I get a lot of questions particularly about restaurants and wine and what to do in the area so I thought I’d share my personal recommendations with you. These are a culmination of my many years of experience here and I do hope the information contributes towards either a better visiting or living experience for you. Any questions, please feel free to ask! – Susana 🙂
Welcome to the region that gave birth to Rosé wine more than 2,000 years ago!
So you wish to taste the wine in and around Cotignac but don’t know where to start? This article will give you best route to take. Continue reading Cotignac Wine Hopping (Tasting)
This is by far my favourite walk and an easy one for most people. Just 3 km from center of Cotignac, over past the Medieval Forts (towers), past grape vines and the oldest chapel around (12th Century Chapel St Martin), a big waterfall and over two bridges to get back down into the village – it’s just wonderful no matter what time of year! Follow this guide:
From the Place de la Mairie (town square) go up past the Tapissier (rue de la Placette) and follow up to rue Plan de Giraud, through the archway of rue de la Puade and up the hill (follow signs to the forts). You will walk past the old silk factory on your right (rue de la Puade) then to the two forts at the top of the village cliffs. These are called the « Tours Medievals ». Pass the forts on your left and continue following the arrow and sun signs (stay right). Keep you your right and keep going. Make a right turn when you see « le mas de lapins », two clay rabbits adorning a gate and follow the narrow path past an olive grove on your left. Make a left turn after passing the little hamlet of houses which will lead you across a small bridge and to the Chapel St Martin. Make a left at the chapel (chemin du Derroc) and continue past the vineyards and down the hill. You will eventually come to the path with the view of the waterfall on your left. Continue straight and eventually the path will lead you over a small foot bridge, then back to the village.
It’s something the French take for granted: gratuitous education from the age of two and a half, so long as your child is propre or nappy-free. All children living here, no matter what nationality, have the right to this benefit and it’s a huge bonus to any family wanting to try out living in France temporarily. Of course if the language is an obstacle the experience could be a little less seemless, but for children between the ages of two and five, a foreign language is acquired effortlessly, by immersion. Continue reading Free child care in Cotignac!
This year Cotignac and Lorgues will hold their Christmas festivities on the same day, but that doesnt mean you can’t visit them both and have it all! Cotignac’s Christmas market is really great so come here first, grab a bigh to eat, then head to Lorgues’ market in the afternoon. Continue reading Christmas Market, Lorgues
The sun came out to shine on some very colourful food at stands on the Cours Gambetta in Cotignac the 5th of October. Every year at this time the village celebrates the flavours of Autumn and this year saw it’s 10th anniversary! There was also a soup competition by local amateur chefs (an American with her tomato-curry soup won this year) as well as a huge meal organised by the Tourist office and even a celebrity television chef (Ruben Sarfati) who demonstrated his culinary talents by cooking cray-fish ravioli in front of a crowd. Continue reading Cotignac’s Autumn Food Festival
No need to go to the Cote d’Azur if you prefer to pamper yourselves to the full. You can do this by knowing where to stay, what to do, and where to dine right here in the Var. Whether it’s bathing in a bath full of dark red rose petals “a-la-American Beauty” or just sip Cristal champagne alongside the bling-bling crowd in St Tropez, Provence Living recommends the following for those of you seeking the 5-star treatment:
Places to stay:
Chateau de Berne: https://www.facebook.com/Chateau.de.Berne?fref=ts
In Lorgues. This is the Var’s first 5 star hotel, has a terrific spa and a Michelin starred restaurant, L’Orangerie.
You can also read some articles about it, by Susana, here: http://www.fr2day.com/search/node/chateau%20de%20berne
Les Gorges de Pennafort
Fancy bed and breakfast, a Michelin starred restaurant (Philip da Silva, chef), and beautiful surroundings.
