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Sun Bistro Ile de Port Cros – Port Cros island, French riviera
Sep 25th, 2009 by Olivier

Sun Bistro
Ile de Port Cros, 83400 France – Port Cros island, French riviera

Ile de Port Cros

The big building is the Fort du Moulin

The big building is the Fort du Moulin

Overview of the village of Port Cros

Overview of the village of Port Cros

Fort du Moulin overlooking the harbour

Fort du Moulin overlooking the harbour

Port-Cros is a one of the three Mediterranean islands of the Iles d’Or with Porquerolles and the Ile du Levant. It is part of the Var department which hosts the French national park of Port-Cros which is the first marine national park in Europe. It was created in 1963 and covers 700 ha “inland” and 1300 ha in the sea.

It is a natural protected area so there are many regulations like no cigarettes outside the village to prevent forest fires (the fine is 135 euros by the way), no bikes, no cars, no litter, no dogs except in the village, no fishing to safeguard marine flora and fauna…

We went there for the 3 hour ridge path walk, to explore the unspoilt countryside on the southern coast of the island – which is considered hard and it was indeed hard, especially with that heat as it was about 29 degrees, and the sun was hitting well. That said, I am not complaining about the weather: it is nice to have summer time in autumn! Be sure to wear good shoes, sunscreen and have water in your backpack.

Flathead mullet

Flathead mullet

You can also go there for swimming or scuba diving (check the regulations). The water was crystal clear: we could see quite deeply and saw many fish everywhere, including at the harbour. In the unique village you have a few restaurants but in winter (from mid November to mid March) everything is closed. There is no bank nor ATM. There are some hotels and I noticed one of them using solar energy.

To get there, we went with la Compagnie des Iles d’Or from Lavandou harbour. The boat ride takes about 35 minutes. It is not cheap as it costs 24.50 euros per adult and 20.30 euros per child round trip. The return ticket was valid until 2010. Not much use for me but if you stay at the hotel it is nice.

The harbour

The harbour

The Sun Bistrot is the building at the left

The Sun Bistrot is the building at the left

The Sun Bistro

The Sun Bistro

The Sun Bistro is a simple bar/cafe/pizzeria/sandwiches/paninis place. There are other restaurants that looked better but it was already past 3pm when we finished the hike so it was too late for lunch. We were not very hungry because we did anticipate it by having a big breakfast in the morning but we were quite thirsty.

Inside, away from the sun!

Inside, away from the sun!

Coupe Mont Blanc

Coupe Mont Blanc

Coupe Café Liégeois

Coupe Café Liégeois

Another view of the Café Liégeois

Another view of the Café Liégeois

Two icecream cups would fix it! We ordered a Café Liégeois (coffee and vanilla ice cream) and a Coupe Mont Blanc (vanilla ice cream with marron cream). Both came with a glass of icy water which was very welcome. The bill was 16 euros which isn’t the best value for money but the desserts were good and this place is fairly remote in some way, which involves some cost.

What to see here:

The beautiful village and its harbour is overlooked by the Fort du Moulin which was built under François 1 (the king who built the château de Chambord) in 1531. Unfortunately that fort cannot be visited but there are two other forts you can visit: the Fort de l’Eminence and the Fort de L’Estissac.

Fort du Moulin. Photo taken from the Mont Vinaigre.

Fort du Moulin. Photo taken from the Mont Vinaigre.

Fort du Moulin at the left, Fort de l'Estissac on top of the hill

Fort du Moulin at the left, Fort de l'Estissac on top of the hill

Fort de l'Estissac

Fort de l'Estissac

Beautiful sea

Beautiful sea

Restaurant Le Righi in Sainte Agnès, France
Sep 24th, 2009 by Olivier

Restaurant Le Righi
1, place du Fort
06500 Sainte Agnès France
Tél: 04 92 10 90 88

Le Righi

Superb panoramic view over Menton

Superb panoramic view over Menton

View over the Italian coast to Cap Saint Martin in France

View over the coast from Italy to Cap Martin in France

Saint Agnès is the highest coastal village in Europe sitting at 800 metres and is listed by the “Les plus beaux villages de France” (the most beautiful villages of France) organisation. It is quite a drive to get there from Menton: the mountain road is pretty narrow in some parts but at least the view is breathtaking. Just be sure you do not have vertigo. In winter time at night I would not like to drive there, it is easy to miss a corner ;) The village is 15 minute drive from the casino in Menton.

To go to Le Righi restaurant you have to pass by the village and park your car in front of the panoramical view next to the Fort, now a museum, of the Maginot line (actually it is called the Alpine line in this area). Who would have thought about a restaurant there? Le Righi has two panoramic terrasses offering an exceptional view over the coast. We are above Menton and we can see the coast from Italy to Cap Martin.

