Living in your Dream Location  – Dare you ask for a dream job and income too?

terrace view VillefrancheNo matter where you are or where your dream destination may be, the one thing we all share is the pursuit of attaining or maintaining our exceptional lifestyles.

Opening up to our authentic selves in a new location or change of direction, also brings to the surface other simmering desires; such as transforming our newly-stimulated creativity into a dream job to accompany our transformation.

From Fantasy to Feasibility

For example, living in France, think how life could be: producing your own olive oil and selling it in local markets, writing the book that has been buried deep within you for so long , holding cooking classes in your new Provencal kitchen, opening your own Bed & Breakfast in the middle of the vineyards and Chateaux, …… the list goes on into the horizon of the setting sun.

The question is, can all this enchantment work financially?  Let’s take a look at the 3 main impediments to growing a healthy business.  Two of them you have little control over but with one of them you have 100% control over so that is your chance to go for it!

  1. Taxes – Little control

Get a good accountant who may be able to cut some corners for you and get on with growing your business to cover your taxes.

  1. Discouraging Bureaucracy – Little control with more options

Depending on where you live, paperwork has to get done.  You can do it yourself but can save a lot of time and frustration by using one of the excellent expat services that can take care of almost anything.   On the French Riviera, I recommend LBS (Leonetti Business Services).

  1. Lack of Business Planning – 100% controlman

This is one of the main reasons why new businesses struggle.  Planning ahead is the single most effective action you can take to make your dream job work.  Statistics show that a simple plan can have an amazing impact on a small business – increasing chances of financial success by 50%.

Most creative people don’t plan out their businesses because noone has made it easy.  Therefore, most prefer to invest their energies into perfecting their product or service and develop relationships with their target market.  Sadly, very little time is dedicated to planning how the money will come in.

For expats launching a business in a foreign country, a plan is vital as many are targeting an English speaking clientele.  With a simple plan, the entrepreneur can find out what the income potential of that market is and which of his products or services will render the most profit.  Only then can he or she choose the best marketing activities.

Today with the explosion of entrepreneurship, it is easier than ever to put a simple plan in place. One ofdeb logo the programs, especially made to motivate the right brainers is called Trilojee  (see video & podcast below). For those who want extra guidance in their business growth, there are Entrepreneur Coaches to boost your business progress.  Contact info@espritentrepreneurs.com for any global location.

We want your dream business to have every chance of succeeding!

These are the businesses that are promoting Wellness, Culture, Eco living, Cuisine, education, services and creating communities of like-minded people.  These small businesses allow so many of us to experience quality of products and services and unexpected delights of living.

So go for it!  Yes – a dream job and dream income too!

I would love to hear about your businesses.  We want you to succeed as it helps all of us!

2 minute podcast about Entrepreneur earnings:

Tools for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Canelé: The Caramelized, Custardy, Cookie/Cake of Bordeaux

Un vrai delice!

French Food Travels

Canele picture with title reading The Canele Chronicle

Macarons are all the rage in Paris and New York and have become the icon of French pastries. But I am voting for the long-standing iconic pastry of Bordeaux, the canelé.

This now fancy, indeed “haute” pastry began as a thrifty, simple way to use up left-over ingredients in order to feed the poor.

The canelé owes it’s beginnings to the nuns of the Miséricorde convent. They would send novices to the docks to sweep up flour that had spilled out of bags as they were being unloaded from the boats. To this recovered flour they added egg yolks, a leftover from the many vintners who used the egg whites to clarify their wines.

These original pastries, called canelas or camelions, didn’t look like what we see today. The dough was wrapped around sticks, fried and then sold to raise the money needed to feed the poor. According to some…

View original post 104 more words

10 reasons to visit Périgord, Dordogne

There are a thousand good reasons to visit Périgord, but FrenchEntrée has selected its top ten. Read our top 10 reasons why you should visit Périgord. Discover the history, heritage, gastronomy, chateaux, and some of the more quirky things…

Source: 10 reasons to visit Périgord, Dordogne

13 of the best hill villages near Nice

NOTE:  The “Village House for Sale” on the sidebar is located in village #7 on this list!