At Chez Bruno, in Lorgues, truffels are the theme. They also have a lovely bastide for guests to stay in and stunning swimming pool, recently renovated
Bastide de Moustiers
Another Alain Ducasse managed restaurant and Auberge in the beautiful Moustiers-St-Marie. Touristy but gobsmackingly beautiful place. And if you want to see photos of Moustiers St Marie, go to Provence Living’s recent album: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.279848058817137.1073741893.181350728666871&type=3
Terre Blanche Spa and Resort
In Fayence, this used to be the Four Seasons and still has a Michelin starred restaurant to boast. There is also a golf course (the Terre Blanche golf course) and one of the biggest spas in the region. See also: http://www.terre-blanche.com/golf/index.html
About their chef, Franck Ferrigutti, trained under Paul Bocuse: http://www.terre-blanche.com/restaurants/chef-et-son-equipe.html
Hostellerie Abbaye de la Celle
Alain-Ducasse managed mini-hotel has gorgeous rooms and pool and an amazing gastronomic restaurant not far from Brignoles in the village of La Celle.
Restaurants (without inns)
Restaurant, in Lorgues, listed in the Michelin guide with excellent food and good service. The pastry chef here won an award a few years back as one of the top in all of France!
In Draguignan, this restaurant recently scored its first Michelin star. The excellent service here is just the icing on the cake to the savory delights created by chef Benjamin Collombat.
The beach restaurants in St Tropez (Pamplonne) – there are many to choose from but most are pretty bling-bling. Tahiti Plage likes their skinny models to pose in their boutique’s latest offerings of beautiful clothing and shiny jewelry, you’ll likely see a celebrity or two at Club 55, enjoy a more quite but classy experience at Key West Beach, and the list goes on… Check out French Dream Vacations for a great list of restaurants and things to do in St Tropez: http://www.frenchdreamvacations.com/st-tropez/what-to-do/st-tropez-beaches/
See also Provence Living’s photos of Key West Beach on Pamplonne: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.268082833326993.1073741857.181350728666871&type=3
RENT A BOAT, CRUISER OR YACHT:
There are plenty of choices if you go to Boat Bookings! See: www.boatbookings.com
A great idea is to take a boat trip from Cannes Bay to St Tropez or from La Napoule to the Isles des Lerins.
Planning a wedding in FULL STYLE? Why not choose one of the hotels or beach restaurants above, or if you really want to do something full-on-fairy-tale like, ask the Swiss couple who own Chateau Robernier to give you a quote for up to 20 guests to rent their stunning chateau, just next to Cotignac (the last I heard it was 9,000 euros to rent the place for a party evening and one night’s stay included for your guests). See Susana’s article about this chateau on: http://www.fr2day.com/style/chateau-de-robernier-%E2%80%93-the-fairytale-castle-of-provence Or go to their website: http://www.chateauderobernier.com/
What’s the first thing you do in the morning when on vacation in France? Go to your neighbourhood boulangerie, of course, and pick out your croissants and baguettes for breakfast. And if you do as the locasl do, you should also think ahead and buy bread for lunch and dinner as well since the bakery will close for lunch hour and not re-open until 4pm in villages like Cotignac. Continue reading Cotignac Bakeries (Boulangeries)
What is a kilim? It’s a flat-woven carpet or rug made in Turkey, Kurdistan, and neighbouring areas, and you can find them for sale at Myriam’s shop, Kilims Nomades, in Cotignac on the Grand Rue. Myriam also sells beautiful ethnic bags, jewelry, and accessories for women. A great place to pick out a gift for anyone who loves slightly off-beat hand crafted items from Asia and the Caucasus. Worth a look! www.kilims-nomades.com
Each piece is a work of art, an original, an antique, or something that looks old and expensive! John and Simon welcome you into their treasure chest of furniture, paintings, light fixtures, brocante items etc, all in perfect condition and fair price. They also renovate old furniture. Modes is one of the most beautifull shops in Cotignac and is surrounded by still more picturesque flowers, buildings, and shops. Just out front from MODES is the fountain built in the 1800s for the place de la mairie. It’s worth a visit even if just to admire the art here.
