Learn French in France: French Language Course in Paris and on the French Riviera (Cote d'Azur)

The Cote d'Azur / French Riviera:
Main attraction of France, with its
all-year round sun and beaches

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Cote d'Azur / Riviera

Côte d'Azur, French Riviera... These names are synonymous with sun, glamour and luxury and conjure up visions of movie starlets stepping out of sports luxury cars, of shapely young women tanning topless on the beach, of elegant couples in dinner suits and evening gowns sitting at the Black Jack tables of small, stylish casinos, of multi-million-dollar megayachts tied up at glamorous marinas, and of holidaying crowds wandering along the Promenade des Anglais or the Croisette, the famous waterfront streets of Nice and Cannes.

But the region offers more contrasts than probably anywhere else in the world: unspoilt islands, rugged, rocky inlets and fine

beaches sit shoulder to shoulder with the large cosmopolitan resorts of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. And who could miss out St. Tropez with its famous clock tower, picturesque cobbled streets and a collection of designer boutiques to rival Bond Street! Here the ladies can - and do - get the sand between their toes whilst wearing their stilettos...

• Eze Village
Eze's history is typified in its topography. Occupied from the end of the bronze period, the eagle nest perched up to 400 m above the sea, has been fit up by the Celto Ligurian, then reorganized by Romans, Lombards and Saracens. Part of the earldom of Nice and Provence until 1388, Eze went under the authority of the count of Savoy. Eze suffered French invasions from 6th to 18th century. In 1792, before the creation of the Alpes Maritimes, Eze was a part of Monaco district, and was united to France in 1860.
Known or unknown, Eze charms all visitors. Some just passed, others, seduced by its characteristics and its landscapes, stopped definitively or adopted it as a vacation place...
In 1780, the Countess of Genlis recalling her journey from Nice to Genoa on the high road cliff described the "enormous rocks as a sort of a wall rising up to heaven" and "precipices of five hundred feet" around the village. In 1868, Georges Sand after the evocation of the "enchantment" of the panorama, described "the ruins of Eze, planted on a cone of rocks, with a typical village as a sugar loaf, stop the people. It is the most beautiful panorama of the road, the most complete and wonderfully composed". 20
years later, Frederic Nietzsche took the path from the station at Eze on the Sea to the village and composed the draught of his "third Zarathoustra" on his way to this "marvelous moorish village called Eza built in between rocks". In 1887, Stephen Liegeard, the inventor of the expression "Côte d'Azur" compared the shape of the village to a woman: "The grooves of the path seem to be the gold laces of her black blouse. The sun has tanned her forehead, the storm and the cannon when they explode have jagged a ruined diadem".
Victorien Sardou, the academician prefers to admire the nuances of the green vegetation, describing "the almond and peach trees, the thick and luxuriant foliage of the carob trees, the grey silvery of the olive trees".

• Gorges du Loup
The narrow and beautiful Gorges du Loup cuts north-south through the hills at the foot of Gourdon, 12 km from Grasse.
The road along the forested edge of the hills runs from Châteauneuf Pré-du-Lac (near Grasse) through Le Bar-sur-Loup, Pont-du-Loup, Tourrettes-sur-Loup and Vence.
Down in the bottom of the valley at Pont-du-Loup, where a little road turns off to go up through the gorge, you see Gourdon perched on the cliffs high above, and the tall pillars of the bombed-out railway viaduct crossing the valley in a curve.
About 4 km up the deep valley, the Cascade de Courmes (waterfall) comes down over a notch in a long feather of water blowing in the nearly constant wind. The water then spills over large mossy boulders into the pool, 40m below the top.

• Gourdon
The castle of Gourdon has been open to visitors since 1950, and was classed as an historical monument. Of particular note are its magnificent gardens, designed by LENOTRE, and its architecture dating from the 9th century, three centuries before the first stone of the Louvre was laid in Paris. With a guided visit you can learn about its long history.
You will have the chance to admire the work of many different
creators (Glass artists, Glass blowers, Painters on Silk and Enamel, Creators of perfumes, toiletry products and soaps, Pain d'épices makers, etc...) and buy their products.
From la Place Victoria you will have a magnificent view of the the whole Riviera,of an impressive size and depth, with colours that change with the time and the season. On the horizon, the sea blends with the sky. To the left glimmers Cape Ferrat, Nice, the mouth of the Var, Cagnes and the Hippodrome, Antibes and the Cape of Antibes, Juan les Pins, the Lérins Islands, Cannes, La Napoule, St Tropez, les Maures and l'Estérel, lost in the azure. At our feet, the mule track from Heaven on the rock known as "Le Grougne". Below and to the left, the entrance to the Gorges du Loup and the Pont du Loup Hamlet. Above, the Courmette mountain. In the middle, the immense green valley crossed by the Loup To the left, the la Colle road and, higher up, the road to Nice via Vence. At the bottom the large plateau of the Rouret closes off the valley. You can make out Roquefort, Mougins and le Castellaras on the brow of a hill. To the right is the pretty, ancient village of Bar sur Loup. To the right, closer to us, is the large bare plateau of la Sarrée, then the bois de Gourdon. At the bottom of a deep gorge bubbles the Riou de Gourdon.

