Need more proof that the best driving roads are in the south of France?

French car-manufacturer Citroen recently held a contest so that five lucky folks could preview the new DS5 while spending a luxurious weekend enjoying the sights and sounds of the French Riviera.

Their new video highlights a few spectacular locations featured on Le Stuff’s Mini Cooper Tour.

Think you know the south of France?

Correctly identify (just leave a comment) the locations in the video at 0:01, 0:04, and 0:20, and I’ll be impressed.

I’ll post the correct answers in a few days.

Une Etoile!

Never let it be said that Le Stuff fails to steer serious foodies to the proper table.

A favorite restaurant, about which I previously posted here and here, has received a Michelin Star.  

L’Hostellerie du Chateau, located in the small, absurdly picturesque village of Le Bar sur Loup, has hit the big time.

It is long overdue.

For those not familiar with the Michelin Star, let me give you a quick heads-up.

It’s a big deal, a really big deal, especially in France where top chefs can attain rock-star status.

So félicitations L’Hostellerie du Chateau!

I always knew you had it in you.

ROAD TRIPS 101: THE BASICS

A top-notch European road-trip requires less effort than you might think.

A sense of adventure and an open mind certainly help, as does a willingness to try new foods, wines, sights, and smells.  It should not, contrary to what most folks believe, require a tremendous amount of money.

With a little advance planning you too can be tooling around Europe, your next adventure just around the corner.

Airline Tickets:
The first rule of thumb is to try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to your travel dates.  Off-season travel will always be cheaper than in high season.

When booking flights I always start with Kayak.

Why?

Because Kayak displays sample pricing for the entire month, not just a single day.  This allows the savvy traveler to pinpoint the cheapest days of travel for any given month.  Don’t think that’s helpful?  Just try finding the cheapest travel days in the month on your own.  My guess is it will take you, oh…. about 30 to 31 separate searches.

Packing:
This is as easy as it gets but most people just can’t seem to pack lightly.

What does “packing lightly” mean exactly?

Well, I checked with corporate headquarters on this one and according to the Le Stuff International Guidelines For Light Packing Continue reading

The Long Escape by David Dodge

I recently received the following Email from David Dodge expert Randal Brandt:

“I am very pleased to announce the publication of David Dodge’s The Long Escape by Bruin Books. First published in 1948 and out of print for many years, the new edition — once again featuring a biographical introduction by yours truly — is available now.”

This is a must-read for any fan of David Dodge.

Thanks Randal and keep up the excellent work at A David Dodge Companion.

To Catch A Thief: Take 10

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #12

John Robie and Francie Stevens depart beneath the old stone gate of the Sanford Villa.  They are followed, quite conspicuously, by the police.

The uber-stylish powder blue Sunbeam Alpine convertible cruises across a scenic bridge.

In the distance the Mediterranean and promontory of St Jean cap Ferrat are in full view.

Pan left and viewers are treated to an expansive view of the ancient, cliffside village of Eze.

Grace Kelly is stunning.

The ensuing driving scenes (in which Grant and Kelly discuss the location of the picnic site) were obviously shot in Hollywood using rear screen projection and feature (most likely) the upper corniche in the background.  This is not the same road, as has been widely reported, on which Grace was killed in a tragic car accident in 1982.

Princess Grace’s vehicle ran off the D37 just below the village of La Turbie.

Hitchcock was a master at Continue reading

Casa Mare in Old Antibes

My wife and I recently visited our beautiful Norwegian friend, Maren, who happens to live in the best house on the best street in Antibes.  She has spent the past several years tirelessly renovating a spectacular five bedroom home, Casa Mare, in the old town’s Safranier-district.

I was eager to see the results of her hard work so I rang her up and within seconds my irresistible charm succeeded in wrangling a private tour.

Pas mal, n’est pas?

Casa Mare is situated on what must be one of the most charming streets in the south of France, the Rue du Bas Castelet. With brimming flower boxes and eager vines stretching across a narrow walkway, the pedestrian-only avenue could easily double as a movie set.

The house fits perfectly into this idyllic setting.

