A Month on the Cote D'Azur

Jul 28th, 2010, 06:36 PM
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A Month on the Cote D'Azur

This is our third, but not our last trip to the area. We came three years ago and stayed in an apartment hotel in Port Grimaud. We searched around and found a great apartment in a fabulous villa with wonderful owners in the countryside of Grimaud, which is about 10K from St Tropez.. We have stayed here twice and have already reserved it for our month next year. Yeah, we really like it here.

We arrived without incident or should I say that I didn't take too many sleeping drugs this year to actually remember arriving!

The flight this year seemed easier, we must just be getting use to it, like a commute.

We picked up our car( rented for 28days from Sixt for 590E) and drove straight to the villa, it was all ready for us to start the month. Off we went to Geant, the big grocery store. We were lucky enough to arrive before the hoards of renters that check in between 2-4 so the lines were manageable. If you don't hit it right you can end up waiting half an hour just to check out. Back home to unpack everything, I decide to lay down for a nap, which just about lasts, on and off, until the next morning. It's good to be back in a familiar place, sleeping comes easily like I'm home in my own bed .http://www.provenceweb.fr/83/tarentane/

We wake up Sunday morning, ready to go, like puppies, only to crash shortly after noon that day! We head off to the first outdoor market of the trip, La Croix val Mer, and it's a winner! Huge, tones of really cute clothes and jewelry, all our favorite foods. I mostly look around to see what there is, to compare it to the other markets I will go to, but I do walk away with four cute necklaces for 5E each, fresh melons that actually smell ripe and a wonderful slice of pizza bianco, thin with only a tiny bit of topping, just the way I lit!

It's midnight at home so it must be time for another nap. It was sunny this morning and it rains this afternoon(June 19th) so we lay around the apartment, napping and reading, eating our market finds through out the day/night! We have traveled from San Francisco and it really is a loooooong trip for us, it takes us a few days to get in the swing of things. We usually start out with a few days in a new place and then head to the rented apartment. I usually sleep the whole first day and DH sleeps the second day, which means that we each see the new area alone! We are planning to take a couple of overnight trips while here...but today is the only rainy day of our trip and it will just get hotter and hotter and we won't go anywhere else!!!

Monday morning we wake up to a beautiful sunny day and we feel like ourselves. Note to self, it's a good thing to start a vacation slowly instead of hitting the ground running...OMG, I think that I'm getting old.

We drive up to Grimaud and walk around for about an hour, our resolve to ourselves to keep the weight gain at bay. We are rewarded with beautiful views in every direction...DH is already scooping out homes homes we will never buy. Grimaud is quite steep with the ruins of an old castle on top, so we walk all the way up to the top, visit the cemetery on the way down and work up a sweat....oh, it's good to be back.

We lounge by the pool this afternoon, working on our tans so we will be presentable at the beach club later in the week. We go to friends tonight for drinks, and to catch up on a years worth of news.

The 21st of June is music day in France, all over France there are free concerts and it's usually fabulous, except this year! We decide to go to St Tropez for the variety of different music venues they will have instead of the smaller towns with just one venue. Well, last week before we arrived there were floods and 20+ people died. In honor of their deaths, the music has been cancelled, but we spend the better part of the night searching the town for it.

We do witness what I believe is the white trash of yachting. An enormous boat comes into port, blaring their music, three girls on top dancing, or I think it was dancing. They had really bad moves, one was alright but she only had ONE move, if they had been auditioning for a MTV video, they would certainly be voted off the first round! The guys have white WET, pants on that you can see through,pirate hats ...OMG, everyone is staring.. I would be really mad if they parked next to my multi-million dollar yacht, but I don't have one, so I just watch the scene. We leave after an hour or so and they are still going at it! It is a theme we will see through out this trip. Where did these people get the money for these mega yachts?

