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About France - Further Information for Tourists
A Skiing Holiday Can Still Be Fun Even If You Don't Actually Ski
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Berlin in February
Biot — South of France Picture Gallery
Cannes Film Festival
Departments and Regions in France
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Elgin Morayshire
Fact File South of France
Goodwood Revival 10 years on -2008
Historic Monaco Grand Prix
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Jazz à Juan - Juan-les-Pins Jazz Festival
Killin — Perthshire
Lisbon Fact File
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Old South of France Photos 1920' and 1960's
Nice and the South of France in January
Nice Côte d'Azur - South of France
Nostagia in France
Prague at the end of October
Riviera realty French Property News
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About FRANCE - Further Tourist information on France

Departments and Regions in France

French departments all have a number and you will find this number being used as part of the local postcode and on vehicle registrations. Listed below are regions of France showing the Department with the capital city/town (Préfecture).

Aquitaine - One of the largest regions in France. Aquitaine is in the very south-west stretching from the Spanish border up the Atlantic coast until it meets Poitou-Charentes, while to the east it borders the Midi Pyrénées region. It is made up of five departments: Pyrénées_Atlantiques (64 - Pau), Landes (40 – Mont-de-Marsan), Gironde (33 - Bordeaux), Lot-et-Garonne (47 - Agen) and Dordogne (24 - Périgueux) The main cities and towns are: Bordeaux, Pergueux, Bergerac, Bayonne, Pau, Biarritz, Arcachon, Mimizan and Lourdes.

Alsace-Lorraine - Located in Franc’s most north-eastern corner bordering Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.  Alsace-Lorraine breaks down into the departments of Meuse (55 – Bar-le-Duc), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54 - Nancy), Moselle (57 - Metz), Vosges (88 – Ėpinal ), Bas-Rhin (67 - Strasbourg) and Haut-Rhin (68 - Colmar). The main cities and towns are: Strasbourg (home of the European parliament), Nancy, Metz, Mulhouse and Colmar.   

Auvergne -  Right in the heart of France, is Auvergne. This is the area that includes the Massif Central. It has four departments. Allier (03 - Moulins), Puy-de-Dome (63- Clemont-Ferrand), Cantal (15 - Aurillac) and Haute Loire (43 – Le Puy). The main cities and towns are: Clermont Ferrand, Moulins, Montluςon, Aurillac and Vichy.

Burgundy - This is located to the south-east of Paris. Burgundy is best known for its wines and fine cuisine. It has four departments. Côte d’Or (21 - Dijon), Nièvre (58 - Nevers), Saône-et Loire (71 - Mâcon) and Yonne (89 - Auxerre ).The main cities and towns are: Dijon, Auxerre, Nevers, Beaune and Macon.

Brittany – This is France’s most north-westerly region and is very much independent in tradition, culture and the Breton language. It has a great deal of coastline. The four departments are: Finistère (29), Côtes-d’Armor (22) Ille-et-Vilaine (35) and Morbihan (56). The main cities and towns are: Rennes, Vannes, Brest, Roscoff, Quimper, Lorient and St Brieuc.

Centre – This is in the centre, but commonly referred to as the Loire Valley along with parts of it’s neighbouring region – Pays de la Loire with the River Loire making the boundary between the cooler north and warmer south of the country. The departments are: Cher (18 - Bourges), Eure-et-Loir (28 - Chartres), Indre (36 – Châteauroux), Indre-et-Loire (37 – Tours), Loir-et-Cher (41 – Blois) and Loiret (45 Orléans). The main cities and towns are: Tours, Orléans, Bourges, Chartres, Blois and Châteauroux.

Champagne-Ardennes – Famous for the first part of it’s name. The departments are: Marne (51 – Châlons-en-Champagne), Haute-Marne (52 – Chaumont), Aube (10 – Troyes)  and Ardennes (08 – Charleville-Mézières).

Franche-Comite – This area is on the border with Switzerland. It is the region of the Jura mountains housing several ski resorts. The departments are: Jura (39 Lons –le- Saunier), Haute Saône (70 –Vesoul), Doubs (25 – Bescançon)  and Territoire de Belfort (90 – Belfort) The main cities are Bescançon and Belfort.

Languedoc Roussillon – The southern region is bordered by the Mediterranean on one side and the Pyrénées on the other. It stretches from the Spanish border up to Provence. It is well known as one of France’s sunniest regions. The five departments are Gard (30 – Nîmes),  Hérault ( 34 – Montpellier), Lozère (48 – Mende), Aude (11 – Carcassonne) and Pyrénées-Orrientales (66 – Perpignan).  The main cities include Montpellier, Perpignan, Carcassonne, Béziers and Nîmes 

Limousin – This rural region is in France’s green heart. The departments are: Corrèze (19 – Tulle), Creuse (23 – Guèret) and Haute Vienne (87 – Limoges) The main towns and cities are: Limoges, Aubusson and Tulle

Midi-Pyrenees – This is France’s largest region. It offers a varied landscape scene that house eight departments. Lot (46 – Cahors), Gers (32 –Auch), Hautes-Pyrénées (65 - Tarbes), Arriège (09 – Foix), Haute-Garonne (31 – Toulouse), Tarn – (81 – Albi) , Tarn- et-Garonne (82 – Montauban) and Aveyron (12 – Rodez). The main cities are: Toulouse, Auch, Tarbes, Albi and Cahors.