At the bottom of Le Cours Gambetta, closest to the fountain (that is just butting against the old lavatoire) is Le Trois Marches restaurant, our favourite for grilled meats (like duck with honey), pizza, and fresh home made fries that’ll make any child or adult very happy. In fact, I go there just to eat these frites because they are next to extraordinary just by themselves! Continue reading Les Trois Marches Restaurant
Nadine Dehennin and her husband run this gorgeous brocante and decoration shop in Cotignac. Nadine has a knack for finding old objects and furniture and likes to make them look even more beautiful with her magic touch! If you are really nice to her she may even let you see their stock that is elsewhere – it’s like an Alladin’s Cave full of paintings, antiques, treasures… A terrific place to find those little objects that bring a sense of character to your home.
Le Passé, Le Présent can be found just across the street from the Place Neuve on Rue d’Antoine. 9 rue d’Antoine, 83570 Cotignac. Tel 0677 70 22 96. CLOSED MONDAYS.
Cotignac is very very popular as a tourist destination in the Summer, but what’s life like in the Winter time? Well, as an all-season resident, I can tell you: it can get very cold here, unlike the coastal areas (Cote d’Azur’s beach towns like Nice, Cannes, St Laurent du Var, Hyeres, St Tropez etc) and exceptionally this year (2014) we escaped the coldest temps and snow we had seen for at least five years in a row. The cold can bring with it some snow in January or February causing havoc for drivers and those housed in badly insulated houses. If you are thinking of living here, you should be prepared for cold weather well into MINUS 0 degrees centigrade, and invest in good down jackets and cozy boots (and double glazed windows if you can!). The snow never lasts more than a couple of weeks but it does bring with it some excellent photo opportunities and absolutely stunning scenery amongst the trees and cliffs that are white-washed with it. If you insist on seeing this, the best time to visit is mid to late February to chance it. Just make sure you have enough firewood in your house!
On the Grand Rue in Cotignac you’ll find many shops but one that stands out is Frederic’s very popular A l’ombre du Rocher. You’ll find just about anything to please even the most fussy person when gift giving. Very pretty English-Provençale type dishes and silverware, crystal glasses and chandeliers, woven furniture, candles, napkins, table cloths, baskets, and ceramic blown-up chickens that are really beautiful and extremely popular amongst the “in-the-know-decorators” but watch out as they are not cheap. These are symbols of good luck for kitchens in Provence so it’s like, well, you just have to get one!
Others goodies include hand-painted bowls in blue and white from Poland, coffee mugs and creamers, dishes and serving spoons. You’ll also find a very good collection of high-quality stuffed teddybears to thoroughly spoil the little ones in your life.
A l’ombre du Rocher: 8 Grand Rue, 83570 Cotignac Tel:
VERY UNFORTUNATELY this restaurant has closed in 2015. Stay tuned for news on what’s/who’s taking it over in Autumn of 2015!!
In Cotignac, one of the best restaurants (mid to high range prices) affectionately called Chez Loli’s, can be found on the Cours Gambetta, just across the street from the Hotel de Cours. It’s probably the only place for now that offers Lobster for lunch or dinner and the best Prawn ravioli I’ve tried since living in California!
Say hello to Céline, at Pierre de Lune in Cotignac. Céline has some unusual, original, and very pretty Summer dresses for sizes S, M, and L for women who wish to stand out. These are no ordinary dresses – they remind me of how clothing was made many decades ago, when stitch detail counted, and materials were heavier and of better quality. To make the shop even more attractive, it is sandwiched between the lovely Paulette Café (ice creamery, salads, and snacks) and Corinne Hugou’s Atelier Café. So if you get tired from the heat and all that shopping, you have a few choices as to where to catch your breath and enjoy the people watching! -On the Cours Gambetta in Cotignac.
It was sunny and warm on Sunday, the first of June, and the Cotignac Parents’ Committee (AAPE) organised a successful flea market, complete with 4:30am traffic jams at the entry to the village’s Cours Gambetta! Susana was there to see it all, deal with the chaos, and place vendors swiftly and calmly. She then continued as crêpes maker and vendor (alongside other parent-volunteers who helped out) to raise more funds for the association in order to further Continue reading Vide Grenier (flea market) Cotignac
A cute and casual pizza joint where kids can also dine on fries and steak haché exists on the Cours Gambetta in Cotignac. La Tarente’s wooden interior and gingham accents on their table cloths makes for a simple but pleasurable dining experience. Continue reading Pizza at La Tarente