South of France
It’s not every day a British Bake Off winner visits us! Read Jo Wheatley’s reviews on every one of her adventures, including her dinner at Le Candille! Make sure to follow her on Instagram! – @jowheatleybakes
As you know we’ve just returned from spending a big part of our summer in the South of France. We stayed in a wonderful villa in Cannes which we found through AirB&B. We wanted to find somewhere that was easily accessible with the pooches as normally when we go away I am pining for Otis and Olive within the first week.
Cannes is incredible and Villa Nembrini is in the perfect position being just far enough away from La Croisette and the madness that ensues there in August, yet near enough to walk to the sea-front (in about 10 minutes).
Alison, the lady who’s house we rented, gave us a wonderful list of places we should try when eating out. Also our friends who have a second home in Antibes gave us some fabulous recommendations (some crossing over from both) plus the lovely Lisa Faulkner told me of the most magical place, where we had a wonderful evening. Even-though, I must concede though that my favourite meal was recommended by one of my loyal social media followers.
This was a restaurant along La Croisette (Cannes Sea-Front) and was one of two restaurants we visited without recommendation but to be fair it was really nice and reasonable priced unlike the other, more on that later.
Cost: ££ Food: ** Service: 👉🏻Dogs Allowed: 🐩
We really loved this outdoor family run restaurant as it was close to our villa and casual. As the name suggests, you are seated in their gardens which is magically lite with 1000’s of fairy lights and has beautiful structures with a relaxing fountain. The food is good including excellent pizza from their wood burning oven and meat or fish cooked on the grill. Very reasonably priced (we ate here 3 times)
££ *** 👉🏻 🐩
We had an amazing evening here. Alison had told us about the firework displays that are a regular occurrences during the summer months. Now you can watch them from the sidewalk along the beach but lots of the beach clubs open on those evenings for dinner. Richard picked 3.14 which proved to be a great choice. A set menu including Champagne & wine which was really good. The service was great and the fireworks, OH MY. I’ve honestly never seen fireworks like it, they are totally breathtaking. Genuinely it’s an evening that I will never forget.
££££ *** 👍🏻
This place was fab with each dish being really good. We went in August so it was very busy we had the pooches with us and they were still very accommodating. The price was really reasonable too.
££ ** 👉🏻 🐩
A fabulous little gem. Reasonably priced, great food, lovely staff and a cute little terrace.
££ *** 👍🏻 🐩
Another real gem in the old town, this place is like stepping back in time in a good way. The food is delicious and keeps on coming. It”s totally romantic, a bit of a set menu with a couple of options on each course but basically you get 4 great courses. If you don’t eat meat this place isn’t for you though, if you do what are you waiting for!!!!
££££ *** 👍🏻 🐩
Again another winner. Be warned not much English is spoken and the menu needs Google translator but it’s so worth it. This excellent family run restaurant offers Provencale cuisine by Christophe Ferre, a celebrated patissier turned restauranteur. The food is delightful, setting lovely, service good. Plus you get to meet the wonderful Gavroche, le chat
£££ *** 👉🏻
Fleur De Mai
This is ‘the other one’. Don’t go anywhere near here! In my opinion it was all prepared food, hubby fancied Chinese/Asian food it was a bad choice!!!!
£ * 👎🏻 🐩
Oh this place…… Honestly I know it seems like we loved every place and TBH we did. The bistro cuisine offered here was to die for. I had this AMAZING prawn coconut curry dish and Hubby had the most incredible Soufflé. Service was good, atmosphere nice. You should go if you’re in Cannes.
£££ *** 👍
Fab burger bar we ate in early one evening and had a take out on another, delicious, quick, fresh. Does what it says on the can. Plus they do the most amazing Milkshakes
£ *** 👉🏻 🐩
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard!
Ile Sainte Marguerite
This is one of my favourite places. The atmosphere is incredible, the service is wonderful and the food is oh so yummy. This place has it all with the order and share system of dining that is encouraged makes for an extremely social and fun meal. You have to get a boat over from the mainland to get to ‘the other island’. Now the first time we went we caught the ferry over and the cost was 15 euros each but the second time we found out if you call ahead they run a shuttle services and will send a complementary ride for you but be warned, if the weather is bad this can be like a rollercoaster ride. This place has music, madness and is totally fun but without compromise to the food. If I could only recommend going to one place for a celebration lunch or fun day out while in Cannes this would be it. (we spent two fabulous afternoons here)
£££££ **** 👌🏻 🐩
Saint Paul De Vence
We visited here on the recommendation from my lovely friend Lisa Faulkner (as well as Allison, my friends and Instagrammers) so I just knew it would be fab. It didn’t disappoint and the only thing I regret is that we didn’t rebook and do it all over again. The food is sublime, the setting is breathtaking and the service was perfect. This place is full or charm and if you go you will be totally overwhelmed by the stunning art collection they have on display. You must wander around and see all of the wonderful pieces this hotel/restaurant have acquired over the years, often in lieu of the bill!