Normandy – Normandy has a very similar climate to southern Britain. It follows the coastline to the channel in the north. The area is famous for its Calvados made from apples, butter, cheese and distinctive architecture. There are five department that are: Calvados (14 – Caen), Manche ( 50 – St-LÔ), Orne (61 –Alençon), Seine-Maritime (76- Rouen), and Eure (27 – Ėvreux) The main towns and cities are: Rouen, Caen, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Le Havre, Honfleur and Deauville.

Nord-Pas de Calais -  Like Normandy the climate is very similar to Southern Britain. There are two departments – Pas de Calais (62 – Arras) and Nord (59 – Lille). The main cities and towns are: Calais, Lille, Boulogne, Dunkerque, Le Touquet, Douai and Arras.

Paris & Ile de France This is the Paris region – capital of France. The departments are: Seine-et-Marne (77- Melun), Val d’Oise (95 – Pontoise), Esonne (91 – Ėvry), Yvelines (78 Versailles), Hauts-de-Seine, (92 – Nanterre),  Seine-St-Denis (93 – Bobigny) , Val de Marne ( 94 - Créteil) and Ville de Paris (75 – Paris). The main cities and towns are: Paris, Versailles, Nanterre.

Pays de la Loire – The region runs from the Loire valley to the Atlantic Coast. There are five departments that are: Maine-et-Loire (49 - Angers), Sarthe (72 – Le Mans), Mayenne (53 – Laval), Loire-Atlantique (44 – Nantes) and Vendée (85 – La Roche–sur-Yon). The main towns are: Nantes, Angers, Le Mans (famous for the 24 hour car racing, St Nazaire and Les Sables d’Olonne.

Picardy – Located south of Nord-Pas de Calais. A small part of north faces the channel  – The region is split into three departments. These are: Aisne (02 – Laon), Oise (60 – Beauvais) and Somme (80 – Amiens). The main towns are: Amiens, Beauvais and Laon.

Poitou-Charentes – This is one of France’s western regions. It is a very sunny region with some coast bordering onto the Atlantic. The Departments are: Charente (16 – Angoulême), Charente-Maraitime (17 – La Rochelle), Deux Sèvres (79 – Niort) and Vienne (86 – Poitiers). The main towns are: Angoulême, La Rochelle, Poitiers, Royan and Saintes,

Provence & Cote d’Azur – Probably the warmest part of France – known for it’s hot summers and mild winters, the French Riviera has been popular for English visitors since Victorian times.  Provence has five departments – Bouches du RhÔne, (13 – Marseille), Vaucluse ( 84 - Avignon), Var (83 – Toulon) and Alpes de Haute-Provence (04 – Digne).  Cote d’Azur borders Italy and Monaco and is at the southern tip of the Alps and close to ski resorts. It only has the one Department – Alpes-Maritimes (06 - Nice)  The main towns and cities are: Avignon, Nice, Marseilles, Arles, St Tropez, Cannes, Digne Gap, Briançon, Menton and Toulon.

Rhones-Alpes – This is very much a mountainous region that is on the east side of France north of Provence and the Cote d’Azur. It is naturally a very popular ski region. There are eight departments. Ain (01 – Bourg-en-Brese), Ardèche (07 – Privas), Drôme (26 – Valence), Isère (38 - Grenoble), Rhône (69 – Lyon), Savoie ( 73 – Chambéry), Haute Savoie (74 – Annecy) and Loire (42 –ST-Ētienne). The main towns and cities are: Annecy, Chambéry, Grenoble, Lyon, Montélimar, St Etienne and Valance.  

Telephones in France - Mobile phones - All mobile phones start with 06. Calling a mobile from a land line can be very expensive. If you are visting France for a while instead of relying on your home country mobile you can buy a "nomad" Pay as you go sim card. You will need a French address.

Landline phones - The French telephone network is run by France Telecom (Orange). Peak hour (heures pleines) rates run from 8am - 7pm Mon-Fri. The weekends, national holidays & hours between 7pm & 8am are classed as off peak (heures creuses).

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Nice Cote d'Azur - South of France

Nice is has been a popular city for years. It was popular with British Royalty (Queen Victoria was a regular visitor to the area (including Menton), and Winston Churchill enjoyed holidays in the area.

It has France’s no 2 airport and with the expansion of low cost air travel from within Europe is the gateway to the French Riviera.

