It was the first Saturday in January and the market in Riez was bustling! The sun was out and people were happily sipping their morning coffees or mingling with locals. There was a real buzz in the air and the stalls were still busy at 11:30am. This was my first visit to the village and I must say it was a nice surprise, not even that far from Cotignac (40 mins drive).
The village of Riez can be reached by going in the direction of Fox Amphoux on the D13 from Cotignac. Continue past Fox Amphoux (not the old village but the newer side, head West) and towards Montmeyan. At Montmeyan head in the direction of Quinson. Switch to the D11 here and head in the direction of Montagnac-Montpezat. You’ll then follow signs to Riez. You could easily opt to make this a stop over on the way to the much more touristy and famous Moustiers-Ste-Marie but I can tell that there is a good number of accommodation here in Riez that is likely cheaper if, for example, the lavender fields are the main attraction in mid June to early July.
We decided to head West after Riez and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the road, the D 952, touched the Plateau de Valensole where in mid to late June you’d see the massive lavender fields in full bloom. The advantage to doing this drive in January, however, is that there is literally no traffic and driving is a real pleasure. After about 5 kilometres on the D952 you’ll see the impressive fairly-tale castle of Allemagne-en-Provence. This stunning gothic style 15th century building is unfortunately not open to the public as it is privately owned. But it’s a pleasure to admire it from the gate and notice the real moat that surrounds it and must get full of water when it rains. I can imagine Shrek and his dragon friend landing in its gardens, stirring up trouble to save the princess Fiona at the top floor of one of its beautiful turrets.
We decided to continue on our drive Westward and started feeling hungry at around 1pm so we stopped by at a restaurant in one of my favourite towns called Manosque. The Villa M, with it’s varied menu, chic interior design and reasonable prices, was a real treat and I highly recommend this place. The “classic burger” (that came with mountain cheese slices on both sides, bacon, several chunks of pickles, tomato and tucked into brioche bun) did not dissappoint. It was perfectly cooked and juicy and made my hands all sticky but by golly was it good! My hubby enjoyed the pig entrail sausage (called Andouillette in French) which is not something I can stomach (excuse the pun) but he just loved it. My youngest daughter enjoyed her plate of smoked salmon. With two soft drink the lunch for three came to just over 50 euros.
Villa M: ITINÉRAIRE, 100 Avenue du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 04100 Manosque, phone: 04 92 74 83 90
The 23 room hotel-restaurant, located just past the church perched at the top of the hill in Tourtour, is perfect for a romantic getaway in the Winter.
It was a bit chilly at the beginning of February and Tourtour is known to be windy but the charm is still very much alluring and the views from the village were breathless. At first I was disappointed we didn’t have more sun but then I realised I was getting some really good photos of cloud formations and the lighting was decent. A walk into the village from the bastide is an easy 10 minutes. Tourtour is about a 25 minutes’ drive from Cotignac so you could easily go there just for lunch or dinner.
Having lived in London and Yorkshire for a few years (after moving there from Los Angeles) I was always impressed with the way Brits did interiors. Maybe the weather has something to do with the fact that they generally concentrate more on the inside of a house than the French. Overall, in my opinion, the Brits are pretty good at it and the new owners at Mas de Brulat are no exception.
If you have never seen a quince before, you’ll be charmed by it’s pear-like appearance and delighted by the variety of cuisine it can be used in. From tarts to tortes and candy to jelly, this multi-purpose fruit goes a long way here in Provence. It’s Cotignac’s pride and joy and every year the village traditionally celebrates its heritage and harvest in October. This year the festival will took place on the 21st of October and if you missed it, do come back for it next year.
Bauduen in the off season is sublime. Very few people are about, the lake is too cold to swim in so not many come for a dip, there are some on boats and I did see a team of rowers practicing. It’s mid October, and we are having an unusually warm Autumn. Bauduen is about a 35 minute drive from Cotignac, and at 470 metres above sea-level the temperature is slightly lower. Today it was 21 degrees celcius (24 in Cotignac) and perfect for a walk down the Lac St Croix, a kilometre to the tennis courts, and back to the village on the upper road to make it a short circuit of around 45 minutes, just enough to work up an appetite for lunch. From where the market is on Sundays, keep walking down (lake on your left side), past the first boat yard and onto the fire road. Keep going and you’ll eventually come to some tennis courts. Make a right bend back to the village.
