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.
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
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.
We have just returned from lovely week with friends in the south of France on the Cote d’Azur.
It is remarkable how advanced all the trees and plants are there at this time of year. The trees are covered in leaves and many roses are in full bloom already. Spring warmth is really noticeable and we had fine weather although some days had a little wind as well as sun.
Two highlights were a trips to Antibes, St Tropez by the St Maxime ferry and a few hours at the Honey Festival in Mouans-Sartoux, a small town about 10 miles from Cannes. There, many honey producers had stalls and were selling their honey, prominently Lavender honey of course as it is Provence after all!
There were also lots of other things to see including the Chateaux, and some fine jazz was being played in the square whilst we sat and enjoyed some coffee.
Only a few paintings on this trip but hopefully you will like them. First of all painting of a yacht sailing past as we approached St Tropez on the ferry. Just little bit of artistic license to get the positioning right of course!
We always seem to visit Antibes to stroll around the walls and visit the markets held there. So once agin a painting of the spring scene from the coast showing Antibes and the mountains behind still with snow on their peaks. I couldn’t resist adding the painter in the foreground just for fun!
And lastly a painting of the poppies in the fields in a village in the Provence countryside. Don’t search for the village though as it may not really exist! It was the poppies at a roadside that inspired this painting. Out much earlier that in England they looked so elegant in the sun.
I hope you enjoy this short post.
If you are new to my blog please also visit my Guide Book Page above for this region of France, or look for Brian Tucker on the iBook store. They are free!