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.
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!
I love to paint watercolours, and I have always been fascinated by this medium.
Whilst I get great pleasure trying to paint big and bold watercolours I often find myself returning to where I started , using a pen and wash technique.
The sheer pleasure of the pen marks casually laid on the paper which may or may not be important later on is such fun and then applying washes of watercolour over it in a not too rigorous edgy manner is very exhilarating.
Maybe I am easily pleased but this process, which has to be pretty speedy, has been the backbone of my watercolours for many years and I hope will continue to be so.
Pen and wash can be in my sketch books, or slightly more formally on Watercolour paper, I particularly like Arches watercolour blocks which are so great for use when travelling!
Let’s hope we can travel again soon though!
So here are some older and more recent Pen and Wash watercolours which I hope you will enjoy.
These first three were painted just this week from photos of previous visits and that is often how they happen. When I can in love to sketch on the spot but that is a luxury which I can’t do at present of course.
Two scenes for Yorkshire first
And now a recent painting of Mousehole in Cornall and one of the River dart in Devon
A few on place in Provence
And a quick trip into Spain and Portugal
An finally , for now at least, a few of both Canterbury and York
I hope from these you can see the reason why I enjoy Pen and Wash so much. Immediate , Colourfull and fun to do!
Stay safe and well and maybe this year we may all get to travel again.
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.
Happy New Year everybody.
This year we spent New Year and the week around it at Mandelieu on the Cote d’Azur.
Although cold at night the days were warm in the sun and the delight at being to eat lunch outside, or even at restaurants on the beach in January is great.
I had set a goal of painting a watercolour every day but didn’t quite manage that but here are the five that I did complete in the week.
We didn’t visit all these places and some scenes are from photos, the web and our previous travels but some are the scenes just as they were last week.
Firstly two paintings of lavender fields in Provence.
One of the most striking things about the area around Mandelieu and Tanneron are the hillsides that are covered in early spring by Mimosa trees in bloom. The fantastic bright yellow flowers are such a great sight so early in the year. Last week around Tanneron especially there were many trees in bloom.
This painting with lots of artistic licence tries to depict a village in the hills with the Mimosa trees in flower.
The road from Cannes to St Raphael is one of the great coastal routes of the World. Do drive along it if you get the chance. With such nice lunchtime weather eating our lunch outside at Agay and Theoule was great fun. At Theoule we sat right by the waters edge at the Marco Polo Restaurant enjoying fresh Turbot in the sunshine.
This was the view of the Ice de St Honorat, (albeit a little bit enlarged!)
Quite nearby is the town of Vence, often famous for its sister town St Paul de Vence. However over the past few years much work has been done to the centre of the Old Town of Vence and it is now a lovely place for a stroll. There is a fine , but small Cathedral and quite a few restaurants and cafes to enjoy too.
This painting is of the a square in the Old Town which I hope you will enjoy.
It was a great week in the area and so nice to enjoy some winter sunshine, excellent restaurant food, great wines and good company.
All the best for 2017
PS. Some of these watercolours will be soon be for sale on http://www.Artfinder.com. (search for brianswatercolours)