It is a family oriented restaurant where pets are welcome. The owners have a big dog near the entrance and there were some clients with a dog sitting next to us. The menu is simple, with a few prix fixe menus and we chose a 3 course menu at 20 euros and a 4 course menu (different choice of meals and the cheese added compared to the 20 euros menu) at 25 euros. We also ordered a grapefruit juice (2.50 euros) and a glass of red wine (3.50 euros).

A glass of wine  & grapefruit juice

A glass of wine & grapefruit juice

Pâté de foie gras

Pâté de foie gras

Vegetarian ravioli

Vegetarian ravioli

The foie gras, served with a little salad with tomatos and some toasts, was average in portion and in taste. I have had a lot larger slices of foie gras on a 25 euros menu. The ravioli was decent – and nicely cooked al dente. I took the meat-stuffed variety over vegetarian, which was perhaps a bit of a mistake as it wasn’t briliantly paired with the butter sauce and parmesan cheese. Overall, a little bit average and not something I’d be in a great hurry to have again.

Gigot d'agneau (lamb)

Gigot d'agneau (lamb)

Baked trout

Baked trout

The baked trout, which came with a white sauce seasoned (I think) with a form of spinich, was difficult to fault : it was nicely cooked, with a crispy skin. But somehow it just lacked anything special, so overall was an OK dish but not something I’d be rushing back to have again. It came with some nicley baked potato slices and some grilled mushrooms. As a general observation, the meal was rather like something one might cook at home, lacking that something special that makes food an event. The gigot d’agneau (lamb) was served with potatos, carrots, aubergines and mushrooms. It was good and healthy but nothing exceptional, unlike the view!

The desserts

The desserts

Apple pie

Apple pie

Chocolate cake, lemon tart, ice cream

Chocolate cake, lemon tart, ice cream

Dessert was a very generous slice of apple pie, served with vanilla icecream and chantilly cream. The waiter did take some time to explain that the pie wasn’t up to their usual standard today, being a little undercooked (so I had plenty opportunity to choose something else). Actually it was OK – indeed, a little undercooked and consequently a bit heavy. But considering I was well warned about that, I don’t feel it is anything to complain about (everyone has their off days). Undercooked or not, actually it was quite good and not at all oversweetened. The chocolate cake and the lemon tart were fine.

Cost and conclusion: It was 51 euros. The food overall was OK, but not fantastic. It does not offer a very good value for money compared to Le Vauban in Antibes for example. The service was very friendly. This is a restaurant to which one goes for the view and pleasant surroundings, far more than for the food. And for the excellent view, it does get top marks – difficult to fault. If you’re in the area, that view and a bite to eat are worth stopping in for.

More photos:

le Righi is the tiny orange dot in the centre, at the right of the village of Sainte Agnès

le Righi is the tiny orange dot in the centre, at the right of the village of Sainte Agnès

Between the two on top there are the ruins of the medieval castle.

Between the two on top there are the ruins of the medieval castle.

The restaurant is at the right. The bunker is part of the Ligne Maginot and can be visited

The restaurant is at the right. The bunker is part of the Ligne Maginot and can be visited

Restaurant Le Petit Prince in Cabris, France
Sep 21st, 2009 by Olivier

Restaurant Le Petit Prince
15 rue Frédéric Mistral
06530 Cabris France
Open 12h – 14h30 and 19h15 – 22h
Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, except in July and August where it is closed only on Wednesday.

Le Petit Prince in Cabris

The entrance (photo taken after the dinner)

The entrance (photo taken after the dinner)

The garden area

The garden area

Overview

Overview

Back to the beautiful perched (550 metres high) village of Cabris! This time we went to the restaurant Le Petit Prince named after the book of the same name. Countess Marie de Saint Exupéry who lived in the village from 1934 to 1971 gave the permission for the restaurant to carry the name of her son Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s famous book. The interior dining area with stone wall and exposed beams is decorated with the “Petit Prince” character. We ate in the front garden since it was a nice warm evening.

We ordered the 4 course menu at 32 euros since it offered a good value for money and a decent choice of meals. As starters you can choose between Foie gras et magret fumé façon club, compotée d’oignons, pointes d’asperges et pommes vertes (foie gras with onion chutney, asparagus et green apples) or Tartare de saumon frais sur lit de salade, chiffonnade de saumon fumé, sauce au tarama (fresh salmon and smoked salmon with salad) or Eventail de fruits et légumes tout autour de l’assiette, buisson de salade (artichauts, avocats, tomates, mangue, melon et pamplemousse) which is a plate of vegetables and fruits (artichoke, avocado, mango, grapefruit, melon, tomato).