 

The Alpes-Maritimes department in south-east France, including the world famous Côte d’Azur, is home to several hundred medieval hill villages, fortified towns and ruined iron age camps, and many are close to Nice.  The “villages perchés” vary from little more than a pile of ruins to perfectly renovated sophisticated small towns, some are now the ancient centre of a modern town, others are gloriously isolated deep in the countryside.  Some are almost at sea level others over 1500m high in the mountains.  What they all have in common though is that they are built in strategic locations, to protect themselves from invasion, often on rocky outcrops or cliff faces; places hard to access and easy to defend. They tend to centre around a church and castle at the top with winding narrow cobbled alleyways, twisting down to the ramparts.  These lanes are sometimes covered, forming tunnels, they often turn into steps and are nearly always far too narrow for cars.  They were built for donkeys, horses and carts but nothing any bigger which makes for an interesting spectacle when a modern day resident has a large piece of furniture delivered!  (Surprisingy they are very nearly all still inhabited).

Peillon village near Nice France at sunset

I don’t suppose I’ll ever get to all the hill villages in the area, especially when you consider there are plenty more in the neighbouring Var department and across the Italian border in Liguria, but I’ve visited plenty and love discovering new ones.  Here’s my choice of the 13 best easily reached from Nice and surrounding towns (in no particular order), with a brief description.

1.  GREOLIERES

Gréolières

Gréolières (not to be confused with Gréolières les Neiges, the ski resort nearby) is a small, easily accessed hill village as it isn’t too steep.  It lies dramatically on the edge of a cliff over looking the Loup river.  The drive to it and just a bit further past towards the ski area is spectacular and one of the main reasons to go.  The village, which has a handful of restaurants, is unpretentious, existing for locals rather than the tourist market    It’s extra pretty in the snow which it regularly gets during the winter.

Gréolières in snow

 

2.  GOURDON

Gourdon

Gourdon is the real jaw dropper of the region.  It is practically carved out of the rock at 760m altitude but surprisingly within its walls it has a castle (where Queen Victoria once stayed) and a garden designed by Le Nôtre (he of Versailles fame no less).  Unfortunately the castle is no longer open to the public but a wander around the tiny village is worth it for the views alone.  Only 20 minutes from Lou Messugo I take all our visiting friends here and pose them in the same spot!  This aspect shows just how precarious its location is, over looking the Gorges du Loup.  It’s a very popular place for paragliding.

Gourdon paragliding Alpes Maritimes

 

3.  CHÂTEAUNEUF-DE-GRASSE

Châteauneuf Grasse Village

The hill village part of Châteauneuf de Grasse is hidden away from the road and easily missed despite being in quite a built up area only 4 kms from the city of Grasse.  It’s a quiet residential place where you won’t find shops or cafés, just sleepy cats lazing in the sun.  Every October it holds a festival dedicated to the humble pumpkin when the place comes alive but for the rest of the year it’s wonderfully tranquil and seemingly empty.  I’ve written in more detail about the Fête de la Courge and Châteauneuf itself previously.

Châteauneuf Grasse

 

4.  LE BAR SUR LOUP

Le Bar sur Loup distant view

Le Bar sur Loup is one of the most picturesque and perfectly formed hill villages with a castle, keep and chapel popping out the top.  You can see them in the photo above.  Despite what many websites say about the village the tourist office is no longer in the keep but has been replaced by an excellent restaurant “le Donjon”.  Le Bar sur Loup is known for its production of bitter oranges and celebrates them with a wonderfully fragrant fair every spring at la fête de l’oranger.  A must if you are in the area at the time.

Bar sur Loup staircase

 

5.  TOURRETTES SUR LOUP

Tourettes sur Loup Alpes Maritimes Côte dAzur PACA

Tourrettes sur Loup is famous for its violet production, grown for the perfume industry in Grasse and for crystallised candy and like many of these hill villages it celebrates its flowers with a festival in the spring. To get to the old part of the village from the central square (unfortunately a carpark) you pass through an archway and enter the quiet alleys, where you’ll come across charming and unusual red houses amongst the stone buildings.  For the best view of the village approach from the road from Grasse (rather than Vence).

