Trip to Saint-Jeannet

I’m continuing my series of posts about Villages Perchés (perched villages) because there are so many I’ve yet to cover. Today’s village of Saint-Jeannet is another one of the sixteen villages grouped together by the Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur tourist department as the Route des Villages Perchés (Route of Perched Villages). The others are: Aspremont, Carros, Castagniers, Coaraze, Colomars, Duranus, Eze, Falicon, La Gaude, Lantosque, Levens, La Roquette-sur-Var, Saint-Blaise, Tourrette-Levens and Utelle. 

Carte MICHELIN Carros - plan Carros - ViaMichelin

In the Alpes-Maritimes, just 20 kms (12 miles) from Nice and a stone’s throw from Vence, the village of Saint-Jeannet sits on a ledge beneath the towering Baou (a Provençal word for steep rock) de Saint-Jeannet, which resembles a crouching sphinx, with the Baou de la Gaude just to the right (east), and the Baou des Noirs and Baou des Blancs lined up to the west towards Vence. Orientated south, the village receives an abundance of sunlight while the Baou draws in the pleasant sea breezes in summer while acting as a barrier to harsh northern winds in winter.

In bygone days, the strange sphinx-like silhouette of the Baou made the villagers of nearby Saint-Paul de VenceTrip to Saint-Paul de Vence say that the people of Saint-Jeannet were witches. But the only spell that is cast today is the charm of Saint-Jeannet, which entrances and enchants the visitor because medieval village has hardly changed since the 17th century. Its old gates, which could be shut in case of attacks, are still visible. Come and see why the village has attracted so many artists over time, from Poussin to Jacques Prévert without forgetting Raoul Dufy and the composer Joseph Kosma.

It’s advisable to leave your car in one of the parking lots below Saint-Jeannet and visit this village on foot. Alternatively, do as I do on two wheels. Like many similar villages in the area, it’s laid out in the shape of a snail’s shell and its roads are very narrow.

First up is the Place Saint Barbe which has a great view out to sea. But the view is even better if you take a walk up to the top of the Baou. There’s a handily placed café-terrace, should you require fortification before tackling the climb.

But before you start your hike, take the time to explore the village. Built of stone polished by the centuries, its houses are high and narrow and form superimposed rows. With several small sun-filled squares, the washhouse and the fountains  – one dating from 1875 – from which flow a cool and pure water from springs on high  – great for filling my water bottle/bidon. It’s an absolute delight to stroll along its peaceful and authentic narrow streets. Duck through the low arched passage to admire a view of the surrounding countryside all the way to the Mediterranean from the little overhanging terrace.

Village de Saint Jeannet - Site officiel de l'office de tourisme Provence  Alpes Digne les Bains

Fontaines de Saint-Jeannet

Saint-Jeannet is not lacking in religious buildings. On the main square in the village centre is the renovated parish church of Saint John the Baptist, built in 1666 with a bell tower from 1670. Next to it is the Saint-Bernardin chapel (the former White Penitents’ chapel) with a beautiful altarpiece from 1652. At the western end of the village stands the Chapel of Saint John the Baptiste, built in 1753. Light and airy with its apse and barrel vault ceiling, it hosts different cultural events, fêtes and exhibitions. heading away from the old village, in its own garden with a fountain is 15th century Notre Dame des Baous Chapel and the nearby 12th century Sainte-Petronille Chapel.

Le Baou de Saint-Jeannet, 802 m - Sentiers de randonnée en pleine Nature

Now head upwards. The climb to the top takes about 2 hours and is accessible to people with little training or fitness. On the ascent you’ll pass hidden caves where the villagers sought refuge during troubled times and the ruins of a very large and very old sheepfold. At the very top, 800 metres (2,625 feet) above sea level, is an orientation table and amazing panoramic views that stretch from the alpine peaks of the Mercantour to Antibes, the Lérins islands and the Esterel mountains.

