Thursday, May 31, 2012

“Rendez-vous aux Jardins”

June 1, 2, & 3, 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the “Rendezvous aux Jardins,” an annual cultural event organized by the Minister of Culture & Communication — around 2,200 gardens, all over France, will be opened to the public, displaying the link between art and landscapes. So, come stroll along, and take time to smell some roses!

Gardens listed for Nice (see link and type in Nice in Chercher par Commune box)

Amusez-vous bien!

Organisés par le ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, les Rendez-vous aux jardins fêtent en 2012 leur dixième anniversaire et rassembleront tous les passionnés de jardins les 1, 2 et 3 juin autour d’un thème d’une grande richesse, à la croisée des disciplines et des réflexions sur le dialogue entre art(s) et paysage(s) : “Le jardin et ses images.”
Le thème “Le jardin et ses images” choisi pour cette édition 2012 propose de réfléchir aux différentes représentations du jardin, qu’elles soient figurées, littéraires, poétiques, musicales ou mentales.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Since the weather is getting warmer, and summer is just around the corner, this article, as posted in the Riviera Times, is indeed … well, timely – and good news for tourists – come and enjoy!

"Riviera beaches given blue flag

This year, more beaches than ever before in France have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award, marking their environmental excellence and quality of service. A wave of blue flags will now fly high on 52 beaches in the Alpes Maritimes and some 39 along the coast in the Var.

Beau Rivage beach in Nice is just one of the many blue flag beaches on the Côte d’Azur
For over 25 years, the distinguished Blue Flag has flown as a sign of environmental and tourism excellence, as well as recognising high water quality and public facilities on many beaches across the globe.

In France, a record number of beaches across the country have been awarded the prestigious title this year, a remarkable 377 in total.

Although, there weren’t any new additions in the Var, it was good news for the Alpes Maritimes, after the Pierre au Tambour beach secured its first blue title.

Blue flag beaches 2012 in the Alpes Maritimes:

- Antibes (Les Groules, Fontonne Est, Fontonne Ouest, Pont Dulys, Antibesles-Pins Est, Antibes-les-Pins Ouest, Garoupe Est, La Gravette, La Salis, Le Ponteil, Grande-Plage-Juan les-Pins, Gallice, Marineland, Square Gould and Ponton Courbet)

- Cannes (Chantiers Navals, Trou (Roubine), Font de Veyre, Gabres, Gare Marchandises, Gazaniaire, Ile Sainte Marguerite Est, Ile Saint Marguerite Ouest, Midi, Moure Rouge, Riou, Rochers de la Bocca, Saint Georges and Sud Aviation)

- Cap d’Ail (Mala, Marquet and Pissarelles)

- Nice (Bambou, Beau Rivage, Carras, Castel, Coco Beach, Galion, Lido, Magnan and Forum)

- Vallauris (Barraya, Jeunes, Midi Centre, Midi Est, Midi Ouest, Pascalin, Poste CRS and Tetou)

- Villeneuve-Loubet (Lifeguard station number 2 and Pierre au tambour)”


French Breathalyzer Law Update

Driver’s Beware ! (article link)

The latest news on the french breathalyzer law is that, as was speculated , it has been now been confirmed that the new french law that requires motorists to carry NF approved breathalyzer kits in their cars from the 1st July 2012 or face fines will not actually be enforced by police until 1st November 2012.

(Source: French breathlyzer website)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day at the Beach in Nice for sun, fun, & sand ? (Non – rocks!)

With all the recent rainy weather and cooler-than-normal temperatures, it was sunny and warm in Nice — a good day to head to the beach….but I couldn’t decide on which one?

There are many private and public beaches along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice to choose from (even a few public sandy areas); however, I picked Bambou Plage, located across from Lenval Hospital (where Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt gave birth to twins!)

Since the beach wasn’t crowded, I was upgraded to the VIP loungers on the “2eme ligne” (2nd row back from sea) — quelle surprise! The extra-wide loungers had tiltable, overhead screens for shielding your head/eyes from the sun, if desired.As I sipped a glass of champagne, they brought out nibbles of toasts with tapenade. A tranquil setting and just what I needed to chill out, literally and figuratively!
For lunch, I found their “suggestions” menu a little pricey, so I ordered “a la carte”: a “salade chef” and “moules frites” (mussels and fries), dining just behind the rows of sun loungers. With views of the sea and of a cruise ship in the distance, I ate a leisurely lunch, served with a glass of rosé.