You’ll see a lot of cats and dogs in Bauduen this time of year. The wild cats have a colony on the rocks near the water and pet dogs are out and about waiting to catch a friendly walker in the hopes of a little attention in the form of a stroke or pet. Continue reading Bauduen in October 2018→
These days it seems rare to find a restaurant and feel like it deserved every penny you spent on it but this one’s a true gem and I’m so happy to be sharing it with you.
It takes about 35 minutes to get out to Saint Maximin from Cotignac. There’s little traffic after 7pm during the week and during the Summer so it was a pleasant drive. When we got there the sun was still out and the light was a lovely gold. We parked in the lot next to the Credit Agricole bank (rue Mirabeau, easy to remember!) and strolled across to rue Maréchal Foch where we were pleasantly surprised by the double entrance to the restaurant which was fully air-conditioned. It was a very hot day and just as heavy in the evening so that felt like a relief.
We were greeted by a typical French hostess/waitress (that means not outright friendly but reserved) that allowed us to choose our table. She brought over some aperos (little toasts with tapenade), some warm bread, and asked us if we would like a drink to start. We ordered a 50ml bottle of Saint Marguerite rosé (La Londe), my partner ordered a starter of the Mozarella buffalo, we each ordered a main dish of sautéed Iberic pork, and finished with a baked peach with strawberry ice cream. There was not one fault in this meal, it was simply sublime. The mozarella was perfect, the pork was succulent and absolutely delicious (10 out of 10), and the dessert was perfect, everything was home made, even the wine was fantastic. Our final bill came to 84 euros. Worth every cent so of course I highly recommend this place but book early as they book up even during the week and I’m not surprised.
The only negative point for me, personally, was the decor. The purple chairs were okay, but the purple themed flower paintings were just ugly. And the background music that sounded like elevator music from the 80s wasn’t the best choice and maybe a restaurant consultant would notice these things but the good food made up for all these little details, honest!
La Table de Bruno, 2 Avenue Maréchal Foch, 83470 Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume
The last time I was at this restaurant was in 2006 when I wrote a review of the then 4 star-auberge at Chateau de Berne (which is now a 5 star establisment). I had been invited to spend the night at the newly decorated suite at the auberge and since it was the first night they opened, the gastronomic restaurant was closed for the evening, so they suggested we try Le Chrissandier in the village. We were not disappointed, my husband and I each ordered the beef filet with truffle sauce and it was divine.
So it had been a while since I dined here but the restaurant’s reputation seems to have kept a high standard. Their Trip Advisor reviews are very good overall but I was surprised by the kitch decor: every single table (on the outdoor terrace) was decorated with fake (ie, plastic) red and white flowers. It reminded me of Christmas. Add to that the green and white striped shirt I was wearing and I felt much like a mint flavoured candy cane. Then when I ordered their special dessert of Mojito sorbet covered in Rum, well, you get the completed festive visual!
The first course of my 32 euros menu (formula of appetiser, main, and dessert) was a plate of scallops pan fried and covered in a light but sweet sauce and this, I admit, was pretty darn good. Then came my duck though and my first thought was “wow, that’s sliced pretty thin.” There must not have been more than 50 grams of duck on my plate if you put all the slices together, but it did look attractive fanned out on the plate with a cylinder of what I thought was Dauphinoise potatoes but turned out to be baked pasta (surprise!). The duck was covered in soy-based sweet sauce and so I couldn’t really tell if it was properly cooked “medium rare” like I wanted it. It just showed no colour at all. But with portions so small it was easy, of course, to enjoy my dessert of what they called “Mojito ice-cream” but it was more a sorbet in rum with real mint leaves on top. It was very good.
The service at the restaurant was “would-be-formal.” The waiters tried really hard to mimic Michelin starred and properly trained staff but you can tell they were very young and just starting or were temporary Summer staff. The dessert course took over 30 mins to serve but everything else was well timed. All in all, I give this restaurant a 7/10. If you are in the village and want to treat yourself, I recommend it. But at 84 euros for dinner (2 persons) just be warned, it’s not cheap.