Tourettes sur Loup street

 

6.  ST PAUL DE VENCE

St Paul de Vence Côte dAzur France

St Paul de Vence is probably the most well known of the Côte d’Azur hill villages owing to its association with some of the world’s greatest artists.  Over the years names such as Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and many more have either lived here or been inspired by it.  The town is the location for one of the best private modern art collections in the world, the Maeght Foundation, and nowadays is chock-a-block full of art galleries and studios.  It’s an art lovers paradise and it’s exquisitely beautiful.  The lanes are perfectly paved and every building is renovated and maintained to a high standard.  The downside to this is that it gets very crowded.  Take a look here for tips on how to avoid the crowds and more detail about the lovely St Paul de Vence.art galleries in St Paul de Vence

 

7.  HAUT-DE-CAGNES

Haut de Cagnes Côte dAzur France

Hauts-de-Cagnes is slap bang in the middle of the conurbation of Cagnes sur Mer-Nice, is very easily reached by public transport from all over the Côte d’Azur and yet it is relatively unknown. Being in the centre of an urban area it is hard to get a good distant photo of it, with one of the best views being from the motorway!  My shot above was taken on a gloomy day where you can just about make out the mountains behind; when you notice it peeking above the busy streets of Cagnes you realise it’s begging to be explored.  There’s a quirky fact about Haut-de-Cagnes, they play square boules “pétanque carrée” on the steep streets, the balls being square so they don’t roll downhill!

Haut de Cagnes square boules carrées

 

8.  BIOT

Biot village Alpes Maritimes France

Biot is another of the hill villages which finds itself today as the historical and tourist centre of a much bigger but otherwise rather nondescript town.  It’s small but very lively with plenty of restaurants,cafés, boutiques and art galleries.  It holds a weekly market every Tuesday morning. Biot is famous for its hand blown glass which you can see being made in a small workshop on the main street and in the biggerVerrerie de Biot just below the village on the main road to the coast.  It is also well known for its very popular annual medieval festival every April.

arcades in Biot Alpes Maritimes

 

9.  MOUGINS

mougins village near cannes in france

Mougins is located between Cannes and Grasse and rises in a spiral of streets from the plain around. Seen from above it is most unusual.  It has become known as a centre of gastronomy with many fabulous restaurants including some with Michelin stars and an annual food festival.  It is also packed full of art galleries and the home of a small but good classical art museum.  One of the most attractive aspects of Mougins village I think is the trees that grow through the restaurant terraces in the main square.

Mougins near Cannes France

 

10.  CARROS

Carros village perché Alpes Maritimes France

Carros is a surprising stunner of a hill village, one that very few visitors ever see owing to the reputation of its namesake modern town.  Modern Carros, built about 40-50 years ago is a hideous grouping of soulless apartment blocks and industrial buildings but go beyond this, a few kilometres up the hill and you’ll be well rewarded.  The views are some of my favourites of all the hill villages around, stretching up and down the Var river valley to snowy mountain peaks and the Mediterranean at Nice.  The 12th century castle at the top of the village houses a rather unlikely International Centre of Contemporary Art and there are some interesting modern sculptures juxtaposed in the ancient streets.

Carros Village sculptures

 

11.  PEILLON

Peillon village near Nice France at sunset

Peillon, as you can see from the beautiful photo above, sits in splendid isolation surrounded by forested mountains and valleys and yet it is only 12 kms north of Nice.  It is tiny, peaceful, completely pedestrian and entirely empty of tourist tat and other commercial enterprises except for an unlikely secondhand clothes shop!  At the top of the village next to the church you’ll find a panoramic map pointing out the nearby peaks and distant cities.

Peillon Côte dAzur France

 

12.  SAORGE

Saorge hill village Alpes Maritimes France

Saorge is another completely untouched, in places run down, fully authentic hill village oozing charm and character.  Looking out over the gorgeous Roya river its houses are built in about 5 layers up and up the steep mountain side meaning that the little lanes are often tunneled through the buildings.  There are bridges and secret passages everywhere, cool and calm in the summer heat.  I defy anyone not to fall in love with this gem of a perched village.

Saorge village near Nice France

 

13.  EZE

Eze village viewed from Grand Corniche

Eze village is a superstar of hill villages and along with St Paul probably the most visited in the region.  Its proximity to both Nice and Monaco make it popular with cruise ships but this don’t let this put you off, just choose your moment to visit wisely.  Its unique attraction is its botanic garden perilously hanging off the rock.  The views from Eze, particularly from the gardens, peeping through cacti and sculptures, over the warm tiled rooftops and across to St Jean Cap Ferrat are truly splendiferous!  Within the village walls you’ll find souvenir shops, cafés and an achingly beautiful 5 star hotel that mere mortals like me can only gaze upon and dream…

Eze Côte dAzur France view from jardins exotiques

 

For some 13 is unlucky so I’ve included a bonus 14th choice particularly interesting to visit at Christmas…read on…

BONUS:  LUCERAM

Lucéram model of village with Santons

Lucéram is known as the Christmas village for during the month of December it comes alive with a “Circuit des Crèches“.  Literally every tiny alley, every balcony, every doorway and every nook and cranny is decorated for Christmas with ribbons, baubles, tinsel, pine cones and santons, traditional Provencal clay figurines.  The idea is to follow the circuit of Nativity creches (or cribs) around the village spotting the hidden ones and marvelling at the bigger scenes.  The photo above is of a model of the village with santons, located in a room at the entrance to the village.  Read more about this lovely tradition here.

