La Vie en Rosé

CIVP photo: rosé & blue

Summer in a Bottle

Provençal rosé is a summer in southern France bottled up and ready to serve. It's no wonder the peachy pink wines of Provence are well-liked.

Hard numbers seem to support our taste buds. The "Conseil des Vins de Provence/CIVP" association for the Provence wines provides interesting statistics on the rosés of Provence. We've sprinkled them below for an overview on the health of Provençal rosés. 

Provence Tickled Pink

Provence is currently the largest producer of rosé wines in France, bottling up around 40% of the country's rosés. That translates to Provence making 26% of all rosés wines on the planet, with Italy coming next (22%), followed by the USA (15%). 

This has Provence tickled pink. Why? While red wine consumption has been dipping in recent years, and white wine has mostly held steady, rosé wine consumption has gently but steadily risen.

So what's good for the soul is good for the local economy. 

CIVP photo: Vineyard in Provence

Who drinks the wines of Provence?

Most of the wines of Provence are sold in France (87%). In fact, many are sold locally, in the region that produces them (40%).

Outside of France, Belgium appreciates the Provence wines the most according to CIVP statistics. Belgium accounted for a quarter of Provence's wine exports in 2011.

Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and the USA are also on top of the charts for being aware amateurs of Provençal wines, based on French customs data analyzed by CIVP.

Provence travels well.

CIVP photo: Wines and Olives of Provence

 Above photos, credits to: CIVP/F.MILLO

La Motte: La Nuit des Vignerons

Provence loves its wines                                                       .

Saint_roseline_demoisellesA wine soaks in the know-how of its makers but also whiffs from its terroir of origin, from the soil, the orientation of the plot of land relative to sun, wind and sea. In essence, a wine reflects a region.

So who wants to wait for harvest season to celebrate the Côte de Provence wines.

Eleven wine makers are expected this Saturday evening, June 6, 2009 in La Motte, Var to show-case the Côtes de Provence appelation.

Who will be there?

Some of La Motte's best, including a number of organic wine producers such as Domaine de L'Eouve, Domaine du Jas d'Esclans (my personal favorite), but also Domaine de La Maurette, Domaine Sensation, Valbourgès, Domaine des Grands Esclans, Château des Demoiselles, Château d'Esclans with its high-sensation top end Rosé wine the Garrus, Domaine de Canta Rainette and the association of the Vignerons de Saint-Romain.

Garrus_EsclansTo taste, you will need to purchase your "La Nuit des Vignerons" wine glass at the village entrance. Then carry it around to sip to your heart's content. The group La Pena Pescalunaire will provide music and entertainment. For kids, donkey will ride around the Place de Tresavaou.

 Saturday, June 6, 2009 in La Motte beginning at 7PM.

French Riviera Restaurants: Gourmand Treats


If you've bought the Guide Michelin 2009, you've discovered a little red and white slip inserted among the book's back pages.

It's a "Pass Privilège" and it lets you in on gourmet menus with very digestible prices.

From March 9 to April 5, 2009 some 800+ restaurants participate in the program.

With a magic Pass Privilege in hand, two can feast on the restaurant's Mois Gourmand treat, typically offered for a portion of their regular menu prices. 

Who participates in the Mois Gourmand on the Western Côte d'Azur?

Here's a taste of the main participants on the western side of the French Riviera:

  • Lou Galoubet in Draguignan
  • Grain de Sel in Cogolin
  • Le Gourmandin in Le Luc
  • Eric Maio in Montauroux
  • L'Ecurie du Castellas in Ramatuelle
  • Le Bretonnière in Grimaud
  • Le Castellaras in Fayence
  • La Table d'Yves in Fayence
  • La Farigoulette in
  • La Gloire de Mon Père in Seillans
  • Le Relais des Moines in Les Arcs
  • Le Logis du Guetteur in Les Arcs
  • Le Chrissandier in Lorgues
  • La Bastide des Magnans in Vidauban
  • Les Potiers in Fréjus
  • Le Sud in St Raphael
  • La Table d'Emi in St Raphael
  • La Cave in St Raphael
  • Le Relais des Maures in Rayol-Canadel
  • Mathias Dandine in Le Lavandou

As many participate on the eastern side of the Riviera. In Nice, one we know and can highly recommend:

  • Au Rendez-Vous des Amis, Nice

but also:

  • Auberge de Madone in Peillon
  • Les Terraillers in Biot

Can you give an example of these Mois Special deals?

As an example, the charismatic Logis du Guetteur in Les Arcs (set among the interior arches of a 11C donjon in medieval Les Arcs sur Argens, Var) offers a special Mois Gourmand menu for around 25 euros until April 5, 2009. If you've missed it, check out their web site or call as they regularly offer other treats such as Plat+Dessert that are gentle on the wallet.

More info?

For more info on the Michelin Guide, see our post:

For the full listing of participating establishments, see

Wineries That Don't Vegetate

 IMG_1259Spring has sprung and so will cork bottle stoppers, this weekend at the Château Sainte-Roseline vineyard in La Motte, Var, France. 

