One thing I love about cities, is that you can find something surprising around every corner and on every side street. I had planned on having lunch with a friend at a Vietnamese restaurant in Nice, but it was closed for some reason. So, due to this twist of events, we ended up walking down rue Dalpozzo and came across “La Milanesina,” a family run, Italian Restaurant (2, rue Dalpozzo). The lovely, interior decoration and friendly ambiance immediately pulled me in.
It soon became quite obvious that this place was family run, as the chef is the mother of the waiter, speaking Italian together. I ordered one of the “plat du jour”: a ham & cheese omelette, but asked to have it without the ham. What shocked me next was the waiter asked if I wanted something in its place – huh? In all my years in France, when I have ordered something without an ingredient in a French restaurant, no one has offered a substitution. I asked what he had in mind, to which he then asked the chef, and responded “courgettes” (zucchini) – delicious. The service was polite, friendly, and accommodating — yes, you read correctly — accommodating to the client!
I personally thanked the chef and asked how long they had been open (2 years); she understood, but did not speak a lot of French. Their appreciation for our patronage was indeed heartfelt and conveyed – in the end, I was happy the other restaurant had been closed.
The beach in Nice, France in the summer. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
By Margo Lestz
If you visit the French Riviera in July or August, you might have trouble finding an open space on the beach to put your towel. It’s hard to imagine that up until the 1920s there were no summer tourists here, no hotels were open, and there was certainly no one swimming in the sea.
The French Riviera was “discovered” in the 1800s by the European nobility who spent their winters here. But when springtime rolled around these wealthy holiday-makers went home and left the summer heat to the locals. Then in the 1920s, an American couple played a big part in the Riviera’s “rediscovery”.
With earlier-than-usual hot, sunny weather in the area, I started feeling the need for sand between my toes. So it was that I decided to have lunch at a beach restaurant, where some of the tables and chairs were actually on the sand, about 30 feet from the sea.
As I wiggled my toes in the sand, I also enjoyed the delicious lunch, sea views, surrounding ambiance, and after lunch stroll along the shore – a delightful place for a Sunday lunch!
(Photo gallery below)
Juan-les-Pins, a commune of Antibes, is well-known for its jazz festival (July 2014 schedule), nightlife, and its casino, just to name a few.
Must-see suggestions (as listed on Tourism Office site):
Port Gallice overlooking the bay of Juan-les-Pins
the château of Juan-les-Pins (Rudolf Valentino’s former villa)
the Belles Rives hotel with its original furniture dating from the 1930s.
the villa “La Vigie”
the Juana hotel. Designed in 1931, its façade is a listed historic building.
the Gould pine grove, where Ray Charles and Miles Davis made their European debuts and where you can see stars’ handprints set in the ground…
the many “art deco” buildings.
the legendaray fine sandy beaches where waterskiing was born.
the Exflora park offering all the freshness of 330 plant essences
“The annual Nice Jazz Festival has enjoyed great success in recent years, even after the controversial move from its spiritual home in the hills of Cimiez, down to the lowlands of Place Masséna. The 2014 edition looks to be as interesting as ever, with quite an eclectic lineup of artists and acts — where else will you find Deep Purple, Har Mar Superstar and De La Soul on the same bill? This is a jazz showcase, right?”
Running from July 8-12th, there will be great performances by The Gypsy Kings, Ed Motta & the Nice Orchestra Horns, Electro Deluxe and Richard Galliano and the Nice Jazz Orchestra, Dr John & the Nite Trippers featuring Sarah Morrow and Keziah Jones. The festival will take place on two stages in the center of Nice, one in the Theatre de Verdure and the other on Scene Massena where you can conveniently walk from one performance to another. (Source/credit: Riviera Buzz)
This year, Nice Mayor Christian Estrossi organized the largest human saxophone in Place Massena on June 21st, setting a new Guinness Book world record, with 1660 locals, and marking the first day of summer and la Fête de la Musique.
Cours Saleya is the heart of Old Town Nice and it’s always pulsating with life. Striped awnings cover its centre and shelter the products on offer in the daily market. Crowds of locals and tourists come here to do their shopping or sometimes just to look and snap photos of the colourful displays. The scents of fresh produce and flowers seem to put everyone in a good mood and the atmosphere is friendly.
Cours Saleya hosts four different markets. The most well known is the Marché aux Fleurs, or Flower Market, held Tuesday through Sunday. It’s actually a combination of the flower market and the fruit and vegetable market but the name, Marché aux Fleurs is commonly applied to the whole thing. The fruit and vegetable stands pack up by 1.30 in the afternoon but the flower stalls stay open until about 5.30.