The city of Nice extends inland with its pedestrian area featuring luxury boutiques, Massena gardens with their fountains and the picturesque old town. Nice stretches the length of the Baie des Anges, lighting up the whole of the Riviera with its majesty. When you fly into Nice airport the views are superb by day or night.

It is a magnificent city, the epitome of Riviera charm, a gentle way of life and luxury that has an exceptionally mild and sunny climate, blue sea and azure skies. Nice is a thriving tourist city, sought after all year round by lovers of the French Riviera. The Promenade des Anglais is a world-famous attraction, which is the pride of the city of Nice.

The Promenade des Anglais is synonymous with prestige and stylish living. Graced by majestic palm trees, hotels, Casinos and famous restaurants, a pedestrian area, long stretches of beaches, pergolas and sky blue chairs, the Promenade des Anglais is a prominent feature along the Baie des Anges and almost a microcosm in its own right! "A feast for the eyes, Nice - where Queen Victoria was amused, Matisse painted his Blue Nudes and Coco Chanel invented the suntan.

It is marvelous to escape from dreary winter in northern European into its sharp light and balmy Mediterranean air: to wander round the harbour, through the flower market in the ornate Cours Saleya, or into the bar of the Hotel Negresco for a cocktail as exotic as the building itself. Home of one of the biggest summer jazz festivals, off-season Nice also offers cool sounds in many a late-night cafe-bar. In winter you are only 40 minutes drive from the Alpine ski slopes and another world and only a short drive from Monaco and Italy.

What to see:

Nice offers everything you could wish for in a holiday destination - history, spectacular scenery, architecture and a buzzing nightlife, not forgetting plenty of sun and sea. The 4000-year-old city has many historical sights to see. Visit the Old Town, which dates back to medieval times or La colline du chateau dating back to the eleventh century. The old town contains within its narrow alleyways, the expanses of its squares and the Cours Saleya over 250 restaurants, 200 boutiques and galleries. Other excellent places for sightseeing include the Basilique Notre-Dame - the largest church in Nice, built in 1864. Other sightseeing hotspots include La Cathedrale Saint-Reparate, built in the seventeenth century, and the 16th century L'Ancien Hotel de Ville, formerly Nice's town hall. Climb (or take the lift) up to the castle and enjoy panoramic views over the Baie des Anges and visit the two cemeteries lying side by side the Christian and neighbouring Jewish cemetery.

Nice benefits from a superb climate. Thanks to sea breezes the climate is mild even in winter and never too hot in summer. Inhabitants often have lunch in a T-shirt in the middle of February while the rest of France is shivering in the cold. Also known as the 'Bay of Arts', Nice has three theatres, an opera house, a symphony orchestra and many museums and art galleries. Visit the Musee et Site Archeologiques with its magnificent collections from the Bronze Age to the late middle ages. Be sure to explore the Bibliotheque du Chevalier de Cessole, with its many old books and manuscripts tracing the history of the city. Nice has always held on to its independence and even has its own language. The people of Nice like to keep their individuality intact with their own folk-dancing troupes, street bands and craftwork. Theatre is also a very important part of the town's culture and The Opera de Nice is well worth a visit.

If you are looking for art, then Nice is the place to visit. The old town, especially Rue Droite, houses numerous artists' studios, framing shops and galleries. The Museum of Modern Art (MAMAC) on the Promenade des Arts hosts’ regular seasonal shows as well as its own collection of contemporary European and American works. Chagall was a long time Riviera resident and the purpose built Musée National Message Biblique Marc-Chagall en route to Cimiez shows a spectacular collection of his paintings, stained glass mosaics and sketches. In Cimiez itself is the Musée Matisse set in a renovated 17th century villa which houses not only a collection of his work but also holds excellent temporary shows. Simply walking the streets of Nice and exploring the antique markets is a great

Shopping

If you enjoy strolling around the shops then you are in the right place; Nice offers excellent variety. Choose from small boutiques in the Old Town specialising in provencal fabrics, jewellery shops on Avenue de Verdun and Rue Paradis with its up-market shopping arcades, department stores and chic couturiers. There are also many markets, including the Marche a la Brocante - a flea market open all-year-round and the Marche aux Poissons - a fish market open every morning except Monday and the flower market a stones throw from the so close to the Promenade des Anglais.

Nice by night

Nice is lively by day and even more lively by night. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to discos, nightclubs, casinos and restaurants. And you could, if you prefer, go to a karaoke club or one of the many cabaret clubs, which are equally delightful. You can even choose to do some late-night shopping, as there are many shops that stay open 24 hours a day. You can dine out in the old town in the area that is the flower market by day and is transformed into a magical dining area by night.