I understand the Baous are famous for slacklining, similar to tightrope walking but frankly I’ve no intention of trying it!

Discovery centre of the Vignoble de Saint-Jeannet - Leisure centre in Saint- Jeannet

Saint-Jeannet is also renowned for its wines. In the past, grapevines covered the terraced land, before making way for flowers and orange trees to supply the perfume industry in Grasse. Today, the land below the village is occupied by real estate but one wine-maker, the Rasse family, is carrying on the tradition and producing quality wines, including famous dry fragrant tuilé wine of Saint-Jeannet. When driving up to the village take the right hand turn to the Route des Sausses leading to the Domaine des Hautes Collines, recognisable by the huge flasks full of rosé, for a cheeky degustation

 

 

All images courtesy of Saint-Jeannet Tourist Office

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day #166

I much enjoy showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year, and from around the world.

Cee’s FOTD Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

Wordless Wednesday #98

Here’s another photo from one of our many #adventuredownunder. Goodness knows when we’ll next be able to visit……but I have plans…….big plans……….

 

 

 

 

 

Where to visit in France this autumn

French Tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne recently proclaimed that health measures and French holidaymakers had “saved the summer”, and called on people to continue to support the tourist industry by taking holidays in September and October.

We’re hoping for an Indian summer. That means weekends, and an end to autumn which we hope will be positive with the revival little by little of the events industry, which is very important to Paris for example, and groups of senior citizens who weren’t able to travel last Autumn.

Following a summer dominated by health concerns and bad weather – though not in the corner of France where I live – many people will be hoping to take a more relaxed break in the autumn, away from the peak-season crowds. These are some of the areas in France which are particularly lovely in autumn. I am, of course, hugely biased and would say anywhere in France would be lovely for an autumnal break. But these seem to be the places that pop up most frequently in lists.

Côte-d’Or

When most people think of autumn, they imagine red, orange and yellow leaves, so where better to spend the season than the only département named after this phenomenon. The Côte here does not mean “coast” but “hill”, since the area is situated in Burgundy in eastern France, far from the sea.

Many people believe the d’Or in the name means “golden”, and refers to the spectacular colour the vineyards turn in the autumn. This is not so, since local paper Le Bien Public reports that the second part of the name is actually short for Orient (east). But the fact the first explanation is considered plausible gives a good idea of what to expect, and after a long day spent walking or cycling through the countryside, you can relax in the hotel with a glass of local Pinot Noir.

Morvan regional park

Le Parc naturel régional du Morvan | Bourgogne Tourisme

Remaining in Burgundy, just to the west of the Côte-d’Or (although the two do overlap) is the Morvan regional park. This sparsely populated part of France shines in the autumn. Take a stroll through the forest, breathing in the fresh air, with the only sound the crunching of leaves beneath your feet. It’s the perfect location for taking long walks, hunting for mushrooms and relaxing in front of a wood burning fire once the sun goes down.

Carcassonne

Hôtel Carcassonne : réservez votre chambre au meilleur prix | Kyriad

Autumn is a great time to visit this fortified city in the Aude département in the south west of France. Not only will there be fewer tourists, so you can avoid the crowds in this popular destination, but temperatures are usually pleasant throughout September and October. Just as in Côte d’Or, you can also take stroll through the local vineyards and enjoy the changing colours of the foliage.

It’s a bit of a drive from Carcassonne, but the village of Castans holds an annual chestnut festival at the end of October, where you’ll also find other regional products, in case you want that real autumn feeling.

Similarly, this is a good time to visit larger southern cities, such as Marseille and Nice, which are swarming with tourists in the summer months.

