International Club Interview

Book CoverI recently had the honor of being one of the guest’s on the International Club of the Riviera’s radio broadcast (currently online), for an interview about my recently published book, available for purchase on Amazon as an e-book or paperback.

Below is a synopsis of the interview, which I hope will inspire you to follow your life journey, wherever it may lead! Bon courage!

ICR: What is the working title of your book?

“Solitary Desire – One Woman’s Journey to France”

ICR:  Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to tell my personal story, in the hope of inspiring others to follow their desires and dreams and to show how taking small steps can lead to a  path towards an end goal.

ICR:  What genre does your book fall under?

Non-fiction, as a  memoire, but also a travelogue/love story.

ICR:  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Stories of self discovery through a personal life journey; perhaps, “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

ICR:  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I should be so lucky to have this choice, but in dreaming of this possibility, I would pick Meryl Streep – especially since she can dance – this  comment is self-explanatory in reading the book.

ICR:  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An amusing story of self-discovery through life choices, while striving for one’s dream.

ICR:  Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

To be self-published as an indie e-book, with print-on-demand option. I am also hoping to publish my e-book in French and as an audio book.

ICR:  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started writing a few chapters ten years ago, but then put it aside due to life events, and now have completed this personal journey memoire.

ICR:  Who or What inspired you to write this book?

It was during a stay in Paris, that I decided to write about my experiences.

ICR:  What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Love, self-discovery, and inspiration to persevere, irregardless of time constraints and life events, in going after personal goals.  Success in striving for one’s dream is measured along the way and in many ways – it’s not always about getting from point A to point B.

Questions source: The Next Big Thing

“From Red Carpet to Rosé”

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have entered into joint ownership of the Miraval vineyard in the Var, famous for its production of the succulent ‘Pink Floyd‘ rosé. The names of the A-list film stars will appear on the label of the 15 euro wine, which will be filling glasses from March this year.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have purchased their second vineyard in the south of France

The celebrity couple have strengthened their position in the Varois winemaking community as they now share 50:50 ownership of the Correns-based vineyard with the Perrin family. The 40-hectare Miraval vineyard produces an average of 150,000 red, white and rosé wines each year.

“Obviously, given their fame, there is a great buzz surrounding this cuvée, but what we want above all is to reveal the exceptional quality of our vineyard. The local market – wine merchants and restaurants – continue to be our priority,” insisted Marc Perrin, joint owner of the Miraval brand, to local newspaper Var Matin. The Perrin family owns the château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf du Pape in Vaucluse, as well as 200 hectares of vineyards on the Rhône sud valley.

On sale from March 2013, the repackaged ‘Pink Floyd’ will retain its nickname in France, but will be officially labelled as ‘Miraval Provence’. Of course, the subtle addition of ‘Mis en bouteille par Jolie-Pitt & Perrin’ will mark the coownership, which was conceived last summer.

Following the rosé’s springtime début, the white wines will be gracing tables from September while the red will be available from 2014.

Though the common feeling is that the movie stars have brought fame to the local vineyards, the general director of Correns Marc Simon holds a different view. “You’re kidding, it is them who have benefited from our reputation!” joked Simon to Var Matin.

Credit: Isabelle Younane, as reported in The Riviera Times

French Word Games

I remember my grandmother and I playing Scrabble many years ago, and she always won – she also did crossword puzzles – need I say more!?

I recently went to a French club activity where we played French Scrabble – there were five of us playing – expats trying our best to use all our letters (les pions).  This took some time, brain intensive effort, and a little help from the French hostess, who kindly served tea/coffee and cookies.  Thank goodness score wasn’t being kept, and you could verify words in the official Scrabble word approved reference book, if needed.  Words were also accepted conjugated in all the tenses, even in passe simple!  Ooh, la, la!




Massage Relaxant @ K2 Chocolate

IMG_0098_1It was delicious – the massage, that is!

I had the opportunity to have a 50 minute “Californien” massage session at K2 Chocolate, an upscale spa located in the Carré d’Or (heart of the city) of Nice. The technicien, Maria, was professional and friendly, and had gifted hands that melted away any hidden tension.

