France without tragedy: Break away in Juan les Pins on the Côte d’Azur

France without tragedy: Break away in Juan les Pins on the Côte d’Azur

Above: Sun, sea, posh yachts and a carefree view of life – the essence of the Côte d’Azur captured in this view from the promenade at Juan Les Pins
Above: Sun, sea, posh yachts and a carefree view of life – the essence of the Côte d’Azur captured in this view from the promenade at Juan Les Pins

Tragic events across the Channel are not a reason to stop visiting says Debra Barnes, as she explores the Côte d’Azur and Paris

If you fancy a short break and have not allowed recent events to put you off going to France, Juan les Pins on the Côte d’Azur is a great choice.

What’s not to love?

It’s easy to get to, with easyJet flying from Luton, and if you park in the short-stay car park a two-minute walk to the terminal and take only a carry-on, you can be there in a matter of a few hours.048

Then you just catch the 250 bus from right outside the arrivals building and you will arrive at Juan les Pins from Nice airport in 30 minutes, with a gorgeous coastal tour en route.

Nestled between Cannes and Antibes, Juan les Pins shares the jet-set appeal of its neighbours, although you don’t have to be a millionaire to stay there.

There are dozens of hotels from which to choose, most of them quaint and bijou like the Hôtel Saint Charles, its rooms arranged around a pretty courtyard with a plunge pool and yet near the beach and centre of town.

I paid 98 euros for a twin room, while at the other end of the scale a suite at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc where the stars stay during the Cannes Film Festival will cost you more than 4,000 euros a night.

Much of the coastline here has been taken over by beachside bars and restaurants like La Jetée, which will rent you a comfy sunbed for around 20 euros a day. You can walk a few minutes along the coast to the public beach, but be aware that the rising sea level has not been kind to the area and the beaches are pretty small. Some people prefer to grab a spot on a jetty rather than on the fine sand.045

The sea, however, is completely calm and unaffected by the tides, so great for swimming. The beachside restaurants offer food with fabulous views but obviously at a price.

I paid 20 euros for an unspectacular chicken Caesar salad, but who cares when the sun is shining and you are watching the yachts bob about on the beautiful blue Mediterranean?

There are plenty of cheaper eating options within Juan les Pins plus 10 kosher restaurants and cafés serving mainly the large number of North African Jewish visitors, plus a kosher butcher and bakery for those who are self-catering.

A great reason to go to Juan Les Pins is the famous July jazz festival (@jazzajuan), now in its 55th year.

The full line-up has yet to be announced but Carlos Santana and Israeli Avishai Cohen are already confirmed to play the outdoor seafront stage in this magnificent setting.

Avishaï Cohen trio at Paris Jazz Festival
Avishaï Cohen trio at Paris Jazz Festival

For evening entertainment during the rest of the year, there is a casino, nightclubs and cocktail bars such as the Brazilian-themed Pam Pam where you can sit outside and watch the world go by or go inside and enjoy the cabaret (think holiday resort-type show!)

As for retail therapy, there are a few über-expensive boutiques as you would expect, but also plenty of reasonably-priced shops offering mainly fashion, mobile phone covers and art and a thankful lack of tacky tourist souvenirs.

Happily, the area is devoid of Irish pubs, karaoke bars, English breakfasts and stag or hen parties.

This is authentic south of France style. Popular with couples young and old and families with babies, Juan les Pins is perfect for a quiet, relaxing short break in the most beautiful of settings.

• Debra parked at Luton Airport’s short-stay car park – details at

Good food and heritage

even easier to reach than the Côte d’Azur, Paris is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.

It is still considered a safe destination, although recent events mean increased security in tourist spots. The Jewish quarter, Le Marais, is now one of the most fashionable areas of the city and its central street, rue de Roisiers, has lost many of its Jewish shops and restaurants to gay bars and fashionable boutiques, but nearby rue Pavée has retained its Jewish heritage and is worth a visit.

This is also the area of the Shoah Memorial, a moving tribute to the 76,000 French Jews who perished in the Holocaust. It includes the Wall of Names, which lists the full name and date of birth of each of the victims.

If you plan to visit Drancy, site of the deportation to Auschwitz, the Shoah Memorial offers free buses at 2pm on Sundays. In London people go to a kosher restaurant because it is kosher. In Paris people go because of the good food.

With more than 300 kosher restaurants in the city, there is no excuse not to try something new.

Izakki in rue Lafayette is said to be one of the best kosher Oriental restaurants, offering Japanese and French-fusion dishes, Les Garçons Bouchers in rue Philippe Auguste has been described as the best kosher steak restaurant in Europe, and for elegant French dining try La Citadelle in rue Médéric.

Les Garcons Bouchers in rue Philippe Auguste
Les Garcons Bouchers in rue Philippe Auguste