Cordes-sur-Ciel

https://images.ladepeche.fr/api/v1/images/view/5dedc9dcd286c27df42c01ed/large/image.jpg?v=1

A couple of hours to the north, in the Tarn département, is another elevated town. It was originally called Cordes, but the poet Jeanne Ramel-Cals took to referring to it as Cordes-sur-Ciel, and the name was officially changed in 1993. That’s because of a phenomenon which local weekly Le Tarn Libre so eloquently describes as follows:

Early in the morning, especially in the autumn, an intense mist covers the Cérou valley in a translucent veil. Only the summit of the medieval city emerges from this sea of clouds. Splashed by the rising sun, the town’s silhouette breaks away and appears to set forth proudly towards the sky, beyond the clouds. They say Cordes is above the sky…

Ideal for early risers, then, but even if you don’t catch the clouds, you can enjoy strolling through the narrow streets and admiring the medieval architecture.To be honest, the whole area is positively charming and delightfully rural.

The Loire Valley

The Loire Valley in central and western France is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. As well as an 800 km (500 miles) wine route, which can be discovered on two wheels or four, the area is home to some beautiful, historic villages. But this stretch of the Loire river is perhaps most famous for its dozens of châteaux and you know how much I love a spot of property porn!

Walk around the grounds of the châteaux in the morning mist, and if it gets too chilly, pop inside to discover what France was like back when the châteaux were inhabited. Many of the parks turn glorious shades of orange and yellow in the autumn. The area is also easily accessible from Paris, making it perfect for a weekend trip.

Every year, during the school holidays at the end of October, the Château of Chaumont-sur-Loire opens up its garden for an event called ‘The Splendours of Autumn’, featuring a range of activities including tastings of seasonal products from the garden, and walks where you can admire seasonal flowers and stagings of pumpkins and other autumn vegetables.

The Pyrénées

The mountains on the border between France and Spain proved incredibly popular over the summer as many opted to holiday close to home. There were 24% more visitors there this summer, according to the tourism minister. I suspect the same could probably be said of the southern Alps as many from the French Riviera also enjoy their charms during the summer months.

All the more reason to visit this Autumn, when there will be fewer tourists, but the weather should still be pleasant. At this time of year the forests turn a mix of yellow, orange and green, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in New England. Lakes, mountains, and the prospect of spotting wild animals such as the Pyrenean Chamois – a trip to the here will leave you refreshed by nature and ready to face whatever winter brings.

You may be wondering where I’ll be visiting this autumn……..you’ll find out in due course!

Image of Morvan courtesy of its Tourist Office

Cee’s Flower of the Day #165

I much enjoy showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year, and from around the world.

Cee’s FOTD Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

Musical Monday: Debbie Harry

I’m conscious that fewer female artists feature in my musical posts so I’m going to rectify that omission over the next few weeks.

This week’s track is from Blondie, a US band fronted by striking, blonde, punk-icon Debbie Harry (1945 – ), born Angela Trimble. Blondie released their self-titled debut album in 1976 which peaked at No. 14 in Australia and No. 75 in the UK. Their second album, Plastic Letters, garnered some success outside the US, but their third album, Parallel Lines (1978), was a worldwide hit and catapulted the group to international success.

It included my featured track, the global hit single Heart of Glass, written by Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. Riding the crest of disco’s domination, the track made No. 1 in the US and sold nearly two million copies. It also reached No. 1 in the UK (and several other countries) and was the second highest-selling single of 1979.

In December 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song number 255 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It was ranked at number 259 when the list was updated in April 2010. In 2018, Heart of Glass ranked at number 66 in the UK’s official list of biggest selling singles of all-time, with sales of 1.32 million copies.

The band’s success continued with the release of the platinum-selling Eat to the Beat album (UK No. 1, US No. 17) in 1979. Autoamerican (UK No. 3, US No. 7) was released in 1980. Blondie had further No. 1 hits with “Call Me” (American Gigolo soundtrack) (US and UK No. 1), Atomic (Eat to the Beat album) (UK No. 1), The Tide Is High (US and UK No. 1), and Rapture (US No. 1).

