The Three Best Restaurants In The French Riviera Backcountry

There are few things I find more enjoyable than roaming around the south of France in search of delicious, thoughtfully prepared cuisine. It is a chronic hobby of mine. For the past seventeen years I have traveled the coastline from Theole sur Mer to sunny Menton, from the narrow, pedestrian-only streets of the old town of Nice to the chic, Disney-esque Principality of Monaco, from the glitz of Cannes to the grit of Cagnes, and almost everywhere in-between, in a never-ending quest for good food and wine. Along the way I have devoured bouillabaisse in Antibes, snails in Villefranche, and pizza in just about every place imaginable.

Lately, though, I will admit to being pulled north, away from the coast, more times than not for my culinary explorations.

Drive twenty minutes north from Nice or Cannes and you will find yourself in another world, one far removed from the bustling coast. Perched medieval villages dot the lush, mountainous countryside. Tiny vineyards produce beautifully complex wines, and around almost every bend in the road appears another idyllic spot waiting to be discovered. It is a spectacularly varied and beautiful landscape.

It is also chock full of good food.

My picks for the three best restaurants in the Riviera backcountry are, by most standards, modest establishments. There are no Michelin stars or celebrity chefs on my list. What you will find, though, are warm welcomes, fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and skilled chefs who care deeply about every dish they create.

To enjoy these restaurants you will need a car, a mild sense of adventure, and a little time, but don’t worry, like a fine wine left to breathe, you will be amply rewarded for your patience. Continue reading

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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

Le Bar sur Loup: Fete de L’Oranger

Today’s guest post is by the ever-popular anonymous.
You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that anonymous has a world of experience traveling around the south of France.  He/She has wisely chosen to write about one of the best festivals in the region, the Fete de L’Oranger in Le Bar sur Loup. Enjoy….


Le Bar sur Loup

Le Stuff has carelessly and foolishly revealed the name of one of the few remaining hill towns, as  yet untouched by tourist hands, that hovers still high above the French Riviera.

At first I feared hoards of individuals bearing fanny packs and Flips would, upon receiving this intelligence, launch a destructive invasion leaving tacky detritus in their wake.

However, subscribers to Le Stuff Continue reading

L’Hostellerie du Chateau: Le Bar sur Loup, France

I’d like to tell you about a terrific dining experience I had recently at L’Hostellerie du Chateau, a small hotel and restaurant tucked into a fifteenth century castle in the picturesque working class-village of Le Bar sur Loup.

Insider Tip: Don’t go to L’Hostellerie du Chateau if you are “volume challenged”.  I’ve never eaten in a quieter place.

My wife and I arrived at seven on a breezy spring evening and were warmly greeted and shown to our table by an attractive woman I could only assume was the proprietess (I didn’t want to ask, someone might actually have heard me).

We started with Continue reading

The French Riviera: Best Drives

Click here for information on Le Stuff’s French Riviera Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

Into The Back Country

I recently posted tips for driving the celebrated, and often congested, corniche roads.  I would now like to offer a few suggestions for those wishing to break free from the constraints of traffic by heading north into the vast arriere pays (back country).

Begin your journey in the tiny hamlet of Pont du Loup and head west on D2210 in the direction of Le Bar sur Loup.  Bar is a beautiful and uncrowded working class village that sits on the side of a hill overlooking the Loup Valley.
Consider having lunch at the recently renovated
L’Hostellerie du Chateau (the food is sublime) located in the town’s main square.  You may also want to stop by the tourist office (just steps away from the Chateau) and make arrangements for a guided village walking tour.


Le Bar sur Loup

Trip Notes:
Auberge des Gorges du Loup

Pleasant, affordable accommodations and a good restaurant in the tiny town of Pont du Loup.
http://www.auberge-gorgesduloup.com

L’Hostellerie du Chateau
Beautifully renovated 14th century chateau in the the main square of Le Bar sur Loup.  Exquisite restaurant and 6 tastefully decorated rooms.
http://www.lhostellerieduchateau.com

Continue east from Bar on D2210 in the direction of Pre du Lac.  As you enter Pre du Lac take a sharp right onto D3 and begin twisting your way up to one of the most beautiful villages in France Continue reading

To Catch A Thief: Take 3

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

Series Post #5

At the end of post # 4 the police were fast approaching Robie’s villa just outside the village of St Jeannet.

006

The police enter the house and ask the former jewel thief to accompany them to the station for questioning.  He agrees, but asks if they will first allow him to change into something a bit more formal.  While changing in his bedroom he fools the police into thinking he has escaped by car.  And so begins the famous chase scene that  takes viewers through some of the most picturesque villages in the south of France (apparently this was was also one of the first cinematic sequences filmed from a helicopter).

The Chase:
The first town we see is Le Bar sur Loup.  Le Bar is a picturesque, working class village that looks pretty much the same today as it does in the movie, with its dramatic, fourteenth century chateau dominating the town center.  Notice the old railroad bridge at the edge of town. Continue reading

Alec Harvey Guest Post: Thoughts on France

Alec HarveyFeatures Editor for The Birmingham News, has been kind enough to submit Le Stuff”s very first Guest Post.  For those of you who are regular Le Stuff readers, you may remember I posted a story in July about the, um, transmission problems Alec encountered early on during a Spring 2007 trip to France.  I really do hate to mention it again, but honestly it’s just too difficult for me to let it go.

So thanks Alec for your contribution, and I very much look forward to our next adventure.  I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of The Birmingham News, one of the nation’s most respected newspapers, and to check out City Scene, found in the Entertainment section every Friday.  There’s no better way for hipsters like you and me to get a handle on the goings on in The Magic City.  Finally, “Alec Harvey’s blog and column” (does this guy ever sleep?) can be read at http://blog.al.com/aharvey.

Sincerely,

Le Stuff

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Two years ago, I fell in love with France .

I had visited Paris the summer after I graduated from college, and I probably fell in love then, too, but the nearly 25 years that had passed had dimmed that affection. What remained were memories of good food and a little too much good wine, but not much about the people and places I encountered.

This time, I don’t expect the love affair to end.  Visiting the countryside of France is much different from the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s greatest cities.  The villages have a quaintness that Paris can never duplicate, and their charm – and that of the people that inhabit them – is not likely to fade.

If you’re planning a trip to the South of France Continue reading