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Poland may not rank very high on many people’s list of places to see, but it is nonetheless a fascinating country with a turbulent yet rich history.

The first time I went to Poland was on a field trip while in high school to visit the sadly infamous concentration camp in Auschwitz. An emotional voyage to say the least. But if on a personal level it was a life changing experience to stand on the same spot where so many were sent to their death, it was also frustrating to have images of this country’s darkest past as the only memories of that visit. So when the opportunity to visit Warsaw and Krakowpresented itself last summer, I just could not let it pass. Poland has a vibrant energy and many World Heritage sites that definitely make it a great destination for travelers.


The former Polish capital, Krakow, does not need any introduction. Considered by many as one of the most enchanting cities in Eastern Europe, it remains in many ways the cultural and artistic hub of the country. Its historic center not only avoided destruction during World War II, it also survived the Soviet occupation. Today, it remains a prime example of medieval architecture. Its main square, Rynek Główny, which covers an area of 10 acres, is the largest in Europe, dating from the 13th century, and is surrounded by an array of amazing buildings. St Mary’s Basilica (pictured below), for example, is a gothic church built around the same time, from where a trumpet signal is played every hour to remind people of the Tatars’ invasion, and Sukiennice, the cloth hall, combines elements from both the medieval times and the Renaissance.

A walk down the Royal Road will then lead you to Wawel Castle, an amazing fortified outpost rebuilt in 1595 in the early Baroque style which housed the Polish monarchs for over five centuries and now towers over the old town.

Further away, Kazimierz, the former Jewish district is a nice place to wander around with its cobbled streetscourtyards, trendy cafés and old synagogues, while Podgorze, just across the Vitsula river, is an up and coming area despite its tragic history. This is where the Jewish ghetto was located during the war and where Oskar Schindler had his factory.

Aside from a visit to Auschwitz, located approximately 40 miles outside the city, a trip to Krakow would not be complete without a tour of the Wieliczka salt mines, one of Poland’s most famous historic monuments with its dozens of statutes and a huge cathedral, all carved out of the rock salt by the miners.


The administrative capital, Warsaw, on the other hand may not be your typical beautiful city, especially compared to some of its Easter European counterparts like Prague and Budapest, but it still has a lot to offer. From its Royal Castle and reconstructed Medieval Old Town, to its magnificent parks and the Palace on the water, a neoclassical monument located on an artificial island surrounded by a lake, it is a fascinating mix of architectural styles. It also boasts many great museums, including one dedicated to Fryderyk Chopin. Indeed, the composer still remains closely associated to the city to this day.

Finally, you should not leave Poland without trying some of the country’s culinary specialties such as the Pierogi, dumplings traditionally stuffed with potatoes, meat, cheese or spinach and the Zrazy, thin slices of beef stuffed with bacon, bread crumbs, mushrooms and cucumber.


Lot, the national Polish airlines offers 5 flights a week to Warsaw from Nice airport.



Article publié cette semaine dans Riviera Buzz (Article published this week in Riviera Buzz)


Monaco’s Musée des Souvenirs Napoléoniens will close its doors at the end of the year, with its contents set to be auctioned this November.

This considerable collection amounts to nearly 1,000 pieces that include many manuscriptsweaponspaintings, and sculptures. Other items of note include a black felt cocked hat, which was worn by the French ruler during his imprisonment on the island of Elba and which is valued at between €300,000 and €400,000, the watch he wore during the Russian campaign and cannonballs from the Battle of Austerlitz. Truly the “sale of the century” for fans of the deposed emperor.

These artifacts were amassed for the most part in the early 20th century by HSH Prince Louis II, a dedicated military man, who was not only a distant relative of the French ruler – his mother, Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton was a third cousin of Napoléon III, but was also fascinated by the history of that period and the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was later enlarged by his grandson and successor Prince Rainier III, who moved the museum to the south wing of the Princely Palace in 1970.

If some history buffs and specialists of Imperial France are getting excited about the impending auction, others on the other hand regret the Prince’s decision to part will the artifacts. This is the case with Jean Etevenaux, the head of the Remembering Napoleon Society, “I regret that the contents of the museum are being dispersed”, he recently told the AFP, “I suppose French museums will attempt to acquire some pieces, but will they have the means?”