Harry was immortalized by Andy Warhol in 1980, who produced a number of artworks of her image from a single photoshoot at the Factory. The artist created a small series of four acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas portraits of the star in different colours, as well as Polaroids and a small number of rare silver gelatin prints from the shoot.

The band have split and reformed several times while Harry has enjoyed success as a solo artist and as an actress.

In August 2020, Harry and Stein sold the rights to the song, as one of 197 Blondie songs, to investment fund company Hipgnosis Songs Fund.

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day #164

I much enjoy showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year, and from around the world.

Cee’s FOTD Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

French Fancies: Souleiado

If you’ve been to France, you’ll have seen typical brightly coloured Provencal fabrics everywhere. But where did they originally come from?

If you’ve read any of my posts about the places I’ve visited in south-east France you’ll know that it has been attacked by Greeks, Romans, Goths, Franks, Vandals and Saracens. Indeed, British writer Lawrence Durrell wrote:

Every variety of invader seems to have subjected it to the extremes of pillage, destruction, naked war. It was as if its beauty was too much for them and they went berserk.

Traders followed the invaders. In the early 1600s Portuguese and Dutch ships put in at Marseille with, among other exotic imports, calico, chintz and printed cottons from India. Known even in English as Indiennes, the gaily coloured prints were immediately embraced by Louis XIV. In 1664 he had his minister Colbert form the Compagnie des Indes Orientales to import Indian fabrics and goods. The company sent spies to India to learn the secrets of printing and dyeing the cottons.

The nobility adopted the colourful Indiennes prints for court dress. Molière satirised the vogue in his first production of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme in 1670, outfitting his hero in a rainbow of printed Indiennes, intentionally worn upside down.

French textile producers set up workshops to make Indiennes and began a thriving business. They carved flowers, arabesques and other motifs on laminated blocks of fruitwood, then applied the blocks to the cotton by hand, one colour at a time, using natural dyes made from plants and minerals.

Fichier:Indienne Souleiado.jpg — Wikipédia

The colours were strong and vibrant: blue the colour of a Gauloise cigarette box, mustard yellow, terra-cotta red and raspberry pink, lavender and bright green.

Over time new motifs were incorporated including local vines, flowers, insects and herbs. Indiennes were worn in layers, as scarves, aprons, blouses and long quilted skirts. Men wore vests and doublets. In Provence one could determine people’s social rank by the style of Indienne-bedecked clothes they wore.

By the late 17th century French-made Indiennes had achieved such popularity that jealous wool and silk makers persuaded the government to ban their production in France. Though unevenly enforced, the prohibition endured from 1686 until 1759.

After the royal ban Provençal manufacturers moved to the Comtat Venaissin, a part of France near Avignon that was under the jurisdiction of the popes until the French Revolution, and thankfully flourished.

The 7 exclusive journal Souleiado de 1950 à 1990, 40 ans de collections ! - The 7 exclusive journal

Souleiado is not the only producer of such prints today, but it is the oldest, established in 1806 in a former Capuchin convent near Tarascon, an ancient Roman city on the banks of the Rhone. Under different names the company has been owned by just a handful of families for over two centuries, never ceasing production despite wars and revolutions.

Le Musée du Tissus Provençal, indiennes et cotonnades • Souleiado - Mode femme et art de vivre provençal

In 1916 it was bought by Charles Henri Demery, who passed it down to his nephew Charles Demery in 1937. In 1939 it was named Souleiado; the word in old Provençal means ”a ray of sun shining through the clouds after a rain.” The printing workshops were installed in a 17th century limestone hôtel particulier (a mansion situated between a courtyard and a garden) in the centre of Tarascon, where it remains today.

Silent Sunday #79

This year all my photographs are of France.

The Musette: Spicy Cod Fritters

Although I eat some fish, I don’t like a lot of typical white fish such as cod, haddock, plaice, whiting. I prefer less fishy tasting Mediterranean fish like sea bass. However, I do enjoy both brandade de morue (emulsion of salt cod, olive oil and potatoes) and accras (salt cod fritters) which are both made with salt cod – fresh cod preserved in salt.