For the main courses, you have the choice between Gambas grillés, sauce vierge et risotto aux trois poivrons (shrimps with virgin sauce and risotto) or Saint-Pierre, mangue et marinade passion (John Dory fish with mango and passion fruit) or magret de canard poêlé aux pêches, sauce poivrade (duck breast with pears and pepper sauce) or pavé de selle d’agneau persillé sur poêlée de légumes grillés, jus au thym frais (lamb with grilled vegetables, fresh thyme sauce). Then you get the cheese course followed by the desserts, giving you the choice between Palet sablé caramel au beurre salé or coeur fondant au chocolat or douceur de pêches pochées maison et crème brulée pistache or nos glaces et sorbets. We also ordered a bottle of mineral water Badoit (4.40 euros) and a carafe of 50cl of red wine (4 euros) which was good.

A cat guest

A cat guest

Coming to say Hello

Coming to say Hello

Resting... He eventually left when he saw the waitress

Resting... He eventually left when he saw the waitress

While we were waiting for our meal, we found we had some furry company. A neighbouring cat – who, from the look of the size of his belly, enjoyed considerable success in sharing the meals of many patrons – appeared. He took his time about making his presence known, exploring some nearby tables. But he disappeared rather quickly at the reappearance of the waitress. Clearly not a popular guest with everyone!

Complementary tapenade (olives paté)

Complementary tapenade (olives paté)

Before our starters arrived, we were given a plate of tapenade and crostini. As in any decent restaurant, this sort of appetizer was complementary. The crostini were nicely crispy and just flavoured with olive oil – unlike the greasy hard fried bread concoction I had at Terroirs in London (and they had the nerve to charge for it, even for the bread, free here). The olive tapenade was excellent – neither too salty nor swimming in olive oil. A most enjoyable beginning to the meal.

The starters

The starters

Eventail de fruits et légumes

Eventail de fruits et légumes

The starter was enormous  It was a range of fruits and vegetables, nicely presented around a small bit of salad with asparagus. On my plate was artichoke, tomato, avocado, melon, mango, apple, and grapefruit. All were perfectly ripe. It was a nice balance between sweet and savoury. Definitely recommended.

Foie gras et magret fumé façon club

Foie gras et magret fumé façon club

It was a delicious sandwich of smoked duck and foie gras

It was a delicious sandwich of smoked duck and foie gras

Close-up

Close-up

The foie gras et magret fumé façon club was absolutely yummy :-) Not only it was fun to eat foie gras with a layer of smoked ham in a sandwich, it was also excellent with the crispy bread. With the slices of green apples and the asparagus heads, it was quite an original and interesting meal.

Saint Pierre, mangue et marinade passion

Saint Pierre, mangue et marinade passion

The Saint Pierre fish (John Dory) was also nicely done. It came with a sort of mango sauce, which had me a little worried from the description, but actually was pretty good. John Dory is an underrated fish, that has firm and flavoursome fillets. It was served with some nicely cooked vegetables, including broccoli and saparagus. A perfect accompaniment, and overall a not-too-heavy meal.

Pavé de selle d'agneau

Pavé de selle d'agneau

Close-up

Close-up

The lamb was very good, perfectly cooked. It was easy to cut and the taste was excellent, almost smooth with a thyme flavour given by the sauce. I forgot how the tomatoes actually taste and smell like tomatoes here,with that fruity flavour. What a shock compared to what we usually get in London, but then the weather isn’t exactly the same ;-)

Fromages sur lit de salade

Fromages sur lit de salade

The two desserts

The two desserts

Douceur de pêches pochées maison et crème brulée pistache

Douceur de pêches pochées maison et crème brulée pistache

After the cheeses, very good by the way, the douceur de pêches pochées was very good – it was still quite firm, though not quite crunchy and still had some tang to the flavour. The top part was a sort of creme brulee with pistachio which completmented the fruit nicely. Not being too much into sweet things, I found this dessert to be excellent.

Coeur fondant au chocolat

Coeur fondant au chocolat

The chocolate fondant was quite good. It was perfectly cooked with a firm outside and the expected soft flowing centre. It was just a little too sweet for my taste (though I’ve encountered many sweeter). But overall still good, and the sweetness would suit the taste of many people. It was served with vanilla icecream, which was also quite good. Bellevue Rendez-vous still does it better though.

Cost and conclusion: it was 72.40 euros. Overall it was a very pleasant meal, with good quality food and friendly service. The starters in particular were very good, but overall it was good also. I would not hesitate to return, and to take the same meals (unless tempted by something else on the menu). Highly recommended!