We spend Tues doing a few errands and sunning ourselves again. Tonight we will go to my favorite restaurant. La Grange des Gapes in Cogolin . This is the find of the century, the best food of all my trips here, reasonably priced at 29-42E for three courses. The only thing it is missing is an outdoor patio.http://www.grangeagapes.com/
I have the truffle menu at 42E
Food: amuse bouche : salmon cerviche
Entree: The best course of the evening A big piece of grilled french bread, a warm slice of foie grass topped with two little tiny itty bitty chicken wingettes, shaved truffles and a bite of green apple and walnut......OMG, that's all I can say
Entree #2: artichoke slices mixed with truffle slices, floating on truffle cream foam, on top of truffle cream soup, another OMG
The main course was two pieces of some kind of pigeon, crispy crispy skin, stuffed with spinach and truffles on top of two potato pancakes.
My desert was the same as last year, I' ve dreamed of it and can;t believe my good fortune that they have it again. Strawberry Soup. there aren't words to describe it, it's cold and sweet, it smells of fresh strawberries, it has sorbet and whip cream foam and it all melts together to form a fabulous strawberry milk shake.
Other outstanding courses were a melon gazpacho soup serves with shaved prosciutto, a pineapple caramel crunch desert, both had glowing reviews and were not shared!!!

I have had the truffle menu, my favorite food at my favorite restaurant...I've died and gone to heaven...and if that isn't good enough, they have cooking classes until the end of the month and Sunday will feature the truffle recipes. I'm all signed up for my cooking class, in french, should be interesting. Actually, I just want to eat this wonderful food again. I really should go buy a lotto tic because it really is my lucky day. On July 2 there will be another truffle dinner, out in the street, accompanied by jazz, sounds like I'm going to get truffles three times!!!

Wed we are up early and are going for our little "gita", a trip in Italian because I don't know this expression in French. Little will be an understatement! It turns into a 12 hour trip that almost ends up in Italy!!!

We are up and out at the ungodly hour of....930, which is early for us! We are going to St Jean Cap Ferrat today to visit the Rothschild's villa with it's 7 themed gardens. Hey, let's take the coast road, it should be beautiful, how much longer do you think it takes....who would have guessed it took 4+ hours instead of 1 3/4 hours. Yes, it was beautiful, there was a fair amount of traffic, but it isn't high season yet. I would NEVER drive this route in high season , in fact, I now LOVE the A8, the freeway that is impossible to find! More on that later!

We eat a sandwich in the car about 1230, starving and not even close yet, lunch at the villa is going to be out. We finally arrive around 2ish. The villa is a beautiful Venetian design, light and airy with incredible views of the Med. The gardens are fantastic, one more beautiful than the other. I especially loved the stone garden and am now figuring out how to get those huge stones and arches into my yard, I don't think it is going to happen. The rose garden, the french gardens with the musical fountains, they're all good. Apparently the villa was build and the Rothschilds only came for a week or two a year....really???

The other mansions here are just as fabulous, Paul Allen lives "next door"....this is defiantly where the rich and famous live. The views are spectacular, most of the houses are hid behind enormous gardens, but we manage to peek quite a bit. We take a wonderful walk around the whole Cap, a beautiful walk well worth the drive here...on the A8 that would be!

The signs say we are only 4.5 K from Eze so we decide to go by for a short visit since we are so close...and it seems to be on the way to the A8. Well, a half an hour later we aren't there yet, we have passed a few signs that say we're close...geeze we're almost in Italy now. We find it, park and walk to the top and back...good exercise for our diets. It's an old stone village atop a huge mountain, very dramatic, but there really isn't much to do or see in these kind of towns, the success really has spoiled them a bit.

Ok, off to the A8 and home...the sign says it's only 8K from here. We drive and finally find it, but no, it's not in the right direction, we must now go another 7 K to find the right direction...hey, haven't we been on this road already today...I swear the signs here are meant to confuse, and we aren't nearly as confused as we were 15 years ago when we started traveling. We know to ignore the green signs, follow the blue , but still it must take us almost an hour to get ON the A8...and home we go in half the time it took us to get here.

We have a roasted chicken and ratatouille from the marche', fresh bread to sop it all up and we are off to bed, it's been about 12 hours since we left for out "little" gita!

We decide to stay at our pool the next day and lounge around. I do spend 2 hours at the local grocery store, love to just "look" at everything. I find packaged chicken gizzards, who knew, they are nothing like fresh gizzards, but delish, and duck prosciutto and I decide to make a country salad with this tonight, it's great and believe it or not, very low cal. The food is packaged in such small amounts, just the right size for two servings... After dinner we go to the beach for a nice long walk and visit two hotels that are stunning...places we will never stay!!!! I get great decorating ideas to make my modest home look like a chateau!! If you're interested in high end hotels in this area you can't do any better than these two, owned by the same company: La Pinade and Chateau Croix Val Mer.