While waiting for nightfall and the candle lit gardens and chateau evening, we had dinner reservations at the beautifully tented (actually draped describes it better) restaurant on the grounds of Vaux-le-Vicomte. Service was efficient and the food was as majestueux as the surroundings. Reservations are on a one-hour timeframe, but we didn’t feel rushed and service was polite and efficient. A great place to people fashion watch, as the restaurant filled up with international tourists, and looks ranged from very casual to French-style elegance. A grand place to souper comme un roi!
As a former equestrian (hunter/jumper and fox-hunting), it was truly a Proust-like moment for me: the sweet smell of the hay in the air, the soft feel of petting a pony and a horse, and the ingrained muscle memory of riding – the pleasant odors and familiar sights lingered all around me.
Champagne, horses, and dancing were the highlights of the day and evening – et bien sûr, mingling with friends and new acquaintances.
A great day and an enjoyable event – I just wish now that I had kept my custom riding boots!
With train and hotel reservations already confirmed, I had been watching the forecast for weeks before this picnic-in-the-garden, en costume of the 17th/18th centuries event, as it is held outdoors and can be cancelled up to the day before – the event had reportedly been postponed twice the year before due to inclement weather. The forecast for THE day called for rain, then cloudy, then sun, then light rain, then cloudy, and so on. Quelle chance! It turned out to be a warm, mostly sunny day, and I even avoided getting sunburned by having a parasol (vs. an umbrella) in hand.
A lot of visitors and families with children rented costumes from the on-site vendor, Autour d’un Soir, located in Cannes and from whom we had previously reserved ours. There were attendees who had uniquely hand-made their costume – an amazing site to take in all the colors, luscious fabrics, and designs. We enjoyed riding in une caleche (horsedrawn carriage), watching a baroque dance presentation, and our eating our petit pique-nique in the garden. Photos were being taken in paparazzi fashion, as costumed participants strolled through the château gardens – a luxurious day to be swept back in time – through the surroundings, the baroque ambiance, and royal pomp & circumstance! (video below)
PARIS — A French startup is looking to let consumers sample the country’s best vintages at home with single servings, doing for wine what Nespresso did for coffee.
PARIS — Put the capsule in the machine, push the button, and out comes your beverage at the perfect temperature as if poured by a professional. But it’s not your Nespresso machine serving up a shot of coffee. A French startup, 10-vins (Ten Wines) is launching a new home appliance that’s reshaping the way we consume wine while giving corkscrews a rest.
While still a top producer and consumer of all vintages, France is slowly faltering on the wine market. Nationwide wine consumption over the past decades has steadily declined, with fewer than 17% of citizens consuming wine on a daily basis, compared to 50% in 1980, according to one study by France AgriMer, which follows agricultural trends. Other reports look to the fact that red wine consumption in China has surpassed that of France, even though per capita, the French still vie with Italians for top ranking.Called the “D-Vine” (pronounced divine), the machine decants individual glasses of wine, serving them at the perfect temperature by reading a microchip on the vial. Like Nespresso machines that have seduced the French, who make up 25% of the business’s profits, the D-Vine could be a way to revitalize the French market, allowing for more upscale experimentation with less risk, and without having to go to a wine specialist. It will debut at the end of this year in France, retailing for around $250 or so, and the business is eyeing the United States not long after.
But while the frequency of wine drinking declines, one study shows that French households spend around 25 euros more on alcohol than five years ago. The authors suggest the French are buying less but higher-quality bottles.
Looking to this increased spending, Nantes-based startup 10-vins is re-marketing higher-end wines known as grand cru. The company is looking at individualized portions, allowing for more experimentation and sampling for those who aren’t willing to invest immediately in more expensive bottles.
Cultural shifts are leading younger generations toward other drinks, according to private chef and culinary consultant Didier Quémener. Wine, he said, was traditionally the drink that French grandparents had with every meal, poured from bottles decorated with chateaux and flowing script.
But with a more cosmopolitan generation traveling further and experiencing more of the world, vodka and Red Bull or a rum and Coke are replacing Bordeaux and Beaujolais. Binge drinking is increasingly prevalent among students and wine is finding its way to the dinner table less and less frequently.
“France was a golden place where every wine was good – but the quality suffered because they did not have to produce good wine,” Quémener said. It seems that the industry has finally bounced off its laurels, taking steps to maintain the superior image of French wine.
