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5 Hidden Gems of the French Riviera

5 Hidden Gems of the French Riviera

For years, the French Riviera has been a hotspot for beach-goers and holidaymakers in search of an exciting atmosphere and trendy places to visit. Monaco, Cannes, and St Tropez have been at the top of the list of desirable places for a long time now, but these are only the tip of the iceberg. The French Riviera (also known as the Côte d’Azur) has so much to offer – and here, we show you some of the most incredible hidden gems the area has to offer.

Les Baux de Provence – Breath-taking scenery and flavorsome fare

    Located in the heart of the Alpilles Country Park lies a tiny, but outstandingly beautiful village. Les Baux de Provence attracts visitors from across the globe, who visit to photograph, paint and explore the village termed ‘one of the most beautiful villages in France’. It’s no wonder then that the village is littered with art galleries, as the views are so inspiring. It’s not just scenic art you can gaze upon, though, as the art galleries show a variety of artistic styles, but you can also admire the architecture of the galleries themselves as you browse.

    When it comes to dining in Les Baux de Provence, you certainly won’t be disappointed. With a wealth of restaurants in the village to choose from, offering dishes prepared with the freshest local produce paired with locally produced wines, it’s no wonder many of the eateries here have won good food guide stars for their tempting dishes.

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    Port Grimaud – The ‘Little Venice’ of the French Riviera

      If you want a holiday that offers a quieter, more relaxing break than the often overridden St Tropez or Monaco, then Port Grimaud, also known as ‘Little Venice’ should be your first port of call (if you’ll pardon the pun!). Port Grimaud provides boating enthusiasts with chic restaurants, charming villas & apartments rental with stunning views across the water. You really will feel like you’ve taken a trip to Venice. Combining the glorious beauty of the French Riviera and the provincial charm of Venice in one holiday – who could want more?

      Another reason for visiting ‘Little Venice’ is the high-quality cuisine you’ll find there, and there are a number of eateries that will tantalize the taste buds, allowing you a real flavor of this multi-cultural destination. Villa Belrose, only a few minutes from Port Grimaud has been awarded a Michelin Star for its take on modern Mediterranean cuisine and is a ‘must visit’ restaurant for seasoned foodies. With elegant dishes, atmosphere and décor to match, you’ll get a real taste of Italian cuisine with a French twist.

      Eze Village – A combination of historic charm and Michelin Stars!

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        The ancient village of Eze offers the chance to experience the true, rustic France. Away from the hustle and bustle, and glitz of Monte Carlo and St Tropez, lies the real French Riviera, with a wealth of history and stunning views, this little gem means you can enjoy the weather and the culture without the crowds.

        Steeped in history, Eze is centered around the ruins of a 12th-century castle, once occupied by the Romans and the Moors, and also the House of Savoy. Visitors can enjoy getting lost in the maze of cobbled, winding streets and charming squares while meandering through the village taking in the fantastic sea views.

        You can also add a little shopping to your day. Let’s face it – on holiday there’s always time for shopping! The village has two renowned perfumeries – Gallimard, and Fragonard, where you can treat yourself to some elegant French scents! Once you’ve finished discovering the beauty of the village and its history, the perfect end to the day is a table reserved at the two Michelin Star restaurant Chevre d’Or. Here you can taste the delights of Philippe Labbe who uses seasonal, local produce to create masterpiece dishes to tantalize your taste buds.

        Vence – Perfect for Culture Vultures

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          A pleasant, picturesque town located north of Cagnes-Sur-Mer, Vence is full of history and culture. The fortifications of the town still exist today, along with many other historical features. Take a stroll through this medieval town and soak up the traditional Mediterranean atmosphere.

          Must see places include the Cathedral of the Nativity of Saint Mary, which was originally built in the 4th century and then rebuilt in the 12th century. The cathedral is a wonderful representation of France in the olden days. Take note, either side of the doorway to the cathedral you will find Roman inscription tablets and just inside, a mosaic by the famous artist, Marc Chagall. Other places on your list should include the Tower of Saint-Lambert and Vence’s entrance gates, dating from the 13th century, the 18th century and the 19th century. A trip to Vence takes you on a bit of a historical adventure so be sure to plan your day well to lap up all there is to see and do – and don’t forget to take your camera.

          Lerins Islands – Serenity and Spectacular Scenery

            Wherever you’re staying on the French Riviera, your visit will certainly be enhanced by a ferry trip from Cannes to Lerins Islands. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable days out is taking the Lerins Abbey tour on Saint-Honorat Island.

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            ­ Saint Honoratus, who had intended to live there alone until several disciples joined him, founded the monastery in the 5th century, year 410. Some 300 years later the island became a popular place of pilgrimage. The island was considered a special, spiritual place, and this can still be felt today with some of the historic buildings still standing, including the monastery itself, which is still home to monks today.

            Not only can you experience its past, magnificent architecture, and stunning panoramic views, but you can also taste the wine! A trip to France wouldn’t be complete without visiting a vineyard and tasting the beautiful produce of this very special place.

            Although the call of the ‘usual’ holiday destinations of Monaco, Cannes, and St Tropez are still strong, there’s so much more to be gained by exploring the lesser-known gems of the French Riviera. You may even find that you prefer the charm of the waterways of Port Grimaud, picturesque Vence or the beautiful Les Baux de Provence to those destinations with glitz and glamor, but perhaps less substance than these hidden gems.

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            Erick Clifford

            Journalist

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            Last Updated on September 10, 2019

            7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

            7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

            Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

            Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

            This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

            One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

            Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

            Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

            1. Gratitude

            Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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            The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

            Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

            So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

            Gratitude-Quotes

              2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

              This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

              For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

              What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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              Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

              3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

              This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

              Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

              An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

              Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

              write down goals

                4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                6. Rise Earlier

                The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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