Trip to La Colle sur Loup

When we first looked at properties to buy on the Cote d’Azur we quickly found a charming house in La Colle sur Loup, a pretty village just down the road from Saint Paul de Vence, which seemed to fit the bill. We pondered long and hard but eventually decided against it as it was a corner property, without a view, on what has become a much busier road. However it’s one of our neighbouring villages, home to one of our favourite restaurants, we enjoy visiting its Jazz evenings during the summer and its other festivals throughout the year.

I few months back I’d spotted it was having a Franco-German festival which we decided to visit. The festival – someone selling vin chaud and bretzels- was a decided let down, but it was fun to reaquaint ourselves with this tranquil and charming place, enjoy coffee and cake in one of its many cafes, plus purchase fruit and vegetables from its Saturday market stall.

A former medieval community, La Colle sur Loup was home to a feudal lord in the 16th century. Consequently, there are plenty of buildings of historical significance such as a 12th century Canadel priory now converted into a restaurant (L’Abbaye) which still has a fortified gateway, corner towers, cloisters and a listed Romanesque chapel. Plus, at the entrance to the village, you’ll find its 17th century Eglise de Saint Jacques Le Majeur which has wonderful stained glass windows and a square bell tower. The place also boasts 16th century Chateau de Montfort and Le Gaudelet, a hunting lodge with a Renaissance facade from the same era.

I like to wander through the village’s historic centre, with its narrow alleyways and lively shopping streets, which has shady little squares with fountains and honey-coloured stone buildings with wonderful carved doors. Formerly renowned for its production of rose perfume – celebrated annually with its Fetes des Roses –  today it’s better known for its antique dealers and decorators, and also for its fine restaurants. In addition, the village has always attracted artists and artisans, such as Yves Klein, the founder of the New Realists, who is buried here, Jacques Ferrandez the well-known cartoon strip artist, the architect Yves Bayard and Raoul Giodan, another cartoon strip artist.

Lying on the river Loup, the village’s surrounding forest is one of its greatest attractions, providing an oasis of cool and peace in the summer months. Activities abound, it’s a mecca for outdoor ones. You can ride horses, cycle, kayak, canoe, hike or fish for trout- or just spend the day with a picnic – you know how the French love to picnic – in one of its two public parks. There’s also a children’s amusement park and a local sports ground.  It’s well worth a visit, perhaps combined with a trip to neighbouring Saint Paul de Vence.

Holiday photos: day 16

We’ve settled into a bit of a routine here in Saint Jean de Luz. We rise late and head out for breakfast at one of the two main Basque patisseries, Paries, which we’ve discovered has the best breakfast in town and excellent coffee.

After breakfast we potter around the town and then walk back along the beach in the surf. Since neither of us is moving particularly fast, this takes quite a while! Once back at the hotel we enjoy a spot of Thalassotheraphy and exercise in the gym to work up some appetite for lunch. I generally prefer to eat at lunchtime then have a tapas or two in the evening with a glass of wine.

While we’ve never before stayed in Saint Jean de Luz, we’ve stayed nearby and visited many times. It’s nice to revisit restaurants and equally good to find new ones. Typically, I look for those with short seasonal menus. We’ve found a couple of new ones to add to our list. We’ve also located a bar that does an excellent Aperol Spritz. This is the type of research I enjoy undertaking. Maybe I should’ve been a restaurant critic?

Saint Jean de Luz also has an excellent market and we’re not above buying stuff from the various traiteurs and market stalls to enjoy as a picnic lunch. Of course, I never travel anywhere without my wine bottle opener and two sets of cutlery. And no, in case you were wondering, I was never a girl guide.