That's the end of our first week, its been great, a bit slow, only one fabulous meal and one great day trip, but we are so relaxed and tanned...DH can't stop looking at himself in the mirror!!! Our friends start to arrive tomorrow so I would say the slow times are over!
susanna is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 10:23 PM
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Interesting report, I haven't been in the area Grimaud. Sounds like a perfect trip.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 12:43 AM
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I confess that my memory of the place and also St. Tropez is a place of high hedges and big gates -- a world to which I do not have access.

But it is certainly pretty.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Dear Susanna,

Thank you for posting your trip report, I enjoyed reading it and impatiently waiting for the next part. I and my DH spend 4 days in Port Grimaud last July, reading your report
brought back so many warm memories. I would fly there in a second, loved it so much. We rented a room at the villa and the view was amazing, what unfortunately I can not say about owners. They where not that friendly, pretended they did not know English and we do not speak French, just few words, while trying to learn some. Even this could not spoil “St Trope” charm we brought back with us. Please, keep writing!
MRS is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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Anxiously awaiting the next installment!
Kristinelaine is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 06:30 AM
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MRS: If you like Port Grimaud, the Hotel Sufferin has 6 apartments as well as about 15 hotel rooms. They are wonderful to deal with, went out of their way when we had a few accidents in the apartment,always were giving us fresh towels, they speak english, I would recommend them in a heart beat.

The rest in coming this weekend...need to edit before I post!
susanna is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 07:00 AM
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Ok, we have taken the first week rather slow, which really was a nice way to start a vacation. Being in a place for a month really allows you the freedom to do whatever the hell you feel like that day. Hindsight says we should have done more because the weather is going to get unbearably hot and side trips will be out of the question!

One of the reasons we come here for a month is also to see good friends that live on the east coast now, the use to live in SF. She grew up in the area, her father worked here, the parents have a small townhouse that she spends the summer in with her two children. We choose to meet up here as opposed to the US!!! I wonder why? They have arrived!!!

Our first trip is too the Gordes de Verdun, her parents had NEVER been here. We are now a caravan of seven so we take two cars, it's about an hour and a half from Grimaud, a really pleasant ride on country roads, tons of wineries that we don't stop to try.

Before going to the Gorges du Verdun, we visit the town above, Moustiers St Marie. The town is known for it's pottery, which was beautiful and in every store and I did end up with two beautiful vases! But the town is also known for this fabulous church, built into the cliffs, that became a pilgrimage site. It took us the better part of an hour to walk up and back down, and I mean straight up! Straight up on slippery dry rock stairs! No need for a stair stepper here, we went straight up for about a million stairs, until you get to this little, quaint old church built into the side of the cliff, very moving as well as gorgeous views over the area...definitely worth the hike. We stopped for a quick lunch of Salad Nicois and then off to the gorges. Its a great little town to stroll around in, I'd definately return.

We rented paddle boats, the skies were threatening a storm, we could hear the thunder, but did this stop us...NO. We were here last year and the water was a beautiful turquoise, which it was today, but because of the floods a few weeks back, it was filled with debris and made swimming undesirable. I'm always amazed at how things change and a true believer that I have to give everything at least two chances before I declare I don't like it. Last year was hot and the water was beautiful, this year was overcast, and the water wasn't as spectacular, but I have to say that I liked peddling without the sun beating down on me. It was a wonderful couple of hours, we had two boats for the seven of us(about 10E for an hour), the kids jumped back and forth between boats and did a great job of steering, maybe even better than me! The kids have given me an Indian name: One who zig-zags!
susanna is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 07:59 AM
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Er... that would be Verdon rather than Verdun, which is in a different part of France even though it is well worth visiting as well.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 09:23 AM
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I am enjoying your report and that apt. looks perfect.

A whole month---how wonderful!
TPAYT is online now  
Aug 1st, 2010, 10:23 AM
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Thank you Kerouac, that would be Verdon...those nasal sounds all spell the same to me!