I was escorted through the salon, with its chic decor, invitingly warm, like the owner and staff.  The list of spa services is indeed comprehensive, along with the options of UV teeth whitening treatment and body tanning.

What would I add to this pleasurable experience?  Mais oui – a sample of yummy chocolate to complement the spa’s name and my yummy massage!

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Café de Nice

A simple enough and a logical name for a café/restaurant in Nice.

Hmmm, it made me wonder what it was like, and to be honest, I was expecting an ordinary run-of-the-mill café, and it didn’t look that UNordinary from the outside.  Mais, au contraire!  It was very chic and classy, with excellent and attentive service, and most of all, delicious food!  Just off the main street of the pedestrian zone in Nice, the location is great!  I ordered a three-course meal from the daily specials menu (starter/main/dessert) – good that it IS near the pedestrian zone, as I really needed to walk it off afterwards!  (The salt & pepper shakers were clever and amusing to me – made to represent the “galets” (pebbles) on Nice’s beach!)

Cafe de Nice is at 1, rue Maurice Jaubert (pedestrian zone in Nice)  Tel: 04-89-14-82-03

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Nice Carnaval – Grand Opening!

As an update to my previous Winter Festivals post, today is the grand opening of the Nice Carnival – the third largest in the world!   The video is a behind-the-scenes look at preparations for the grand event – don’t forget to bring your silly string!

Schedules for Nice & Menton Festivals:

Nice Carnival

Friday 15th FebruaryCarnaval-poster-201x300

8.30pm Opening Festivities, free entrance

16th + 23rd February, 2nd March

2.30pm Flower Parade

9.00pm Carnival Parade of lights

Sunday 17th February

8.30am Carnival Race: ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll 10 Miles’

12.00pm Carnival Swim Free entrance

19th, 24th, 26th February, 3rd March

2.30pm  Carnival Parade

20th + 27th February, 6th March

2.30pm  Flower Parade

Saturday 2nd March

2.30pm  Flower Parade

9.00pm Carnival Parade of lights

Tuesday 5th March

9.00pm Carnival Parade of lights

Wednesday 6th March

9.30pm  Closing Festivities Burning of the King and firework display

Menton Lemon Festival

Saturday 16th February to Wednesday 6th March

Citrus Exhibition

Biovès Gardens Weekdays: 10am-6pm

Weekends: 9am-6pm (16th Feb opens 1pm)

Sunday 17th, Thursday 21st, Sunday 24th, Thursday 28th February

Garden of Lights

Biovès Gardens From 8.30pm to 10.30pm

Sunday 17th + 24th February, 3rd March

Parade, Promenade du Soleil From 2.30pm

Sunday 3rd March Promenade du Soleil

Closing Ceremony

Fireworks from 9pm at Esplanade Francis Palmero

Fridays 22nd February + 1st March

Night Parades

Promenade du Soleil 8.30pm

“Boo-tear-noot” – “Butternut” – A recipe !

Oh, la la – Potiron? Citrouille? Potimarron? Courge Musquée?  Click here to see the differences in photos (scroll down)!

Butternut  squash is everywhere in the markets now – it’s tasty, easy to cook, and healthy!  Bon Appetit!

“Squash belongs to the cucurbita family, divided into three major varieties:

C. maxima includes most winter squash, including potimarron and Rouge Vif d’Etampes.

C. pepo includes nearly all the common summer squash like zucchini and yellow crookneck, but also spaghetti squash.

C. moschata includes butternut and Musquée de Provence.


This dish can be served as either a first course or a main course. Depending on which, it will serve six to ten.

One 2-pound (1 kg) potimarron (kuri squash)

5 cups (1.25 liters) chicken stock

2 star anise pods

1 tsp coarse sea salt

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 oz (150 g) Roquefort, chilled and cut into thin slices

6 oz (180 g) button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves

Tarragon sprigs for garnish

1. Wash the squash. Cut it in half and discard the seeds (or reserve them for another use), removing the stringy fibers. Cut the halves into 1/2-inch cubes and put them in a large saucepan. Add chicken stock, star anise and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat so mixture simmers, cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 30 min.

2. While squash cooks, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms and stir or shake the pan. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and shaking often, until they are golden and tender—about 5 min. Remove from heat.