• Grasse
"Stand on the large public terrace across from the road from the Palais de Congrès and the bay of Cannes opens up before you". Nearly 200 years ago Napoléon's sister, Pauline Bonaparte would contemplate the view and enjoy the rich bouquet which rose up from the sweetly scented plain. Even then, Grasse was reknowned throughout Europe as the perfume capital of the world.
A series of limestone terraces spreads outwards and upwards from the bay of Cannes like a natural ampitheatre, and Grasse has the best seat in the house. But there's a lot more to do than simply take in the view.
The most chattered about piece of Grasse's past is to do with it's position on the Route Napoléon and the lengthy and tumultuous stay of Pauline Bonaparte when she was separated from Prince Borghese.
And then there's the perfume industry.
Fragonard (1731-1806), the painter son of a glove tanner, is one of the towns favourite sons, along with the Amiral de Grasse. The Fragonard museum and perfumerie which bears his name are well worth a visit, as are the Galimard and Molinard sites.
As well as visiting the surrounding villages and golf courses , make sure you have time to visit the provençal market in the Place aux Aires.


• Massif de l'Esterel
Stretching for 24 miles of coast from La Napoule to St-Raphaël, this mass of twisted red volcanic rock is a surreal landscape of dramatic panoramas. Forest fires have devastated all but a small section of cork oak, adding barrenness to an already otherworldly place.
Following the path of the ancient Roman Aurelian Way, N7 traces the area's northern edge, running through the Estérel Gap between Fréjus and Cannes. To get to the massif's summit, Mont Vinaigre (elevation 1,962 ft.), turn right at the Testannier crossroads 7 miles northeast of Fréjus. A parking area allows you to leave your car and make the final 15 minutes of the ascent on foot, climbing to the observation deck of a watchtower for a view stretching from the Alps to the Massif des Maures.
This route offers the massif's most stunning vistas, first turning inland just beyond Le Trayas at Pointe de l'Observatoire, where you can ascend to the Grotte de la Ste-Baume for the views that inspired the medieval hermit St. Honorat, who once dwelt in the cave. Farther along N98, at Pointe de Baumette, is a memorial to the French writer/aviator Antoine de St-Exupéry. At Agay, turn inland again to reach the rocky Gorge du Mal-Infernet, a twisted rut in the earth, offering a contrast to the surrounding peaks with their overview of the region. Continuing along this inland route leads you to Pic du Cap-Roux, at 1,438 feet, and Pic de l'Ours, at 1,627 feet, both offering sweeping views of land and sea.

• Massif du Tanneron
Tanneron is a quiet little village situated in the extreme east of Var, next to the Alpes Maritimes. It is the capltal of the Tanneron Massif so well known for the abundance of its fine mimosa.
This little village sits on the top of a hill in the middle of a huge forest of mimosa. Tanneron is at the eastern edge of the Var, next to the village of Auribeau-sur-Siagne in the Alpes-Maritime. As lovely as this region is, Tanneron isn't a typical tourist site, and much of the large population (of over 1000) reside in the surrounding area rather than in the center of the village, including in 13 nearby forest hamlets.
From different parts of the village sitting up on the hill, there is a
view in nearly every direction, including all the way up the front of the hills to the northeast past the "Baus" of Vence and St. Jeannet to the beginnings of the Alps.
Nearby sites include as waterfall (the Cascade de la Siagne) down the hill at St. Cassien to the northeast.

• Monaco, Monte Carlo
Two words which evoke a magical dream world.
The Principality of Monaco offers many facets. Monaco's exceptional location, between mountain and sea, its gardens, its athletic and cultural events...all qualities which make it the ideal destination for a romantic vacation or an unforgettable conference.
Although not always recognized and sometimes misunderstood, Monaco's economy is in fact very dynamic and oriented towards the future. An independant state in the heart of Europe, the Principality of Monaco offers investors and businessmen an exceptional and secure lifestyle while simultaneously offering them all of the advantages of an attractive fiscal system.
In 1997, Monaco was dressed up to the nines for the 700th
anniversary of the Grimaldi Family Dynasty.

• Mougins
When people talk of Mougins, it is often to say how much they love it.
They love it for its cultural heritage, its museums, its golfs, its many events, the balance between the wealth of its past and the great promise of its future.
They love it for the pleasure of strolling through its streets and squares, the gastronomy of its restaurants, its art galleries.
They love it for its parks and gardens, its forest, its fitness track, its pond.
They love it for its sophisticated technology and its place in Sophia Antipolis, the International Science and Technology Park.
Mougins has a cultural heritage well worth the visit : St-Jacques-le-Majeur church, Notre Dame de Vie chapel celebrated by a painter... Winston CHURCHILL, the ancient St-Barthélemy chapel, with its very rare octagonal shape.
In the village, make sure you visit the Museum of Photography, where the finest contemporary photographers have immortalized Picasso. You can then stop at the old wash-house, Le Lavoir, a veritable museum where artists from all horizons exhibit their works, as if they wished to bestow on the city something of their soul. A little further on, you can smell the turpentine and see the paint brushes soaking in jars on window sills.
Painting has found an ideal setting in Mougins. Picasso, Picabia and many others found their inspiration here. You will also find, along the ancient alleys, small boutiques offering pottery, bouquets of dried flowers and herbs of Provence, a feast for the eyes and all the senses.
Mougins will then have unveiled itself, gradually, as you stroll through the village, like a certain art of living.