Vineyards are hiring younger protégés to help attract those their own age, and fashionable trends have been bringing newer generations back to vintages. Design-heavy labels, organic varieties and new packaging are changing, or at least refreshing, the face of the French wine industry. “We adapt and we listen to the customers. If the wine is the same in the bottle but the label changes, who cares?” Quénemer said. Not least among the tactics is the new gadget by 10-vins.
The company, founded in 2012, currently offers 10cL vials of wine, allowing consumers to sample several varieties in the comfort of their own home, without having to purchase a whole bottle. Combined with online tutorials and advice via web chats and Twitter, the team of young, passionate wine enthusiasts is bringing French wine into the 21st century.
Thibault Jacousse, 10-vins cofounder alongside Jérôme Pasquet and Luis da Silva, said that the concept is a way to test more expensive wines without investing too much. “When you are at home alone or in a couple, it’s not always the right occasion to open a whole bottle,” he said, “especially if we don’t have the same tastes, like me and my wife.”
Vials are currently sold for as little as 1.90 euros ($2.64 USD) per 10cL, roughly one glass, with higher-end vintages retailing at 7 euros ($9.71 USD), all available through the company’s website. While more expensive than buying a whole bottle, it’s cheaper than investing in a 60-euro ($83 USD) bottle that might disappoint.
“Today’s younger generations don’t have a wine cellar or buy bottles in bulk. They drink less wine but they are looking for the better ones,” Jacousse said. Single servings allow them to stock and taste different varieties on a smaller scale.
The D-Vine isn’t the first innovation for the wine industry. Canned wine, by Winestar, hit the French market in 2013. Flavored wines have also been placed predominantly on supermarket shelves, with grapefruit-flavored rosé making headlines in the same year.
While such changes, upmarket or other, may seem offensive to traditionalists (like these guys), for Quénemer, any way to sell wine is a win for the French market, which can’t afford to turn a nose up at technology or other innovations like the D-Vine. “Maybe it’s a gimmick, but consumers have wine in their hands, and maybe it’ll encourage them one day to a new level and taste something more expensive,” he said.
Provence & Côte d’Azur: Actor reveals love for his new wine venture in the Var
Brad Pitt approaches winemaking like a Hollywood film
Move over Côte de Provence rosés, Brad Pitt is planning to make a revolutionary Provence red at his Miravel vineyard in the Var … just give him seven years. The Hollywood actor recently revealed that winemaking has reshaped his very identity, and he now considers himself a Provencal farmer – capable of producing that elusive, fine local red just like the Tuscans.
The cover of the June edition of Wine Spectator
Speaking to the US magazineWine Spectator, Brad Pitt, who bought the Miraval Estate winery with fiancée Angelina Jolie in 2012, explained that he approached this venture with the same determination as a Hollywood flick.
“For better or worse, given my compulsive nature, if we are going to be in the wine business, let’s make the best wine we can,’ the 50-year-old said. “I asked the question, ‘Why can’t we make world-class wine in Provence?’ Let’s approach it like a film, and let’s make something we can be proud of and all people can enjoy.”
Of course, Provence rosés are already world-class. But with fifth-generation winemaker Marc Perrin on their team, the Pitt-Jolie dynamic duo were definitely off to a good start. Their first 6,000 bottles, officially known as Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Côte de Provence Rosé Miraval, sold out within five hours of being offered online in France last March – a response which no-doubt fuelled Pitt’s new-found passion.
“I’m a farmer now. I love learning about the land and which field is most suitable for which grape, the drama of September and October: Are we picking today?
“Where are the sugar levels? How is the acidity? Is it going to rain? It’s been a schooling for me. In the off months, I enjoy cleaning the forest and walking the land.”
The sprawling Château Miraval estate, featuring 35-bedrooms and an adjoining 1,200 acre vineyard, was purchased for $60 million. It is situated in a valley at an altitude of 350 metres, where the vines “enjoy warm sunny days and cool nights, natural clay and chalk soils, plenty of water and organic farming practices,” according to the estate.
Clearly, these are great conditions for rosé, but do they suit red wine? Pitt seems to think so. He plans to ignore the strict guidelines of the AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) and go out on a limb…
“What really interests me now are the reds. … It’s generally believed that Provence is not capable of producing a fine red. … I, with Marc and Pierre [Perrin], would like to create a wine which utilises the best attributes of our terroir, and outside the restrictions of the AOC, like what the Italians have achieved with their super Tuscans. We envision a superb Provence red. Give us seven years.”