The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

calanques de maupas las trayas Estérel

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Cycling along the seafront, along the splendid Promenade des Anglais in Nice, looking out across the dazzling azure sea, is one of our favourite family activities.  No longer do we have to faff around fixing the bike rack to the car to load up our own bikes, we simply rent a vélo bleu.  Vélo bleu, quite literally blue bike, is the name given to the city’s public bike share scheme, along the lines of Velib’ in Paris and “Boris bikes” in London.  While they may technically be Nice’s bikes, the network extends as far as St Laurent du Var and Cagnes sur Mer, which makes it even more convenient for us to use as we don’t have to drive into Nice to start our bike ride.  Here's a map which shows all the bike stands.

vélo bleu bike share Nice Côte dAzur

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The Côte d’Azur is of course well-known for its beaches, the "azure coast" sounds so wonderfully inviting, but did you know there’s so much more to this area than just coast?  The arrière pays or back country is really what makes this part of the world so unique.  There’s a clue in the name of the département (county), the Alpes-Maritimes or maritime Alps.  Yes, this is where the Alps meet the coast resulting in proper big mountains right on our doorstep, with all the fun that this entails, from skiing in the winter to hiking and adventure sports in the summer.

highest peak in Alpes Maritimes

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The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur as it’s called in French, is famous (and possibly infamous) for its beaches.  There are an enormous variety in the approximately 125 kilometres of coastline between Menton and St Tropez, from pebbles to fine white sand, from long open stretches to small rocky coves, from urban built-up beaches to wild secluded ones, and just about everything in between. 

Pointe de Laiguille Théoule sur Mer

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Wolves used to be endemic to France but persecution and human encroachment on their habitat drastically reduced their numbers and by 1940 they were declared extinct in France.  However in 1992 a pair of grey wolves was discovered in the Mercantour National Park in the Alpes-Maritimes having crossed over from Italy and the population has been growing steadily since.  There are now thought to be about 300 wolves in France in 20-25 separate packs, spreading further across the country.

wolves at Alpha Parc near Nice France

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