• Route Napoleon
Napoleon Bonaparte, who had been exiled on the Island of Elba in 1814, decided to return to the forefront of French political life. A year later, on 1st March, he disembarked at Golfe Juan and set off, accompanied by a handful of his followers, to recover his title. He chose to reach Lyons over the mountains, so as to avoid meeting resistance in royalist towns. So the Route Napoléon is the stretch linking Golfe Juan to Grenoble, via Grasse, Digne and Gap. He managed to cover 324 km. in 6 days, and on 20 March he reached the Tuileries, as planned.

• Saint Cezaire caves
Saint-Cézaire's caves were discovered at random just like that by pickaxe by cultivating a field.
They sink about 50 metres on a route of 200 metres.
They are remarkable by the variety of their concretions and by their extraordinary red tint skilfully highlighted by an appropriate and discreet lighting, they are an unique specimen among this kind of curiosity.
An exceptional visit in a subterranean world which will leave you an unforgettable recollection. The visits are accompanied by experimented guides. The constant temperature is 14 °.
As a supplement to the visit of Caves, Saint-Cézaire's village offers you the vestiges of past.

• Saint Jeannet
Hidden at the foot of an immense "Baou" (cliff), Saint Jeannet is a charming small village located between Vence and Nice. It's a true paradise for climbers as their are a number of marked routes up the colossal "Baou" whose main rock face rises over 200 meters. If you are new to climbing or wish to find a guide there is a Climbing school in the village.
For those of us who prefer Walking & Hiking , there are a number of sign posted walks (45 minutes - 2 hours) around the wonderful natural surroundings to the village of Saint Jeannet, walks which offer magnificent panoramic views over the valley and towards the Côte d'Azur.
In the village itself, discover the picturesque tortuous narrow
streets which climb between the beautiful ancient village houses, and you'll pass by old drinking fountains, washing places and beautiful shady doorways.
In the summer season there are numerous cultural events and down the ages Saint Jeannet has seduced many painters, artists and poets, (Dufy, Trachel, Poussin, Prévert...) who were all fascinated by the landscapes of such a beautiful place!

• Saint Paul de Vence
Saint-Paul de Vence, the most beautiful village of the world!
Its exceptional site nestled on a rocky outcrop, its light, which inspired Matisse, Braque, Chagall and so many other artists, its variety of hotels combining charm and modernity, its pleasure to roam around the remparts at sundown where the shadows of famous visitors may still wander: Van Dongen and Chaplin, Dietrich and Prevert, Churchill and Montand... The charm of its architecture, its privilege to be an exceptional place for contemporary art, its magic atmosphere when having a drink or dinner... under the stars.

• Saint Tropez
At the very end of the "Massif des Maures" mouthing into a Peninsula, a world away from the sanitized and concrete filled universe of huge Metropolis, this genuine provençal village of Saint-Tropez, nested in a protected environment, is a kingdom of comfort, well being and lush vegetation...
Its fame, prestige, Mediterranean "art de vivre" and the quality of its touristical services turn Saint-Tropez into an unmatched destination.

• Sophia Antipolis
The scientific technopolis of Sophia Antipolis, 8 kms away from Antibes, has been created in 1969. A bit over 30 years later, Sophia-Antipolis has become the first technological park in France and Europe.
Around 20 000 people (including 20% foreigners) work in 1,000 companies. Amongst the most fanous: AMADEUS, ANDERSEN
CONSULTING, DIGITAL, HEWLETT PACKARD, SIEMENS, THOMSON, TREMA LABORATORIES.
The INPI (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle), INRA (Institut National de Recherche en Agriculture), CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique), public research organisations and universities or schools for higher education complement this landscape where high technology reigns.

• Vallauris
It is in the magnificent setting ot Golfe Juan that the city of Vallauris is located. The panoramic views of the Bay of Cannes, the lles de Lerins, and the Esterel mountains are exceptional.
The old Vallauris will charm you with its typical Mediterranean atmosphere. You will also appreciate the picturesque shoreline from the quai St. Pierre to Port Camille Rayon, with its restaurants of Provençal or fish specialities and colorful little shops.
Vallauris is a city of arts and crafts and of pottery traditions. The workmanship can be seen in many different boutiques and in the pottery museum. The castle museum hosts the International Biennial of Ceramic Arts.
You must not miss the jovial, friendly spectacle of the Provençal
market. Do stroll around the little streets to discover the artists' workshops, the ceramic artists, the olive wood carving, glassworKs, and the local perfume creators. They will all welcome you with warmth and kindness.
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