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 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
View over St Tropez . Watercolour 14 inches by 7
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.
La Ponche old fishing port at St Tropez. Watercolour 14 inches by 10
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 and the view towards the sea. Watercolour sketch 19 inches by 8
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.
Fayence from the Moulin de la Camandoule terrace. Watercolour 12 inches by 10
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.
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.
Watercolour sketch of the Pyramid in Vienne.
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.
Market day at a town in Isere. Watercolour sketch
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
Lavender Farm near Orange. Watercolour 15 inches by 10
Lavender Farm in Provence. Watercolour 15 inches by 10.
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!
Enjoying the Beach at Agay
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.
Antibes with the mountains to the North. Watercololour 15 inches by 10.
This little Antibes street caught my eye as we walked around.
A side street in old Antibes, sketch 7 inches by 9.
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.
toward the mountains from Mougins. sketch, 10 inches by 8
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
The main square in Mougins. Watercolour sketch.
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.
Gourdon, a watercolour sketch from 2018. 20 by 9 inches.
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.
The countryside and houses around Mouans – Sartoux.
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.
Lac de Bourget at Aix Les Bains. Watercolour 18 inches by 9. Abbaye de Hautcombe in the foreground.
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!
San Gimignano in Tuscany from one of my sketchbooks
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
Staithes on the Yorkshire Coast
The village of Robin Hood’s Bay
And now a recent painting of Mousehole in Cornall and one of the River dart in Devon
Mosehole in Cornwall
Greenway Quay on the River Dart in Devon
A few on place in Provence
In St Paul de Vence
At The heart of Vence
And a quick trip into Spain and Portugal
The Hotel Courtyard in Sevilla
An finally , for now at least, a few of both Canterbury and York
Canterbury Cathedral from Mercery Lane
York Minster from the City Wall
The Shambles in 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.
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
The Castle at La Napoule
The Market in the Centre of old Antibes
Iles St Marguerite. Yachts sailing ,seen through the zoom lens!
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.
Fayence from Le Moulin de la Canandoule. Watercolour 12 inches by 9.
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.
The little harbour near the old Agay lighthouse. Watercolour sketch 9.5 inches by 7.5
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.
St paul de pence as you approach it from Cagnes. A watercolour 12 inches by 9.
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.
My version of a “Padia” watercolour of Provence
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.
“The Clouds roll in”. – . A watercolour of the view from the Walls of Old Antibes. 12 inches by 9.
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
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
First of all thanks for looking at this blog, I really enjoy putting some of my paintings here and hope they will encourage you to visit some of these places, or if you already know them to remember them.
I have blogged many times about Provence and the Cote d’Azur. It is a truly beautiful part of the world with sun, sea and mountains, not to mention it’s great food and wine!
One feature of the area, and of course many other areas around the Mediterranean, are the “perched’ villages and towns. They are always very interesting. Some of course are much better known than others. Over the years we have visited quite a lot and they always provide an interesting subject for my watercolours.
I thought therefore that it was about time to collect a number of my watercolours together under this title.
I hope you will like them as a collection and feel the warmth of the Mediterranean sun!
Enjoy your travels wherever you may be.
St Paul de Vence
The Grand Fountaine in St Paul de Vence
Rue de Bresc in St Paul de Vence
St Paul de Vence
Bourgainvillia in St Paul
Gourdon commands fabulous position high above the Cot dAzur
Gourdon, Farmhouse on the hill above the town.
Gourdon in the Snow
the route into Gourdon in Winter
Near Lac St Croix is the beautiful Moustiers St Marie
Inside Moustiers St Marie
The Chapel at Moustiers St Marie from the town
Looking up towards Fayence
In the heart of Fayence the Hotel de Ville is an impressive sight.
Just past Fayence is the little town of Seillans
High up in the mountains is the town of Mons en Provence
The fountain in Mons freezes in the winter
By the coast but high above it is the delightful town of Eze.
On the ridge from Vence towards Fayence lies Callian and it’s castle
Callian can be seen clearly from the Terre Blanche Golf course
Anoth view of Callian
A little street in Biot. Biot is famous for its Glass making.
A sunny day in Mougins
Tourrettes sur Loup
The small streets of Tourrettes Sur loupe
One of my first painting,taken from a postcard photo, of Vence