Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Taking the high road - accommodation and active holidays in the Alpes de Haute Provence - France

On the road again! – to see friends in the geological paradise which is the Alpes de Haute Provence.

Rather like the Mercantour –  engendering a “where’s that”?, the 04/05 departments possess a wealth of potential for the active.

The land is a real spectacle of strata, outcrops, weird shapes……and the valley terrain, a feast of fruit – so do not fear that you might miss out on your “five a day”, as you pedal past!!

Rather sandwiched between us – well – the Mercantour, in the South – and the Ecrins and the Savoie to the North – the area has perhaps been rather overlooked as a holiday venue.

No shortage of lakes, cliffs, great walking between limestone outcrops and scarily beautiful shale………rolling hills.

Absolutely perfect perfect for walking, climbing, road or mountain biking……….taking in the orchids….

Our friend, Liz Green, is just in the throes of setting up her lovely home near Laragne-Mont├ęglin for accommodation, or as a base for holidays from 2019 – lots of good times in prospect….more information available soon.

Alas this weekend – it was wet, so we enjoyed the landscape under super cloud formations and partially sun lit skies…………we did however manage lots of good talking and eating.

I’d like to understand much more of the soil turmoil……the geology, the Napoleon route, the local GRs……next time, with apologies for not to be able to report more currently.

For more info  - les Alpes de Haute Provence.  Easy to get to/from Marseille airport by car or public transport.

Our journey back – and we decided to try out La Taverne in Villars sur Var (we know Simone at Les Platanes, but there was no table on the day).  Kinda quirky – Roger and Raymonde offering simple, but well-made food (wish they wouldn’t add minced beef to their blette (swiss chard) ravioli!) – and very good local wine. 

Photo credits – Liz Green - with thanks

Friday, 5 October 2018

Tempted by a great deal - Walking holiday in Piedmont & Liguria - Italy

Piedmont and Liguria - part IV!

A big thank you to Secret Escapes....for luring us to Piedmont and Liguria for a fantastic Indian Summer escape from the Mercantour!!  More of the above later.......

Some time out for Jonesy and me, after a successful, if long season - thanks to everyone for their support and friendship this year!!

As much reported, the summer here has been a 'mare of wet, drying out conveniently for the end of September - cheers to the weather gurus!!

Coming over the Col de la Lombarde, which links Isola 2000 in France to Vinadio in Italy, was a fantastic ride under cloudless blue skies, and a perfect opportunity to finalise our proposed route for our 2019 Grande Traversee du Mercantour walking holiday - or holidays - given the level of interest to date!!

Fortified by a cheap and cheerful lunch menu for a tenner, we head towards Montaldo di Mondovi and one of the bestest views that you could possibly wish for - I exaggerate not - a perfect calm venue for 24 hours of reading/chill time!!  Note this IS the main house and not the studio - but assuring you that Monte Viso is in the distance.

Always in the search for authentic and interesting food we alight upon the Trattoria da Franca within a 20 minute drive and are treated to small portions of very tasty locally grown food - a Monday lunchtime - solo guests but served with charm!!  Plenty of time afterwards to explore the splendid town of Mondovi, with plenty of culture and a huge outlet centre on the outskirts, if you really must!!!

There are easy walking routes which allow you to walk right around the town - information is available locally - and the red/white signposts easy to follow.

We did try to get to the Baladin Brewery eating venues in Piozzo - alas - confounded by out- of-season closing.  We did however enjoy a fun lunch in a resto/pizzeria - the Bellagio on the road between Carru and San Giovanni - looks like an abattoir - but lots of laughs and great value dining.

Now, back to the high end element of our break - in the Duchessa Marguerita hotel/rooms in Vicoforte.  Note only is this a splendid place to stay, but is also within spitting distance of a magnificent basilica - which boasts the largest elliptical dome in the world.  Thank you to the lovely Valentina and the team for a great and faultless stay!!!

It is possible to eat in the cloisters, in a room to, well, be in total awe of, although the coach parties of folks, even greyer of hair than us, rather put us off!!  For our second evening, having run the gauntlet of closures and bloody-mindedness we had a simple supper at Don Chisciotte - nothing to write home about.

The Euthalia restaurant looks more interesting at a higher entry level - and the choices around the "mews" facing the edifice are fine.

Alas, moving on, but tempted by a revisit to Rio Rocca Agriturismo, we get to San Lorenzo al Mare and a flat overlooking the sea.  

The lovelies at the Agriturismo were away picking olives for a month but we enjoyed dining in the back country in a bar/resto opened by a dynamic brother and sister team.  

Well, aside from trying to tell me there wasn't mince in the tomato sauce on the second night -  there was! - veggies beware - they will learn not to be aggrieved by such things am sure!!

Fabulous and hot, hot, day out walking with jolly refreshment and great music, provided in the Bar La Colombiera in Pietrabruna. 

All just three hours from our home in the Mercantour!

Liz Lord

Photo Credit - Duchessa Marguerita 

Alas - the italics just won't go away!!

Video credit -  D├ępartement des Alpes-Maritimes

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Any demo tool will do - Mercantour Madness!!

Dear friends 

Thank you all for your friendship and support for all this time.

We have not got to the position of knocking this shabby old ship into shape, without a lot of hard work and the invaluable help of great friends, Peter and Luc.

Much remains to be done on the outside – once we have tamed the rampancy of grass (no, not that sort of grass) and weeds created by the weird weather – which has meant that while you chaps, in the UK, have been basking in freaking hot – we’ve had freaking hot and violent storms!!

We emerge, bloodied but unbowed, with lots of ideas which will shortly be revealed in a newsletter*.

The Mercantour has had its just rewards, in a recent article in the Great Outdoors  magazine.

Keeping fresh…………we try to!!!!

Liz and Mel

 Latest review by lovely B and B owners and pro drummer veggies!!

Hi Guys, it’s been a terrific experience, much appreciate the exceptional care and effort in such a fabulous location making this a truly great package, our very best to you, Steve and Janet

*’ We have – of course -- complied with the Data Protection Act so our sends are restricted to the quality few!!


Sort of it!!!