Tag Archives: South of France

Eze Does It: More South of France

After a few nights in Provence, it was time for a change of scenery.

And the views up in Eze are majorly stunning. Nestled snugly in the landscape between Nice and Monaco, the ancient village sits upon a hilltop known as the “eagles nest” and overlooks the French Riviera. With Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat directly below, and miles and miles of Mediterranean horizon, this pretty hamlet is Eze on the eyes.

We checked in at the Chateau de la Chevre d’Or, which is perched perilously on the rim of the cliffside. All the guestrooms are nestled in and around the old town, cobbled paths winding up to the top of the village, craggy stone walls cascading with ambrosial blooms.

Chevre D'or Port

Chevre D'or Arrival

Chevre D'or arrival Town

Chevre D'or Arrival Town Walk

We were ushered to the terrace and swiftly served a long-stemmed welcome drink. Clinking glasses, we peered out over the stupendous Cote d’Azur vista.

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Chevre D'or Patio

Chevre D'Or satute

Chevre Do rview

After drinks, we slipped through the ivy gates to meander the gently sloping breeze-filled pathways.

Chevre D'Or Gate

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Eze Walk

Eze Walk Stones

It was such a cool and peaceful time of evening to roam the twisty passages. Eventually, we found our way back to the hotel and climbed the steep red stairs to our room.

The next morning, I hopped directly into my bikini before shuffling out onto the balcony where breakfast had been set up.

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Eze Morning Breakfast

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Then it was down to the pool to catch a bit of sun before lunch.

Chevre D'Or Pool

Chevre D'Or Pool

1 View Pool

Chevre D'Or Pool Railing

Chevre D'or Loungers

Chevre D'or Lunch

As we watched the last bit of morning fog burn off the top of the mountains around us, we knew it was going to be another glorious day in Eze.

St-Trop ’til I Drop

The port town of Saint-Tropez is a shopper’s heaven. There isn’t much to do there but shop. Oh, and gawk at the monster yachts moored in the marina. Did you know it’s in the top 5 of most expensive marinas in the world? Yep, docking here for the week costs a cool 20,000 euros.

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I can’t shop on an empty stomach so first thing’s first – breakfast. La Tarte Tropézienne is a high-end patisserie with a stalwart presence around town. They are named after their signature pastry made famous by Brigitte Bardot whilst she was in town filming “And God Created Woman”, the picture that made her an international sex symbol. The main bakery on Place des Lices is a tony restaurant, perfect for a quality petit déjeuner.

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The original "Tarte Trapézienne" - Brigitte Bardot's favorite

The original “Tarte Trapézienne” – Brigitte Bardot’s favorite

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Omelette au fromage

Omelette au fromage

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Okay, time to hit the shops!

Espadrilles are a staple of any resort wardrobe, but they are practically compulsory on the Riviera. Perfect for slipping on and shuffling from the pool to the terrace, or home from the beach. Needless to say, they are everywhere in St-Tropez.

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Chanel had this pair of bad boys for me to lust after.

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Then I found a darling little boutique much more suited to my budget; L’Espadrille Tropézienne stocks a range of espadrilles with a modern twist and signature red rubber sole.

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Love these funky hand-painted graffiti ones

Love this funky hand-painted graffiti pair

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I did a bit more strolling around but after a few hours couldn’t cope with the rising heat so, like a seal, I had to slip away to find water. Can’t wait to post about the secluded beach I explored in the afternoon!

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des Maures

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Lunch in Cotignac

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Today we had lunch in the belle ville Cotingac. Built into the cliffs, Cotingac is a sleepy little Provençal village. We dined at Chez Loli on the terrace along the serene tree-lined town center. Their motto, emblazoned on the menu, is “We make people happy.” I love that simplicity – much like the classic pared-down regional cuisine typical in the south of France.

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Cotignac

Continac St

Chez Loli

Chez Loli

Chez Loli

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Rose shrimps, tomatoes, mesclun salad, peas, salmon tartare, celery remoulade

Rose shrimps, tomatoes, mesclun salad, peas, salmon tartare, celery remoulade

Clam Linguine

Clam Linguine

Dining is so elegant and relaxed here. I am eating less (you don’t have as much appetite in the heat) but the simplicity of the dishes and the quality of the ingredients is top-notch. I am discovering lots of inspiration for recipes I can cook back at home! Now if only I could get this view out of my kitchen window…
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The Simple Life

Sometimes you just need a pool day. Lathering up with sun cream and laying out in the golden heat until your brain gets fuzzy. It’s like therapy for me.

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In the afternoon, it’s back up to the house for lunch on the terrace overlooking the rolling Provençal terrain.

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melon

artichokes

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celeriac

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Afterwards, I make myself swim sets of twenty laps to burn off all the cheese and paté!