3. When squash is cooked, remove star anise and purée the mixture, then pass it through a sieve to remove the skin. Return purée to saucepan. Adjust seasoning. If the purée is very dry, stir in a bit of hot water to make it smooth.

4. Mince tarragon and stir it into the mushrooms.

5. To serve, heat the purée until it’s steaming. Divide it into individual bowls. Top each serving with a slice of Roquefort, then top that with the mushrooms. Garnish with a sprig of tarragon and serve immediately.”

(Article Credit: France Today)

Black Diamonds – Black Gold !

I recently attended a truffle festival, since I really wanted to know if they really smell like what I had heard – like dirty sweaty feet! Sure enough there were tables galore with vendors selling their black gold, so I asked one vendor if I could smell one of ‘her’ truffles. I was very surprised that it didn’t really smell at all (certainly not like dirty socks), but I did order an omelette with truffles for lunch and wow – the taste of the grated truffle was pungent! At 120E for 100 grams, truffles are worth their weight in gold!

There were vendors selling other items: ceramics, food & drinks, with attendees enjoying the day hosted by a local 4* hotel/restaurant called, “La Bastide Saint Antoine.” As I walked around the beautiful grounds, I was amused by the posters displayed from the past years’ truffle festivals (one rather risque from 2003!), as well as watching a truffle hunting dog demonstration – I wondered, though, where was the pig?  Maybe next year!

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Winter Festivals on the Côte d’Azur

A citrus escargot on parade at the Fête du Citron in Menton

Winter Festivals on the Côte d'Azur

“As if sunny days, mild temperatures and blossoming mimosa weren’t enough, February also brings three fun festivals to the Côte d’Azur. For the first time this year, the three cities—Nice, Menton and Mandelieu-La Napoule—have coordinated the dates of their festivals so that visitors can take advantage of all the parades, floats, activities and exhibits during the festival weeks from February 15 through March 6.

Winter Festivals on the Côte d'Azur
A château made of citrus fruit at the Fête du Citron in Menton
Winter Festivals on the Côte d'Azur
The Eiffel Tower in citrus fruit at the Jardin Biovès in Menton
Winter Festivals on the Côte d'Azur
A float at the Nice Carnival

Parades, flower-decorated floats and revelers fill the streets of Nice as the city celebrates its traditional Mardi Gras Carnival. Highlights are the corsos, or parades of colorful floats, led by the King and Queen of the Carnival and showered by tons of rainbow-hued confetti; the Grosses Têtes, giant figures that accompany the floats; and the Batailles des Fleurs, floats decorated with thousands of the gorgeous flowers that grow on the Côte d’Azur: roses, mimosa, carnations, gladiolus, daisies and other blossoms. Musicians and dancers from all over the world add to the fun. February 15 through March 6.

Menton’s annual Lemon Festival sparkles with day and night parades, floats decorated with more than 100 tons of citrus fruit and giant citrus “sculptures” in parks and gardens. This year’s festival is the 80th Fête du Citron in this lovely town on the Italian border. The city’s many gardens celebrate citrus fruit with guided tours, and the fruit can also be enjoyed in citrus-themed dishes in local restaurants, artisanal marmalades and confitures, and cocktails. February 16 through March 6.

The Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule focuses on the brilliant yellow flower native to Australia that flourished so well on the Côte d’Azur that a profession called mimosiste appeared—specialists in the cultivation and forcing of mimosa. The flower, exported from La Napoule to the north of France and to foreign countries, became an important part of the local economy, and the first Mimosa Festival honored the blossom in 1931. Today, twelve tons of local mimosa blooms adorn the festival’s floats and other decorations; there are daytime parades and illuminated night parades; a Mimosa Queen is elected, and there’s even a Route du Mimosa, an 80-mile itinerary from Bormes-les-Mimosas to Grasse, that winds through the region’s perfumed, mimosa-covered hills. February 15-24.”

Personal Note:  I highly recommend seeing the Lemon Festival in Menton, which is amazingly done.  I have also seen portions of the Carnaval in Nice, which is a memorable, fun experience, as well.

(Source: France Today by Vivian Thomas)

(Photo source: Office de Tourisme de menton- N.Sartore/