Held this autumn on the beautiful Cote d'Azur, the first joint meeting of the BSDB and SFBD provided delegates with the perfect informal setting for discussion spanning a broad cross-section of Developmental Biology. Participants' interests were diverse, ranging from the implementation of genome-wide approaches aimed at identifying all the molecular components of cell proliferation, signalling, patterning, and morphogenesis, to those engaged in capturing mesmerising glimpses of the minute and intricate workings of the cell. The meeting considered a wide spectrum of model organisms, including the simple plant Arabidopsis, the invertebrates Dictyostelium, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Drosophila melanogaster, the ascidian Ciona intestinalis, and the vertebrates Xenopus, zebrafish, chick, and mouse. Such a diverse approach served to highlight both similarities and differences in the molecular mechanisms that govern embryonic development among different species. Here, we highlight a few aspects of the meeting that illustrate this point. Developmental Dynamics 230:385-388, © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.