Each of the bedrooms is decorated, with hand-made furniture no less, in soothing neutral tones evoking a simple, effortless style.  Heavy wooden ceiling beams and original rustic floor tiles add a comfortable authenticity to contemporary Casa Mare.  All rooms are equipped with Continue reading

To Catch A Thief: Take 9

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #11

After the wonderful raft scene just off the beach in front of The Hotel Carlton, Francie Stevens (Kelly’s character) convinces John Robie to let her accompany him on a “villa shopping” excursion.

What follows is one of the great driving sequences in cinematic history.

Hitchcock certainly must have known that the French Riviera would electrify the screen almost as much as Grant and Kelly, and to his credit, he let it.

A tour of “To Catch A Thief” locations is, quite simply, a tour of some of the most beautiful scenery the French Riviera has to offer.

Stevens and Robie depart for the hills from the hotel parking lot in her sublime Sunbeam Alpine convertible.  For anyone who has been to Cannes it’s interesting to note how things have changed in front of The Carlton.  In 1954 one simply had to pull off The Croisette (back then a pleasant two lane road) and park in front of the hotel.  Today the former parking area has been turned into a garden and The Croisette expanded into a four lane boulevard separated by a tree-lined median. 

In the next clip the Sunbeam Alpine is seen traveling along a winding road (most likely the moyenne corniche) with the Mediterranean in the background.  The promontory of land jutting out into the azure water is St Jean cap Ferrat.

The moyenne corniche is still one of the world’s great drives and I heartily recommend it to anyone visiting the area.


The ensuing scene, featuring plenty of clever dialogue by both Grant and Kelly, was played out at Hollywood’s Paramount studios using rear-screen projection, but it’s interesting to note that Continue reading

To Catch A Thief: Take 8

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’ s Classic Film

Series Post #10

Brigitte Auber told me recently that she first met Cary Grant in Cannes, just before filming began on “To Catch A Thief”.

Alfred Hitchcock introduced them on the balcony of Grant’s suite at The Carlton, overlooking the Bay of Cannes.

She liked him immediately.

Brigitte and Cary Grant

The setting for such an auspicious introduction seems fitting doesn’t it?

Where else but The Carlton would a young, beautiful French actress, destined for a long, successful career, meet the most famous movie star on the planet?

Today, more than fifty years later, Continue reading

JP’s Wine Corner: Cheese Assortment, Cucumber Soup, and Beef Tender

My good friend Jean Pascal is a Sommelier/Consultant who runs a successful business in the south of France specializing in the wines of Provence and the Cote D’Azur.  He has forgotten more about ClaretPinot Noir, and Cabernet than I will ever learn in my lifetime, but has graciously agreed to let me take full advantage of his expertise here at Le Stuff.

JP will be joining us on The French Riviera in June for the Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

My mother called the other day with a simple request.  She was planning a dinner party for several friends and needed help with the wine selection.

Our conversation was quick and to the point:

Mother: “If I email the menu to you can you help me pick out some wines?”
Me: “I’m sorry, did you say you were going to email the menu to me…. on the
c-o-m-p-u-t-e-r?!!”

Mother: “Yes honey.”
Me: Who the hell are you and what have you done with my mother?”

The Menu: Continue reading

First Class is where I belong…. really.

“The temperature is all right sir?  Too warm, a little too cold perhaps?”

The beautiful blonde flight attendant is clearly concerned with my well-being, and who am I to argue?

Thirty thousand feet below me, the green and brown Polish countryside is laid out in perfectly checkered summer patterns as far as I can see.  The day is clear and sunny and I am the only person in the first class section of LOT Polish Airlines flight 341, Warsaw to Nice.

“Maybe it’s a bit warm for you?”  her bottomless blue eyes yearn to please.

“Thank you no, really it’s perfect” I respond with, I hope, just the right amount of affected insouciance.

Smiling demurely, she disappears.

I lean back in my oversized chair, close jet-lagged eyes, and mentally applaud the decision to donate a substantial number of hard-earned frequent flyer miles to the rarefied, seldom breathed air of first class.  This is not how I usually travel (OK, I never travel this way), but it’s obvious to me now that first class is exactly where I belong.

Really.

The lightest touch on my shoulder.  “Sir, I was just wondering….

