Category Archives: Things to do

Fun things to do

New Year’s day walk in Bauduen (Lac St Croix)

Happy new year! If you’re like me, you’re a bit fed up with all the drinking and partying of the month before and ready for a detox and healthy start to the new year 2018.  What better way to start then but with a nice walk in the January sunshine (it was rather warm at 13 degrees C) by the lake, just 35 minutes’ drive from our home village of Cotignac! The bonus was discovering a new casual restaurant that serves fresh crepes sweet and savory, with fresh and organic ingredients and even catering to vegetarians and gluten-free diets. Don’t let the photos fool you, this place was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS and the price was right too! The  four of us ate rather well for just 52 euros. A good lunch, followed by a brisk walk in the sunshine around the village and up near the olive groves on the mountain (West side). There’s a spectacular sight by the old church there too, where climbers will find challenging and steep rocks to climb. Bauduen is of course a very popular place for Summer visitors who come to enjoy the spectacular lake and water sports but it’s just as pretty in January.

Luxurious pampering at Chateau de Berne’s spa in Lorgues

I once had the invitation to do a write-up about Chateau de Berne back in 2006 in exchange for a night in one of their suites and a dining experience. It was the first of March and they had just reopened for the season. Back then it wasn’t as luxurious but the service was excellent and the establishment was eyeing for higher sights.  Ten years ago the “auberge” was more cosy and less classy but the accommodation very comfortable albeit neo-provençale in decor.

In 2017 Chateau de Berne has come a long ways. With a ton more money invested in their interior and exterior beautification, the addition of their super spa has cemented their position as a competitive 5-star establishment here in the Var. The new interior decoration is sublime and would impress even the fussiest clientelle. The spa products were exquisite and from the uber-quality brand Cinq Monde (https://www.cinqmondes.com/). But if a massage, facial, or body treatment isn’t your desire you can opt for the 77 euros per person -3-hour free use of hammam, sauna, jacuzzi and well-heated indoor swimming pool AND lunch at the bistro in the cold months which will probably relax and pamper you just as much. I had the body scrub treatment which made me feel like I had the smoothest of baby’s skin afterwards (and it even seemed to last a good 48 hours!) I would definitely go back just to use their amenities.  Monthly to annual club memberships are also available. For more information go to: http://www.chateauberne.com/en/hotel-spa-provence.html

 

 

Day trip to Bandol in October

Sunday is market day in Bandol so it’s a little busy but it’s not too touristy which is what I love about the place. Unlike St Tropez, Cannes, and Nice, you don’t hear too many other languages being spoken here (other than French!). And yet it has everything – a beautiful port, fantastic restaurants and shops, and of course great wine. Continue reading Day trip to Bandol in October

Aups and her market in August

Located just 20 minutes from Cotignac, and on the way to the Lac St Croix, is the medieval village of Aups, famous for Truffles and their annual Truffle Festival in January. In Summer the village is bustling with life and their twice-weekly markets are really worth going to because it’s cheap and there is an abundance of choice.  Aups has their market on Saturdays and Wednesdays. See also http://provence-living.net/aups-truffle-village

Short brisk circuit walk in Sillans-la-Cascade

If you’re a busy bee like me, you’ll try to fit in a quick brisk walk during the day to keep healthy. This one in Sillans is brilliant because it’s easy but combines clean air with pristine river, a wild path, and some scrambling at the end. Park in the old train station parking lot in Sillans-la-Cascade (the school) then walk across the street to the foot of the bridge. Follow the “panorama de cascade” sign and continue down the river on the left side. Stay on the left the whole way. Eventually you’ll see a floating foot bridge (this is fun to jump on!) but do not cross it, just keep going. The path narrows and you’ll eventually come to a tunnel bridge. Climb up the steep dirt path on its right side and you’ll get to street level. Go over the bridge and continue on the left. Make the next left turn and go down the path going back on the other side of the river. You’ll eventually find yourself behind the castle (you’ll see a couple of picnic tables). Stay left and keep going through the bottom road of the village and you’ll see the old lavoire. Voila, you’ve done your 15 mins circuit walk, bravo!

