Monday, 13 November 2017

The joy of walking without purpose - on the French Riviera!

The best of all worlds IS to be had here in the Alpes-Maritimes - we are, of course, delighted to be tucked away just North of Nice in the Mercantour National Park.  

However with a strict renovation timetable allowing us to be ready for guests over the festive season, we haven't been too far afield!

We were however tempted by some culture on the coast,  and the chance to escape for the day.  Getting on the €1.50 bus, albeit at 07.15, is an instant step into no-responsibility'ville - no concerns over bad driving, parking on the coast......your fate rests with the usually not too!, manic driver who will deposit you at the "seaside"....

We can't guarantee this beautiful dancer from the Alonzo King Ballet company - but lots of other excitement awaits!!

Ah to wander without purpose and gaze, and window shop....nothing bought aside from some great coffee - local coffee roasting - yum!!

Our new Nice Museum Pass  - available to residents of the Metropole (with ID and a proof of address) - allowed us back into the Musee des Beaux Arts after a gap of some 10 years - a gorgeous building and much lovely art including one of our favourites, which will shortly be gracing our kitchen wall!!

Thanks to winter opening - only from 11-6! - we did walk back and forth from central Nice several times,  just taking our time and enjoying the buzz for the Nice marathon which took place on November 5 2017.

Lunch - at the always generous Le Socrate - just off the main shopping street - Jean Medecin - a Lebanese feast at its best - and great value - even on a Saturday - they do offer an astonishingly good value lunch platter for c €12 from Monday to Friday.

Another recent recommendation has been for the Portuguese restaurant - Peixes orientated as you would imagine!!

The Opera in Nice remains quaint, a hop from the flower market, and some of the most pretentious/expensive restaurants in Nice.  It reminds me of being in the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds - let's hope that they don't knock it down and create a modern monstrosity.

Mahler's 6th - not everyone's choice for a light couple of hours but amazingly complex and "listenable"!! - the Philharmonic has a new musical director - a Mr Rath,
and talented he was too in achieving success with this tricky piece. 

We were magic'd back to our Mercantour lair with a kind friend who had made the effort to do the return trip - after a short sojourn in Ma Nolan's Irish pub in Old Nice.

Yes - there is everything down here!! - and now we have SNOW!! - and accommodation, still available, for the Christmas week here in Berthemont les Bains.

Planning a long weekend in February for snow shoeing - not yet on line!!

Walking and adventure holidays in the Mercantour - and Provence, plus Gran Paradiso in Italy.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Gastronomic tour in Piedmont and Liguria

After a great trip doing a circuit of Gran Paradiso this year.............a touring week round some of the wonderful options in Piedmont and Liguria on our way back home to the Mercantour.

Sharing here - by request - not to play the role of "know it alls" but to share some of the fun we had, for future travellers.

Turin drop off - leaving our guests at Turin airport we were delighted to, once again, be welcomed by Natalina and Gianni in Mazze - Casa Moretto.  The B&B is just about 40 minutes from the airport - pick ups can be arranged - and is comfortable, great breakfast PLUS a sparkling pool!!  Good eating can be found at Calu in Caluso just up the road - or if you don't want to drive, the local bar does good cheap pasta, or the aptly named "Big Piggy Pig" platter - just smile and dive in the door.

Linger in the Langhe - such a wonderful area, imagine a miniature Tuscany perhaps, the cascina sant eufemia - like returning home - a fun mix of speaking different languages, and scoffing garlic rich bagna cauda - thanks Chiara! You would have to be tired of life not to admire the splendours of Alba, Asti, Barolo......never mind the trough!!  The Vin Cafe in Alba, recommended, and the quaint (feels like being in a greek taverna) Osteria dei Catari in Monforte d'Alba...being some of this year's highlights.  Thanks to Lindsay and Helen for introducing us to, the name at least, of the Agriturismo Iride, where you can stay or just pop in for lunch with Isaia, a young and creative chef, with bags of potential.

Ye and Ne - Tempted by the Guardian's feature and a veggie tasting menu - yippee!,  we headed off to Ne, the charms of Castagnola64 - with Lu and Leo - although I did think Mel was really going to let rip as we edged up a narrow single track road in the minibus!, and the promise of La Brinca.  No hollow promise here - a wonderful, heritage rich, hearty lunch with wine matching - thanks so much to all the family.  We admired the capacity* of our fellow diners - and then slowly slowly walked the 2kms up the hill.

For things to eyeball - the back country is very pretty, but I am always reminded that I do not care for the coastal strip - neither in France, nor in Italy.  For sure there is wonderful architecture and stacks of history, but all crammed into a narrow band of land - over populated with road and rail links, and now blighted with cattle truck cruise ships. Portofino? - for long a "wish to see" - no chance to get near it!!

Back now to well cared for, four legged friends.....and getting into the final assault on the pesky house.

If you need to escape for the festive season - we are here!!


* Even Mr Sanders would have struggled - believe me!!
Accentless - I'm afraid!!
Image - Gran Paradiso refuge