Something catches her attention and we both turn to see Continue reading

The Location of Bertani’s Restaurant

To_Catch_a_Thief-1955-MSS-x12-1An early scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief takes place at Bertani’s restaurant.

Bertani, played by French actor Charles Vanel, is a former member of the French Resistance who, alongside John Robie (Cary Grant’s character), fought against the Germans in World War 2.

Several Le Stuff readers have asked about the location of the restaurant and if there actually was, or is, a real restaurant there.

I’ll try to clear up the mystery.


Bertani (left) with John Robie (Cary Grant) and Foussard

The terrace scene was filmed on the western edge of Continue reading

Jean Pascal’s Wine Corner: Grilled Fish, Vegetables, and Fingerling Potatoes

My good friend Jean Pascal is a Sommelier/Consultant who runs a successful business in the south of France specializing in the wines of Provence and the Cote D’Azur.  He has forgotten more about Claret, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet than I will ever learn in my lifetime, but has graciously agreed to let me take full advantage of his expertise here at Le Stuff.

Need some wine advice?

Leave your questions for Jean Pascal in the comments section….

Jean Pascal subscribes to Le Stuff…. why don’t you?
It’s easy, just click here.

JP will be joining us on The French Riviera in June for the Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

Today’s question comes from Noel:
Any suggestions for a meal of grilled white fish (Halibut) with lightly sauteed vegetables and roasted fingerling potatoes? A light dry Rose perhaps? Thanks again for your help.
Hi Noel,

 For your grilled Halibut with lightly sauteed vegetables and roasted fingerling potatoes, your choice of a light dry rosé is not bad at all. The important things to watch for are

Continue reading

Le Stuff Links

I’ve done my fair share of Internet surfing lately and thought I might let you in on a few of my discoveries.

All of these, of course, are south of France related…. so enjoy.

1) “The 19 Most Complex and Dangerous Roads in the World”
OK, what does this have to do with the south of France?  Well, as any Le Stuff reader should know by now I love driving – so much so that I’ve put together a Mini Cooper Driving Tour featuring the number one road in this article – the awesome col de Turini!

2) I’ve been resourcing Provence & Beyond for years.
Need information on area villages, sports, gastronomy, etc.?
There is not a more comprehensive site covering the south of France on the web.  Check it out and if you’re not impressed, I’ll buy you a beer.

3) Julie Mautner is an American writer who has lived and worked in S.t Remy de Provence since 1999.  Her blog, The Provence Post, is chock full of fun stories, recommendations, and gossip.  Don’t miss her guest post series “The Cocktail Drinkers Guide to Gardening” by good friend James Clay.

4) “How To Make That French Vacation More Affordable”
A good, common sense article by Jerry Lanson over at True/Slant.
I found the link on “The Provence Post”

Jean Pascal’s Wine Corner: Hamburger and Fries

My good friend Jean Pascal is a highly skilled Sommelier/Consultant who runs a successful business in the south of France specializing in the wines of Provence and the Cote D’Azur.  He has forgotten more about ClaretPinot Noir, and Cabernet than I will ever learn in my lifetime, but has graciously agreed to let me take full advantage of his expertise here at Le Stuff.

Need some wine advice?

Leave your questions for Jean Pascal in the comments section….

Jean Pascal subscribes to Le Stuff…. why don’t you?
It’s easy, just click here.

The Meal:
Hamburger (medium rare) with french fries.

Jean Pascal’s Selection(s):

Red :
Château Plaisance 2008.  A.O.C. Fronton.
8 Euros.

Grape varieties:
Negrette (local grape variety), Syrah, Cabernet-Franc.  Located in the Tarn region in South-west of France.

J.P. says:
A deep red color, genuine, very well-balanced with some Continue reading

Le Stuff on The BBC!

Before Alfred Hitchcock could cast Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in his blockbuster film “To Catch A Thief”, American author David Dodge had to write the novel.  His book was inspired by an actual burglary that took place next door to the Villa Noel Fleuri, a house Dodge had rented for his family in the south of France in the early 1950’s.

In September of 2010, bravely fighting my way through the warm sun and delicious food of the Cote D’Azur, I joined writer (and expert detective) Jean Buchanan in her search for the mysterious villa.  Randal Brandt, a Dodge expert with no equal, provided invaluable assistance from his home-base at the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley.

