Category Archives: France
We have just returned from two lovely weeks holiday in Provence, one of our most favourite areas in the World.
We drove from the UK in leisurely style stopping twice on the two long journeys.
Alas we hasd a lot of thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings whilst in Tourettes, near Fayence in Provence, but that didn’t stop us enjoying it all a lot . It did curtail eating dinners outside in the evenings though which we were very surprised were occurring in June. Storms often seem to be more common in August and September after a long hot summer.
I was able to do quite a lot of painting watercolours which of course I really enjoyed.
Below are my efforts which I hope you will like.The string of hill villages and towns from Vence to Seillans and beyond are are delightful, lovely narrow streets to wander through, and so here is Tourettes where were were staying in a lovely traditional home with views of the countryside.
Close by is the village of Callian. These fortified towns are very old and each one is well worth the visit. In each you will find cafes, boulangeries, and restaurants with delightful local produce to enjoy.
Non more so than Seillans where the restaurant “Chez Hugo” is very good and the setting of the Restaurant “La Gloire de Mon Pere” is depicted below.
Nearby too was Fayence where in the square by the Église Saint Jean Baptiste are Cafés and Restaurants , and many more further up into the town.
Further north from Seillans and Fayence is the fine town of Bargemon
Here is quick sketch of the shoppers there.
Of course whilst in the Côte D’Azur we could not resist a trip to St Tropez, using the ferry from St Maxime. We were very lucky to see a large yacht race going on in the waters just off St Tropez too and here is watercolour of the scene as we entered the harbour there.
In St Tropez there are so many great scenes but this new one is from the Quad towards the Church. The church is a great landmark from all around.
This is a watercolour from a previous visit but as it one on my all time favourite scenes to paint I could not resist including it here
And one more, a back street with lovely restaurants at the rear of that famous Church
From St Tropez, after lunch in Le Mazaran restaurant, (with the green umbrellas above and great omelette and chips, washed down with local Rosé wine) we took the ferry back to St Maxime and then we drove all the way round the coast back to La Napoule via St Aygulf, Fréjus, StRaphael, Agay and Théoule sur Mer on the wonderful Esterel coast road, surely one of the greatest coastal drives in the world!
being on the Côte D’Azur is never complete for us without a visit to Antibes and so we also went there once again. With the great castle opposite Antibes is a lovely town to visit and enjoy a coffee ,or lunch in one of the many eateries there.
We really do love Provence and the Côte d’Azur, and no doubt we will be back again in the future
Until then I hope you have enjoyed these few watercolours of this wonderful region of France
It is raining again!
During this dreary winter in Kent there have been quite a lot of opportunities to paint in the warmth of my studio!
Here are some recent works including one larger than usual watercolour.
Of course we did manage a trip to Madeira which was in a recent post which we really did enjoy as well.
This scene is one of my favourites and has also been popular on Artfinder.
We love Provence and this bridge reminds me of so many great times there.
And more locally –
And lastly a recent watercolour,the largest that I have ever attempted.
This is of Salisbury Cathedral when the Meadows by the River Avon are flooded, as they do twice a year.
With thanks to Rob of Robert Franklin Photography for his permission to use his excellent image.
The watercolour is 40 inches by 12 , by some way the largest I have painted. The watercolour is painted on 600 gsm Arches paper for stability. Very exciting to produce!
I hope eventally to produce some high quality smaller prints from this original watercolour.
So pretty busy of late and now looking forward to spring, some sunshine, and some outdoor painting.
Don’t forget if any of these images catches your eye some are available for sale on http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours.
Prices are reasonable and delivery fast!
In this the second of the series it is the turn of The Côte d’Azur and Provence in Southern France.
This spectacular part of the world has always been one of our most favourite destinations with the mountains, sea and a wonderful coast. That is before we even start to think of the food and wine.
For an artist it is also a place of wonderful light and clear air, dazzling azure blue seas and marvellous towns , villages and mountains.
I have painted hundreds of watercolours of the region so it is tricky to pick a few but here goes.
- St Tropez
St Tropez has it all, a bustling harbour filled with huge yachts, tiny streets and many boutiques, markets and crowds in the summer. The best way to get there is on the Ferry from Saint Maxime, the journey alone is great!
