Category Archives: Perched Villages
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
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.
When the sea sparkles on the Côte d’Azur you can tell somehow before you go out that it is HOT. And it certainly was on our recent visit to La Napoule, 37 Celsius in fact most days. Nice to be in a air conditioned hotel and have great air conditioned car too!
However it was a lovely as ever and although just a short trip, there was time in the late afternoons for a few quick Pen and Wash watercolours.
This style works for me on travel and provides some ideas for large watercolours when home in the studio. In fact the next post will be one of these as a larger artwork.
La Napoule is a very nice place to stay and the large Pullman Hotel was very comfortable with a delightful beach to cool off at with a dip in the warm Mediterranean waters.
During our stay there we visited our two most favourite restaurants, both in Fayence; “Le Moulin de la Camandoule” and “Le Table d’Yves”. These are exceptional places to eat at, and both have lovely views of Fayence. Great dinner too with friends at “Freres de la Baie” in Theoule and “Le Brocherie” in La Napoule
So here are the Pen and Ink watercolours, all about 11 by 8 inches but this time painted on Fabriano 300gsm Hot Pressed watercolour paper, as this paper is very nice to use for pen and wash.
I hope you will enjoy them and also that you will be able to spend some time one day on the beautiful Esterel Coast and around the Côte d’Azur
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.
This summer in the UK is proving to be hot and sunny which is great, but before this latest heat wave we were lucky enough to spend 10 days once again in the South of France on the Cote d’Azur.
There the weather too was hot and sunny and the food and wine up to all the usual great standards.
It gave me a chance for quite a lot of watercolour paintings of the area, almost one per day, some from my photos and some from memory too.
I was just trying to capture the light and the summer warmth in that wonderful part of France.
I hope you will enjoy them and of course if you can spend time there do try too one day, you won’t be disappointed.
In the hills not to far away from us is the unspoilt town of Seillans. These two sketches are of the little streets in this very hilly town.
Seillans in Provence . Watercolour 9 by 7
In the summer the Coast is beautiful and the view from the Esterel Coast road across the Iles de Lerin always fascinates me. Here is that view. This road is one of the finest scenic coastal drives in the world!
Occasionally you come across a bay with some fishing boats, an all too rare sight these days so here are a couple of interpretations of those scenes.
Sunsets can be amazing, here is quick watercolour of one.
When you drive around Provence the umbrella pine trees seem to pop up everywhere. This is a painting from memory of some not too far from the Coast.
There are some places that we never tire of visiting. For us Saint Paul de Vence is one of them.
Alas it is so popular that it is often teeming with visitors, but at the right time of day the lovely little streets and the town can be enjoyed to it’s full.
The views of the town as you approach it are lovely too and and each time I visit there seems a new aspect to paint a watercolour of.
This visit was no exception so I thought I would look back through previous paintings and gather them together in the blog post dedicated to the town.
Recently a new creperie has opened near to the Church in the town and I can really recommend it. The best crepes that I have ever eaten, prepared in the Normandy way. If you are there, try one, they are delicious!
St Paul is also full of art galleries and shops with items to tempt the tourist as you would expect but somehow they add something to the town and a extra dimension to the lovely architecture and the narrow streets.
Nearby too is the bigger town of Vence , which has a very nice old town to discover too.
There are so many lovely places in this beautiful, and our favourite, part of France.
I hope you will enjoy these paintings of the town and if you haven’t visited St Paul then do so one day. Crowds or not you will enjoy it.
How nice it is to see the sun on daily basis. That was how our week this May was back at our favourite haunt of the Cote d’Azur!
Not very hot but lovely and dry with the sun breaking through nearly all day.
The combination of scenery, the beautiful Esterel Coast, and the mountains of Provence make this a wonderful part of the world.
We even ventured into Cannes where the mayhem of the preparations for the Cannes Film Festival were well underway, but nobody asked for our autogragh!
We weren’t sorry to be leaving before the Festival started but just a short way from Cannes calm reigns and the roads are peacefulful and beautiful in all directions.
Even time for some quick sketches for future, hopefully larger, paintings.
These watercolours are all just 8 by 5 inches in size and quickly painted after taking some photos, or recalling previous Provence scenery.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have in painting them.
If you have read the guide books on another page of this blog you will know that we are very familiar with this enchanting part of France. The local wines, predominantly Rose but also some light and fruity Reds are a great complement to some really good restaurants, some of which we visited again on this trip. If you are ever in Fayence do go to Table d’Yves , one of the finest restaurants we have found in this part of the region.
Happy travelling and if the sun is out where you are enjoy that too!
Happy New Year to you all!
To start this year I have decided to try out a new idea based on my paintings.
It began when I created to blog dedicated to my mother in law, Sadie back in 2013. That blog was about the Antrim Coast Road in Northern Ireland and it struck me that I might be able to produce a few Travel Guides of various places we know quite well, illustrated with my watercolours. I always photograph my work so they all reside in my Mac.
Apple have produced a great App for Macs that is called iAuthor which allows you to produce books for publishing on the iBook store (for Apple users on iPads and computers etc) or as a pdf that is viewable by all.
The first of these book which is titled Travels with a Brush, Volume 1 – The Cote d’Azur is now available on the ibook store ( search for Cote d’Azur) but is also attached here as a pdf file for anyone to download. (Click on the link at the top of this post).
The books are free, I didn’t think anyone would be inclined to pay for my ramblings but nevertheless I hope you might find the books interesting. The second one, on Ulster in Ireland will be published in month or so.
I will be back to more normal painting posts soon but in the meantime any feedback is always welcome