In France this traditional day is celebrated every 2nd of February with crepes! The tradition of feasting on crêpes stuffed with sweet and savoury fillings is certainly a popular one...although there are several thoughts on the origins of the day. Also known as Candlemas, it is a day where candles are blessed in churches around the country, and all the candles in the house should be lit. Tradition also suggests that the crib from the Christmas nativity should not be stored until Candlemas, which is the last Christmas Day cycle. As for the pancakes, it is said that Pope Gelasius I (c AD 490) was distributing pancakes to pilgrims arriving in Rome. It is also suggested that the pancakes, round in shape and gold in colour are reminiscent of the solar disc, referring to the return of spring after a dark and cold winter. Whatever the reasons, this is a day that is fun and easy to celebrate!
- Nice Carnival:
The Nice Carnival almost rivals Rio with its extravagant and colourful parades down the Promenade des Anglais. With over 1,000 dancers and musicians from all over the world, the carnival brings the streets of Nice alive under its clear blue skies. The opening and closing festivities are free for everyone, and then each subsequent parade requires a ticket for the grandstands or the promenade. The Carnival starts at the beginning of Lent and lasts for 15 days.
- Napoleon's landed in Golfe Juan:
Fans of Napoleonic history won't want to miss this re-enactment of the landing of the Emperor Napoleon after his exile in Elba. On March 1, 1815, Napoleon arrived with his army, and the scene is played out again each year on the beach in Vallauris Golfe-Juan. Many events are organised, including the battle (with Calvary) Napoleon's ship and music concerts. A mini Napoleon market has stalls selling memorabilia and there is a chance to learn more about this historical episode from experts who arrange talks over the weekend.
- International Fair in Nice:
In 2014, the International Fair of Nice celebrated its 70th anniversary... Yet, it is as youthful as ever! What is the secret of such dynamism and eternal youth? This is something you can discover by going to the Palais des Exhibitions, Salon Bâtir and Espace Plein Air.
- Antibes Art Fair:
The international springtime event for all those who love antiques modern and contemporary art, amateurs, collectors and professionals.
- International Cannes Film Festival:
The world's greatest film festival. Every year, the greatest international stars climb the famous steps to the Palais to present their films to critics and professionals from the world over. The Cannes Film Festival ranks second only to the Olympic Games for global media coverage.
- Voile d'Antibes:
Top 5 things to see between Cannes and Monaco
- Nice Old town:
Nice Old Town (known locally as Le Vieux Nice) is a lovely honeycomb of narrow streets, dotted with beautiful Baroque churches, vibrant squares, shops and restaurants. Thronging with tourists eating the famous ice-cream during the day, at night it becomes one big party with bars and nightclubs spilling out onto the streets. The key things to see are the Cours Saleya (the open air market), Chapelle de la Miséricorde (a wonderfully ornate Baroque church dating from 1740), Chapelle de l'Annonciation (known locally as Sainte-Rita), Eglise Saint-Jacques (dating from 1612 and built by the Jesuits, it has some excellent frescoes), the Cathedral Sainte Réparate (1699), and the Palais Lascaris (paintings and statues).
- St Paul de Vence:
The medieval era of French history can still very much be felt today, perhaps nowhere better than at the nearly perfect St Paul de Vence. About 12 miles from Nice and almost directly inland from the Nice Airport, this medieval hilltop jewel is what visitors dream of when they say they want to stroll through a charming village in the South of France. From the 12th-century keep, which now serves as the town hall, to the 14th-century church, the 16th-century fortified walls and the cemetery, which stands on the original village land and is the final resting place of Marc Chagall, walking through St Paul de Vence is truly a walk through history. Travelers love the Choisy Gallerie, where it's sometimes possible to find Christian Choisy himself at work. Combined with the stunning views and the town's 20th-century obsession with showcasing artists, it's a day trip you won't forget. As you could guess, the feast of the senses experienced at St Paul de Vence extends to its dining spots as well. Whether at the epic la Colombe d'Or set in a fairytale garden or the casual Le Café de la Place, which offers a first-row view of spirited boules games, there is something for every taste and budget, while sacrificing nothing in ambiance.
The best way to get to St Paul de Vence is by car, which makes it a natural fit for a guided tour. By public transport, there are buses from Nice (about 45 minutes) and Cagnes-sur-Mer (about 30 minutes).