This first watercolour shows St Tropez with yachts racing off shore
Away from the busy harbour with the vast yachts is the tiny port of La Ponche.
With a group of restaurants at the entrance the harbour and beach has not changed in many years, but alas the fishing fleet is no longer there. We love to have a simple lunch there at a restaurant called La Pasquier et Mazagran of a freshly made omelette and frites, some crusty French baguette and a carafe of lovely local Rosé wine. Inside the Restaurant it is like stepping back in time, or outside on the terrace the shade of the awnings is very welcome.
2. The Perched Villages and Towns
From Eze via Vence, St Paul de Vence, Bar sur Loup, Toutettes sur Loup, Gourdon, Montaroux, Callian, Tourettes, Fayence,S eillans and on toward Bargemon the Perched villages and townsof this area of Provence are wonderful.
House perched on Cliffs, Narrow winding streets, bars and Restaurants in abundance. Small and large Churches and fine views across to Cannes ,Nice, and The Esterel peninsula.
There just isn’t time to explore them all now so here are just three for this Post.
Gourdon perches on a cliff edge with its Chateau and intesting shops ,perfume distillery and restaurants.
The road up is steep but wide and the views across to the Esterel and Nice quite amazing..There is good restaurant , La Taverne Provencal, looking over the view where we have enjoyed nice lunches too, and the panini in a little cafe on the main street are delicious too.
Our favourite restaurant for many years was La Table D’Yves in Fayence but sadly it is now closed.
However Fayence and the area have many nice restaurants and our favourite these days is very good Le Moulin De La Camandoule which is is really terrific and has a lovely oustside Terrace to enjoy . Great menus especially their vast, and slightly wobbly, Cheese trolley and Dessert Souffles are all excellent. The view of Fayence from the terrace is lovely. A great place to stop and enjoy Lunch or Dinner. Or stay as they have rooms too.
Very old, with narrow winding streets. We ate some while ago at a Restaurant called Chez Hugo (chezhugo.fr) where I enjoyed a terrific Squid Bourride. With its flavours of Cumin and Spices, it was a special plate of food.
So much did I enjoy it that I have developed my own recipe for it!
Rather different but I like it!
Here is the method.
Part boil a handful of new potatoes.
In an oven proof casserole fry, in olive oil with a pat of butter, sliced Shallots, about 6, with two sticks of chopped celery, 3 cloves of chopped garlic and a tablespoon of cumin, some chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and coarse black pepper, about 12 turns of the grinder.
When softened but not too brown add a large glass of white or rose wine and the same about of good stock,chicken or vegetable.
In another pan fry the medium sized squid, or five small ones, which has been chopped in bite sized pieces and dusted with flour until just going slightly brown. Add this and the halved potatoes to the casserole and pop in the oven at around 160C. If is seems too dry add a splash of water. Cook for 25 minutes and serve immediately with crunchy bread and very chilled Rosé Wine. Voila!, Bon Appetit!
With so many great places on the Côte d’Azur to visit I think we may need a return visit later on in this series!
Next time this series will take us to the USA and a few destinations there.
I expect like me you are just wishing you could go somewhere, ANYWHERE I hear you say!
Well those days will return, but I have been travelling around the Globe quite a bit since the lockdown started.
It is of course Virtual, but by painting watercolours of various place I can almost escape there for a while. By the time I have trawled through old photos to find the one I want to paint the memories of these places come flooding back and the concentration of painting soon transports me to those far away places.
I have been posting these paintings recently so not many new ones but I thought I could put them together as a sort of Journal if only for my own amusement, and I hope yours too!
It all stared sitting in the garden in the lovely April sunshine thinking of all the gardening I should be doing, not to mention sorting out the shed, garage,study etc etc.
But soon the travel bug took over.
I had been worrying about a delivery of a variant of this watercolour of Porto in Portugal
to a customer in Toronto when I realised that I had not been to Toronto for a very long time and so the idea of a Skyline painting seemed the thing to do. Don’t ask why, even I don’t know!
One thing leads to another and so suddenly I found myself seeing once again the Skyline of Singapore.
We had stayed in the Ritz Carlton there the last time we were there and this is the skyline from near there. What a City Singapore is! I can even taste a spectacular meal we ate one evening there, in very authentic restaurant, of Beef in Black Bean sauce and Beef Rendang!