We spend the better part of our vacation at the beaches here. There are so many to choose from, they are all gorgeous and all have their own personality. I'll try to tell you about some of my favorites...and least favorites!

A little bit about the Pampelonne area of St Tropez. It is about 5 miles of beaches, they are private and public, every other one.The beaches do not back up to a major road, you wind down to the beach. A private beach club is really nice, you get a lounge chair or sand chair depending on the club, some include the umbrella, others don't. The prices range from about 20E-25E for a chair and umbrella. You can have drink service at the beach but not food. All the private clubs have a very nice expensive restaurant as well as a very nice expensive snack shack. You can eat at these places whether or not you are using their beach club. Club 55 is probably the most well known.

As some of you know I am not a huge fan of Club 55...although I certainly love the action/people watching, staring, the whole scene really. I'm not a fan because I feel they don't give you good service unless you are "someone", their prices always floor me and I'm not easily floored! Well we have discovered the beach next to the club is a free beach, it can't be more than a few feet away. We set ourselves up there one afternoon and it was fabulous. We can see the dock clearly with the arriving celebs and wannna be's. All the yachts are right in front of us, it couldn't be better and every time we go there we say we've saved over $100, which I feel I should spend on something else at the marche'!

People assumed we were french because we were so organized with towels, folding chairs and an umbrella. We are quick studies and a trip to the "home Depot" of France helps. We also found the chairs we left here last year so all we had to add was an umbrella, way less expensive for all of this than one day at club 55's beach club!

This week we feel we are on the Italian Riviera, everyone here is Italian...it's all I hear at the beach. I'm sad to report that I can understand Italian better than French...and of course like me, they talk LOUD and pronounce all the letters...no guessing needed.

There are Vietnamese women doing massages on the beach. So here's the scene. A woman form club 55 wants a massage but they aren't allowed to work on the beach over there so they bring the client over to "my" beach and work there. They lay down a throw blanket (was that washed and sanitized after each use??) the woman takes off the top of the bathing suit and the masseuse goes to work, half way through turning her over to massage the whole front. She did a wonderful job, the client was totally into it. I said to DH, maybe you should get a massage, you always need one. He said "no" but I'd pay for them to do another one in front of me!!!! I guess he was enjoying the scene too. I think the massage was only about 25E.

As for me, there are two Italian guys that are playing water tennis/pin pong...don't know what it's called but you get the idea. They are great players, they can keep the ball going for hours. They are young and handsome, totally fit bodies and have on little tiny speedos. OMG, I'm in heaven! I sit in my chair and look like I'm watching a tennis match for hours. By the third day they smile at me and say ciao, they are even cuter when they smile! Jim takes equal amount of pictures of them and the massage...we are all happy.

I would say the Tahiti beach club is my favorite. I love that they have actual lounge chairs with cushions,the umbrella is included and the beach boys turn your chairs every few hours, angled perfectly to the sun for your tan. Although I haven't eaten at the nice restaurant, it's always packed for lunch. Around 430 when everyone is done eating and the dishes have been cleared from the tables they blast the music and it turns into a dance floor, including the tables, people are up on them, the coffee tables in the bar area, everyone is dancing...they've been drinking for a few hours at lunch so no one is inhibited, old and young join in. It's quite the scene.

Club 55 is more stuffy to me. The restaurant is elegant and casual at the same time, some tables you sit with your feet in the sand. The beach just has cushions on the ground with a back rest, either with an umbrella or a little grass roof. There is an area in the back, behind EVERYTHING, where some of the African men rest after walking the beach with their goods for sale, where they try to put people not in the know...don't take that section, it actually looks like part of "my" public beach area. There is always a buzz at Club 55, who's coming in off of the yachts, who's eating there today, drinking there today. It seemed to me there was also a lot of English spoken here. Bring money, everything here costs a fortune. Example: schweppes tonic water 10E, same for a diet coke, 20E for a glass of champagne, 30E for an artichoke appetizer...and on and on!

