Friday, August 31, 2012

Lunchtime near Anduze

During my visit to Anduze, I stopped at to have a quick-by-French-standards lunch, before my next stop: exotic gardens and a bamboo forest. I enjoyed eating a large salad, as well as watching an unexpected visitor dining at the next table. I finished and was, just as quickly, off to my next destination (stay tuned)!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Anduze: Town & Pottery

I recently took a long weekend and drove to Montpellier, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, and while there, took advantage of its proximity to visit the town of Anduze, famous for its glazed pottery. (video below)

The town is also the starting point for taking the “Train à Vapeur des Cévennes,” an old-fashioned ‘choo-choo’ train (video below). I had taken the train years ago, so this trip decided to continue to my next stop, an exotic and unique forest – stay tuned!

 Flowers pots from Anduze can be seen on the gronds of the Chateau de Versailles, near Paris.
Montpellier Tramline #2

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tango Festival: Concert-Spectacle-Danse

See my previous post for the setting for this event, as part of the “Côte d’Azur Festival International.” The orchestra was “Tango Spleen”, with professional dancers from Argentina, Jose Manrique & Natalia Pombo and Alejandra Zavala & Carlos.

The show went on for about 90 minutes: music, dancing, and singing. The band members were from Italy and Argentina. Especially entertaining was the piano player, who was very animated and dynamic.

A good time was had by all, with the audience clapping to the music and 'dancing' in their seats - myself included!

Enjoy the below video snippets below of the concert and of the dancers.

Tango @ a Casino

Photo credit: Tourism Office

The advertising brochure stated “une soirée de gala pour tous les curieux et les passionnées de Tango.  OUI, I was both curious and am passionate about dance, so no surprise that I attended this event.
As part of the Côte d’Azur International Tango Festival, this concert was held on the top floor of  a casino, with bar and restaurant on the same level – an all-in-one kind of establishment.

The concert (video below) and show were very entertaining (more videos in next post). I didn’t make it downstairs to play the slot machines, but maybe I’ll try my luck there another time!

The ceiling had optic fiber lighting that constantly changed colors, a modern eye-catching look, but also kind of mesmerizing/entertaining while waiting to get into the concert hall.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Petanque–Bacci Ball–Boules: How Square !?

In a nearby village, the “Cercle des Amis” hosted their 33rd Boules Carrées World Championships (results link), a game played with square blocks instead of round, metal balls. Competitors (104 sets of three players) braved the weekend’s high temperatures to participate in this two-day tournament, held in the steep, but shady, streets of this medieval village. Games alternate with throwing up hill and then down hill, until one team reaches a score of 13 points. In either direction, it’s tough to know for sure if the thrown block will end up near the small target block, called the “cochonnet.” (see video below)

Everyone seemed to have a great time over the two-day event, cheering for the teams and watching the top-level players’ performance.

 In keeping with the festivities, here’s a recipe called, “The Bocce Ball” – a easy to do juice cocktail, you might want to try – the ice cubes could represent the boules carrées :)

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz amaretto
orange juice
splash of soda water
orange slice for garnish

Pour the vodka, amaretto and orange juice into a collins glass filled with ice.
Add a splash of soda water and garnish with an orange slice. (Source:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

5-star Hotel Restaurant in Nice

Situated on the grand, tree-lined boulevard of Victor Hugo in Nice, the Boscolo Excedra Hotel is indeed magnificent. As a former equestrian, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful, unique horse sculptures in the hotel’s lobby.

I had been invited to a luncheon at the hotel restaurant, “La Pescheria,” where I met and spoke with the new chef, Giuseppe Mandaradoni. Chef Giuseppe had been working with a Michelin-star chef in Sicily, but decided three months ago to move for a new opportunity and challenge – et voila! He was jovial, welcoming, and excited to have the chance to introduce his creative dishes: the “plat du jour” was baked spaghetti with vegetables, topped with salad and slivers of dried sausage. It was light and delicious! I’m looking forward to trying more of his creative cuisine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Le Gospel (Gospel Music) – Assomption Day

A nearby village was hosting a free gospel concert, as a fitting end to the Assomption Day celebration festivities (see previous post). There were around 400 people present to listen to the gospel singing and inspirational music. Not sure how many actually understood the English lyrics, but the crowd seemed to enjoy the rhythm of the music. One of the singers was from Martinique, so spoke French to the audience between songs.

Below are some video snippets from the concert.

Fête de la Saint-Roch (Assomption Day)

To celebrate Assomption Day, a nearby village was offering aperitifs and nibbles just in front of the village church, ‘Notre Dame de la Protection.’ There was Provençale live music and some villagers in local costumes, with everyone enjoying the ambiance and festivities.

Video 34
Video 34

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Restaurant in Vence – ‘Cuisine de caractère’

With an advert tagline of “Fraîcheur d’Eté sous la tonnelle” (summer freshness under the arbor), I decided to check out the restaurant for lunch, Les Templiers on a hot day. Yes, it truly is a charming venue to escape the summer heat, while enjoying the upscale cuisine and professional service - I had the best crème brulée I have ever eaten (light and creamy and not sickening sweet)!

Unfortunately, I missed out on the Plat du Jour Dejeuner 15€ menu, served on Thursdays in July, so had to order from the 29€ or 39€ three-course menu or à la carte. A bit pricey, but I have to say, the setting, service, and food was well worth splurging a little. And yes, I would go back; in fact, I am planning on taking some friends there on their next visit!

Cavaillon melon
Cavaillon melon
Duck with special puree of potatoes
Duck with special puree of potatoes
Fish "lieu jaune"
Fish “lieu jaune”

Creme brulee
Creme brulee
Grape arborGoat sculpture crafted from old tools

Friday, August 17, 2012

Color vs. Taste?

I went to the outdoor market today, to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and found a different variety of raspberry. Since I love red (normal color) raspberries, I just had to try the yellow ones!

To me, these yellow berries have a hint of apricot flavor mixed with raspberry taste – I don’t know if it’s truly the sun-kissed color affecting the flavor or if they taste different because I’m expecting them to – a dilemma of color vs. taste. The flavor is rich, as it bursts in your mouth, so it’s delicious; I have to say I still prefer the ‘real’ red raspberry. If you have eaten both, which do you prefer?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

French road death figures increase in July (2012)

THE month of July has seen a total of 367 deaths on the roads of France, a 3.6% increase on the same period last year.

Official figures from Securite Routiere show that part of the rise was due to an increase in the number of pedestrians and cyclists who were killed on the roads.

Overall the mortality rate on French roads for the first seven months of 2012 is down 9.1% on the same time last year, but Securite Routiere stress that the police and gendarmerie will be particularly keen on cracking down on speeding and drink driving.

(Source: This French Life)

La Couleur ‘Rose’ – In the Pink!