Friday, March 19, 2021

Coronavirus Lockdown #3 France

Although it never went away, it feels like it’s back with a vengeance, the Coronavirus situation continues here in the French Riviera along with the rest of France.

A third wave of the epidemic is sweeping much of France including the Alpes Maritimes. with Prime Minister Jean Castex announcing last night a new four-week confinement from Friday, March 19th at midnight for the Alpes-Maritimes, in the face of the progression of the Covid-19 epidemic. It also applies to fifteen other departments.

You could tell it was going to come back strong as the rules over summer seemed not as strict as usual with our numbers then spiking again in September, to the point that all cafes, bars and restaurants have been closed since October, along with museums and basically anywhere else in buildings where people can gather.

With the ski season not happening at all, it felt like no one was going to stay home during Christmas and New Year's, the amount of people sneaking across borders and then posting pics of their travels was crazy and continues to be and we are constantly being asked to help with possible loopholes to get into the country which we are refusing. Shortly after the holiday season our numbers in France started to hit high again in the new year and this was with a curfew that had already been in place for at least a month that we continue to have to adhere too.

Although now instead of 6pm to 6am where we are supposed to stay home, it will be moved to 7pm to 6am this weekend because of the days starting to be longer.

According to Jean Castex, there is confirmation that the epidemic is accelerating rapidly and we are in a third wave at a time when France is approaching 100,000 deaths. Us here in the French Riviera and a couple of other departments, except for Paris (which is surprising) have had the past few weekends as partial confinements but it has not been enough the stall the epidemic.

It probably didn’t help that when a lockdown weekend would approach, thousands traveled to other regions that didn’t have a lockdown situation and the news is stating today that after the announcement was made last night about a four-week lockdown, the trains to leave Paris became completely booked with those planning on leaving the city.

This lockdown though, after tonight, no one will be allowed to slip in and out of other regions without having the proper documentations stating why, such as moving or part of your work.

Stores and supermarkets that do not fit into the list of those “selling essential goods and services” will have to close during these 4 weeks of this new confinement.

The Prime Minister also specified that the areas of stores that are open selling non-essential products will no longer be accessible. One thing that was worrying with this new lockdown was if like the last one, we would only be allowed outside one hour a day for exercise and only within a 1km radius from home.

Thankfully that is not the case this time, you still have to fill out your attestation app to show you are going out for exercise but the time to do so is unlimited between curfew hours and you can go up to 10kms from home.

Which, in this beautiful part of the world, even to get 10km radius gives you plenty of outdoor options and everything that comes with it, so this will be better for the mental health of individuals out there.

Vaccinations with Astrazeneca will also resume immediately as the European regulator has judged this vaccine “safe and effective”.

Goals are to have vaccinated, by mid-April, at least 10 million people, all over 75 years and, among people over 50 years, those who present extra risk factors.

The objective is also to have vaccinated by mid-May at least 20 million people, or the entire volunteer population over 50 and by mid-June, 30 million people.

There are so many theories behind this new lockdown, many of us here are thinking this will be one last hard push before summer. Tourism is such a huge market in France and you could tell last summer some borders shouldn’t have opened when they did but it seemed done to get some movement in the economy.

So please everyone, if our border opens to your country, stick with the local rules governed for not only your safety but others if you are visiting.

With more people vaccinated, more people following rules, eventually we will all get there. The local LGBTQ community has been very supportive of each other and look forward to getting back to normal life again, in whatever capacity that might be.

Stay safe everyone!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary To Us!


As of today, February 11, 2021, it’s been 10 years since Experience The French Riviera first began and just over a week from when Gay French Riviera also started!

What started as a small idea to help those traveling to France from North America has grown exponentially to now serving people from every part of the world!

The six months before Experience The French Riviera initially started, in observance at the time, I had noticed some local key elements missing in what visitors were looking for in planning a trip to the French Riviera, and so after speaking with some close friends about some ideas I had in mind, the steps were taken for the journey to begin.

What really got the ball rolling was some friends who owned a villa in the perfume capital of Grasse and had been using the usual platforms at the time to try and get bookings for their holiday rental. A bit disappointed in how it was all working with those online platforms, they wanted more of a human touch.

This is when the importance of building a network came into place. Utilizing social media along with speaking with new and old friends, by word of mouth I managed to quickly book up their villa for the whole season.

They in turn told their friends about my more hands-on approach to help with their villa rental, who in turn told their friends and so on and so the point we now have over 200 villa rentals throughout France and in neighboring countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece to where we expanded to The Villa.

To combine my initial ideas surrounding villa rentals, I thought it was important that a shared economy network also be set up and now it’s to the point we have now exceeded easily over 60 legal partnerships.

To be honest, the first couple of years were tricky learning how to navigate the bureaucratic system and getting people used to an idea of sharing work to benefit each other was no easy task but now as the years have moved forward, with many lessons learned, even during these Covid19 pandemic times, things seem to be have gone tremendously well so we continue to feel positive for the future.

Some of the key lessons learned is to stay focused, always move forward and be consistent and open to new ideas, take risks, don’t be afraid to meet as many people as you never know who will open a new door for you. It’s always important to expect change and to evolve in any circumstance.

Even though my small team and I feel we have a wealth of information and an extensive network of business partnerships in most any field imaginable. You cannot stop learning and growing.

If it’s tickets to a VIP event, private car service, charter jet and helicopter bookings, wedding and event planning, tours, yacht charters, hand-holding immigration services, holiday and long-term villa rentals, luxury real estate sales...whatever you require, including in the LGBTQ community, we can help you acquire. We have definitely seen and heard it all which makes every day different and most enjoyable.