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I don’t drink alcohol in the day. With the sun’s heat, I find it’s just too much. Instead, we usually wait until dusk and enjoy a drink or two before dinner watching the sun slip down behind the mountains.

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Pool

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Spending time here reminds me to savor life’s simple pleasures: warm sun on tanned skin, the bliss of getting absorbed in a good book, the shock of hot skin plunging into a pristine pool, the juicy zing of a ripe melon, a gauzy linen shirt wafting in the summer breeze. This is French summer – wholehearted and pure.

Aix Marks the Spot

Summering in the south of France is one of the highlights of my year. It isn’t long after New Year’s Day I begin fantasizing about my escape from dreary England – lounging poolside, propped up on a chaise under the canopy of a parasol, its canvas tips flapping in the Provençal breeze. I am finally here! After a few days though, I was keen for a day trip. So we rented a little Fiat with no air-conditioning, cranked down all the windows, and sputtered into nearby Aix-En-Provence.

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Cezanne4

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Aix is well-known for its fountains, scattered around the old town; it’s also home to modern painter Paul Cézanne. It was a foregone conclusion that my first stop would be his studio. Atelier Cézanne is nestled amongst the trees on Lauves hill overlooking Mount Sainte-Victoire, where Cézanne practiced from 1902 – 1906. The upstairs room is still cluttered with furniture, ceramics and other items which long ago posed for his still life masterpieces.

Cézanne's Studio

Cézanne’s Studio

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atelier-interieur

The image above is a poor quality stock photo from the museum website. It was an immense disappointment to find that the Aix Tourist Office forbids photography inside the studio – such a shame for me, but also for researchers and art enthusiasts – especially after the United States was so generous to raise the funds to buy the property in 1954 and donate it to the University of Aix-Marseille. I was told that permission to take photos can be requested in advance by e-mailing the Adjoint of the Office de Tourism (Michel Fraisset: info@atelier-cezanne.com)

Back in town we settled in for lunch on the terrace of Les Deux Garçons, a lively brasserie on the humming Cours Mirabeau. The food was basic and the service was terribly French (slow) – but which could almost be forgiven as standards have understandably slipped a bit since opening day in 1792!

Aix

3Garcons

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Gaspacho with watermelon and smoked lard

Gaspacho with watermelon and smoked lard

Roasted salmon with lemon butter

Roasted salmon with lemon butter

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Gelato

After polishing off my gelato and larking around the shops for a bit, we toured the Cloisters of Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, and spied the Burning Bush Triptych by Nicolas Froment.

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Cloister

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Burning Bush Triptych, Nicolas Froment

Burning Bush Triptych, Nicolas Froment

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Dinner was at Le Formal – inside the former wine cellars of Henry IV. The chef there is obsessed with truffles; they were in nearly every dish of our seven-course “Emotions” tasting menu. Maybe the emotions were about how much he loves cooking with truffles.

LeFormal

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Oeuf de poule fermier cuit à 64º, sur une fine tartlestte d'asperges et truffle, jus iodé

Oeuf de poule fermier cuit à 64º, sur une fine tartlestte d’asperges et truffle, jus iodé

Pan Pagnat | de thon en sashimi et truffle (tuber brumale), tartine artichaut, camus, ratte de Noirmoutier, crème de choux fleur aux noisettes torréfiées

Pan Bagnat | de thon en sashimi et truffle (tuber brumale), tartine artichaut camus, ratte de Noirmoutier, crème de choux fleur aux noisettes torréfiées

Noix de coquille Saint Jacque "al dente" et foie gras de canard poêlé, Bruschetta à la truffle, jus de pur Arabica à l'eucalyptus

Noix de coquille Saint Jacque “al dente” et foie gras de canard poêlé, Bruschetta à la truffle, jus de pur Arabica à l’eucalyptus

La petite pêche inattendue "retour du petit bateau" | sauce façon hollandaise à l'orange, poêlé d'épinard aux agrumes et amandes grillées, jus de pistache de Sicile

La petite pêche inattendue “retour du petit bateau” | sauce façon hollandaise à l’orange, poêlé d’épinard aux agrumes et amandes grillées, jus de pistache de Sicile

Gâteau de brie de Meaux à la truffle, "affiné par M.Mons"

Gâteau de brie de Meaux à la truffle, “affiné par M.Mons”

Le fruit, éveil de l'enfance...

Le fruit, éveil de l’enfance…

Comme une mille et une feuilles | Panna-cotta, poire en tatin épicé, jus de calvados, crème caramel au beurre salé

Comme une mille et une feuilles | Panna-cotta, poire en tatin épicé, jus de calvados, crème caramel au beurre salé

Dans un baba d'ici à l'armagnac et griottes, shampooing d'orange sanguine, jus de maltaise

Dans un baba d’ici à l’armagnac et griottes, shampooing d’orange sanguine, jus de maltaise

A throughly indulgent supper in a modest historical setting – made for an effortless end to a lovely day in Aix.