We have luch at Club 55 on the 4th of July. The whole place is decorated in American flags and they try to have 4thofjuly kind of food...but it misses the mark. DH has bbq ribs, except there is no bone, no bbq sauce, no dry rub, just a long skinny piece of meat. I have a good salad with poached egg and lardons and mussels. We I spie Jackie Collins, Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Clancy, Will I Am and later in the week Michael Douglas and Catherin Zetta Jones. I actually don't know who most of these people are but my friend swears thats who it is.

Other beach clubs that we have gone to are Morea and Nielargo, both nice and a little more low key. Other public beache areas we like are in La Croix Val Mer, a beautiful area that we always return to.
susanna is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 10:59 AM
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Spelling corrections

Anobservation: The limo drivers bring their clients to Club 55 for lunch and then have to wait for them. They are all parked down by "our" beach and I love to look at the black cars and the drivers in their black suits, damn they must be hot! If you need to know who's here you just need to chat with one of them.

The marche' at the Croix Val Mer is wonderful, I drop a fair amount of my mad money on clothes and cheep necklaces today. There is a music festival so we have a drink and sit and watch and listen, guess where they are from...florida! We see the marching band with the baton twirlers playing "YMCA", a jazz band and a few other venues. We decide to come back tonight and buy tickts for the jazz band on the main stage at 900. We have a wonderful dinner at Cafe Valmer, one of those huge platters with fresh fish that smells and tastes like the ocean: mussles, oysters, the sweetests prawns ever, and a few interesting delicious morsels that I have no idea what they might have been, a great place we will return to again. We have been told they have the freshest fish in the area and I'll have to agree. http://www.cafevalmer.com/index.html

Well we head over to the stage and we have bought the last two seats and are not sitting together, no problem. I do notice that there are quite a few chairs on stage, never saw such a big jazz band...I look through the brochure and realize that it isn't going to be jazz, it's definately a symphony orchestra. They are from a school for the arts in Florida and the youngest is 14! They turn out to be quite good, but I do prefer jazz... next time!
susanna is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 11:01 AM
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Sorry, I am having trouble posting this report, it keeps erasing it on me, it's getting a bit disjointed.
susanna is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 02:26 PM
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susanna, I am loving your report. A month-long trip is such a time luxury. DH and I decided (wisely as it turned out) to travel while we were younger but could only afford 2 weeks a shot. Sorry the computer (or Fodors) ate your TR but please try again! Loved your beach description!

Did you fly into Nice? How long to get to the apt.-the pictures of it online were lovely.
TDudette is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 05:05 PM
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Loving your report! I spent a few days at St Trop. many many years ago and was amazed then at how much money we spent. It was worth it at the time and I have wonderful memories of the beach clubs. It is nice to hear about it in the present. Save your report before you hit post!
SeaUrchin is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 09:01 AM
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TD: yes, we fly into Nice and it is about an hour and a half ride to the apartment.

OK, on with the report, I hope with no more computer problems.

I showed up for my cooking class Sunday morning at 10, but it was totally locked up, no one in sight...damn, I always get my sat and sun mixed up in french, I wonder if it was Saturday? I hope they will still let me have the outside truffle dinner WITH JAZZ next Friday night...I really hope it is jazz !

Tonight we go to a favorite restaurant from last year, in Gassin, La Verdonyette, it's situated in an old mas on the side of a hill with views to die for of the bay of St Tropez.http://www.la-verdoyante.fr/ Out of all the little villages around here I think that Gassin is the prettiest, and also has the most buzz at night, the restaurants are always packed, lots of good choices here. Bello Visto is also a favorite with a 28E menu, they are also a hotel with very reasonable rooms, very nice owners here. http://www.bellovisto.eu/

We start off with an amuse bouche of gazpacho with a touch of seafood, my first course is a wonderful layered combination of seasoned mashed avocados, but not guacamole, topped with cold scallops and nuts, oh yeah it was heaven. DH had the foie gras pate served with gingerbread toast, he too was OMGing.
I have a nice fish in a pesto broth with little tiny veggies, DH has the lamb confit, another winner. For desert I have a huge chocolate macaroon cookie stuffed with raspberries and a vanilla cream, DH has a layered glass with apricots and cream anglaise. I forgot that I don't like macaroons, its meringue cookies that I love!!! Later on I will discover the french desert, Vacherin, which is meringue, vanilla ice cream, red fruit compote and whipped cream, I think I died and went to heaven...it's very sweet and not for everyone, but it's definately for ME!
We definately roll out of there, stuffed.