History

From the time of the Second Empire to the roaring Twenties the famous Promenade des Anglais was the fashionable meeting place where luxury hotels and palaces flourished and high society strolled along the promenade in the warm Riviera sunshine enjoying the sea views. In 1929 Le Palais de la Mediterranee and the sumptuous decor of its lounges and Casino attracted a clientele of rich men and elegant women who enjoyed its magnificence and the pleasures of life. Princes, barons and other aristocrats enjoyed a heady lifestyle at the height of the Belle Époque. Nice is just as popular today and after a period of disuse Le Palais de la Mediterranee has been rebuilt and restored to its former glory - as beautiful and luxurious as before. The 1929 facade has already been restored and now visitors to Nice can enjoy the jewel of the Promenade des Anglais with its host of events, quality of life and magical atmosphere that reigned in the Palace so close to their hearts.

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Overview - South of France 

Situated in the south-east of France, Provence’s coastline stretches from Bandol to Menton, on the Italian border . The region, covering an area of approximately 30,000 sq km, contains five ‘departements’ [counties] – Bouches-du-Rhone, Vaucluse, Alpes de Haute-Provence, Var and Alpes-Maritimes - and has a population of some 4,275,000  people. The region has some 300 days of sun per year.

Considering purchasing a Property?   Costs involved in purchasing property include expenses due to the public notary [invoices settled by the public notary on behalf of the purchaser], transfer tax [taxe de mutation]equal to approx 5% of the selling price, property registration, stamp duty, and VAT on a new construction. Costs amount to between 8% and 10% of the selling price. In addition, an annual amount of property tax, called Taxe d’Habitation , similar to ‘rates’ in the UK, is payable each year on January 1. There are exemptions for people over 60 years

Swimming pools and safety measures. If you’re thinking about purchasing a property that has a swimming pool, you should be aware of the new French law concerning safety measures. Not only must all children be supervised by an adult when at a [private] swimming pool, but every pool must either have fencing around it or have an alarm system. In each case, the system must be approved by the appropriate French authorities. The local Mairie [town hall] will have details.

Setting up a business in the south of France? The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Nice has established a specific department, La Maison des Enterprises [Companies Association] to help companies in setting-up an organisation on the Riviera. The British Chamber of Commerce Cote d'Azur is well worth contacting and their website is BCC Cote d'Azur

Wine  With the exception of the superb red wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Provence has not traditionally been noted for its great wines. only recently gained its status for fine wines. Formerly it had carved itself a reputation for agreeable wines and in particular for its rosé. But, more recently, an increasing number of wine growers are making first-rate products to challenge those from Burgundy and Bordeaux. Particularly good are the reds and rosés from the Bandol area, located between Marseille and Toulon.

Golf in the South of France: 

There are many first-rate golf courses in the region. Here is a selection: The Monte Carlo [33 (0)4 93415070] boasts some wonderful holes and has dazzling views; Golfe de Sainte Maxime [33 (0) 4 944926], with magnificent views over the bay towards St Tropez;Esterel [33 (0)4 94 825500] designed by Robert Trent Jones; the challenging Saint Endreol [33 (0)4 94992299]; the longest established golf course in the south of France, the Cannes Mandelieu Old Course [33(0)4 92973200]; The Riviera Golf Club [33 (0)4 92974949]close to Mandelieu, where accuracy is of the essence; the pricey and dramatic Royal Mougins [33 (0)4 92924969]; the pleasurable Saint Donat [33 (0)4 93097660], also designed by Robert Trent Jones;  Cannes Mougins [33 (0)493757913] is an satisfying and fairly demanding course; Close to Grasse at 600 metres is Claux-Amic [33 (0)4 93605544], which offers fine views and excellent golf. The Gary Player designed Taulane [33 (0)4 93603130] is considered by some to be the greatest course in the south of France. 

Boules   Especially popular in Provence, boules is played throughout the year. Most villages throughout the region boast at least one ‘piste de boules‘. Although many of the players are in their 60s and 70s plus, the game is attracting an increasing number of  young players. Pastis, Marseille’s most famous drink, is synonymous with the game as the après-match drink but chilled rosé is as popular.

Museums and Galleries  For art lovers, Provence is also a delight. Those who have left some of their treasures from their lives in this region include leading lights of the Impressionist movement, Paul Cézanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, cubist Fermand Léger, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso. The tourist office in each town supplies full information on what’s on, where and when but here is a small selection to consider:  Musée Picasso in Antibes; Musée National Fernand Léger in Biot, Musée Fragonard in Grasse, Musée Matisse in Nice, the Fondation Maeght in Saint Paul de Vence and the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain also in Nice.  

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What’s On in the South of France

Additional to the plethora of museums, many of which have constantly changing exhibitions, there are a multitude of events throughout the year. For those with eclectic tastes, time will be the only limiter to around the clock entertainment. 

January has The Monte Carlo Rally.

February the Mardi Gras Carnival in Nice

March the International Flower Festival in Cagnes-sur-Mer

April the Féria Pascale in Arles to celebrate the beginning of the bullfighting season

May the Cannes Film Festival, the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters and the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Historique (every other year).

