Restaurant des Rois – A Royal Evening!

In researching places to celebrate a special anniversary, I discovered the Restaurant des Rois at La Reserve Hotel – a gastronomic restaurant at a 5-star hotel in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.  From the moment of arrival, I felt like I had entered a palace, due to its exquisite & lush decor of silks, velours, and passementerie, as we were Into Bar areaescorted, addressed by name, into the bar area.

Courtyard entrance


Champagne and amuses-bouche

Champagne was the apero of choice (bien sur!), served with a tiered plate of nibbles.

dining room

We were again escorted and welcomed by name to our table in the beautiful dining room, as I took in the decor and chandeliers.

table and view














































Following 5-star etiquette, I was given the menu without prices listed and was immediately provided with a table hook from which to hang my purse. Every attention to detail was made by the staff, from A to Z; the sommelier approached to discuss our three-course (fixed-price) menu choices with regards to the extensive wine list (more like a book) which included a bottle of red wine listed for 13,600 Euros!  On the other end of the price spectrum, we ordered a half-bottle of Montrachet, a light-bodied red wine that was delightful.

As the dining area began to fill with couples and tables of four, I noticed one couple with a little girl of about 5 years of age and wondered how she would cope during the formal dining experience. I was surprised that other than hearing her sweet voice a few times, she was well-behaved throughout the (long-for-a-child) evening.

Again, we were served a few savory appetizers to whet our appetite:

amuses-bouche 2

I ordered a three-course menu, but before that began, we were served the chef special: a small pot of mousse aux petits pois with bacon underneath.

pea & bacon chef special

aparagus and foie gras soup

The menu then began with asparagus and foie gras soup

duck and beets

followed by the main course of duck with beets

I passed on the cheese course, which was served from a special cart

I passed on the cheese course, which was served from a special cart

before dessert

& before the dessert, an entremets of lime, chocolate, and coconut delights


la piece de resistance was a lemon souffle and granny smith sorbet

la piece de resistance was a lemon souffle served with granny smith sorbet

candelier and ceiling

After 3 1/2 hrs of excellent food & service, we left the dining room & were escorted through the bar towards the reception area, I felt regally satiated & festively full. Certes – a royal evening to remember!

Piano Bar in Nice

I recently had tapas and a cocktail at a piano bar in Nice, as I enjoy trying out new places.  menu

Being a Friday evening, the jazz band began tuning up and started their first (early) set to add music to the lovely ambiance of the place.  My only complaint is the champagne was served in a tulip glass that seemed small (or maybe I just wanted more!) but the cocktails were generous servings, as well as the food.

All in all, Le Kosma is a very nice, cozy place to relax, enjoy a cocktail and tapas while listening to some great music.  La vie est belle!

