A place,a Painting, a Drink and a Platter. Number 2 The Côte d’Azur
In the first one of this occasional series of posts I remembered visits to Australia.
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.
The next village to Fayence is Sellians
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.
Return to the Cote d’Azur! Great!
After what seems far to long, due to you know what, we have just returned from a lovely holiday in France with much of our time spent back on the fabulous Cote d’Azur.
Driving through France in June in very hot weather was very beautiful with the Flowers, Lavender fields, Countryside and Mountains all sparkling in the Summer Sun.
Overnight in Vienne , about 10 miles south of Lyon, was an opportunity to eat in a local Restaurant ,Le Bar a Vins des Saveurs which was very enjoyable and worth seeking out. It is near the Roman Pyramid , quite spectacular ,a Roman column in a town of many Roman ruins.
From Vienne we set off for The Cote d’Azur and on the way passed many fields of lavender and the hills and farms of the Rhone Valley
Here are two larger watercolours of that route
Our destination was Miramar, just outside Theoule on the Esterel coast and about 12 miles from Cannes.
This is the view from our terrace of the bay at Miramar, tranquil sea, and the red rocks so prominent on this part of the coast. And hot too, every day over 30 C!
We love to travel on this spectacular coast road and this next painting is of the beach at Agay, quite near to San Raphael. Hot again!
It would really not be a visit to the Cote d”Azur for us without wandering around Antibes. This lovely old, yet busy, coastal town is a great place to wander.
The view of Antibes from the nearby bay is a very famous one painted by me and many others over the years. This is a new version.
This little Antibes street caught my eye as we walked around.
We moved for a few days to new accommodation near Mougins, another pretty hill village north of Cannes. From there the view of the mountains is great, here is quick sketch of the scene from the walls of Mougins.
The centre of Mougins with it’s many restaurants, cafes and houses is a delight to wander around. Here is sketch from a welcome seat in the shade
One of our favourite places in the area north of Mougins is the spectacular hill village of Gourdon. Small but always worth a visit. This is a watercolour from a few years ago which gives an impression of the position of this amazing perched village.
Up in the mountains this cottage farm gave me an idea for quick sketch of the typical Provence scene
Whilst at Mougins we played some golf , even though it was very hot!. From the Course the view of the houses and hills nearby, gives, I hope and idea of the local scenery.
Our return journey to the UK was via the lovely lake side town of Aix les Bains and there the beautiful Lac de Bourget. From a boat trip on the lake this watercolour seemed appropriate for the final watercolour for this post.
Of course I have come home with many photos and ideas for more watercolours of France and our great holiday. I will post those when I have managed to do a few more.
We will never tire of the Cote d’Azur, one the world’s most wonderful holiday destinations. If you know it well I hope these will be a reminder of it, if you haven’t been there, then GO!
The Heat and Beauty of the Cote d’Azur
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
September sun on the Cote d’Azur
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
We didn’t just go there to eat! – A week on the Cote 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.
The hills of Provence and the back streets of St Tropez are always favourite themes for me and so here two more watercolours painted during this visit.
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
10 days on the Cote d’Azur
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.
Return to the Cote d’Azur – August 2016
Summer on the Cote d’Azur, wonderful, hot, busy and just delightful!
The whole area of Provence is such a beautiful part of the world, with great food, excellent Rose wine and just terrific weather. The sea, the sand, the mountains just make me want to paint and this summer I have managed quite few. Not all totally successful but here they are , and I hope you will enjoy having a look at them.
Firstly St Paul de Vence, always busy with tourists but it is interesting to walk through the narrow streets and go into the art galleries.
The second painting is a scene of cafe life in a Provence town as the restaurants come to life in the early evening.
Off the coast of Cannes is the Ile de Lerins, this painting, from a zoomed photo, shows the Abbey on the island where there is a lot of boating activity. It is about a 15 minute boat journey to the island.
I do like to paint yachts at sea and although the sea in watercolour is still a challenge for me here is a watercolour painted whilst in Provence.
The mountains of Haut Provence are always an inspiration, here are two paintings from our holiday, although the scenes are not entirely factual!