June the Son-et-Lumière in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Juan les Pins and Nice devote much of July to their celebrated Jazz Festivals

August the Fete du Jasmin in Grasse and sparkling firework displays all over

September the Montgolfiades Internationales in Haute Provence for balloonists, 

October the Foire international de Marseille with music, folklore, arts and crafts, Monaco celebrates its National Day with spectacular firework displays in November, and the Fete du Vin in Bandol in December. And those mentioned are but a fraction of this feast of events throughout the year.  

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Looking for a hotel for your holiday in France ? - Use the search facilty below

 

Some interesting places to see in the South of France

(Listed in Alphabetical order)

Aigues-Mortes: This is seemingly untouched since it was built by Louis IX in the 13th Century. The walled town is a perfect example of a medieval village. Even its ramparts are completely intact. From the walls there are fabulous views down into the village itself and for miles across the flat marshy landscape all around. The Constance Tower – once a prominent look out post and the Governor’s house are also worth seeing.

Aix-en-Provence: It is described as the Town of water, town of art... it was built and has developed around this dual identity. It was a Celtic-Ligurian capital from the 3rd century BC was pushed aside for the founding of Aix in 122 BC.  The Cours Mirabeau is the centre of the town  and the heart of Aix. It is a beautiful tree lined avenue,with one side lined with wonderful terrace cafés and bookshops.

Alpilles: The Alpilles are a dramatic chain of mountains that rise up out of the Rhône and the Durance. There are some well worn walking trails that run through the region with red and white markers denoting the Grande Randonnee (GR) trails throughout France. The route along Crêtes or mountain ridge above the village of Saint-Rémy is particularly worthwhile taking. Alternatively you can discover the region on horseback.  

Antibes: This lively town which lies at the opposite end of the Baie des Anges (Nice) is one of the most sought after spots on the coast. It has a picturesque walled old town and in the centre of the old town close to the market is Chateau Grimaldi that houses the Picasso museum that overlooks the sea. There are some lovely sandy beaches, including the Plage de la Salis that is open to the public. In neighbouring Juan les Pins for example many of the stretches of beach are only for the use of hotels and restaurants (although you can walk along the sun in front of them).(see also Cap d’Antibes below)

Arles: Arles was first a Celtic dwelling-place, then a Greek colony, before Julius Caesar settled the veterans of his Roman legions here in 46 BC. Arles is has varied landscapes. It is the gateway to the Camargue, one of the nicest natural sites in Europe with an exceptionally rich animal life. The Alpilles (see above), dominated by the town of Les Baux-de-Provence, stretch 25 kilometers to the Northeast. These limestone hills are surrounded by sunny pleasant Provençal villages spread out among vineyards and olive orchard. On the border between Provence and Languedoc, your stay in Arles will bring you close to Beaucaire and Tarascon, Les Saintes-Maries de la Mer, Nîmes and the Pont-du-Gard, Avignon and the Papal Palace, Aix-en-Provence and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, Marseille.

Avignon: is a city of full of history and city of theatre, Located at the confluence of the Rhône and Durance rivers, Avignon is well known for its ramparts, its famous Pont Saint-Bénezet and the Palais des Papes. (Popes palace) It is a  fortified city that is marked by papal history. The walls of the city have seven doors that are superbly preserved and you can then discover the city of the Popes. The Palais des Papes built in the 14th century overlooks a lively square. Nearby are the museums the Petit Palais and Palais du Roure and not too far away is the famous Pont Saint-Bénezet

Baie des Anges: This vast bay stretches from the Cap d’Antibes westwards as far as Cap Ferrat in the east with Antibes at one end and Nice at the other.  If you fly to Nice you will normally approach the airport via the Baie des Anges and from the Antibes direction pass over the semi circular development of apartments at Villeneuve Loubet. Another good vantage point to view the baie is the château in Nice.

Biot: is located 5 kms inland; it is built on a headland that is typical of this type of hill top village (Mougins, St Paul de Vence, Cagnes old town etc) and overlooks the sea. It is one of the art centres of the south of France. Apart from its beautiful location, a major reason to visit Biot is for the potteries and glassworks (Verreries) and the Léger Museum. The artist Fernand Léger made the village his home and both it and its people had a profound effect on his work. Unlike some of the neighbouring hill top villages, Biot has not been spoilt by too many art shops, estate agents and expensive restaurants. It still retains much of its cobbled streets.

Cannes: It is described by some as one of the classiest resorts on the Cote d’Azur, although very expensive and having one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, you can still find a reasonably priced hotel and meals locally. It is has a picturesque old town overlooking the town and is famous for its annual film festival held in May each year. It has wonderful sandy beaches that are accessible from the main promenade “La Croisette”. There is also a working fishing port contrasted by private moorings from some the most expensive yachts in the world.