The service was friendly and efficient, with “service compris” (tip included), as is usual in France, but with a cute ‘tip jar’ on the counter, just in case!

(Photos copyright 24/7 in France)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Equestrian Ballet: Dancing horse!

I was an avid equestrian and horseowner, and although I never personally did dressage, I appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to reach a high standard of performance. This horse is magnificent — a performance that speaks for itself and made me teary-eyed!

(click on video link & enjoy!)

Scooter Dude !

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cooking lesson – an important ‘ingredient’ !

With all the great fruit and vegetable markets in and around Nice, I am inspired to experiment more with French-style cooking — not a task to be taken lightly, as I was in a cooking-the-same-old-things type of rut — yes, reliable and easier, but not very exciting!

Using the wonderful produce and exotic ingredients available here, I have become an improved food shopper and, dare I say, better chef ?! Well, let’s just say, I’m working at it and, at least, enjoying it more!

‘Ingredient’ to remember:
30 second lesson

Brain food: Being Bi-lingual !

As a former middle/high school French teacher, articles about language learning always catch my attention — pretty cool that there are associated health benefits to studying a foreign language!

According to a recent article in The Connexion, an English-language newspaper:

“Being bilingual is good for your brain – and can even fend off Alzheimer’s Disease, says one of the world’s leading experts in the subject.
According to psychologist Ellen Bialystok of York University in Canada, “the benefits of bilingualism increase with its duration and the more you practise it, the better it is”.

All bilingual children experience similar benefits, she told Le Figaro. These include an ability to perform in a noisy environment due to skill at separating out different sounds and greater mental flexibility including enhanced ability with all tasks requiring “complex thoughts”.

A researcher at the Paris-Descartes University, Ranka Bijeljac-Babic, backed the findings. “Being bilingual helps you to pass from one piece of information to another, to change the centre of your attention,” she said.
However Professor Bialystok said “the most surprising discovery of recent years” is the way that bilingualism holds back Alzheimer’s, “significantly” – by more than five years on average.

Ms Bijeljac-Babic said the latest thinking is there is no need to follow the one parent, one language approach.”

(Photo: The Connexion)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cros de Cagnes? Cagnes? Haut de Cagnes?

A friend of mine invited me to lunch, in Cros de Cagnes-sur-Mer (pronounced “crow de canya sir mare”), which is in fact, the more touristy, seaside-promenade area of Cagnes-sur-Mer – the larger area of town, with many neighborhoods. Then, there is Haut de Cagnes-sur-Mer (pronounced “oh de canya sir mare”), which is a fortified perched, mediéval village further back (about 2 miles) from the sea.
It was a sunny, yet windy day, and as I watched a plane coming in for a landing at the Nice airport, I also noticed that Cros de Cagnes is a fisherman’s village.
We ate at a restaurant along the Promenade, called San Marino, with its welcoming, brasserie-style atmosphere and entertaining waiters. We enjoyed a kir apero, ate, and chatted leisurely, for about 3 hours, never being rushed by the staff. I chose a “tajine aux légumes.”

Served with potatoes, green beans, carrots, peas, artichokes, lima beans, and olives — it was absolutely delicious!!

It was a great day to catch up with each other’s latest news, relax over a wonderful meal, and just take time to smell the … uh, not roses — I don’t know what this striking, unusual flower is called!

All photos © 24/7 in France 2012 – all rights reserved.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

QUIZ - Le Partitif

Complete using the following choices: un, une, des, du de la, de l’, de or d’

1. Je voudrais 2 kilos ___ bananes s’il vous plait.
2. Je n’ai pas ___ chat.
3. Regarde ! ___ maison jaune.
4. Je voudrais ___ gateau s’il vous plait. (a whole one)
5. Je voudrais ___ gateau s’il vous plait. (a portion)
6. Il voudrait ___ tranche ___ gateau s’il vous plait. (a slice)
7. Non merci, je ne veux pas ___ tarte.
8. Je voudrais ___ eau, s’il vous plait.
9. Tu as ___ courage!
10. Achete ___ oranges.
11. Prends ___ glace a la vanille.