Sixteenth-century ramparts and winding cobbled streets on the French Riviera-welcome to Antibes! A Mediterranean city with quite the history, Antibes was originally known as Antipolis, founded by the Ancient Greeks in 5 B.C. Then came the Romans, who renamed the city Antiboul and erected a theater big enough for 10,000 people. Barbarians and disrepair came next, until the area's famous ramparts were ordered by Louis XIV, safeguarding Antibes from raiders and pirates who trawled the Mediterranean Sea. The first tourists arrived to Cap d'Antibes in the 1880s, and the city and its adjacent resort town of Juan les Pins quickly became a summer playground for Europe's elite, beloved by Golden Age stars like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Picasso also spent six months living and painting in Antibes, and today you can see his works from that period at Antibes' Picasso Museum in the Chateau Grimaldi. Now a town of 80,000, Antibes stretches deep into the hills. It's home to the largest marina in the Mediterranean and is a city of superyachts and their owners, who relax in the shaded mansions of Cap d'Antibes. Famous for its restaurants and surrounding beaches, Antibes' Old Town also makes for a beautiful wander. Every morning, there's a market by the marina where locals and tourists seek out fresh food from the region.
- Les Iles de Lerins:
The largest of the Lérins islands located 1 km (2/3 of a mile) from Cannes, the Ile de Sainte-Marguerite is abounding with eucalyptus and pines. The island is most famous for allegedly holding the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask captive during the 17th century. During the summer months, a vast amount of boats stay in the shallow, safeguarded "Plateau du Milieu" between the islands where there is more area for water sports. The village of Sainte-Marguerite is comprised of about twenty buildings. Most of these are home to fishermen, but there are a few establishments offering refreshments to tourists who are exploring the island. The historic Fort Royal now contains a youth hostel and a Museum featuring items recovered from ancient shipwrecks. Island visitors are also able to explore a number of former prison cells and an old Roman cistern room. Close to the Fort Royal is a small cemetery for French soldiers and another alongside it for North African soldiers. You can also explore a number of former prison cells and an old Roman cistern room.
Practical Info The Ile Saint-Marguerite is 15-20 minute commercial ferry ride from Cannes. The island is a very popular attraction, especially during the warm summer months.
- Eze Village:
The tiny village of Eze is one of the jewels of the south of France which is probably why it is chosen as a holiday spot by royalty, the rich and the famous. Perched on a rocky hill above the sea, it could not get any prettier. With narrow cobblestone, pedestrian-only streets, wonderful views of the surrounding hills and the azure water below, it is just as it was centuries ago. One of the most famous inhabitants was Frederic Nietzsche who, in the 1880s, used to walk up and down a hill path to the sea thinking up his philosophy. At the top of the hill, just above the village, is the exotic garden. Filled with statues of earth goddesses, cacti, winding paths and wonderfully relaxing contemplative spaces and lookout points, this is not to be missed.
GMT +1 hour
The official currency is the Euro (€). Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50, cent , €1 & €2 denominations. Notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 denominations.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. Major credit cards are widely accepted here (though a limited number of merchants have American Express accounts) and ATM access is widespread. Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
Tips in restaurants are usually added on at 10/15 % of the bill. However, it is often a subject of controversy whether this amount actually goes to the waiter or not, therefore it is your choice whether to tip more.
Arrival & Departure Formalities
Travel documents are your responsibility. In general you should have:
- A signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
- Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
Due to its favourable climate and geography Côte d'Azur has an average of 300 sunny days, an average temperature of 16°C and short but periodical rain-showers. During summer it can be very hot with average temperature of 27ºC and about 11 hours of sun a day. The average water temperature in the summer months is about 20ºC. In autumn and spring you can rely on warm weather as well. With around 8 hours of sun per day, these seasons are quite mild as well. By the Mediterranean climate the winters are pleasant.
It is advisable to contact your doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns and take out appropriate travel and medical insurance.
Electrical service in France is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz.
- Traffic from the RIGHT has right of way, except at roundabouts or if the road has a white line across it.
- Passport or national ID as well as driver's license/insurance papers/ownership papers must be carried all the time.
- National speed limit is 50kmh (31mph) in towns, 90kmh (56mph) on secondary non-urban highways, 110kmh (68mph) on dual carriageways, 130kmh (80mph) on motorways (auto route).
- Speeding fines: 30 - 300 Euros.
- Minimum driving age is 18.
- For use of the highways (auto route) it is invariably necessary to pay a toll before access. Payment can be made by coins or by credit card.
- There are strict laws concerning drinking and driving. Blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.05%. There are random breathalyser tests carried out regularly by the police.
- An international driving licence is not required for European citizens. Your locally issued driving licence, as long as it is accompanied by the passport, will suffice.