Restaurant Pizzeria Chez Marguerite in Antibes
Sep 20th, 2009 by Olivier

Chez Marguerite
31 rue Sade – Place nationale
06600 Antibes, France

Chez Marguerite

Chez Marguerite - left and right

Chez Marguerite - left and right

On the right side

On the right side

It is quite large

It is quite large

We wanted to go to le Vauban restaurant which offers some of the best value for money in Antibes, but unfortunately it was fully booked so we had to find another place. A restaurant I used to go often when I worked in Mougins is le Brûlot, famous for their magrets de canard cooked in a woodfire oven, but it was also closed today at lunch time. Considering Antibes is quite a popular tourist destination, having the largest marina in Europe, its old town and fortress, there are quite a few tourist trap restaurants so we were a little worried. We decided to go to this one, nicely located at the place nationale between many other restaurants.

Their main promotion was a moules frites formula at 12.50 euros (marinière, oriental, with cream, with safran). They also had roasted chicken with fries (9 euros), lasagne with salad (10 euros) and as meal of the day they had a sirloin with mushrooms and cream (12 euros), gambas à la provençale (shrimps cooked with tomatos, onions and garlic – 14.50 euros) and a couscous maison (home made couscous – 15.50 euros). They have woodfire-baked pizzas too.

Badoit and red wine

Badoit and red wine

 We ordered a sole meunière (butter fried sole – 23 euros) and a magret de canard au poivre (duck breast with pepper sauce – 18 euros). As drinks we have a bottle of sparkling water Badoit (5.70 euros) and a 25 cl carafe of red wine (5 euros). The wine was very average.

The two main courses

The two main courses

Sole meunière

Sole meunière

The sole meunière (butter fried sole) was very good. It was nicely seasoned and the fish perfectly cooked – firm, and easy to slide off the bones. With a touch of lemon juice, was really a perfect lunch. It was served with some new potatoes, and a small salad and green beans. I wouldn’t hesitate to take this dish again.

Magret de canard au poivre

Magret de canard au poivre

 The magret de canard (duck) was a little strange. It looked they removed the fat from the top of it… Well usually people like the fat when it is well cooked so it becomes crispy. The meat itself was not bad but the pepper sauce was on the too salty side, a little like at  French restaurant Gastro in Clapham Common (London) by the way. The fries could have been warmer.

Cost and conclusion: it was 51.70 euros. The lunch was ok, but nothing special. Same with the service. There are better restaurants around offering much better value for money like le Vauban, le Brûlot Pasta or la Gravette within 2 minutes walk.

A good way to digest lunch is to walk around the marina!

The marina in Antibes

The marina in Antibes

Restaurant Le Flambeau 27 bis rue Frédéric Mistral Cabris France
Sep 17th, 2009 by Olivier

Restaurant Le Flambeau
27 bis rue Frédéric Mistral
06530 Cabris, France

06530 Cabris, France

Le Flambeau

Le Flambeau

Inside

Inside

Le Flambeau is a restaurant in Cabris, which is a nice little village located 30 minutes drive from Antibes or 45 minutes from Nice airport. There is a superb panoramic view from the village and you can clearly see the iles de Lérins in front of Cannes. I did not take any photo of the view since it was already dark.

Complementary olives

Complementary olives

We ordered a pizza 4 seasons (9.50 euros) and a brochette of gambas (16 euros) as main courses, followed by a café liégeois (7 euros) and a coupe Bali (9 euros) as desserts. We also had a big bottle of sparkling water San Pellegrino (5.90 euros) and a pichet (pitcher) of red Merlot wine (6 euros) which was quite drinkable.

The two main courses

The two main courses

Another view of the two main courses

Another view of the two main courses

Pizza 4 seasons

Pizza 4 seasons

The pizza wasn’t bad. It was a thin and crispy base, at least. But it lacked flavour and the topping didn’t compensate adequately (low quality ham). So it became a bit difficult to finish.

Brochette de gambas

Brochette de gambas

The brochette de gambas (shrimps on a skewer) was nicely presented (see photo above) with the metal structure hosting the 4 pots of sauces (mayonnaise curry, tartare, sweet and sour…) and linked to the plate giving its balance. The shrimps were good, not overcooked, and the vegetables were good too. I would have prefered them in their shell since I am a shrimp specialist but it was fine this way :-)

Café liégeois

Café liégeois

The desserts were very impressive. They were simply giant. The café liégeois was quite good with its mix of coffee, coffee  ice cream and chantilly cream. I am not a fan of chantilly cream but this one was light and enjoyable.

Coupe Bali

Coupe Bali

The coupe Bali (mostly mango and pineapple ice cream) was good, not too sweet and nicely balanced with the chantilly. A bit too big to finish though!

Cost and conclusion: it was 53.40 euros. No 12.5% optional service charge automatically added to the bill etc, we are in France and all prices are net (all inclusive). It was a quite relaxing dinner compared to eating in London and it is nice to be on vacation. As for the food, it was average but the desserts were great.


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