(Answers: 1-de/2-de/3-une/4-un/5-du/ l’/9-du/10-des/11-de la or une or la (all three are correct depending on the context)

Some tidbits of trivia!

Having been in Nice for five years now, I have done a few walking tours, along with some additional research. I would like to share with you some well-known, and some not so well-known, factoids and trivia – Enjoy!

Do you know?

Provence area:
~ the first area to be planted with grapes by the Greeks in 600BC; Rose makes up about 60% of wine production
~ total sunshine averages around 300 days per year, with hot/dry summers and mild winters
~ the violent wind that originates from North Africa is called the “mistral” which comes from the word “mistrau” meaning master; these winds can be around 200 km/hr. (124 mph) and last 3-10 days; the saying goes, it can “blow the ears off a donkey”
~ the provencal language differs from French in openness of vowel pronounciation
~ provencal food features garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, and olives
~ Nicois specialties include Pissaladiere (onion pie), Tourte de blettes (swiss chard pie), Farcis Nicois (stuffed vegetables), Beignets de fleurs de courgettes (deep fried flowering squash), Socca (chickpea-flour crepe), Pan-bagnat (sandwich)
~lavender originated from the Canary Islands and was brought in by the Romans
~ symbols include: sunflowers, herbes de Provence (thyme, basil, rosemary), fabrics called “Indiennes” with the most well-known brand being “Souleiado”; kir – white wine with creme de cassis; pastis – licorice flavored alcohol mixed with water; Petangue/Boules – also known as Bocce
~ Monet lived in Antibes; Renoir in Cagnes-sur-Mer; Picasso in Juan-les-Pins; Chagall in St. Jean Cap-Ferrat
~ Mediterranean France is like a tapestry with threads of history woven into it with a mix of architecture – Roman, Medieval, Baroque, Modern
~ Monaco is the world’s most populated country, second smallest independent nation, and the smallest French-speaking country

~ the meaning of Nice (Nikaia in Greek) is the Goddess of victory; it became part of France in 1860
~ the Opera burned down in 1881 and was re-built in 1882; the 4 rooftop statues represent theater/dance/music/song
~ original name of the Promenade des Anglais was “La Strada del Littorale” and it was originally made of marble
~ Albert 1st park is named after a Belgian king and is the oldest garden in Nice
~ the Carnaval has been a tradition for 700 years
~ the name “Cote d’Azur” was coined by the writer and poet, Stephen Liegeard, in 1888
~ the destruction of the castle on Castle Hill was destroyed in 1706 by Louis XIV, but this resulted in the city’s growth
~ Nice’s traditional flower is the carnation; Nice’s specialty olive is the “caillette”, and tapenade is called the “caviar of Nice”
~ candied fruit was a favorite delicacy of Queen Victoria
~ Cours Saleya market was named after the sun “soleil” and has been Nice’s main market since the Middle Ages
~ Architecturally: Italian colors are ochre and yellow; French colors are beige and white – as seen in Place Massena

Hope you get to visit this area and enjoy in person all that it has to offer!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nuit des Musées (Museum night)

Nuit des Musées (Museum night)

In 2001, this cultural event (free entry to museums evening) was created to encourage young people and families to visit local museums, with 39 countries participating. It falls on the Saturday closest to May 18th, which is the date for the European International Museum Day, so that the general public can take part in their country’s culture.

In keeping with the festivities, I attended “Les Concerts du Conservatoire,”a free concert held in the Chateau-Museum Grimaldi, with a free tour afterwards. There were beautifully-framed works of art on the walls, with standing room only. After the town’s mayor introduced the orchestra, we heard pieces by Vivaldi, Barbella, Sibelius, and Piazzolla — Baroque period chamber music and various other rhythmic, musical works.  Everyone seemed to enjoy both the visual and acoustical ambiance of the entertaining;  being a dancer, I was ready to tango (link to dance video)!