££££ **** 👌🏻 🐩
So Richard and I (and the pooches) went here for lunch. The setting was incredible (click on the link) you are literally sitting on the seafront in Antibes. The waiting staff were really friendly and incredibly attentive and really accommodating with Oats and Olive, but I didn’t love the food to be honest. Would I try again? – Yes I think so, would I recommend it? -Possibly not! Both of us were under whelmed with everything we ordered.
£££ ** 👌🏻 🐩
Delicious, Delightful, Dapper, Dazzling. If you’re in Antibes please book and try this wonderful place. Thank you Stew and Mon for the recommendation.
££££ *** 👍🏻
This was the most pricey of all the places we ate at but oh my how I dream of returning. The food was incredible, the views unmatchable and the service impeccable. I felt like I was in the most wonderful movie setting. The food just dreamy!!!!!!! Nothing compares, so chic – just as Alison promised.The only thing that could have made it better if the pooches could have come along.
£££££ **** 👌🏻
The food was good, the service was ok, the setting was nice. Would I go again? If with a group and someone suggested it then yes but if left up to me I’d rather try one of the other many restaurants in Monte Carlo.
£££ ** 👉🏻 🐩
Timeless or now tired? I’m afraid that this place seems to be thriving on past glories and although the setting is amongst the best in the world, unfortunately it does not deliver. Nice atmosphere though and the live musical trio are fun. Go for the sun, sea, drink and ambience but not the food.
££££ * 👍🏻 🐩
I’ve saved the best until last, this was my ultimate favourite. Genuinely I think the vegetable tart I ate for my starter maybe in the top 3 things I’ve EVER eaten. The service here is top draw, the views are breathtaking and every morsel you eat will be incredible. I LOVED IT.
£££££ ***** 👌🏻
We loved this place as it’s a foodie heaven, we visited at least 3 times a week during our stay. They have everything from amazing cheeses, stunning flowers, incredible handmade breads, beautiful fresh caught fish, to the most stunning array of fruits and veg.
However, be aware that the prices are really high, it’s like shopping in West London with prices to match. While away I was reading a book and Forville Market was mentioned as follows, “we bought a Seabass the price was nearly the price of a small mortgage!”
Having said all that, it is wonderful and I spent many happy hours wandering around filling my shopping basket. Also every Monday there’s a wonderful antiques market.
This market is Forvilles slightly dowdy smaller sister. A bit of everything including clothes,
haberdashery, plus wonderful cheeses, fruits and veg. It’s worth a wander and I found the prices much better than it’s prettier bigger sisters.
In Cannes you will never go hungry for pastries and breads. Clearly nobody can home bake as there’s a boulangerie on almost every corner. My favourite was L’Epi D’or where the staff all meet you with a smile each morning and the pastries and breads were delightful. For something more upmarket Jean Luc Pele is fab and we ate in and bought to take away several times here.
We played quite a bit of tennis while in Cannes. The club at Montfleury was fab with courts always available (either hard or clay) and it has a gorgeous little coffee shop in the pretty grounds along with an indoor/outdoor swimming pool.
Places to visit
If you’re in the South of France, Grasse is well worth a visit. It’s like experiencing a little bit of history, almost like you’ve stepped through a magical door that’s taken you back in time to a place where commercialism has yet to be created. That said you can purchase the most wonderful fragrances and enjoy some fab little shops but without it being in your face.
As I write this post I get more and more holiday sickness (homesick in reverse). I adored Mougins, such a wonderful place to wander on a sunny Sunday afternoon and if you’re incredibly lucky you may get to witness a local wedding like we did. The Art Museum was fab, the staff were all friendly and helpful and their collection was eclectic including pieces from past centuries mixed with pieces from right up to modern day.
Another beautiful place to spend a day. Amazing art, fabulous little shops and delightful places to eat.