cocktails tapas wall mural bar band bnad2


France News Snippets

  • Some EU lawmakers want to stop subsidizing those farmers who raise bulls for fighting.  Critics say the sport is cruel and archaic and that budget appropriations should not be used to finance a blood sport.  Animal rights campaigners welcome this attempt which seems to have a better chance of passing than when it was suggested in the past.  The interest in bullfighting has waned in recent years.
  • UNESCO listed the historic vineyards of Champagne and Burgundy as a World Heritage Site on the 4th of July.  Champagne’s rolling hills in the north of the region contain some of the most expensive agricultural land in Europe.  In Burgundy, the uniqueness of the Côtes de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune south of Dijon was noted.  The ‘Grand Crus’ from this region are some of the most expensive.  France now has 41 World Heritage sites.
  • The Musée Rodin reopened to the public on November 12 after extensive renovations.  Over 300 precious works of sculpture are on display.  The Museum is open daily from 10AM to 5:45PM, on Wednesdays until 8:45PM and is closed Mondays.
  • The Grand Palais in Paris is the venue Picasso Mania an exhibit that looks at Picasso’s career chronologically and features works from the Musée Picasso, the Musée National d’Art Moderne and the artist’s family.  Until February 29, 2016.  The museum is open daily 10AM to 10PM, and Sundays and Mondays until 8PM.  It is closed Tuesdays.
  • The wild boar population has exploded in France in recent years despite efforts by hunters.  The boars (sangliers) number over 2 million in France alone, invade suburban gardens and villages, and wreak havoc on farms.  They are the cause of over 60% of the 40,000 car accidents involving wild animals each year.  When driving in France, take notice of signs indicating deer crossings, and most especially those through wooded areas indicating wild boars.  The boar will not sustain as much damage as the car that hits him!
  • Bordeaux wine producers are ecstatic over their magnificent 2015 harvest.  This largest wine-producing region in France blends Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to produce their world-famous blended wine.  Commenting on the dark juice and great flavor, they predict that 2015 will be a great vintage. They compare it to the vintages of 2005 and 2010, with one vigneron saying that all those years ending in 5 have been superb.  Increased yields were in other western regions of the country such as the Loire and good news for the vintners.  Weather was not as good in the Burgundy and Beaujolais regions with a heat wave that led to a sixteen percent drop in the harvest.  [credit: Agence France Presse]
  • Le Mont St-Michel was originally known as Mont Tombe and located on the now famous island in La Manche.  Christianity spread to this region around the fourth century, and by the mid-sixth century it had a strong presence in the area.  By that time, Mont Tombe was populated by religious devotees: hermits ~ probably some Celtic monks.  Benedictine monks were installed at the Abbey in 966, and today Le Mont St-Michel is the second most visited tourist attraction in France and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The Tour de France in 2016 will begin in le Mont St-Michel in Normandy, proceed south through the western Loire (Stage 4 from Saumur to Limoges is 232 kilometers and the longest leg of the Tour) into Aquitaine and cross the Pyrénées into Andorra ~ about the halfway mark ~ where there is a rest stop.  Riders will return to the Tarn département, go on through Languedoc and into the Vaucluse département of Provence.  From there, it’s north through the Rhône-Alpes, and the cyclists will head for Switzerland where they will have a break from the Tour in Berne.  The next three stages will be in the Alps to Mt Blanc, Albertville and Megève, then turning north to end in Morzine on July 23.  The cyclists will be flown to Chantilly, north of Paris, for their final ride on the 24th to Paris and the Champs Elysées.

Credit/Source: news

Fontvieille in Provence

Our friends had already booked the hotel, so we followed suit and arrived early to take a look around the lovely setting at Hotel Val Majour in Fontvieille.  I hadn’t heard of this small town in Provence, but it certainly seemed centrally located to all the major sites – one of our friends was born in Cadenet, knew the area well, and so, did the booking.  The three-star hotel and pool settings were tranquil and beautiful, the staff was very friendly, the breakfast buffet top notch, and the bar service excellent.

Val Majour Hotel


Hotel map

signFor dinner, the receptionist recommended a couple restaurants (with one in particular) situated in the town’s main square, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  So, off we went and found the #1 recommendation, “La Cuisine au Planet,” with its inviting terrace.  We luckily got the last tables for our group, as they started telling arriving customers to come back around 9:30p.m.


And boy, did we get lucky!!  The meal was fantastic, service was impeccable and friendly, and the prices were reasonable – we ate, drank, chatted and laughed throughout the evening – happy to have to walk back to the hotel, since we were so full from the three-course menu – what a lovely, delicious evening!



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Riviera Polo Club

I recently attended the annual “Champagne & Chukkas” event for the first time, and as a member of the International Club of the Riviera, enjoyed watching the Riviera Polo Club event from their sponsor’s tent.

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!

RPC photo

Riviera Polo Club photo



Cooking Classes in Monaco

It’s hardly a secret that I am a less-than-enthusiastic cook, but I do try to keep learning and even took a cooking class with a Michelin-star chef.

If you would like to try your hand at hands-on cooking in a luxurious environment, classes are offered at both the Hotel de Paris and at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco.

One cooking class starts in the afternoon (link in English) and the other begins in the morning (link in English), providing schedules that should delight everyone’s ‘taste’!

After the class, you will enjoy a gastronomic meal from the fruits of your labor – bien sûr, created by top notch chefs.  Time spent in their kitchens would indeed be a gourmet “authentic cooking experience”!

Bon Appétit!

LouisXV-AlainDucasse_Coquilles-Saint-Jacques-de-Normandie-dorées-au-sautoir-pulpe-de-laitue-et-de-cresson-de-fontaine Photos courtesy of official Hôtel de Paris website

The France Show in London

I recently attended The France Show, held annually in London – an exhibition of all things French: flavors of wines and foods, language, iconic products, cancan dancers (video below), travel options, regions of France, properties in France, financial experts, and much more!