I have been cooking more this time because of trying not to eat out and gain too much weight. They have a store here with high end frozen food, Picard, which is everywhere. I tried it in Paris this winter and it was good . The food is wonderful, nothing like our frozen food and quite reasonably priced. Our friends in Paris use it and my landlord down here says she does too! Well, I have to say that the scallops and mussels I bought, seasoned already , were so sweet and juicy, you couldn't even tell it was frozen, served over pasta it was a winning meal made in ten minutes!. Another night we have the lamb confit over couscous...wow, who knew? They have hamburgers and french fries that I've bought for the kids who woofed them down, but I don't think they were that good.. The daube and roasted potatoes where a winner too. They also have wonderful sorbets, and a huge Vacherin which we have too...I definately am going for the semi-homemade this trip.
They have a magazine in the store with recipe suggestions too. When getting home from the beach at 730 or 800 this was a great way to have dinner quickly AND to have good food.

Another thing I am into this trip is chocolate bread for breakfast. In an attempt to not over do at the bakery we have been buying the pre packaged bread at the grocery store.OMG, it's delicious and there are tons to choose from. I think my favorite are the "hot dog" buns with chochips, jim enjoys the chocolate "hamburger buns" with chochips, the long hot dog bun with a filling of chocolate, like a chocolate hot dog isn't bad either!

All this frozen/pre packaged food is being consumed by someone who buys from farmers markets and organic grocer's at home...go figure!!!

I think that the weather changes on the first of the month in France, how does it know the date? On July first the temp went up at least 10 degrees, it's hot , and because of the floods, it's humid and we are getting lots of mosquito bites which we've never had. So is everyone else and they are out of spray at the drugstores!

It's been sooooo hot the last two weeks, reaching the low 40's in the midday sun, which is the low 100's. I've spent two days sitting on the stairs of the pool, reading. It's so hot I can't even float on a raft in the water! DH has spent a good amount of these days sleeping in the air conditioned apartment. The smog is really thick because there is no breeze. Definitely don't have those beautiful crystal clear blue skies this year. I read that they took the folks from the retirement homes to the ice skating ring in Lyon, one to cool them off and two to entertain them...gotta love France! On the 13th the humidity finally breaks and it seems a little cooler in the mornings, but still scorching mi day. Although I don't want my vacation to end, I am looking forward to fog and cold air in San Francisco.

We love taking a trip in the air conditioned car, it feels like sf air to me, I make it as cold as possible. We have visited lots of little towns around us, I try to go on market day, which I thought that i was keeping a secret from DH, but he is pretty clever and has figured it out! I love market days, the foods to buy as well as cheep dish towels or the french version of QVC things that don't work once you get them home...trust me, I've bought them before, but now I'm wiser!

A day trip takes us back to Antibes and Cap Antibes. There is an amazing two hour walk, along the coast on rocks that look like a moonscape, totally white white and erie looking. We walk by mansion after mansion, beautiful gardens and amazing lights and camera's for those that might feel inclined to jump the wall and have a closer look. It's scorching hot by the time we finish the walk at 1230. We head up to Boit, a famous little village on a hilltop, famous for it's blown glass, which is unique. They put baking soda into the process and it makes these beautiful little bubbles in the glass. We watch the process for about a minute, way too hot, have a wonderful salad at a tiny hidden cafe, Cafe Brun. The salad has hot goat cheese on apple slices,prosciutto, tomatoes and cucumber slices and a wonderful balsamic vinaigrette...a great lunch for 10E!!!