Cavaillon: The town of Cavaillon is normally associated with Charentais melons that are a major crop. It lays claim to one of the few remaining triumphal arches of Roman France. The arch is still in remarkable condition and with some exquisite carvings it was moved during the 19th century from its original location and is now on the edge of the square where the weekly fruit and vegetable market is held.

Camargue: The flat marshy land of the Camargue is renowned for its bird life, particularly the pink flamingos. The main centre is the village of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, from where boat trips leave several times a day during summer. You can also consider taking a four wheel drive safari.

Cap d’Antibes:  It was renowned as the party capital of the Riviera in the 1920’s. The Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc was one of the first to open for the summer season. The area was soon popular with rich Americans, including Scott and Zelda Fitgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Rudolph Valentino. Later on other famous names made their homes in the area – Graham Greene and Pablo Picasso. Today the Cap still retains its elegance and you can take some interesting walks along the coast. There is 24.5km of coastline and has five harbours. One of these is Port Vauban situated overlooked by Antibes vielle ville. This is one of the largest in Europe and you can see boats that range from small pleasure boats to yachts that are big enough to have their own helicopters on one of the decks!  Overlooking the Port from the Baie des Anges side is Fort Carré.   

Cassis: This is a charming resort that has a picturesque harbour. Sir Winston Churchill used to paint there when he was taking holidays in the area.You can also take boat trips from there.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape: This is one of the best known names in the wine world. Châteauneuf was where the Avignon Popes had their summer residence. There are dozens of wine producers in the village who are all keen to explain how they make their wines and then how their wine is better than their competitor’s! There are plenty of opportunities to taste without having to buy.

Eze: There is Eze sur Mer and perched up on the hill behind it is Eze village. Some say that it is one of the most perfect spots on the Cote d’Azur with spectacular views over the Mediterranean coast with the Alps as a backdrop.

Fréjus: Julius Caesar founded this town. It was once important port and was larger under the Romans than it is today. Sections of the old city walls are still visible, as are parts of an aqueduct; a theatre, amphitheatre, and various other buildings that are all now intermingled with the remains of the medieval city that took over where the Romans left off.   

Gordes: This village is perched on a hilltop above the Luberon National Park (see Luberon National Park below). This is one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of France. The views of Gordes from the approach road are breathtaking. In the village itself, there are steep cobbled streets that meander up and down around a château built in the 11th century. This is the focal point of the village. You can relax for a while in one of the many shaded cafés in the Place du Marché. 

Grasse:  Although it has expanded in modern times, it has managed to hold on to its village atmosphere. It is very famous as being the centre of the French perfume industry and many of the perfumeries are open to visitors. Before it was famous for perfume it was very well known for its tanneries. Today there are over 30 perfumeries. There Grasse is surrounded by acres of scented flowers. There is a daily flower market in the Place aux Aires. Grasse hosts an annual international rose exhibition each May and there is the La Jasminade flower fête each August. The old medieval village is a comfortable mixture of narrow cobbled streets climbing up and down and elegant merchant homes. A great deal of money is being spent on the town by local government.

The town’s Romanesque Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Puy was built in the 12th century to replace a 200 year old fortress. Part of the original tower still remains. The south side of the cathedral houses many works of art including several by Fragonard and Rubens. Fragonard was the son of a Grassois perfumed glove maker. His painting can be seen in the Villa-Musée Fragonard.

Hyères: This is the oldest resort on the coast that has been popular since the late 19th century when many wealthy British people came to the town to spend the winter. As a result the town has many elegant villas that are surrounded by delightful gardens. The beaches are located on the eastern side of the peninsula south of the town and three beautiful islands are accessible from the port.  

Iles de Lérins: The beaches on the two Lérins islands Sainte Marguerite and Saint Honorat are the least crowded on the French Riviera because a lot of people are deterred  by the 15 minute boat trip from Cannes. Both the islands are covered with eucalyptus and pine trees and offer lovely unspoilt beaches to explore. It is easy to walk around the islands.

Les Baux De Provence: Les Baux looks like a large rock from the east side. Go around to the other side and you will discover that the village has been literally carved out of it. Originally there was just a castle that played an important role in the turbulent history of medieval Provence. The rest of the village was added several centuries later. Why not spend a night there so that you can wander during the evening and avoiding the day trippers.

Nestling just below Les Baux and with spectacular views of the castle is the L’Oustau de Baumaniere. The views of the castle are even better when it is illuminated at night. It is a quite spot off the tourist track, but it is a central base for exploring the Alpilles region. The gardens are planted with roses and scented plants and there are plenty of places to sit, eat and drink in the open air.

Luberon National Park: This was made popular for British tourists in Peter Mayle’s book “A year in Provence”, it is well worth a visit. It has spectacular scenery and dramatic hill villages. An ideal way to get around is on bike. They can be rented locally in towns such as Apt.

