After a full week back at the office, I can officially say I prefer being in the sun in the South of France (@my colleagues who read this, don’t take this personally. Sun, sea, sand and rosé are just hard to beat ;-)
I especially fell for the isle Port-Cros, a national park about a 45 minutes per boat away from the port of Hyères. It’s a small island, and there are no cars allowed. The tiny port is surrounded by about 4 restaurants, 2 or 3 shops, a hotel and that’s it.
It’s not the type of island with big white sandy beaches, in fact, the beaches are real tiny and only accessible by a good hike. But the water is crystal clear, the views are fantastic and there are so many fish eating out your hand (literally!).
The easiest beach to go to is Plage du Sud, the path is not too steep and it will take you about 45 minutes from the port. We did all of this on flip-flops (why did I listen to the Mr who told me flip-flops would be fine?) but I recommend to wear sneakers.
Those who take a hike are well rewarded with stunning views and a refreshing dive afterwards (the complaining me would now say something about walking all the way back to the village for lunch with your wet bathing suit under your clothes and sandy feet chafing in my flip-flops. But I’m not that kind of person, so I’ll only tell you about the view. Absolutely stunning!)
I also loved our day in Saint-Tropez.
To be honest, this isn’t the season to visit a town that touristic (May or September would be much better) but if you pass by the port with the huge glitzy boats, there’s still some old fisherman’s village charm to be found.
Yes, there are Prada and Dior stores, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see that most stores are actually old fishmonger shops. Long and narrow. And just a few streets away from the port, there are still plenty of cute streets, and you can almost feel how it must have been before Brigitte Bardot came and made the tiny town famous.
Surprisingly enough, I turned out quite the shopping queen in Saint-Trop (as my brother-in-law calls it, the French like to shorten names, all words in general actually). No, not at Dior, my budget won’t let me, but we did find a couple of cheaper (much cheaper) stores where I could make my credit card work hard nonetheless.
We asked the owner of one of the stores where we should go for dinner (prices are ridiculous in Saint-Tropez, so an inside tip was very welcome). She told us to try Bistrot Pastis, and so we did.
We shared a very tasty spaghetti vongole and an entrecôte frites. For a reasonable price.
We skipped dessert in favor of ice cream at the port. The ice cream was just so so, and they couldn’t even be bothered with making a nice scoop, but that didn’t really matter, I was happy to eat ice cream in Saint-Tropez.
We visit the Mr’s sister in the south every year, so we do have our regular stops. There isn’t a year that we don’t go to charming Bandol, with it’s rosé vineyards and cute little town.
This year we discovered a really great restaurant, l’Atelier du Goût. A bit pricier than the average restaurant, but the food is well worth it! Especially when you consider many restaurants in the Côte d’Azur are plain tourist traps. I didn’t take any pictures of the food that night, as we were eating with a group and not everyone appreciates the crazy blogger armed with a camera taking pictures all night long (crazy, right?)
So you’ll have to take my word for it, l’Atelier du Goût is a must try (and in case you don’t trust my judgement, the Michelin guide agrees with me ;-)
Sorry, this is becoming a loooong post, but if you’re into cute Provencal villages, Collobrières should definitely be on your list. It is also known as the marron (chestnut) capital of France, located in the forest of the Maures.
The winding roads leading to the village take you through countless vineyards and even over a pass which offers breathtaking views of the area.
It’s a perfect town for a little souvenir shopping. And a drink on the village square.
But what I’ve been doing most of the time, is hanging around the pool, reading, swimming and perfecting my ability to do absolutely nothing.
Of course, we eat! And as we were seven, there was a lot of cooking going on (and dishes, endless dishes… ;-)
These bruschetta’s were easy to make and I didn’t intend to put them on the blog, but they turned out so very good that I felt I had to share them nonetheless. As I made them with my sister-in-law, I don’t have exact measurements this time. But rest assured, you don’t need exact quantities. This is not rocket science, just grilled bread with some tasty toppings.
My sister-in-law often makes a herb mixture of parsley, basil and garlic. And we made plenty of use of it for these bruschetta’s! We used it to fill the avocado’s with, and as topping on the bread.
I’ve tried to replicate the recipes for you, but regard them as mere suggestions, they are by no means exact. Which poses no problem, cause there isn’t a lot that doesn’t go well on grilled bread, so let your creative chef out ;-)
- Baguette, in slices
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Cherry tomatoes
Topping idea 1
- Raw ham
- Goat cheese
- Fresh rosemary
Topping idea 2
- Burrata (mozzarella)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Raw ham
Topping idea 3
- Courgette, thinly sliced
- Raw ham
- Preheat the oven to 200 C / 392 F
- Brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
- Place on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes, until browned and crisp
- For my sister-in-law's herbs, chop equal parts of parsley and basil, add garlic to your liking and a drop of olive oil
- Cut the avocado's over half, de-pit and sprinkle with the herbs
- For topping idea 1: top the bread with a bit of ham, goat cheese and fresh rosemary.
- Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season, bake for another 5 minutes
- For topping idea 2: Top the bread with a bit of ham, burrata, a cherry tomato and the herbs. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil before serving
- For topping idea 3: Top the bread with courgette, brie, raw ham and the herbs. Drizzle with olive oil, season and bake for another 5 minutes