One town that we have returned to is Bormes Les Mimosas, a charming town way up on the hill, it's a 4 flower town, just dripping with bougainvillea and plumbago, jasmines,honeysuckles..the town smells like perfume. It's a great day trip. I don't know why it's not in more guide books. It's charming and not overrun with tacky stores, there is a plethora of restaurants to choose from and it's only about 45 mins away...unless you take the scenic two hour trip home. We decide to take the long windy way back,which is an understatement, we are too far into it to turn around and go back the way we came. OH YEAH, it's long AND windy, very few guard rails and just wide enough for two cars to pass if we both stop and then inch along. I have to shield the view sometimes with my hand, like a horse blinder, I try not to throw up my lunch. DH does a great job of driving it, when we get home he needs a two hour nap!! We see people biking on all these roads and declare them insane!
susanna is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 09:22 AM
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Great report as usual Susan! In our twenties, we used to go camping in Antibes and I remember that little village Biot on top of a hill (http://cagnes-jacquot.com/images/1%20biot.jpg) and the blown glass shop http://www.fr2day.com/biot_village
cocofromdijon is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 02:14 PM
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Congrats on the drive. Hair-raising is a good word, eh?
TDudette is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 02:58 PM
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Wonderful report as always from our favorite region in France!! Eagerly waiting for more....

BTW, that car route to Bormes les Mimosas is exactly as I described it from your last year's trip report! (look under my name):


JoyC is online now  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Hey Joy, OMG I just reread your post...YES, that is exactly the road. Can you believe that people were BIKING? My landlord said someone who stayed there took two days and biked from Grimaud to Collombiers-Bormes Les Mimosas and back to Grimaud...in two days, I just couldn't believe it!

Hair raising is a GREAT term, I'm a hairdresser!

More coming soon...
susanna is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 05:06 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,324
We went back to Cafe Valmer for another wonderful meal, it is now our go to place. We called for a table and they are having a special menu and jazz this evening, really, jazz?. We head right over and it's a great night. We have met Anouk, our cute little waitress from Holland who is happy to see us again. She's a bit scattered but we enjoy her. Again , we enjoy the cold seafood platter for two which included oysters, mussels, clams, huge shrimp and sea snails, which I might be acquiring a taste for. It is so fresh it smells like the ocean, I don't think that I can come here without having this. We have scallops salads to finish off. The jazz is wonderful, the old grey haired singer sounds just like Louie Armstrong!!! We love all the free entertainment, it's a wonderful way to spend an evening, sitting outside enjoying a wonderful dinner and listening to great music, we're amazed that this is our life!

We come back to watch the World Cup Final between Spain and Holland...especially since Anouk is from the Netherlands. Tonight we had the seafood platter for two, I think it was 66E. There was so much seafood that in the two hours the game played we couldn't finish all of it! Holland looses, Anouk is crying in the bar, we leave her a good tip tonight, we don't bother her for desert since we are stuffed.

We attend our truffle and jazz dinner, in the street between the two restaurants, La Grange des Agrapes and Grain de Selhttp://www.restaurant-cogolin.com/menu.php , it's a street "fete" fair! There is at least 50+ people, the street is all set up with tables and beautiful linens, they have dego dinner lights strung across the buildings and a great three piece jazz band, the singer who has announced he just graduated from Berlitz and sings the American songs with a very strong french accent...

Our dinner is wonderful, again!!. This is definately the best restaurant we go to here. So we start off with Mimossa's, I have to drink both of them since DH doesn't drink. They are totally delicious , different from an American mimosa which is champagne and orange juice, I ask what they are, he says mimosa, I say what's in it because it's not like ours with orange juice, he says champagne and mimosa, champagne and what, mimosa!, mimosa what?, MIMOSA!!!, what's mimosa, who's on third? OK, I can see his frustration and later discover that there is a cream of mimosa that is used, . I have to try to find a bottle of this, it's delish...a new champagne drink coming your way at my house!

Our amuse bouche is a little crostini with salmon and truffle slices, the soup is cold and again frothy and foamy, totally infused with the truffles, haricots, and a fried piece of pancetta on top that you crumble into it, again my favorite course. We have some kind of foul set on tomatoes and sweet cooked pieces of apple, again with truffles. I've never heard of this desert before but you can be sure I will be researching it when I get home. Vacherin Glace with coulis de fruits rouges, makes my mouth water just writing it.
The base is a meringue, topped with a vanilla ice cream and then topped again with the most delicious red "jam", it all melts together and is sinful, I eat the WHOLE thing! OK, we're stuffed but then comes the amuse bouche of deserts, a desert brochette with a tiny muffing, a piece of chocolate something and two other things that I can't remember because my eyes glazed over by this time and I had to almost be carried to the car. It included a half bottle of wine per person, which we passed on and just had a glass of rose, the whole evening was 55E a person, a real deal!