We parked near the port and had a wander along in awe of the many super yachts, we had a lovely relaxed coffee along the front, dipped our toes in the sea and had a walk along the Grand Prix course which is the main road except on race day. It was a nice enough afternoon, would I rush back if in the South of France? I don’t think so, I much preferred other places we visited.
We visited here on our way to Saint Tropez. Richard had stayed here when he was about 10 when Port Grimaud had very recently been developed. He wanted to revisit and as we were passing, it seemed the ideal day to do it.
It’s a lovely little place and on the morning that we visited there was a market in the square where they sell all sorts of fabulous local produce. We were eating in Club 55 for lunch so just stopped for a coffee and fortunately sat next to a wonderful lady who had lived there for the past 30 years, she was so entertaining with her hilarious account of the years
Port Grimaud is the perfect peaceful hideaway if you want to get away from it all, with properties directly on the beach, but to be honest I would find any longer than a weekend a little sedate. But if I had small children still, this would be the perfect safe family get away. With a beautiful soft sandy beach, lovely little inlets along the waterfront and great manageable electric boats for hire plus the prices were so much more reasonable than in Cannes. This would make for a fab family destination.
And the Pooches
Traveling with Otis & Olive was far easier than I imagined it would be. About 6 weeks before we were traveling I took them to our vets to have their rabies jabs and get passports, this was all very straight forward.
We purchased a seat cover for the backseats of the car that kept them both enclosed and stopped Miss Olives attempts to constantly climb into the front seat! I also bought a portable drinks dispenser as it was going to be really hot on the way there, in-fact so hot we only stopped once between Calais and Lyon, so they really needed drinks on the go.
We used Euro-tunnel from Folkstone to cross, they have a really great area to walk the dogs and made it very simple and painless.
It is very hot in the South of France in August so we bought a dog buggy which I know is a bit silly but I was really concerned about them overheating and burning the pads on their paws. Olive loved the pushchair, Otis would only get in after he’d walked and was tired.
The majority of restaurants allow well behaved pooches, in-fact some restauranteurs said they wouldn’t allow children but dogs were fine!
Olive’s allergies flared up, so we needed to visit the vets mid trip, as well as getting their passports signed off before we returned. Univets were fabulous, they spoke a decent amount of English and are open 24/7, I’d highly recommend them.
Would we travel with the pooches again? Without a shadow of a doubt, YES.
The street winds up to the church and clocktower which has a terrific view. I’d highly recommend a stroll to the top.
What can I say about this place? I feel like I haven’t got the words to do it justice! I will try.
I’ve never really been into self catering holidays. For me a holiday isn’t doing what I do at home. I want somebody to make my bed, to cook for me and I don’t want to load a washing machine!! That has all changed………. I adored the flexibility of a self catering trip.
The fact that you can wander down to the garden with a cup of coffee and sit in your nightie is so so nice. Cooking was actually delightful in the wonderfully well equipped and designed kitchen at VN. Also some evenings it’s nice to just slob out on the sofas, watch a movie and have a take out.
The greatest thing for me was that my pooches could come along and feel like they’re at home. We could have the doors open and they had the freedom of wandering in and out of the secure garden.
The position of the villa is great, it’s like being 10 minutes walk to West London with the most fabulous artisan markets adjacent and then just a 3 minute walk further is the sea. We walked everywhere, for dinner at night, to the markets most days, to the supermarkets and boulangerie. Also some pretty fabulous antique dealers. The tennis club is also less than a 15 minute walk from the villa.
About the house. Alison has made the house feels pretty special without the feeling that you can’t move around freely for fear of breaking something. It’s really well equipped with gorgeous linens, soft towels, Apple tv, a cupboard full of board games, even inflatables for the pool. The kitchen has everything, even Jamie Oliver would want for nothing, plus a fab BBQ on the terrace.
The house also comes with a housekeeper, a pool attendant and a gardener. I had a problem with the dishwasher and a handyman was sent within the day to sort it. The mosquitoes were becoming a problem and Alison instructed the gardeners to spray the garden the next day.
The master bedroom has the most fabulous ensuite bathroom, I spent many happy evenings wallowing in the huge slipper bath filled with bubbles with the double length doors flung open. A luxury afforded because it is so private and not overlooked at all.
There’s a delightful bar in the living room, a separate dining room and a fabulous Moroccan style outside room. Everything is so well thought out, you immediately cannot help but feel at home.