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I generally no longer serve a traditional starter at dinner parties, preferring to offer a selection of nibbles to enjoy with a welcome glass of champagne. Often these are cold, and generally homemade, but I enjoy making “hot” nibbles too and will frequently make these.

Ingredients (makes 40 small fritters)

Spicy mayonnaise:

  • 1 tsp spicy red chilli paste or fresh chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 organic lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 large organic egg
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 240ml (1 cup) fruity olive oil
  • 240ml (1 cup) grapeseed or rapeseed oil

Fritters:

  • 565g (1¼ lbs) pounds bacalao salt cod
  • 565g (1¼ lbs) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 45g (1/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley or coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 large organic eggs

Method

1. Make the spicy mayonnaise ahead by zesting the lemon and adding it to the blender/liquidiser with 1tbsp lemon juice, red chilli or paste, egg, vinegar, mustard and salt. Blend on low until well mixed.

2. Gradually raise the speed to medium and add the oils in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. As soon as the mixture is thick and smooth, turn off the blender (over-blending can cause the mayonnaise to split).

SALTED COD: legend and how to prepare before cooking

3. Desalinate the cod by placing it in a deep dish and cover with cold water. Cover the dish with cling film (plastic wrap) and refrigerate for 36 hours, changing the water at least three times in the process. Drain well and cut a small piece to taste. It should taste like salted fish, but not excessively salty. If it does, recover with cold water and soak for another 6—12 hours, tasting after 6 hours to test for readiness. Drain well, remove and discard any skin and bones and cut into chunks.

How to make salt cod at home

4. Put them potatoes into a large saucepan and add enough cold water, bring to a boil over high heat, then boil until a cake tester or thin- bladed knife slides through easily, about 10 minutes. Avoid overcooking them; if they are soft they’ll become watery. Drain well.

5. While the potatoes are boiling, place the salt cod/bacalao in another saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a rolling boil, remove from the heat. Set a strainer over a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl and pour the cod into this. Reserve the drained cod and 160ml (2/3 cup) of its cooking water. Discard the remaining cooking water.

6. Combine the oil and garlic in a large saucepan set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and just turning golden, about 4 minutes. Immediately add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 1 minute. While stirring, pour in half of the bacalao water in a steady stream. Stir until smooth, then add the remaining water in the same manner. Stir in the parsley/coriander and remove from the heat.

Brandade: The Dish That Will Teach You to Love Salt Cod

7. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, along with the drained bacalao and potatoes. Beat on low speed until well mixed and slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, waiting for the first to be fully absorbed before adding the second and scraping the bowl occasionally. As soon as the eggs are fully incorporated, stop mixing. You want the mixture to include some chunks of potato and cod. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the mixture and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. It will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Epicurus.com Recipes | Bacalaitos (Salt Codfish Fritters)

8. Line a wire rack with paper towels. Fill a large saucepan with oil to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until it registers 180°C(375°F) on a deep-fry thermometer. Scoop up one heaped tablespoon of the bacalao mixture before carefully dropping it into the hot oil. Repeat with more of the bacalao mixture until they form a single layer in the saucepan without crowding. Fry, turning gently, until puffed and evenly golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to the paper towels to drain. Let the oil heat up again and repeat with the remaining mixture, working in batches as necessary.

9. Serve them warm with skewers to dip into individual servings of spicy mayonnaise and some lemon wedges.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. If you don’t have time to make the mayonnaise mix some Sriracha into a good quality mayonnaise with the juice of half a lemon.

2. I will often bake the potatoes in their skins and then remove the cooked potato as this tends to be much drier.

3. Any excess cooked fritters can be kept in the fridge for a few days and re-heated quickly in a hot oven.