The trip back to the UK included a quick diversion to Chateau Chalon in the Jura in France. (That thanks to watching Rick Stein on TV). A wonderful area of that equally wonderful country with stunning ,and rather special Wine!
And just to make sure the days were fully filled up, a return visit to Amsterdam, another great place to be.
But soon I was back in the UK with view of the Countryside in Kent that I can’t now visit and another view across the Oxfordshire countryside as the sun bursts through.
Being back in the UK brought on another attack of the travel bug and a long weekend in Tuscany seemed just the right thing to do. So after a brief stop in Florence to look at the the house located on the Ponte Vecchio —
—I drove into the heart of Tuscany. It has been warm here in Kent and so the warmth of Tuscany seemed just so good.
Basing ourselves near to San Gimignano, as we have done before, gave me some time to enjoy painting some watercolours, first of Piazza della Cisterna in the heart of San Gimignano and then the view from San Gimignano across the wonderful Tuscan landscape.
Luckily there was time to return to Lucca. A real gem of a City in Tuscany and a painters paradise!
And so the first 5 weeks of Lockdown have let me cover a lot of miles without even stepping outside!
I hope that this Lockdown won’t go on too much longer but if it does my Virtual bags will have to be repacked and put into us again.
Happy Virtual Travelling Everybody!
Stay safe and well too.
A good many years ago we spent a few days in the delightful Jura region of France. Good food and beautiful countryside everywhere. One evening, we met by chance, a wine merchant from Belgium and with him were able to visit the world famous Domaine of Jean Macle and family at Château-Chalon.
It was a really wonderful experience tasting the very unusual “Vin Jaune” of the Domaine and seeing their beautiful, but small Domaine. The wine was, I seem to recall, tasted with small pieces of the local Comté cheese, another delicious food from the Jura region.
The Macle family have been making wine in Château-Chalon since 1850 and it is a very unusual wine as the 10 year ageing process gives the wine a very distinctive taste and bouquet. Their small Domaine is around 19 hectares and stretches across the beautiful hills of the Côte de Jura region.
Jean Macle is acknowledged as a true Master of Château Chalon.
After recently watching a television programme by Rick Stein on French cuisine, I was looking back through my photos of our visit to the Jura, when I found a number of photos which have led me to paint this watercolour of the Château Chalon with the vines growing down the hillsides.
It reminds us that this is one of the many beautiful regions of France that we really must try and visit in the next few years.
Our visit there was quite extraordinary experience for which I am most grateful to Jean Macle and his family. I am sure that their wine production will continue for many more generations of their Family.
I hope you like this watercolour, 37 by 28 cms and painted on Arches Cold Pressed watercolour paper.
If you ever get the chance to spend sometime in the Jura, it is really wonderful part of France.
If you are regular viewer of this site then my thanks for your continued visits, comments and likes.
If you are new here then you are most welcome and I hope you will find some watercolours that interest you.
It has been a busy year with a fair amount of travel to many lovely places and I hope that the Posts that have resulted from these travels have been of interest to you all.
Our visits to South Africa, Tenerife, France, Portugal, Devon and around our lovely County of Kent have given me many opportunities to paint and sketch, and to meet other artists too.
We hope to travel quite widely in the New Year and especially our planned Rhine river cruise at the end of the summer will take us to many new places in Europe and the opportunity to paint some watercolours as I go.
To end the Year I have included above this winter scene of Horsmonden in Kent, which I have just finished painting today. Although we haven’t had any snow as yet, it seems seasonal to paint a winters scene and to use it to wish everyone my Best Wishes for the Christmas holidays and the New Year.
I have a few ideas for posts in the New Year and so I hope before long to be posting again.
In the mean time, Happy Travelling!
It was a fairly quick trip this time but the weather was fantastic
Mid 30s so in between sorting out a few things we were able to relax and enjoy the sun,the wine and some great meals out with friends and ourselves
I can’t recommend The Camandoule and Table D’Yves highly enough if you are in the Fayence area, they are both great restaurants and always worth the visit.
As always when we are away there was some time for quick sketches in my sketch book, now at volume 3!
Here they are and I do hope you like them
This really quick painting of watercolours appeals to me a lot as I can travel light and paint quickly even in the hot sun.
