Hear Côte d'Azur

  • © iStock_Ryhor Bruyeu

    © iStock_Ryhor Bruyeu

Hear Côte d'Azur cote d'azur fr

Speedboats

Vroom, vroom! The sound of waterborne engines is everywhere on the Côte d’Azur. Boats are one of the best – and most luxurious – ways to get around down here, hopping from resort to resort and avoiding the heavy traffic on the roads. Admire the array of gleaming specimens in any of the area’s 30 harbours or simply ‘boat watch’ from the comfort of the beach. If you’re not part of the elite crowd who can afford to own their own, why not charter a boat for a beautiful tour of the coast and enjoy the exhilaration of whizzing across the water?

 

Cicadas

Almost as soon as you emerge from the plane at Nice airport you can hear the unmistakeable sound of cicadas (cigales) chirping in the heat. According to Provençal myth, the cicada was sent by God to disrupt the peasants’ endless siestas and stop them from growing too lazy.There are about 2,500 species of cicada, around 15 of which live in the south of France. They have a four year life span but only a few weeks are spent above ground, during which time the males sing to attract females by contracting and relaxing ribbed membranes inside their stomachs. The cicada is the one of the world's loudest insects, recording sounds of up to 120 decibels – but below 22 degrees Centigrade the resounding sections of the diaphragm lose their elasticity, which explains the quiet during periods of rain or after sunset. You'll see plenty of restaurants called ‘La Cigale’ on the Côte d’Azur, but – although they are a delicacy in Latin America and Asia – you won't find cicadas on the menus here!

 

The Mistral

Everyone needs occasional respite from the searing heat on the Côte d’Azur, where temperatures can reach 40 degrees Centigrade in the summer months. You’re more likely to experience the Mistral wind in the winter, although the summer version blows from the west and brings refreshing cool air to the Rhône delta and the Mediterranean coast. Ironically, the Mistral helps to explain the unusually sunny climate (up to 2,900 annual hours of sunshine) and clarity of the air in this part of France. While other parts of France experience rain and storms as a result of the Mistral, the Côte d’Azur is rarely affected for long and the positive effects often happen in less than two hours: the sky can change from completely cloud-covered to completely clear. The wind also blows away dust and makes the air particularly clear, allowing a view of mountains over 150km away.

The Mistral also has a reputation for bringing good health to the Côte d’Azur, since the dry air dries stagnant water and mud and blows away pollution from the skies over large cities and industrial areas. However, the risk of fire is always present with the Mistral and during the summer, thousands of hectares of vegetation can burn when it is blowing, due to its drying effect.

 

Music festivals

Three of the Côte d’Azur’s hotspots – Antibes, Nice and Cannes – host popular annual music festivals which draw an international crowd. Perhaps the best-loved musical extravaganza is Jazz à Juan (www.jazzajuan.com) in Juan-Les-Pins (next-door to Antibes), which runs for nine days every July and has seen renowned artists including Miles Davis and Ray Charles make their débuts. An open-backed stage faces out to the sea and, from your seat in the audience, you can watch boats glide silently by as you listen to performances late into the evening. As well as music on stage, the streets of Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins (as well as the beach) come alive with impromptu jams and improvisations, creating a real party atmosphere.

Fans of jazz will also be interested in the Nice Jazz Festival (www.nicejazzfestival.fr), which has been running every July since 1948 and welcomed Louis Armstrong in its opening year. Originally held in Cimiez to the north of the city, it has now moved to the city centre with the main stage set up in Place Masséna. The festival has two different atmospheres, with bands performing on two stages at once, and a total of six stages active over five days. Over 30,000 people come to enjoy its quality line-up. But Cannes is not to be outdone on the musical front: July also sees its own classical Nuits Musicales du Suquet, a magical event for which the square of the church of Notre-Dame d’Ésperance into a concert hall under the stars.

 

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