The sale will be conducted in Fontainebleau, near Paris, by French auction house Osenat. It is still unclear as to what will be done to the rooms in the museum after the sale.
Lead image “Napoleon I of France by Andrea Appiani” by Andrea Appiani – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons (edited)


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Just a few days in advance of Pink October, Cannes hosts the 10th edition of the Odysséa charity race, increasing awareness about breast cancer.

We all have lost a family member or a friend to cancer, so if you have no plans on the 21st of September, it should not be too hard to find the motivation to join thousands of other participants wearing pink, despite the early starton a Sunday morning!

The race is open to everyone: young and old, women and men, those affected by the disease or not. And there is absolutely no need to be an athlete to participate — there are three different events to suit all abilites and levels, including a 1km run for children, a 5km run or walk (3.1 miles) and a 10km run or walk (6.2 miles).

Established in 2002, the Odysséa association organizes races throughout Metropolitan France and in la Réunion. Over the years, it has mobilized about 340,000 people and collected more than €3.4 million. Nearly €52,000 has been raised to date in Cannes, and the profits of this year’s event will be split between three local associations dedicated to fight the disease: DÉFI DE FEMMESSOS CANCER DU SEIN PACA and TOUJOURS FEMME PAYS DE GRASSE.


After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women worldwide, accounting for 16% of all female cancers. It is also the primary cause of female mortality in France, with a death related to breast cancer occuring every hour.

The Odysséa race takes places on Sunday, the 21st of September on Boulevard Carnot in Cannes. It starts at 9:30 am for the 1km, 9:45 am for the 5km and 10:00 am for the 10km.

All images courtesy Odysséa


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It may be the capital of the French Riviera, but Nice does boast a very healthy choice when it comes to international cuisine, including tapas.

Back to school may be upon us but it does not mean that we should forget all the summer fun, and now with most tourists having left the French Riviera, it is actually the perfect time to sit with friends at the terraces of restaurantsand watch the world pass by, while sipping a glass of wine and nibbling on some finger food.

Always solicitous to give the best advice possible to our readers, we have taken upon ourselves to try for you the various tapas bars and restaurants in Nice and after some serious research, here are our top five places.
L'Ark restaurant in Nice

Looking for a place to eat or just have a drink with a view? Look no further than l’Ark. Located on the Quai des États-Unis, directly opposite Castel Plage, this is THE place to be to enjoy a panoramic view over the “baie des Anges” in all its glory.

Since it opened over a year ago, this concept restaurant has never ceased to attract tourists and locals alike, in search of a different experience. First of all, because it is fun and trendy: A tiny, yet beautiful terrace on the first floor allows customers to take advantage of the many sunny days, the interior design is modern and a few nights a week a DJ provides the musical entertainment. But also because the food is very good. The house specialty is the hamburger but many tapas are also on offer. Most of them are Spanish (patatas bravas, fried calamaris, tortillas) but they are prepared with fresh ingredients and a local twist. And to accompany the food, a great choice of wines and cocktails is proposed.

Beach restaurants often have a bad reputation but l’Ark is a prime example that sometimes you can have it all: theview, the atmosphere and the food.
Lou Tapas restaurant in Nice

Not so long ago, this tiny restaurant on rue Dalpozzo was known as l’instant présent, but earlier this year the owner decided to turn it into a tapas bar, and what was just a local eatery has now become one of the best places for these speciality dishes. There are still main courses on offer (paella for instance), but the goal is to take you on a trip around the world and to delight all your senses.

This is reflected in a menu that includes Thai (shrimps with thai curry sauce)Spanish (chorizo and onion torillas)and of course, French (oven-baked St. Marcellin with honey and thyme, homemade blinis or smoked salmon with aneth herbs and lemon).

Using fresh and local produce, the cuisine is always creative yet unpretentious, and everything is done in such a way so that you can have a good time in a laid-back atmosphere. A small terrace outside can seat a few people and the interior is very intimate with its wooden panels and spiral staircase. And the icing on the cake, the staff are also very welcoming. So really, what else do you need?

McMahon in Nice

Don’t be fooled by the name. The McMahon may at first seem like one of the many Irish pubs in Old Nice, but once you take a look inside, you will step back in time. With its old wood paneling, it is indeed an institution with a 100-year plus history of serving great traditional food.

Successively a restaurant and a pub, it is a convivial place that adapts to your needs and desires. Wine lovershave a chance to sample local vintages, food connaisseurs can chose from seasonal menus, and those looking to just have a snack and share a drink with friends have a nice selection of amuse-bouche or amuse-vinTuna rillettes, humus with pita bread, cheese plates, delicatesen, socca…all the small plates have a local flavour and make for a perfect apéro.