For the first time in many years we went to Port Grimaud. This old style but 1960’s marina centred town is an interesting place with lots of Provencal inspired houses around the marina. Could resist a quick painting with our grandkids and family in the little green boat!
Sometimes change of style is worth an experiment, so this last watercolour is a little different from the usual.
I hope that you have enjoyed this and the other paintings in this post. It was so great to be back on the Cote d’Azur!
A few days in France
We have just spent a few days in the South of France sorting out one or two things at our apartment. With some rainy as well as sunny weather there was just time for couple of watercolours, one from a photo in a newspaper which caught my eye as a basis for a painting and one from an earlier photo of the beach at Juan les Pins. I wish our few days had all been as sunny as the Juan les Pins painting but after all it is February!
I hope you like them both and maybe I will be able to post again soon.
Heres looking forward to Spring
A Day in ………. Villifranche sur Mer, on the Cote d’Azur
A Very Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for visiting my site.
Sometimes in the winter it is nice to look back to days spent in a particular place.
Scanning through my paintings it struck me that this theme would make an interesting theme for a Post and so here is the first one of what I hope will grow into a series of Posts.
When we visit The South of France our home there is not far from Villefranche, about 40 minutes, so it makes a nice day out and a lovely place to sit on the Quai and have a delightful lunch.
The town has a nice harbour, a fine , and huge castle and is in sheltered bay on the Mediterranean.
It has become a very popular harbour for cruises too, but it is much nicer there when the cruise ships aren’t!
There is a lovely small Church (Chapelle Saint Pierre) which dates from the 16th Century by the waterfront The inside of the Church has been decorated by Jean Cocteau after it’s restoration in 1957. Definitely worth a visit before or after lunch.
Villefranche has thus become quite a favourite spot for me to paint watercolours of and so here are some of the watercolours of some recent visits there.
From the harbour there is path around the outside, the sea side , of the castle which gives lovely views of the bay and of the Town and Castle.
Across the Bay is the very tiny Port Passable , above which stands the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a beautiful House and Gardens open to the public. Nearby also is the Villa Grecque Kérylos. Both are very well worth the visit.
There is so much to do in and around Villefranche. Access is easy by car or train and I am sure you will enjoy it just as we do.
More Painting in The South of France
Painting in the South of France is such a delight!
We had been in Normandy recently but last week we were back in Provence staying on the Cote d’Azur.
The weather was spectacular, hot as the middle of summer, the skies blue, and the sea a shimmering Azur.
So time for some painting!
I wanted to finish a sketch of Honfleur I had started in Normandy but with a Regatta theme.
Painting watercolours in the lovely heat of Provence means working very quickly as the watercolours dry so quickly!
If you are on the Cote d’Azur then lunch on the Quai at Villefranche is a great way to start a holiday.
Sitting in the sun at one of the restaurants by the quay is such a lovely experience. We really like “TRASTEVERE”, where the staff are great and the food excellent.
This painting, from a photo taken that day serves as reminder of that lunch! By the Quai is the little Church decorated inside by Jean Cocteau, do spend some time there as it is a quite remarkable.
In quiet moments I can sit and paint from reference photos and memories of other visits. This time was no exception and these three paintings come under that category.
The little farm houses and the hills and fields of Provence are a constant inspiration in the bright and clear light of the landscape.
Here are two paintings of the Lavender and Vines of Haut Provence and one of the Iles d’Or, a tiny island with castle tower between Agay and St Raphael on the Esterel peninsula.
This week we had some friends staying with us and so we all took the ferry from St Maxime to St Tropez. The bustle of the main port and the huge yachts and boats is so contrasted by the calm as you walk round the corner to Porte de Peche and the view from the Tour Portalet, which is just at the Harbour.
There are some good places to eat at “Le Ponche”, just 100 yards from the main harbour and the little port is delightful. Try the omelettes at “Le PeS Quiere”, really good!
I love to paint this scene, so as well as the view from Tour Portalet I have included a previous painting of The Porte de Peche too. I hope you enjoy them and visit this quieter part of St. Tropez.