As with a growing number of wineries in France, Château Sainte-Roseline runs busy year-round by hosting celebrations & seminars at the Domaine. In the Fall, the château celebrated the vengandes; in the Winter, they showed-off local specialités du terroir such as truffles, for example. It's a nifty way to rally potential customers around the Château's Côte de Provence wines while supporting local arts and crafts.

SteRoselineWines2This Sunday, Mars 29, 2009, it's the Spring that's being celebrated at Sainte-Roseline's Journée Printanière. Cork stoppers will exit bottles as mini-conferences will be held around the theme of local vegetables. We'll be treated to a visit of the vineyard's own veggie patch, guided by Mr Roget, an avid gardener.

 We'll also have a chance to talk honey with local beekeeper Mr Commencas.

And for the main course... Gui Gedda and his daughter Mireille will concoct a Velouté of Topinambours (Jerusalem Artichoke) with foie gras at 11:30AM and, for the sweet-toothed, a Light Strawberry Torte at 3PM.

Attendance is free, but you need to reserve on location for the Gedda cooking show. A scrumptious Provençal lunch will be served to those who reserved before Wed, March 24.

At 50 euros a piece, I can't afford lunch on the premises. But I'll try to snatch a recipe from Gui and experiment in the kitchen...

By the way, Guy Gedda, known in France as the Pope of Provençal Cuisine, has written a few excellent cookbooks, among which this Provençal Cuisine Cookbook:

Boulouris: La Tortue Reopens

Plage de La Tortue, Boulouris
The Tortue beach side restaurant in Boulouris (between St Raphael and Agay, French Riviera) reopens this Friday, March 27, 2009. It closed after being pounded on by an unusual series of winter storms.

This winter, howling winds stirred up the sea with waves that rose as high as 6 meters. We witnessed the destruction of beach-side constructions from St Tropez to Cannes. See this article for details. Most of the coastline is back in spiffy shape - winter has been erased.

We had previously written about the Tortue Restaurant. The seafood restaurant opens every day from March until October. Decent food and prices, and excellent site. Phone: 04 94 83 60 50.
Plage de la Tortue

Stars and tripes: The Michelin Guide

MichelinRouge2009 Famous and often times controversial, the Michelin "Guide Rouge" offers reviews of generous list of restaurants, hotels and bed & breakfasts in France and across the world.

In France in particular, the Michelin Guide instills fear and respect in the establishments it covers. Why? The book sells like des petits pains (half a million sold each year) and stars equate to prestige and plenty of customers. In France, for 2008, 26 restaurants saw their names glorified with 3 Michelin stars, 68 restaurants with two stars and 435 restaurants with a single shining speckle of light.

Generally, stars also equate with celestial prices, but not always. Lunch is always lighter on the porte-monnaie than dinner and often very comparable in menus. Nevertheless, a Michelin-starred restaurant cannot afford to be inexpensive.

How did our region of South Eastern France do for 2008, culinary-wise?

In Monaco, Le Louis XV by chef Alain Ducasse saw 3 stars
In Monaco, Joël Robuchon in the Hotel Métropole in Monte-Carlo saw 2 stars
In Mougins, the Moulin de Mougins saw 2 stars.
In Cannes, La Palme d'Or saw 2 stars
In Mandelieu, L'Oasis saw 2 stars
In Eze, Le Chateau de la Chèvre d'Or saw 2 stars
In La Turbie, Hostellerie Jérôme saw 2 stars
In Beaulieu-sur-mer, La Réserve de Beaulieu saw 2 stars
Our West at Les Baux de Provence, L' Oustaù de Baumanière saw 2 stars
Further West in Bonnieux, La Bastide de Capelongue saw 2 stars
Further West, Le Petit Nice is Marseille’s one and only three Michelin star restaurant.

OK, so the last three aren't strictly on the French Riviera. Still, 8 restaurants with 2 and 3 stars isn't bad considering we're talking top of the line cuisine, presentation as well as athmosphere.

How do you think we'll do for 2009?

The 2009 edition of Michelin red guide to France is expected on March 2, 2009. Rumors have it that highly tasty the Faventia restaurant with chef Philippe Jourdin in Tourrettes (Var) will reach its second star. It currently holds one prestigious star. Let's see in March. If you, go let us know how you liked it!

Treasured Chesnuts: La Fête de la Chataigne

La Chataigne, The Chestnut Sweet Autumn Sun

It isn't easy to tell it's Autumn here on the eastern edge of Provence. It's warm. The sun rises a bit groggy in the mornings, but it still shines at least part of the day.

The sure giveaway is the aroma of roasted chestnuts at the open marchés. And the opening days of the Fêtes de la Chataigne festivities all over the French Riviera.