Lucéram Christmas village

 

My advice for visiting hill villages is to explore the back alleys, get away from the main streets and lose yourself in the myriad of twisting dark lanes.  Look out for interesting details and a sudden shaft of light. Breath in the smells of the flowers in bloom or the damp odours of hundreds of years of history.  Move away from the crowds and you’re sure to find yourself alone even in the most popular places.  If you think you can’t visit these places with kids, think again. Above all make sure you visit at least a few of these gorgeous historical places while on the French Riviera, they are such an important and lovely part of its charm.

CREDIT/SOURCE: reblogged from http://www.loumessugo.com/

Markets in Provence

Market-in-Provence-Photo-by-Sylvia-DavisVisiting open-air markets in Provence is one of life’s great little pleasures. Market day has been a way of life for Provençals for generations. The market serves as much as a social function bringing together the community each week …

Source: Markets in Provence

Mexican Restaurant near Nice

Whenever someone asked me what I miss most in the U.S., I usually answer an authentically good Mexican restaurant.  Having tried a couple in Nice, my quest continued and lo and behold, I recently ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant named “Le Ship” in St. Laurent du Var, just on the other side of Nice airport.

Exterior

 

Table settingFirst critique was their chips and salsa: seemed like a standard jar-type salsa that one can buy in any supermarket so was nothing special.  The chips were OK but a little thick and heavy.  The menu had a wide variety of choices, including kangaroo and bison, but I stuck to the Mexican fare.

IMG_0003

IMG_0011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After lunch, a nice promenade around the Port de Plaisance next to the restaurant in St. Laurent du Var helped digest the meal which all-in-all was pretty good for Mexican fare on the French Riviera!
IMG_0013

IMG_0016

IMG_0015

IMG_0014

 

May the ‘Feve’ Be With You!

(My French husband’s slice of this year’s King’s Cake hid a special feve/charm – see photo after recipe)

Epiphany:  The Christian holiday when a special cake eaten on or around January 6, called the ‘galette des Rois,’ is well know in France and celebrates the arrival of the three kings in the Bethlehem stable.

galette

There are three different styles of the cake dependent on the area in France. In the north, puff pastry and almond filling; the south’s ‘gâteau des Rois’ is a circular brioche decorated with candied fruit, and galette briochewestern France has a sweetened shortcrust, rather than puff pastry. Both galette and gâteau are widely available – and even variants with chocolate, apple purée and nuts. All come with a cardboard crown and a “fève”, which traditionally used to be a bean before trinkets were introduced, often in the form of a baby Jesus, but today, it is just as likely to be a blue plastic “Schtroumpf” (Smurf). The cake is eaten with friends, family and colleagues, and the person who finds the fève is crowned king or queen for the day (a crown is sold with the cake).

Personal Note: A dried bean can be used in place of a figurine for the fève for a DIY version. In order to make sure the cake is served randomly, the French tradition is for the youngest member of the family to sit under the table (or simply close their eyes) and call out the name of the person to be served the next slice of the cut cake. Everyone tries to guess who got the feve and they are declared king or queen.

Ingredients: (Can serve 12 people)

1/2 cup ground almonds
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar
2 sheets puff pastry
powdered sugar

Directions: 

Grind almonds in food processor

For the Frangipane filling:

Beat sugar and butter
add two (2) of the eggs and almonds.

Next:

– Butter a flat baking sheet and unfold thawed puff pastries and using a pie pan as a template cut into two circles
– Spread the Frangipane filing in the center of one pastry layer and place a dried fava bean or ceramic figure
– Using the last egg, beat and paint the edges of the dough
– Place the second pastry circle on top and seal the edges
– Brush top with egg.
– Bake for 25-30 min at 375oF

20160106_193401 (1)