I had to keep my eyes squeezed shut as my son-in-law to-be expertly navigated the hairpin turns on an 800 meter climb to the La Ferme des Courmettes near Tourrettes-sur-Loup. My daughter’s determination to see a goat farm had a happy ending. Our private tour and picnic lunch was well worth it.
And the view from the farm was beyond spectacular even with a bit of haze.
Incidentally, one of my all-time favorite photos from my many trips to France is approaching the village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup from the south. Using Akvis ArtWork, I turned the fabulous shot into an “oil painting”.
Having spent the last week lying low and fighting off winter germs, I decided I would find some of my favorite photos from last summer to perk me up. And what better than some of the fabulous meal we had a the restaurant of Logis du Guetteur in Les Arcs, especially the foie gras which is now a forbidden delicacy in California.
And this is why I have returned to France so many times. Because lamb chops are my favorite food group.
And does anyone here bring me an extra little sweet at the end of the meal? The folks at Logis du Guetteur do…and they throw in a fabulous view to boot.
Gosh, I feel better already. I think I’ll go heat up my canned chicken soup…and dream of France.
We have been to Cassis several times. But this was the littlest muffin’s first look at the pristine beach. Because we weren’t sure about an eleven-month-old on the high seas, we bypassed our favorite activity this time: a boat trip to view The Calanques.
But she did have here first taste of moules with lobster sauce at one of the waterfront restaurants located along the Quai Jean Jacques Barthelemy.
And her first gander at old men playing pétanque.
Remember the scene from “When Harry Met Sally” in the restaurant? Of course you do. Well, a slightly less R-rated version occurred when a good friend and I first dined at the highly recommended L’Ambroisie in Quimper.
It occurred at the very table pictured in this photo. We ordered the foie gras and with our first simultaneous bites, we both let out an audible, involuntary groan of complete delight. The ultimate braised foie gras, the deep sweetness of the fresh fig compote, the crunch of perfectly crisped triangles of toast, and the chunky granules sal de mer combined to produce the most scrumptious bite we’d ever tasted. That our hosts insisted we must have the Normandy pear cider with a splash of cassis to accompany this dish, without charge, only added to the experience. I think there was quail and a tarte tatin to follow but we will never forget that first bite.
When my daughter and I arrived in the off-season at Le Prieuré, astunning chateau on the Loire river just a few kilometers from Saumur, we were surprised to be offered an upgraded room gratis. Imagine our delight and amazement when we entered this spectacular room swathed in roses and graced with antiques and a huge marble bath, with its French doors opening right onto the rooftop overlooking the river. The breakfast served in the room was exactly as in this photo. My own non-digitalized photos are off in a album buried in my shed. You can see the flat rooftop of the dining room in the center right of this aerial view of the chateau and our French doors that opened onto it.
In the restaurant that evening we decided to splurge and order the Gastronomique menu which at the time (1999) amounted to $200. We started with an amuse bouche in the salon, then moved to our table, where for the next 3 1/2 hours we were treated to course after course, eleven in all, including three appetizers, three full main courses (filet mignon, lobster tail, and duck), and three full-sized desserts, with a palette refresher of grapefruit sorbet in between, plus 5 different wines. When the waiter arrived to ask about coffee, we looked at each other and graciously declined. Not another bite or swallow was going into our bodies. We decided it was the most grand meal we’d ever had (or have had to this day). So even when we discovered to our shock when we paid our bill the next morning that it was $200 EACH, we felt it was well worth it for an unforgettable memory.
Here we are, coming in by ferry from Nice to L’Île-Rousse. One of the perks of traveling with my grown daughter, besides the fact that she is very outgoing and fluent in French, is that we are in complete sync as traveling companions. No squabbling over when to get up or when to go to bed. And with her encouragement, I see many sights that would have passed me by had my “old bones” been making the decisions. Her theory: if we’re here we should see everything! So, armed with our favorite travel book, a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide we set out to see every nook and cranny possible during our scheduled days in Corsica.
Top on the agenda was to see many of the places that serve as locations in my novel MOTHER TONGUE which included Bonifacio, the Citadelle at Corte, the Restonica Valley, and L’Île-Rousse. Even made a few stops to capture roadside graffiti scrawled by FLNC sympathizers.But one of my favorite memories was dinner on the beach at L‘Île–Rousse, the western port where we had arrived by ferry earlier in the day.
The restaurant of the Le Logis du Guetteur is probably my all-time favorite. I have dined on the restaurant’s terrace with my best childhood friend (2004, we also stayed at the Logis), my daughter and granddaughter (2013), and my daughter, son-in-law and his mother (2008).
The most memorable occasion was in 2008. We had been visiting St. Tropez and had 1:30 pm reservations. The 40 km to Les Arcs sur Argens was over a twisty mountainous road and the minutes were ticking away.
We arrived just as they were closing down their luncheon service. My daughter, who speaks fluent French, begged the maitre d’ to seat us since we had come so far. But to no avail. But then she caught sight of the chef through an open door to the kitchen.
She called to him and after much cajoling he agreed to prepare our meals but we had to decide on dessert ahead of time so that he could prepare that in advance and then leave. One of their servers, a young woman in her 20s, graciously offered to stay past her hours of duty and serve out meal.
The food was marvelous as always and the view from the terrace of the valley of vineyards and the medieval village of Les Arcs was unparalleled.
The first year that my daughter lived in France, just after graduating from college, she became an English-speaking au pair for a French family and took on mastering French cooking for the children in her care. On my first visit to her Paris apartment, she fixed this easy-as-pie but delicious entrée. Remembering, of course, that Americans call this course an appetizer. It always followed our favorite apéritif (pre-dinner drink) called a Kir Royal made with champagne (or if your like, non-alcoholic sparkling cider) and a dash of crème de cassis (blackcurrent liqueur) and accompanied, in the French manner, by small dishes of olives and peanuts. That apéritif became our must-have throughout all of our travels in France and even at Paris Las Vegas!
CRAB STUFFED AVOCADOS
Halve the avocados and leave in shell
Mix imitation crab meat (NOT the real thing), preferably cold, with your favorite mayonnaise, adding salt & pepper only.
Ladle heaping sco0p of crab mixture into each avocado shell
NEXT WEEK: Sweet and savory crepes
Karen Stephen’s BLOG about her own experiences in France over the past 15 years with an emphasis on favorite places, restaurants, and activities. With one blog a week devoted to French travel with three generations and another to her writing.
IF IT’S: IT MUST BE:
MONDAY MOMMY, MIMI & THE MUFFINS – 3 Generations See France
WEDNESDAY BEST OF FRANCE – Favorite Activities, Places & Restaurants
FRIDAY ON WRITING – A Novel in Progress
SATURDAY BRINGING FRANCE HOME – French Home Decor & Cooking
SUNDAY GUEST BLOGS – By My Writing Friends
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