From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my team, thank you for all the ongoing support throughout the years and here’s to many more in the future!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Saint-Tropez Living


For some reason it seems a bit strange to be writing about Saint-Tropez in January as that’s the time of year the area goes back to the locals in a sense but it is a beautiful place to visit in any given season.

Living near Monaco, it can be tricky for me to get the opportunity to visit Saint-Tropez and the area as often as I would like, also because of my busy work schedule but it is one of those must visit places if you have never been.

If it is your first time traveling to Saint-Tropez, it should be noted that trains do not go into Saint-Tropez itself, however, you can take the train to Saint-Raphael train station, and from the Saint-Raphaël bus station (right behind the train station) where there are regular buses (more frequently in the summer) to the Saint-Tropez bus station which can take 1 1/4 hours (depending on traffic).

Alternatively, in the summer months there are ferries that can take you from places such as Nice, Golfe-Juan and Cannes to Saint-Tropez daily. Those trips can take at least two hours so plan ahead but it is a spectacular way of seeing the coastline with its varying colors and landscapes, you might even see dolphins.

If you are driving, also factor in your time. There is only a two-lane stretch to get right into Saint Tropez and at the height of the season, traffic can be a nightmare.

Saint-Tropez has a very long history and was a military stronghold and fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century, it was and still is to an extent a small town but surrounded by lush greenery in the hills.

It was also the first town on the coast of France to be liberated during World War II. After the war, it slowly became an internationally known seaside resort, renowned principally because of the influx of actors such as Brigitte Bardot (who still lives in the area) and Alain Delon amongst many others. Its laid back summer lifestyle helped make it became a resort for the European and North American jet set and tourists.

To this day St.Tropez is still a very much sought-after place. When the Covid19 restrictions were slowly being lifted after the first lock down here in France during the Springtime, it was the first area getting booked out by the nationals looking for a summer villa retreat through our own luxury villa rental business experience, with a stream of people from other countries clamoring to get there but couldn’t because of borders being closed.

To purchase a property there is also a great investment given the heated rental season.
But I digress...

The local beaches in the Saint-Tropez and Ramatuelle area are also a huge draw for everyone. Compared to other seaside places in the region, here places like Pampelonne and Tahiti beach offer miles of sand with the clear blue waves of the Mediterranean Sea enticing you in for a swim.

The beach restaurants are the places to see and be seen in the summer months and if yachting is your thing, here you will see yachts of every brand, make and model on show.

The town of Saint-Tropez is a highly regarded tourist destination. The colorful buildings at the edge of the sea are quaint and offer much charm. The port itself was once a very commercial destination but now is more of a place for tourists and for those with yachts to moor while they decide on their next destination or enjoy the local amenities.

Saint-Tropez is also an artist's haven because of the history and ever-inspiring natural beauty. Here you can step into an abundant choice of artist galleries to suit everyone’s tastes. Speaking of tastes, the town has an amazing selection of top-notch restaurants for your culinary delight.

Known for its glam component, for all you fashion fiends, if it is luxury goods you are after, every imaginable, highly regarded designer shop can be found here for you to discover and often behind the gates of magnificent mansions: Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Hermès, to name a few.
As for the nightlife, that is also ever-changing seasonally with the parties being all night events, filled with hedonism and eye candy, although there is no gay-scene per se, the area does attract those internationally from the LGBT community so if you play your cards right, a party can be had.
Overall, whether you want to relax and retreat or have a most enjoyable and entertaining time, Saint Tropez can’t be beat.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Christmas In The French Riviera

Winter in the French Riviera overall is a more subdued time of year but still very pleasant when compared to how quickly things are moving here in the summer months with everyone trying to take in as much of the atmosphere and scenery as possible, especially if they are on vacation.

So, what is the Christmas season like? Well, it depends on what you are doing, if you live here or are on holiday, we still get a tremendous amount of sunshine during the winter season and there is always something to see and do in the Cote d’Azur.
Pre-Covid19 times it can feel very much like anywhere else, except there is no snow and if it does happen to snow, it melts right away. To experience the snow you would have to go into the back country at the French Alps, depending on where you are it could be as close as an hour drive away and where you can take in all kinds of activities like skiing or skating in the mountainous villages.

By the sea, all the small towns and cities during Christmas still go very grand and bold when it comes to colorful light displays which are quite beautiful to see when walking through the streets at night. Even the palm trees are lit up.
And many areas have Christmas markets set up, even this year with the pandemic going on you will find them in places like Monaco, Cannes and Antibes, just a bit smaller in size right now for safety reasons concerning gatherings of people.

People also love their Ferris Wheel rides here, which are also lit up at night and give a wonderful perspective from above of the city you are in during the season.
During normal times, the LGBTQ night clubs are open and celebrating with a festive cheer, bars and restaurants would also be open so this gives people both visiting and that live in the region a chance to have a holiday drink with each other. New Year's Eve has also become a much bigger celebration as time passes to ring in the year.
Traditionally for the season itself, Christmas Eve is the big night in which everyone gathers with friends and family most of which includes quite a gathering of gourmet food items, drinks and desserts along with swapping presents.

Christmas Day is still set for the children but it’s also a quieter time where people will visit with other or take leisurely walks along the beach, go for hikes in the mountains or just relax at home.
Of course, with the Coronavirus, that has all changed this year, especially with curfews and restrictions in place. A drastic change for many but in other ways it’s also a chance to perhaps reflect and start new traditions with one another and be very grateful for all our day-to-day blessings.

Whatever you are doing this Christmas, make it a good one and stay safe.