Bien sûr, there was an accordian player playing iconic French songs, a boules court, and a huge variety of exhibition stands to visit. Seminars to attend included wine theaters, language presentations, property and tax information, and cooking demonstrations by a Michelin-starred chef.

As I walked around looking at the various culturally-iconic stands, I felt pride and gratitude for living in France, realizing nonetheless that nowhere is perfect.

I also saw the city’s main attractions from the top of a double-decker bus (what else?) and experienced dining in the local pubs, with menu items of “bangers and mash” and “bubble and squeak” (yes, I had to ask too!)

Attending The France Show and enjoying the English atmosphere of London was truly a “Franglish” weekend!


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A 1680 -1780 Costume “Bal des Favorites”

Le Bal:

Held in the Hotel de France (l’ancien hôtel de Jean Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Saint Pouange et de Villacerf) in their “Galerie des Glaces” reception room, the period costume ball began with each person/couple’s entrance into the ballroom being announced by an “aboyeur,” then walking under an archway of swords into the room.

The music playing was period music by Lully for the evening’s festivities, accompanied by a dance instructor giving verbal instructions on how to do the various period dances, including the farandole. We even did the line dance “Madison” (equivalent to the Electric Slide) to period music, but with more graceful foot movements, of course.  There were period dance demonstrations and a sword fight presentation to entertain the 100 or so attendees (age range was 20’s to 70’s).

It truly felt like a Cinderella moment, as I was transported back in time and history – via dress, manners, dance, and etiquette – I didn’t want the evening to ever end.  Starting at midnight, the music changed to modern (Prince, Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke), and it was fun, but somewhat strange, to dance in costume to rock/techno beats – and of course, Cinderella had to eventually leave the ball.

The following day, about 28 of the attendees (all in costume) visited the Conciergerie, then walked by the Louvre pyramid on our way to have lunch. Walking through Paris in costume was also a wonderful experience, as passersby and drivers looked and commented. This time, I felt like a star being ‘chased’ by paparazzi, as 15-20 photo takers at a time clicked away when we posed as a group every 5 minutes. Everywhere we went, people had a big smile as we approached, some commenting and/or asking questions, and of course, also posing with us for photos.

(3 dance videos & 1 sword fight video)

(Costume photo gallery to follow in a separate post)

A French Birthday Luncheon

Cooking for someone makes me nervous – cooking for someone French (first time) makes me extremely nervous!  So it was that we were hosting a family birthday luncheon for my French beau-père (father-in-law) with my belle-mère (mother-in-law) and her son and his girlfriend in attendence. I made sure this time that I set the table correctly, as I am left-handed, and planned everything except for the birthday cake that was being bought and brought.

So, how did it go this time? (I even asked my French neighbor to check the table setting to be sure.) Everyone said all went fine, but I didn’t have dessert forks on the table (had forgotten that I needed to wash the forks used for the appetizer) – oups!  So, for me, it still wasn’t exactly without a glitch, as I would have liked.

Maybe the (next) third time will be the charm??!!

champagne glasses

champagne glasses

my stove

my stove

table setting

table setting

appetizer plate

appetizer plate

Lemon fava beans & melon with gaspacho

Lemon fava beans & melon with gaspacho

Fish tajine

Fish tajine

cheese plate

cheese plate



the birthday guy

the birthday Guy

Gastronomic Restaurant in Nice

Situated on Coco Beach just after the port of Nice,  “La Reserve” is a well-known “restaurant gastronomique, ” famous for its proximity next to the sea, high quality dining, and providing panoramic views.  The ambiance is formal, with a contemporary interior design, and sound effects from the waves lapping the shoreline.  The food was first-rate, service excellent (but not personable), and views spectacular.  But, I had a little reserve about La Reserve….a feeling that something was missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.  It wasn’t just the pricey menu (expected for this type of restaurant), but rather a lack of “soulfulness” – everything felt too robotic.  It was a black and white, rather than colorful, experience – figuratively speaking and difficult to explain.  Do you know what I mean?  Have you ever experienced this at a restaurant?

(The above is my personal opinion and not meant as a critique of the restaurant to sway tourists – your experience may be totally different.)

(hover mouse over photo for caption)