Marseille: Is part of the region of Provence, Marseilles was founded in 600 b.c. by the Greek sailors of Phocaea. It city is the oldest in France and second largest city in France and the largest commercial port, Marseilles. When France was a colonial power it was the gateway to the Mediterranean, Today Marseilles remains a capital of southern Europe, cosmopolitan and exuberant, with its picturesque old port, its Bouillabaisse and its folklore. 

The old port has lots of charm and plenty of good restaurants. The speciality is bouillabaisse made from a selection of local fish and seafood. There are restaurants all along the three quaysides that enclose the harbour. The most popular with locals is Le Mets de Provence.

Menton: Is the warmest resort on the French Mediterranean coast. It is therefore also a good place to visit out of season. It is less pretentious than a lot of other resorts. It seems to have been almost overlooked by tourists. The local government has spent a great deal of money on it over the past few years and it is very attractive. The old town buildings clinging to the hillside, that dips steeply into the sea. It is a border town and although feels very French, it also has a very Italian flavour to it as well.

 

Monaco: Located on the Mediterranean Sea, tucked into the Maritimes Alps,  it is only minutes from Nice International Airport ( bus, train and helicopter connections) and  the French and Italian Rivieras. It has a population of 32,020 and is  2 sq km in size. The currency is the euro as in the neighbouring countries. Most of the people who dwell here come from somewhere else, drawn by the sun, glamourous lifestyle and – most importantly – tax-free income and more police per head of population than in any other European country.

Monaco's history is pretty much the history of the Grimaldi family who have ruled the principality for over 700 years. - A 1918 treaty with France states that, should the Grimaldis die out, Monaco will become an autonomous state of France. In -2002 Laws were passed in the same year to ensure that the Grimaldi family would remain in power even if Prince Albert did not have an heir to the throne. There are a number of annual events held including the Formula 1 Grand Prix in May (and every other year the Historic Grand Prix) and International Open Tennis Championships in April, Monte Carlo car Rally in January and the Monte Carlo Television Festival in February.

The famous casino can be found in Casino Square at Monte Carlo.

Montpellier: is in the heart of the Laguedoc region. It is 7km from the sea and has the benefit of its own airport. The centre of the town is the Place de la Comédie which is surrounded by buildings including the opera house. There is an old town that is mostly pedestrianised has picturesque squares and courtyards. There are plenty of shops along the Grande Rue Jean Moulin. There is always something on there – music, dance and art festivals,

Nice: Putting the mild climate and diverse landscapes aside, Nice is more than just a seaside resort. It is one of the most stylish cities in France. Apart from the beach that extends for miles, there are plenty of shops, a Russian cathedral, an old quarter with a lively market and a couple of worthwhile museums. One of these is dedicated to Chagall and the other to Matissse. They both worked and lived in the region.

The city of Nice extends inland with its pedestrian area featuring luxury boutiques, Massena gardens with their fountains and the picturesque old town. Nice stretches the length of the Baie des Anges, lighting up the whole of the Riviera with its majesty. When you fly into Nice airport the views are superb by day or night.

It is a magnificent city, the epitome of Riviera charm, a gentle way of life and luxury that has an exceptionally mild and sunny climate, blue sea and azure skies. Nice is a thriving tourist city, sought after all year round by lovers of the French Riviera. The Promenade des Anglais is a world-famous attraction, which is the pride of the city of Nice.

Nice offers everything you could wish for in a holiday destination - history, spectacular scenery, architecture and a buzzing nightlife, not forgetting plenty of sun and sea.  

Located half way along the Promenade des Anglais is famous Negresco hotel. It has become a landmark in its own right. Henri Negresco was a director of the casino and he built the hotel with the sole intention of attracting its wealthiest clients who would appreciate the palatial surroundings that are still a major feature. Guests have the use of a private beach.

Well worth a visit is the Old Town that dates back to medieval times or La colline du chateau dating back to the eleventh century. The old town contains within its narrow alleyways, the expanses of its squares and the Cours Saleya over 250 restaurants, 200 boutiques and galleries. Other excellent places for sightseeing include the Basilique Notre-Dame - the largest church in Nice, built in 1864. Other sightseeing hotspots include La Cathedrale Saint-Reparate, built in the seventeenth century, and the 16th century L'Ancien Hotel de Ville, formerly Nice's town hall. Climb (or take the lift) up to the castle and enjoy panoramic views over the Baie des Anges and visit the two cemeteries lying side by side the Christian and neighbouring Jewish cemetery.

