Category Archives: village visits

Autumn in Aix-en-Provence

The university town of Aix is of course full of young people so there’s a lot to do here, including dining on a huge variety of international cuisine. Just walking around the old part of town I saw over three Japanese restaurants, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, Spanish, French, bistro-style, bars, both cheap and upscale and everything in between! The Cours Mirabeau (main strip) is like a miniature version of the Champs Elysée with businesses and restaurants and huge sidewalks for anyone to stroll down without having to fight any traffic. This time of year (in Autumn) it is pure joy to see the deep yellows, reds, and brown colours of the falling sycamore leaves in contrast to the bright green moss on the fountains. There are museums, shopping centres, live bands entertaining the café crowds, and some great people watching to do here. The famous sweet is called the “Calisson” and although I am an almond lover I always thought these specialties look better than they taste. But the cakes in the cake shops are drool worthy! Never a dull day spent in Aix. The outdoor market takes place every day at the place de la mairie and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at the palais de justice. For more information about Aix cick here: http://www.aixenprovencetourism.com/en/

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

Esparron-de-Verdon on an October afternoon

On the far West side of the Verdon is the little village of Esparron with it’s own lake and stunning castle. In October it’s particularly pleasant because there are few people around (the village has a population of 450). We parked on the Northern side of the village and took a nice walk through the ruelles and charming village houses, took photos from outside the castle (unfortunately it’s private but a bed-and-breakfast worth a look. Click on https://chateau-esparron.com/en/ ). Further down the road towards the lake are some lovely cafés where lunch was being served all afternoon on a Sunday. We stopped and had a beer and the kids munched on ice cream bars. From there the views just got better and better. The afternoon sun was glittering on the water (dont forget to bring your sunnies even this time of year). The lake here has  their own sailing club, electric boats for hire (all year ’round) and even a tour boat (check the schedule) with a guide. It was October 8th and there were people swimming although we felt it was too cold. But the water was clear and a gorgeous turquoise colour and pleasant for a foot-dip. This place was only a 40 – 45 mins drive away from Cotignac through some lavender fields (N.B. lavender is in bloom in Provence in June and early July only). If you felt more adventurous you can continue driving to Gréoux les Bains afterwards or stop in Quinson on the way. Either way, a great afternoon out!

 

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

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

Stunning Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence

A stunning “immersion exhibition” of art inside the quarries of Les Baux de Provence, this is a must stop in Provence.  This season’s collection feature Dutch Rainassance artists Hieronymous Bosch, Pieter Brueghel, and the Italian Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Les Baux de Provence is approximately one hour and forty five minutes’ drive from Cotignac.

For more information in English click here.  Or go to: http://carrieres-lumieres.com/en/home

Tourtour in March, 2017

Tourtour is set on top of a windy hill (elevation 900 metres) with sweeping views all the way out to Frejus and the Mediterranean with the Mount St Victoire between. The population is just under 500 but the locals are a tight knit group who put on one of the most amazing festivals (fête de l’oeuf or the Egg Festival) around Easter every year. Tourtour is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and is well worth a detour when not too cold or windy. The little streets through the village houses are so full of charm and the restaurants serve simple yet freshly made food that of course goes rather well with a nice glass of chilled rosé or anything really. It’s about a 20 minutes’ drive from Cotignac, via either Aups or Villecroze (fastest). Continue reading Tourtour in March, 2017

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

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)

Charming Salon de Provence

A bustling university town, Salon de Provence has 44,000 inhabitants and resembles a mini version of Aix-en-Provence.  It’s actually a practical place to stay if you want to spend more time on this side of Provence (Bouches-du-Rhone). Aix, Arles, Les Baux, and Avignon are a hop-skip-and-jump away and it’s also only one hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Cotignac.   Continue reading Charming Salon de Provence

Village visit focus Part III: L’Isle-sur-La Sorgue

Just East of the more famous city of Avignon is the lovely L’Isle-sur-Sorgue where “shabby chic” and funky antiques shops are visible everywhere. Lots of colour can be seen on the shop fronts and the town is made extra special with real river canals that run through it, reminiscent of Amsterdam or Annecy in Savoie. It’s full of charm! Continue reading Village visit focus Part III: L’Isle-sur-La Sorgue

Village Visit Focus Part II: Fontaine de Vaucluse

From Gordes, this place is just a hop, skip, and jump and well worth a stop. Bring your hiking shoes and take an easy walk up from the centre of town (impressive town hall) to the mysterious “Source” where water fills up every winter and nourishes what is hailed to be the most beautiful river in the Vaucluse, La Sorgue. In the Summer there are stands filled with gift items, snacks, bonbons for kids, along the walk up and also a restaurant (listed in the Michelin guide) called “Restaurant Philip” established in 1926 with pretty yellow chairs right next to the bright teal-coloured water of the river. It’s cold but you could take a dip in it.  Continue reading Village Visit Focus Part II: Fontaine de Vaucluse

Village visit focus part I: Gordes

Listed as one of France’s “les plus beaux villages”, Gordes features as one of the must-do visits on almost every guide to Provence on the Vaucluse side.  It’s domineering chateau in the perched centre is well frequented by tourists and is used as the town hall and a venue for artist expositions and other events.  Pol Mara’s paintings are housed here permanently and Marc Chagall (one of many famous artists) once called it home. Continue reading Village visit focus part I: Gordes

Cotignac in black and white

Black and white photos do something to an image that I really love, particularly when a lot of sunlight is in them: shadows are more pronounced, skies look more mysterious and the photos allow the viewer to  see different aspects of the subject at hand.  Time seems to stop and the monochrome world somehow appears less busy, more calm, and with fewer flaws. Many of these photos capture images of buildings that most likely looked exactly the same several hundreds of years ago.  Cotignac is an exceptionally beautiful village in the Var department of France and I find something every day to photograph here that makes my heart skip a beat. – Susana