This is both an exciting month and issue as AMB Cote d'Azur reaches the grand age of being five years old! Launched in February 2004, and starting from humble beginnings, the site has grown from just one writer (me), to having a fabulous team of over 20 writers, all passionate about this beautiful region.
Over the years I've often been asked "What made you do it?" always quickly followed by "Why don't you have any adverts on your site?".
The answer to the first question is very easy: I wanted to share my discoveries of this unique region with close family and friends - nothing more. In fact, it wasn't even called AMB Cote d'Azur but Nigelbarker.com.
This first website started in a corner of our living room with an old wooden kitchen top as my desk. It was July 2003. Summer was in full swing as I found myself turning into a roving reporter discovering this gorgeous region and into a web master, learning the art of HTML, layouts and the nail-biting suspense of uploading the latest version to our UK server.
In a way, the original website was very much what would now be called a Blog. Through it I shared the enjoyment of discovering little towns and villages that Nigel and I visited or the museums, sites and markets that we found special, along with the visits of our friends and family or antics of our animals. Over the months, the site grew as I added more articles and features. Then a kick in the pants by a very good friend of mine who remarked how the site was becoming something rather special and should be made available to a wider audience - made me decide on a name change that reflected both the region we were in and the professionalism that I wanted the site to be known for. AMB Cote d'Azur was born.
And now the answer to the second question: Why don't we have any adverts on the site? That too is an easy answer: Quite simply neither Nigel or I wanted the site cluttered with flashy adverts popping up everywhere. But perhaps more importantly, we never wanted to make money from the website - and in fact to mark our determination, we turned AMB Cote d'Azur into a not-for-profit association in July 2004.
Now, five years later, the "raison d'etre" of AMB Cote d'Azur remains constant: to continue sharing the beauty and culture of this astounding region of France and staying free of paying adverts.
Since the first issue of AMB Cote d'Azur, the website has gone through a number of changes and face lifts - each time in an effort to improve on quality, features and ease of use. We have also been honoured to be joined by a dedicated team of writers, each one passionate about the region, its culture and life-style. Indeed, our latest contributing author is Tessa Nelson. It is a joy to work with them all and share their insight to the places and life-style of the French Riviera and Provence with you.
But AMB Cote d'Azur also serves as a window for their work, to encourage them to write and discover talents that they were uncertain of. From time to time we all need a helping hand, encouragement and a pat on the back. AMB Cote d'Azur is here for that as well and we look forward to publishing more work of budding writers or established authors passionate about the south of France.
Having reached the five-year mark - what next?
Incredible as it may seem, we have only just started to scratch the surface - there is so much more to share with you about this region, many more places to visit, sites to explore, events to go to and people to meet and interview. We also have some exciting projects up ahead which we'll disclose nearer the time but suffice to say - they are very exciting.
I look forward to sharing this beautiful region and my adopted country with you - for many years to come.
Happy Birthday AMB Cote d'Azur!
Alice M. Barker