does it like the Americans!

That is something Lionel and Philippe have understood perfectly. After many years spent in Los Angeles, where one had opened a French bakery and the other a café, these two Niçois decided, upon their return to France, to team up to create a real American bar/restaurant right in the heart of the city. And this is how Blast was born in 2009 on the very busy Cours Saleya!

Open every day of the week, from 8am to 2am, Blast is a restaurant by day, which offers all those specialties you can expect from an American diner, including macaroni & cheesechilli con carneBBQ pork ribs and of course,burgers.

At night, it is a lounge where one can sip a piña colada, a mojito or one of the homemade cocktails while enjoying some nice music and all the hustle and bustle of Vieux Nice well into the night.

And come the morning, Blast transforms into the perfect place to sit down, relax and enjoy a classic American-style brunch that will satisfy all your cravings. On the menu, several different egg dishes (omelette, scrambled, sunny side-up….), bagels, French toast, pancakes…and for an “exotic touch”, an English breakfast consisting of bacon, sausage, baked beans, fried eggs and toast.

And as Americans really know a thing or two about making people feel welcome, the outside terrace can easily accommodate large groups and is perfect on a sunny day, while the interior is very cosy and boasts a pool table that can be used for free after 8 pm.

CONTACT DETAILS
Le Blast
8, Place Charles Félix
06300 Nice

Tel: 04 93 80 00 50

Image courtesy Le Blast

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/food-drink/item/602-blast-bar-nice.html

ANNUAL PINK RIBBON MONACO WALK 2014 [PHOTOS]

Cet article a été publié dans Riviera Buzz en 2014 (this article was published in Riviera Buzz in 2014)

pink ribbon walk

The 3rd annual Pink Ribbon Monaco walk took place in the Principality today, drawing crowds from all over the French Riviera and beyond!

They came from MonacoNice and Menton. They came with family, friends and colleagues. Mothers and daughters, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, little kids, older people, dogs…hundreds of people wearing pink tutus, pink wigs or pink hats.

They were breast cancer survivors, relatives or people grieving the loss of loved ones to the disease. Some had even added an orange touch to their pink outfits in tribute to Flavien, a young boy who had just lost his fight againstbrain stem cancer.

And this Sunday, under a beautiful blue sky, they all came together for the 3rd edition of the walk organized byPink Ribbon Monaco to take up the streets of the Principality to raise both money – that will be used to fund a welcoming reception area for patients in the breast cancer screening center in the Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace, which will launch in spring 2014 – and awareness.

From Port Hercule to the Palace and from the Fontvieille district back to the port, those waves of people wearing pink surely did make an impression on anyone who happened to be walking past.

It is a good thing: Breast cancer is today the most common cancer in women worldwide, comprising 16% of all female cancers. When detected at an early stage, it can usually be cured, but the chances of survival decrease rapidly as the tumour spreads. It is for this reason that information and early detection can save lives.

Even though Pink Ribbon is a worldwide campaign, Pink Ribbon Monaco, which was founded in the Spring 2011 remains an independent charity that focuses its actions on the region and the Principality. Through various actions, its goal is to educate people on the importance of early detection and the necessity to create an environmentwhere women who have found a lump in their breast do not have to wait too long to have a biopsy or receive treatment.

We must also pass on our heartiest congratulations to Natasha Frost and her Pink Ribbon Monaco team who did a fantastic job in organising and running the event – well done ladies!

http://www.riviera-buzz.com/features/news/item/595-pink-ribbon-monaco-walk-2014-photos.html