Nimes: There may be 19 amphitheatres in the Roman world that are larger than the Arena at Nimes. It is the best preserved. It was originally used for gladiators or animal combat. Later it became a military fortress and then in medieval times houses were added that turned it into a small town. The modern removable covering allows the amphitheatre to be used all year round for performances. Nimes was once a Roman staging post between Spain and Italy. Although full of it’s heritage it is also a real living city. The famous Pont du Gard a tripple decker Roman aqueduct built to bring drinking water to Nimes is well worth seeing. It was built just before the birth of Christ. There are some pleasant walks along the river and you can also walk across the aqueduct as well.  Rental France

Orange: was the former seat of the counts of Orange Today the town is best known for its spectacular  Roman theatre that is the best preserved in Europe. Much of the back wall of the stage is still intact. In a series of pillars and niches containing the statues of imperial benefactors, a statue of the Emperor Augustus nearly 4 metres high has been reconstructed from fragments found around the theatre and replaced in its domed niche in the centre of the wall. 
the Arc de Triomphe, whose intricate frieze and relief celebrates imperial victories against the Gauls. It was built around 20 BC outside the town walls to recall the victories of the Roman Second Legion.

Port Grimaud was designed in 1966 by the French architect Francois Spoerry. It was the dream of an architect and sailor as well, having his own boat just in front of the house. It is the most significant construction of its style in the whole Mediterranean. All units in Port Grimaud, except smaller apartments, have their own mooring Port Grimaud is an excellent marina across the bay of Saint-Tropez, protected from Wind form the East and the ”Mistral” from the West.

Roussillon: The unique feature of this hilltop village are the ochre colours of the landscape. The shades of earth range from deep red to pale yellow and are visible in the hillsides and rock outcrops resulting in a wonderful contrast against the greens of the foliage. A well defined walking trail that takes approximately half an hour leads you past the most dramatic colour combinations.  

St Tropez: This was once the home of painters and artists who valued the fact that it was the most inaccessible village on the coast. St Tropez suddenly saw a tourism boom that brought it to life after Brigitte Bardot came there in the 1950’s to film “And God created Woman” Many other famous people have lived there including Eddie Barclay and Dirk Bogarde It is quite difficult to get into the village in the height of the season, with long queues, but despite that once you are in there it still has that unhurried Provencal atmosphere. The best beaches will be found a few kilometres out of the town to the southeast. 

Villefranche-sur-Mer: Located on the east side of Nice, just five kilometres away, this picturesque village has not lost any of it’s character over the last 30 years.It is one of the most spectacular sections of the Riviera.It is built on wooded slopes around a picturesque fishing harbour and small port . There are restaurants facing the port. The old town that climbs up the hill with the church in the centre has narrow lanes and tall brightly coloured houses, some of which have "tunnels" between them.There is a good stretch of sandy and shingle beach beach and every Sunday there is a flea market offering a good selection of bric a brac. There is even a special dog toilet. Cruise liners often stay overnight in the the deeper waters and their passengers are ferried into the town for sight seeing.

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Cautious optimism for the French Riviera

As there is now increasing competition from the resorts in Eastern Europe and the growing influence of low cost airlines, the French Riviera is now struggling to maintain market share in the tourism industry. The strong Euro had not helped and Eastern Europe has more availability and is less expensive.

Tourism industry experts are a little more optimistic after the 2005 season. In Nice for example there was a 4 per cent increase in hotel guests in July compared to the same time in 2004 according to the Syndicat des hôteliers Nice Côte d'Azur. They indicated that the hotel occupancy in Nice was at around 70/75 per cent in 4 star and deluxe hotels and 80/85 per cent in other categories.

 

There are several factors contributing to the upward trend. There are now low cost routes into Nice from Bratislava and Budapest and the Euro is not quite as strong as it had been. The region has been using the Internet more for promoting travel packages with the annual events like jazz festivals and there has been a change in which hotels have adapted to the needs of their customer base.

The main visitors to the region are principally foreign tourists from Britain, Belgium and Germany and more Americans are returning to France. Nice Côte d'Azur airport has reported a 6 per cent increase in passenger traffic. There is also a booming cruise liner market with Monaco and Cannes reporting a 55 percent cent rise in passengers. They still have a long way to go before they regain their previous dominance and the job now is to keep people interested.

New directives reveal that the future of regional tourism is believed to be concentrated on two main markets. Leisure - affiliated with events, special interest tours and cultural highlights. events. The other is Business tourism -
Conferences. September 2005

FRANCE General Information

Emergency Numbers: Ambulance (samu) 15

Fire (Pompiers) 18 Police 17 European Emergency 112

Police Municipale - Town & City areas

Police Nationale - local district area

Gendaramarie - Run by army deals with serious crime

Speed Limits: Autoroute/motorway: 130km/h - 110km/h when raining. They are indicated by blue & white signs and the majority of the French network is by toll - péage.

Dual Carriage ways: 110km/h - 100km/h when raining

Regional Roads: 90km/h - 80km/h when raining - Regional Roads: 50km/h

Mobile Phones: Must not be used by vehicle driver unless it has a hands free kit.

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Electricity voltage: 230V, 50Hz European 2 prong round plug.

Telephone Dialling Country Code: +33

Currency: Euro - (€)

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property Services 09-05

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