Discovering the pleasures and treasures of the Riviera has always required a series of can’t-go-wrong choices. No one can fault you for skipping the museum for the café, the festival for the old city walk, Cannes for Vence, the exotic garden for the casino, Picasso for Renoir, the vineyard for the perfumery, or vice versa. The choices remain rich, even difficult, but the ease of acting on them has just gotten simpler thanks to a new culture and activities pass that allows visitors access to a great variety of museums, tours, events, gardens, activities and tastings, all included with the purchase of the reasonably priced Cote d’Azur Card.
At 39€ (21€ for children ages 4 to 12) for three consecutive days and 54€ (29€ for children) for six consecutive days, the card throws open the doors to over 100 sights and activities along the Riviera and into the Mercantour Montains which rise up from the coast. The card can be used for consecutive days between April 26 and October 31, 2014.
Most of the major art museums along the coast and inland are accessible with the pass: the Bonnard Museum at Cannet, the Picasso Museum at Antibes, the Cocteau Museum of Menton, the Fernand Leger Museum at Biot, and many others. Taking in several of these museums over a 3- or 6-day period reveals the influence on the work of these 20th artists of the light and leisure along the Riviera. The Maeght Foundation, at Saint-Paul-de-Vence, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is also included. Entrance there alone normally costs 15€.
The culinary arts also have their place in the Côte d’Azur Card with access to Escoffier Museum of Culinary Art at Villeneuve-Loubet. And the coast’s most popular museum, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, which normally costs 14€, is also free with the card. Other than several of Nice’s major museums (notably the Museum of Modern Art and the Chagall and Matisse Museums), which aren’t included, the variety of sight and activities in Alpes-Maritimes, as this corner of France is officially called, is well represented by this single piece of plastic.
Possession of the pass doesn’t imply that you’re sole interest in travel along the Riviera is its museums as it also gives access to a variety of outdoor sites such as Menton’s Serre de la Madone Garden and Monaco’s Exotic Garden. You can even use the pass to take the boat from Cannes to Ile Saint-Honorat (one of the Lerins Islands), for a guided tour at Grasse, Antibes or Vence, to play miniature golf in Antibes, to go to the racetrack at Cagnes-sur-Mer or to go sea kayaking at Cap d’Ail or Menton.
Don’t worry, you’ll still find time for a leisurely walk by the beach and an unhurried moment in the café.The choice of a seat is all yours.
The Côte d’Azur Card is available at tourist offices throughout the region and in hotels and other accommodations, as well as online (later this month) at the official website for the card, www.cotedazur-card.com.
The Riviera’s official portal for tourist information is www.frenchriviera-tourism.com.
© 2014, Gary Lee Kraut