With the newly opened Promenade du Paillon as a backdrop, the McMahon is definitely the perfect place to sit back and relax.

El Merkado tapas in Nice

Stepping inside this busy restaurant in the heart of Vieux Nice is like entering a friend’s living room. The interior is funky but welcoming with its mismatched chairs, sofas and coffee tables, inviting the guests to immediately become comfortable. There are even some board games for those who are in a playful mood. Outside, there is a very generous terrace, right in the middle of all the action of the nearby Cours Saleya.

At El Merkado they definitely take their tapas seriousl,y with a menu that includes all the traditional small plates you might expect from a Spanish restaurant (jamón Serrano, tortilla española, calamaris…), all made with local and seasonal products.

Of course, sangría is part of the package but for the full El Merkado experience, be sure to order one of the many original cocktails, especially the Don Quichotte, a vodka-based drink that is already a classic.

Le Tono in Nice

Probably one of Nice’s best kept secrets, this restaurant transforms into a great place for a relaxing evening, swaying to the sounds of jazz or bossa nova come 6pm.

The wines come from all over the world. The tapas are Spanish (Lomito Bellota cullar, chorizo) as well as French (foie gras, jambon de Bayonne, terrine forestière) and vegetarian (caviar d’aubergines, houmous, legumes confits à l’huile d’olive). And for those with a big appetite, the menu also offers some hot dishes (petits farcis niçois au pistou, gratin de poulet jaune au munster) and some delicious desserts (lemon tarts, tiramisu au nutella).

Opened in 2004 by Stéphane Guini, a local chef and his wife SophieLe Tono is one of those places were you immediately feel at home. Just a short distance away from the busy avenue Jean Médecin, it would be a shame not to give it a try!


L’Ark : 41-43, Quai des États-Unis; 06300 Nice

Lou Tapas : rue Dalpozzo; 06000 Nice

McMahon’s Pub50 Boulevard Jean Jaurès; 06300 Nice

El Merkado12 rue St-François de Paule
; 06300 Nice

Le Tono18 Avenue Georges Clemenceau; 06000 Nice

Photos © Mike Colquhoun


Article publié cette semaine dans Riviera Buzz (article published this week in Riviera Buzz)

rentrée littéraire

Come the end of the summer break, bookshops all over France are flooded with hundreds of new books in what is known as « la rentrée littéraire ».

« La rentrée littéraire » (the literary season), that most French of occasions, when there is an influx of new iterary titles, all being published at the same time in the hope of attracting attention before the key selling period of Christmas. They are all also vying for one of those coveted literary prizes of which the country is so proud.

Between late August and early November, no less than 607 books (compared to 555 in 2013) are going to be released this year. Among them, there are 75 « premiers romans » (debut novels) and 203 foreign novels. As so often, many big names of the French literary world make up a big chunk of the contingent, some of them being real « habitués » of the « rentrée ».

Belgian-born Amélie Nothomb once again features (her 23rd year in a row), and her newest book “Pétronille” is once again expected to top the best-seller list. She will face tough competition though from the likes of quintessentialParis intellectual Frédéric Beigbeder, whose latest work ia a take on the love story between the great J.D. Salinger and Oona O’Neill, or fan favorite David Foenkinos, who has chosen to recount the real life story of painter Charlotte Salomon who died at the age of 26 at Auschwitz. As for foreign authors, Haruki Murakami withL’Incolore Tsukuru Tazaki et ses années de pèlerinage (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) and Nobel prize winner Alice Munro are just two of the most recognizable names.

To help readers make their choices, newspapersspecialized magazines and talk shows are already making their own lists of the not-to-be-missed books of the rentrée and betting on the favorites for the literary prizes that will start to be awarded towards the end of October. If the prix Goncourt remains the most prestigious one, others, such as the RenaudotFeminaInterallié and Médicis, also bring that 15 minutes of fame to the lucky winners and seriously help boost sales.

Of course, with so many books being released all at once, most of them will have a very hard time attracting readership and will very quickly sink into oblivion. This is why a second rentrée, « la petite rentrée », takes place in January of each year. It allows publishing companies to focus on highly popular writers who no longer have anything to prove or gain, but also to launch in a less competitive market, lesser-known authors in whom they strongly believe.

Image:  Dollar Photo Club file 61349230 © connel_design