Chauds! chauds! chauds!Sweet Chestnut Fun

Like every year, the slick maroon nuts pop out of their spiky covers like shiny balls of mahogany wood.To be honest, not many sweet chestnuts grow around the French Riviera. Many roll in from Italy. But many towns with even a few chestnut trees love to celebrate the nuts. After all, they were once an important food staple especially in regions where wheat and potatoes did not grow plentiful.

One region on the French Riviera, the Maures Mountains, still harvests the fruit-bearing sweet chestnut trees.

Roasting the chesnutsDuring the last 3 weekends of October, the towns of Collobrières, la Garde-Freinet, les Mayons, Pignans and Gonfaron in the Maures Mountains organize a "Fête de la Chataigne" or Chestnut Festival. They're fun and a great chance to taste the chestnut in many of its creative preparations. Try the daube de sanglier à la chataigne dish of wild boar followed by a chestnut ice cream.


Collobrières: October 12, 19 and 26.
La Garde-Freinet: October 19 and 26.

For more information on what to expect during these feasts & where to buy the best marrons glacés, see here.

Good Honey is Hard to Find

Roquebrunehoney6 It's sweet and syrupy. It drips with the taste of sunny days when flowers cover fields and bees buzz.

It's emotions in a golden jar.

Where do they come from?

In France, PACA (Provence Cote d'Azur and Alpes) is the country's leading apiary region.

Nothing too surprising if you think about it. It's warm and fuzzy half the year. It's full of romantic fields of lavender, thyme-strewn limestone fields, tender hills with sariette summer savory herbs in the Haute-Provence, tilleul or linden trees in the baronnies and the Alpes-Maritimes. In the Var, sweet chestnut trees (Maures) and strawberry trees (Estérel) cover parts of the Maures Mountains, the Estérel Mountains and the Tanneron hills.

While Paris may be the city of love and France a country for romance, it's in Provence that you'll find the largest numbers of professional beekeepers. Every year 350 beekeepers produce 2000 tons of honey here in Provence.

AzurAlive: Bee on LavenderWhat are the better ones?

Provence's crown jewel honey? The lavender honey with its delicate tinge of lavender aroma.

But there's a honey for every taste.

On the south-eastern side of Provence, in pockets of land where the soil is acidic, bees are inspired and produce vintage honeys.

You won't find these at the mega-supermarkets. For the most part, they pop up only at local markets, brought by bee lovers who aren't in it for the money.AzurAlive: Many Honeys, Little Time

What's your personal favorite?

My very favorite of these delicacies are the slightly offbeat, the one-of-a-kind, the memorable: the Miel de Chataigniers (Sweet Chestnut Tree Honey) and the Miel d'Arbousier (Strawberry Tree Honey).The first is deep brown like the freshly waxed oak wood floors at an old French library. It's nutty and a touch bitter. The second is chunkier and lies somewhere between raspberry jam and honey.

To be honest, I enjoy the lavender kind too but I can't find enough quirkiness about it for a life-long thing.AzurAlive: Love in a Jar

Where can I find me one?

With 350 professionals in Provence, the picking is still generous. This isn't so across the world. According to recent BBC news, the UK has witnessed a dizzying drop in local honey production and has to rely almost entirely on imports.

Here are some of my favorite local honey producers in the Var and in the Alpes-Maritimes. This isn't exhaustive by any means. It's a select list from personal tastings. Half the fun will be in finding new ones on your own. If they're tasty, unique and available, please drop us a line.

Les Ruchers du Bessillon, Lou Camp d'Andiou, 83570 Cotignac. Tél: 04 94 04 69 39. Email:

Les Ruchers des Maures, Quartier des Jardins, 83340 Les Mayons. Tél: 04 98 11 49 52. Email:

Rucher de la Bouverie, 83520 Roquebrune-sur-Argens. Tél: 04 94 40 01 69.

Le Rucher de Saint Cézaire
82 Chemin de CHautard, Saint-Cézaire. Tél: 04 93 60 20 81. Email:

Les Ruchers des Baous
143 Chemin des Vergers, 06140 Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Tél: 04 93 24 39 54; EMail:

Restaurants in Provence Côte d'Azur

Gantie_2008It's out!

The Guide Gantié to fine food establishments (and hotels too) celebrated its 17th birthday this year with the launch of its new 2008 guide for the region.

The guide reviews 800 restaurants and bistrots and 500 specialty food outlets in PACA (Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur) and in northern Italy.

What restaurants are included? Mostly those in the upper echelon in quality and in price. It's unique in that it provides actually commentary (not all flattering), not just stars for ratings. Guide is updated once a year which keeps it fresh.

That said, we would love to see more smaller truly home-made style tables included, where food is exquisite and prices reasonable. True, these are few in the more popular spots of Provence Côte d'Azur, but they do exist!

The guide is available in English as well as in French.

We love its online version. After all, online seems like a fine way to go for up-to-date info in an industry that changes so quickly. Click on the icon below to visit the site. Nice web design, with nifty 360" video sweeps of the restaurants and hotels.

Guide Gantié