Monday, February 18, 2013

Winter Festivals on the French Riviera

While most of France is shivering in cold  February,  the Cote d'Azur enjoys sunny days and mild temperatures, perfect weather to celebrate  with parades the traditional Mardi Gras Carnival as well as festivals dedicated to the local production of lemons and mimosa flower.

Nice Carnival- Courtesy Nice OT
 Parades,  flower decorated floats and revelers fill the streets of Nice to cheer the King of Carnival and its court - all giant figures made of colorful paper-mâché. This year, the theme of Carnival is "King of Five Continents" and for fifteen days (February 15-March 6), day and night,  parades of flower bedecked floats accompanied by thousands of musicians will snake along the coastal seafront on Promenade des Anglais and Avenue Massena, Nice's main artery, loudly cheered by delirious crowds. Unique to Nice's carnival are the flower battles in which at top floats armful of flowers are tossed to the happy crowds. Ninety percent of the flowers used at the parades are produced locally --jasmine, gladiolus, mimosa, daisies, carnations and roses --allowing  the region on this occasion to showcase the quality and variety of its local production.

If Mardi Gras revelry was not enough, celebrants can enjoy two other  traditional festivals on the Côte d'Azur honoring local products- Menton's famous lemon and the Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu la Napoule.
Menton Lemon Festival

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Menton Lemon Festival, one of the French Riviera most popular events.  For two weeks in February, this pretty sunny  town on the border of France and Italy celebrates the local citrus with parade floats and giant artistic arrangements made of  the yellow and orange fruits.( February 16-March 16).

Mimosa Festival-
Courtesy Mandelieu la Napoule
Not to be outdone,  the coastal resort town of Mandelieu la Napoule, situated a few kilometers west of Nice celebrates the local mimosa.  This  flower originally from Australia was introduced  in Esterel and Tanneron massifs in the mid 19th century and when  the mimosa blooms in January and February covering  the countryside in vivid yellow carpets, it is time  for  Mandelieu to invite the world to  discover and celebrate the flower that made the town and region's fortune as it is used in perfume with what else?... parades, floats, artistic floral displays, flower battles and musical  entertainment.
(February 15-24)

tags: French Riviera, Nice Carnival, Menton Lemon Festival, Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu la Napoule

Friday, February 8, 2013

Spring in Provence... A tour to Remember

Provence Escapade Escorted Tour

This spring discover the best  Provence has to offer.

Join our small group for a memorable journey through Provence. Together, we will explore the many treasures of this sunny land from its rich historical past to its unique traditions and savoir vivre. You will discover beautiful architecture dating back to the Romans and magnificent landscapes of fragrant hills, lavender fields, vineyards and picturesque villages. More importantly, on this journey you will find your senses stimulated in so many ways from the special light that inspired the impressionist painters to the smell and taste of the many Provencal specialties.

Date: May 18-23, 2013

Save: $100 per person if booked by February 28

Point du Gard
  • Medieval heritage: Avignon's Pope's PalaceSte. Trophime CathedralAbbaye de Senanque
  • Roman architecture : Pont Du Gard ; Arles' Arena and Vaison la Romaine
  • Irresistible Provencal towns: Avignon ; St. Remy de Provence; Aix en Provence
  • Picturesque perched villages: Gordesles Baux; Roussillon
  • Savoir vivre :: colorful markets ; Chateauneuf du Pape wine tasting; olive oil tasting
  • Beautiful landscape : Alpilles Hills; Luberon National Park; vineyards and lavender fields
  • Discover Marseille – European Cultural Capital 2013

Provence market

tags: Provence, tour, Avignon, Saint Remy de Provence, Aix en Provence, Marseile

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hop on HOP!

Air France KLM announced last week a new low cost airline to debut end of March.  It will offer 530 daily flights to  136 destinations within France and many European cities notably to Barcelona, Rome, Bologna, Florence, Geneva, Prague, Venice, Vienna Budapest, Dusseldorf, Brussels,  Milan , Naples.  This will make Paris a great point to jump start your European journeys. 

Here is a selection of low cost airlines with flights from/to Paris :
Hop! by Airfance-KLM
Easy Jet
Ryan Air (from Beauvais airport)
Air Berlin

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Crêpe Day!!

Traditionally, the second of February is called la Chandeleur (Candelmas) , a Christian tradition  that commemorates the ritual purification of  Mary 40 days after the birth of Jesus. This is also the occasion to eat crepe--a thin savory pancake.  Here is a simple recipe I would like to share with you.

2 eggs
1 cup of milk
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup of flour
drop of vanilla or you can add a few teaspoons of rhum

Mix the eggs and the milk; add the sugar and the salt; blend in the  flour.  Let stand at least one hour in the refrigerator.  Heat the crepe pan with a drop of oil or butter and add a thin layer of batter to cover the pan.  Cook till golden on both sides.

Enjoy!  Bon appetit!!