There was a little girl of about 7 years old, who was totally into the evening. She had arrived with her purse, hair done up in ribbons and a pretty dress. When the music started so did her dancing. She danced to every song, even the recorded ones during the intermission! She had a great repertoire of ballet, jazz and modern dance, with a little interpretation of each in every dance. I see a future for her at a grateful dead concert!

OK, a little bit about the actual town of St Tropez.

It is such a cute town, really not very big, considering all the hype. The port is where a lot of the action is. There is space for about 40 three/four story yachts, we asked and it 1500E a nite to park here! We've seen some bad behavior too, it's shocking considering that some of these boats cost upwards of 100million dollars. Yeah, we looked them up .

On Saturday nights we go to the port and watch the "show". We have a light dinner at the Cafe de Paris,http://www.cafedeparis.fr/ a perfect people watching place right opposite the mega yachts. There are girls tonight dressed to the nines! They have shoes so high I can't even imagine bending my foot at that angle, let alone WALKING. They are in big groups of 5-7, truly beautiful girls, I guess looking to be invited onto the boats? I have no idea what they are doing, it's a bit too early to go out dancing, which doesn't really start till at least midnight. I never see guys looking for girls, very odd, but we certainly are enjoying their effort...maybe it's for us, who knows.
In the evening the drinks are accompanied by a few little tidbits to eat, their food is acceptable, I like to have a salad or french fries or sushi, I wouldn't order the grilled fish again, simple is best here. With a bottle of rose, this is the best seat in the house for people watching.The setting can't be beat at sunset. The sky turns lovely shades of pink and orange behind the mega yachts, all right in front of your nose for the price of a drink!

The other side of the little town has the Place des Lices,which is the other happening spot.There are always boules being played, the market is here on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Our go to restaurant here is Cafe Milano. They have great pizza, and decent food at pretty good prices, considering the location.

I've just seen a BILLION DOLLARS ! Yup, a billion dollars in yachts. Tonight the bay, just outside the harbor in St Tropez, has about a bazillion yachts that can't fit into harbor, all of them are lit up, it looks like a huge city on the water, there are so many I can't even begin to count...one prettier than the next..some look like skyscrapers on the water! A picture just can't capture it, it has to be seen. There is a cruise ship in the bay but really, it's hardly bigger than the yachts.

The St Tropez Polo Club is in Gassin. We stop in one day to buy a few shirts for DH, they're gorgeous Italian cotton shirts,pretty reasonable too. We ask how much it is to come see a practice game. It's free to see a regular game...wow, what a treat. We get all dressed up and go over on Sat evening. For 14E we have champagne and appetizers, watch a fabulous two games, have no idea what the rules are, where the ball is, what the commentator is saying, but we have a marvelous time anyway. The club is owned by Italians, has only been here for 5 years and they are really trying to promote it and get people to come. The day before we were in the port for drinks after the beach and there was a parade from the Polo Club down the main street in front of the yachts. The restaurant is beautiful, reasonably priced and serves Italian food, we'll have to come back and try it.

We take another day trip, love the car air conditioning!! We have yet to see the lavender fields and this is the third year, so we must do it. We decide to go see the most famous of them, Abby Senaqua in the luberon. It's a little over two hours to get there, and they are worth driving to see. They are in full bloom on July 12th! The Abby is old old stones with this brilliant purple field in front, breathtaking to say the least. We drive through Gordes on they way there. It's an amazing hill town, beautiful stone walls everywhere you look. It's 1230 and over 100 degrees and a drive through the town is all we can manage, it's just too hot to get out and walk around, we'll return one day. We stop at the museum of lavender, have a look around, buy a few things, it's also worth going to if you are in the area.

We have to drive through Aix in Provence, so we decide to stop and meet some friends for a quick walk around and a drink/snack before we head back. What a wonderful town, it is just beautiful, vibrant with a college crowd,tons of old fountains that work, it looks to be great shopping although I don't have any time or any space in my suitcases! We eat at Deux Garcons, we have surly service and the worst salad nicoise of the trip, I definately would not recommend this place. There were many cute restaurants in town but we were in between meal times which is why we came here...there's better. The croque madam was the best thing one of us had here!
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