Listen to the program here.

Learn more here.

Like what you see?  Subscribe to Le Stuff here.

The following text is from the BBC Radio 4 website.

The American thriller and travel-writer, David Dodge (1910-1974), is best known for his 1952 novel To Catch A Thief, which Hitchcock turned into an iconic film three years later. Unusually for Hitchcock, half the film was shot on location, and the Riviera is as much a star as Grace Kelly (in her final film – she met Prince Rainier during a publicity shoot and became Princess of Monaco) and Cary Grant (whom Hitchcock tempted out of retirement with this script).

Dodge’s book was inspired by a real incident when he briefly became the number 1 suspect for a daring cat-burglary at Continue reading

The French Riviera: Driving Heaven?

Click here for information on the French Riviera Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

From the celebrated corniche roads to the beautiful back country, the south of France offers intrepid drivers endless opportunities for motorized fun.

The crew at BBC’s Top Gear already knows this.
They began their search for the “World’s Best Driving Road” near Monaco on the renowned col de Turini.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s glamorous 1953 film, To Catch A Thief, driving plays a pivotal role during chase scenes through the beautiful villages of the back country and on the dramatic moyenne corniche (with Grace Kelly behind the wheel no less).

“Ronin”, starring Robert DeNiro and “GoldenEye”, starring Pierce Brosnan also feature Continue reading

To Catch A Thief: Locations, locations, locations….

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Check out Le Stuff’s new “To Catch A Thief” page.

I was contacted recently by a film producer who’s developing a series of travel shows for Germany’s N-TV.  He asked for my help in identifying specific locations used in To Catch A Thief.

No problem, right?

Well, I thought it would be a breeze but I have to admit there were a couple of challenges.


The film crew setting up a shot outside La Colombe D’Or in St Paul de Vence

1) The Balcony Scene:
A woman screams as she discovers her jewelry has been stolen.
In a panic she runs onto her hotel room balcony where we, the viewers, are treated to an expansive shot of Nice’s world famous seafront boulevard, the Promenade des Anglais.

And so begins Alfred Hitchcock’s light hearted thriller “To Catch A Thief”.
(From Le Stuff’s “To Catch A Thief: Take 1)


The producer wanted to shoot on the “actual” balcony used in the scene.

OK.

I knew it was several blocks east Continue reading

PE.P’s Pizza

PE.P is the unofficial savior of Le Bar sur Loup.

You’ll find him open most nights toiling away in his tiny, two-seater pizza joint tucked inconspicuously into a corner of Place Francis Paulet (the main square).  A sole purveyor of affordable goodness, PE.P’s light shines like a beacon of hope to hungry souls in need of a quick and delicious fix.

Made to order in minutes using only the freshest ingredients, PE.P’s pizzas have saved me from certain starvation on many nights.

12 Place Francis Paulet
06620 Le Bar sur Loup, France
Tel. 04 93 60 19 82

“I Feel it Tonight”
Written by Charles Arndt
Performed by Bunny Austin

Like what you see?  Subscribe to Le Stuff here.

L’Hostellerie Du Chateau….again

I’m thinking about starting a blog devoted solely to my favorite restaurant in the south of France, L’Hostellerie du Chateau.  My wife and I had lunch there the other day and it was even better than I remembered.  Only five months in, the new owners have created an exceptional establishment in the village of Le Bar sur Loup.


L’Hostellerie Du Chateau from a distance

Listed below are five reasons, other than the sublime food, why I think L’Hostellerie du Chateau is top notch.

1) The Dining Room
Simple, sophisticated, and elegant.
I don’t need to eat in a circus tent surrounded by a non-stop dog and pony show to prove I’m getting my money’s worth.  At L’Hostellerie Du Chateau, I don’t have to.

2) The View
Located on the Place Francis Paulet in the 14th century village chateau, guests enjoy a stunning view across ancient rooftops to the verdant
Loup Valley.

3) The Service
Attentive and efficient without being overbearing.
If I have to listen to “Jason” at Fudruckers introduce himself and then force-feed me his life story Continue reading