Market day in Cotignac June 13th, 2017

It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day in Cotignac and the tourists seemed to come out of the woodwork. The market was bustling and there were so many buying temptations from the roasted chickens to big bunches of lavender. I finally succummed to some pretty cotton clothing at the bottom of the Cours Gambetta but oh, if I had all the money in the world I’d buy up half this market, it was so good! Continue reading Market day in Cotignac June 13th, 2017

La Table de Pol – wine bar and restaurant in Lorgues

Quality of ingredients, good service, and a relaxed atmosphere is what you can expect here at the wonderful La Table de Pol in Lorgues.  It’s a little escape, like something we’d find nearer to the coast here or on a beach.  Lots of stretching room, super comfy tables and chairs, benches with cushions for your aperitifs, and a cozy wine bar indoors for a more romantic feel; perfect for couples. Continue reading La Table de Pol – wine bar and restaurant in Lorgues

Villecroze Park, Café La Bohème, and Mr Gum’s

It’s always such a delight to visit Mr Gum at his boutique full of fabulous ceramic necklaces, earrings and bracelets in old Villecroze. Guillaume (owner and creator of the shop) is full of charm too and is always a real pleasure to chat with. What’s best is that his shop is right next to the now famous La Bohème Café with equally charming Liz as owner and hostess. Have a coffee, a piece of cake, a look around at Mr Gum’s then head for the beautiful rose park across the way with its stunning limescale cliffs and cave dwellings (kinda like a miniature Cotignac!!), a beautiful old house, picnic tables, tennis courts, and a great park for younger kids too. All this is just 25 mins’ drive from Cotignac. Worth the detour!! Continue reading Villecroze Park, Café La Bohème, and Mr Gum’s

Le Mas de Cotignac – accommodation and table d’hôtes

Recently written up in our local newspaper the Var Matin, Le Mas de Cotignac offers Michelin standard “voluptuous” accommodation for even the fussiest of guests. If you are looking for a romantic break, a tranquil vacation, or a weekend getaway without the kids, this is the place to unwind and be luxuriously pampered.  They are located just outside the village. Le Mas de Cotignac is an exceptional bed and breakfast with table d’hôtes (possibility to book lunches and dinners) with swimming pool and jacuzzi.  And their service is also top notch and attentive to guests’ every need. Continue reading Le Mas de Cotignac – accommodation and table d’hôtes

Chateau de Berne – hotel, restaurant, and spa

Chateau de Berne used to be a small upscale auberge tucked into the middle of their vast property but nowadays boasts five stars for its hotel and spa facilities. They have invested heavily in making the resort top-notch with super equipment and amenities to excite and attract even the fussiest of upscale visitors. Continue reading Chateau de Berne – hotel, restaurant, and spa

Les Baux de Provence

Tourists from all over the world who visit the South of France flock to Les Baux and it’s not surprising; the region is already stunning but what makes Les Baux stand out is its dominant stone chateau and the white rocky hills that surround it.  From the top there are sweeping views across Arles, Camargues and the Alpilles. Les Baux is in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone (13) and about one hour and a half’s drive from Cotignac in the Var. Continue reading Les Baux de Provence

Summer day in Marseille

The second most populous city after Paris, Marseille has gone through some very impressive improvements lately.

The old port has always attracted lots of tourists (lots of shopping, fabulous restaurants serving what they are most famous for, the Bouillabaisse – a fish stew, made the right way is just to die for) but the West side now has a stunning new museum called the Mucem (displaying art from civilisations of Eruope and the Mediterranean) located just across from the more traditional arts museum; Regard en Provence. Continue reading Summer day in Marseille

New owners at Deco Shop Au Moulin d’Antan

I have lived here for almost seven years now and have seen the owners of this shop change three times. The good news is that I found this collection of gift items, decorations, boutis, art, and dishware  MUCH better compared to the previous collections there. There is so much choice and even a gallery with local artists’ displays that are really good. The shop front has good parking space and the products are reasonably priced. A detour must for anyone who loves tasteful Provençale gifts and kitchenware.

Au Moulin d’Antan is just a 12 mins’ drive from Cotignac, in our neighbouring village of Montfort and just next to the Commandeur wine caves. It’s located just off the Route de Brignoles (18 bis, rue du Moulin) in Montfort sur Argens. Telephone: 04 94 59 98 21

 

Domaine Saint Andrieu

In Correns and tucked in between the borders of Ponteves and  Chateauvert,  is the 600-plus hectares of forest and vineyards belonging to the understated beauty and high quality wine domaine of Saint Andrieu.

The lovely Mme Susan Huet, the Sales and Marketing representative, gave us a little tour of the grounds (about 4 km drive from the centre of Correns) and best of all, tastings of their 2015 rosés, reds, and whites. Continue reading Domaine Saint Andrieu

Moissac Bellevue and Le Bellevue restaurant (bistro)

About a 25 minutes’ drive from Cotignac and just passed Aups and on the way to Regusse is the quaint, tiny, and off-the-beaten-path Medieval village of Moissac Bellevue.

What struck me most at first was how clean the place was. Not a piece of trash nor dog doo doo on the streets could be found, well manicured (but not obsessively neat) gardens, sculptured art decorating some exterior walls, and warm cosy feeling to the village that is home to not more than about 160 people. The centre is host to a beautiful, large fountain and the bistro called Le Bellevue which almost always sells out of spaces for lunch diners. Continue reading Moissac Bellevue and Le Bellevue restaurant (bistro)