Restaurant Le Chrissandier Telephone: 04 94 67 67 15 18
Blvd de la République
83510 LORGUES (just opposite the town hall)
A local favourite, this restaurant has greatly improved over the last year in my personal opinion. I am also hearing more and more stories of positive experiences from visitors which makes me very happy. La Table des Coquelicots has an extensive menu but their new week-day special formulas (called “menu special”) include three courses for just over 15 euros. I could not believe the price so I had to try it. To my very pleasant surprise it was copious and delicious. Last week I had a salad and quiche starter followed by stuffed chicken (stuffed with sausage), pilaf rice, and a beautiful crême caramel for dessert. I paired all this with a glass of dry white local wine (extra cost of just 3 euro) and the coffee was also included. You cannot beat this quality for the price, I highly recommend the newly improved La Table des Coquelicots restaurant which also has a nice garden wine bar in the back!
La Table des Coquelicots, Cotignac: 10, Cours Gambetta, 83570 Cotignac Tel: 04 94 69 46 07
Food ‘Amour is stirring a buzz around the area for its outstanding cuisine (refined, gastronomic – worthy of a Michelin star in my opinion). The restaurant opened four years ago but already they are having to turn away diners at the door for being booked up. I had lunch there last Thursday (March 8th) with some lady friends and we were very satisfied with the 25 euro menu that included a main, dessert, coffee, and petit fours. The friendly chef (who runs his restaurant with his pasty chef wife) even offered us two separate amuses bouches that were delectable: a curried chicken with sour cream mousse in a light cone, then crayfish ceviche on toast! Our mains were steemed cod on bed of leeks and other winter vegetables with a sublime leek sauce, I could have eaten two portions. These days they are closed Mondays through Wednesdays but the rest of the time they are open for lunch and dinner. Food’amour almost always celebrate holidays like Valentines, Mothers’ and Fathers’ day, Easter, Christmas, etc, with special menus that are drool worthy. In my humble opinion this is one of the best restaurants in the Var. And frankly we are waiting for them to move to Cotignac.
Indoor and outdoor dining in warm weather (next to main church). Food ‘Amour 4 rue Pierre Blanc 83690 Salernes Tel: 0981 93 19 49
The new La Tarente in Cotignac is open for lunch and dinner and from April they’ll be open all day long! In the Winter they specialise in “cuisine montagnard” so fondus, raclette, etc. But they have a rather extensive menu and my kids were thrilled with chicken in basil sauce and cheese on toast (served with salad and fries). They also have pretty good pizzas. Dinner for four including 4 glasses of wine, 2 sodas, a dessert of 4 apple tortons (shared) cost 91 euro. That’s about average for our village. For reservations contact: email@example.com or 04 94 04 75 31. Continue reading La Tarente restaurant under new management 2018→
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→
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 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→
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→
If you find yourself looking for an easy, casual, good lunch during the week in Cotignac, look no further than the restaurant at the landmark Hotel du Cours. For just 14 euros you can have a lovely starter, main, AND dessert! There are other choices à la carte too, of course, but this is the deal of the month, for sure. Continue reading Lunch at Restaurant du Cours in Cotignac→
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)→
Saint Maximin is just a 30 minutes’ drive from Cotignac and a nice half-day visit combined with lunch at one of its numerous restaurants. With a population of around 16,000, Saint Maximin is considered a medium-sized town in the Var and is also popular to tourists from around Europe that more than triple its population in the Summer. Continue reading Saint Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume→
Off the beaten path of the Ste Victoire mountain (Bouches du Rhone) lies this gem of a semi-gastronomic restaurant-inn with pool and gobsmackingly beautiful panoramic views facing south and stretching across the Ste Baume and Aurelian mountains. The service was just a little slow (due to being FULLY booked up on a Sunday) but the food was worth the wait. We arrived at 12pm and ended our meal at 2pm. Continue reading Restaurant Le Relais Saint Ser in Puyloubier→
Just a 20 minutes’ drive from Cotignac and a nestled between Aups and Regusse, is the hilltop village of Moissac Bellevue. Just before you get to the village, you will not miss the big Bastide du Calalou just on your left with its imposing entrance and large sign. Continue reading Bastide du Calalou, Moissac Bellevue→
Cannes is always in fashion, no matter what time of year but September is a particularly nice time to rent a “matelas” on the beach and sunbathe while having cocktails brought to you. Continue reading A day in Cannes→
Sharing information about Cotignac and surrounding villages