Plenty of time in the studio for larger artworks for the web sites too, when we are back home.
When we are in StTropez I am alway transported to the town as it was in the early part of the 20th Century. Here I have tried to recreate that scene,so different from today, but it must have been an amazing sight to early 20th Century painters when they went there for the first time.
Lastly a scene in;the heart of St Paul de Vence, the little but very famous hill village on the Cote d’Azur. Full of art studios and galleries there is a lovely view at every corner,and this is just one of them.
So a busy week but a few watercolours too.
Do go to the Cote d’Azur, it is one of the really special places in the world and always rewarding to visit.
if you have enjoyed seeing these sketches do go to my site on Artfinder
You know that you have chosen the right restaurant when the food is delicious and the view terrific.
So it was last Sunday at the Restaurant of Le Moulin de la Camandoule , L’Escourtin.
The weather was lovely and our table on their beautiful patio had a stunning view of the old town of Fayence high above us.
A great meal in a restaurant that I would highly recommend if you are in that area of Provence. So naturally I took some photos and here is the watercolour painted later that afternoon of the view of Fayence.
Our week, based in Mandelieu, gave us other opportunities for some good meals in restaurants, especially also La Table D’Yves, also near Fayence, and some time to meet friends and enjoy the beautiful coast to Agay along the Esterel coastal road. It is a really spectacular drive and in Agay lunch at La Belle Vie is always good. The now disused lighthouse at Agay can be seen for the beach there and this watercolour is from a close up taken with the camera of the little harbour near the lighthouse.
We didn’t visit St Paul de Vence on this holiday but the scene from the approach to the town is one I love to paint. So here is a new version painted this week.
Some years ago we bought some lovely watercolour prints by an artist called Padia. Here is my interpretation of one of those watercolours. With another painter called Cybele they had a shop called Les Deux Ateliers in St Paul. Cybele still sells mainly beautiful oil paintings from her Gallery there today and it is well with a visit.
Here is my interpretation, painting this small watercolour has also helped me learn some new techniques too.
Lastly we nearly always visit Antibes. With a lovely Old Town and a big busting port there is always lots to see.
Here is a watercolour of the view from the walls of the old Town across the bay toward the mountains.
I hope you will enjoy these new paintings.
Another lovely week in this really beautiful part of France.
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NB Some other watercolours can be seen on my shop sites at
Hi Everybody, — “Happy New Year”
After a lovely Christmas time in the UK with the family it was nice to spend the New Year on the Cote d’Azur with some good friends enjoying welcome sunshine and the lovely scenery of the area.
Of course it gave me some time to paint a few sketchbook watercolours of the area and the opportunity for us to enjoy the fine food and wine of the area.
I would like to especially mention our lunch at the Camandoule Hotel in Fayence. Just a great meal and very good value in this lovely hotel which was once a Mill. I would strongly recommend it as every time we have been there it has been great.
Anyway in the days there I was able to paint a few watercolours, quite quick ones in the sketch book which may become larger studio paintings in the future.
Here they are and I hope you like them.
All this and the Sun thing too!
Normally we fly up and down to the South of France but once a year we drive down and try and see a little bit more of France on the journeys.
This year we had a great time on the Riviera and on our way home spent a couple of days at Lake Annecy at the small town of Talloires on the East side of the lake. What a beautiful place lake Annecy is, and why hadn’t we been there before!
I feel sure we will go back, but maybe next time in late spring when it will be quieter.
So as usual here are some of the watercolours painted whilst at the Coast and a few of Lake Annecy too. The town of Annecy is very interesting as well and we went there by Water Taxi from Talloires which was a great way to travel.
So first here are the Lake Annecy paintings. As you know I have taken to painting pen and ink washes very quickly in a sketch book so that I can produce larger paintings later on in the studio.
So now here are some of the watercolours from our time on the Coast
Here are some sketch book watercolours of the day we spent in Vence. Vence has a lovely old town well worth visit.
(More details on my other blog – http://www.aquarellesdefrance.wordpress.com)
So quite a busy time painting ,sketching, eating and drinking as well as swimming in the pool and the sea. Thank goodness I am retired!
Summer on the Cote d’Azur – just lovely.