03-06-19 Birthday Lunch for Janeen

The last two years, Janeen has spent her birthday in Macomb Illinois – first for her dad’s 100th birthday and the following year for his 101st. When asked where she wanted to be in 2019, she chose the Violet Festival in the south of France. Early spring seemed a nice remembrance of Dad Harold. As reported in prior posts, we are in the village of Vence about 14 miles from Nice. So to celebrate her birthday I found a lovely 2-star Michelin restaurant in Nice called Flaveur.

Flaveur is really a story of passion and family. Gaël and Mickaël Tourteaux, two brothers, share the kitchen and create wonderful foods.

Janeen loved the use of wood throughout the restaurant

They are both different and yet complementary bringing different approaches to the kitchen. We left Vence with lots of time to find the restaurant and find parking. After we spotted the location, and got ourselves parked, we found the street of the restaurant to be filled with construction equipment.

The front of the restaurant, not very imposing for sure.

Across the street from the restaurant is a major construction project but access was still possible to the restaurant. Arriving for at 12:45 for our 1:00 reservation, we found a small room decorated with figurative wooden sculptures, reminiscent of fish shapes, chic table art with beautiful glasses and a relatively camouflaged bar area behind which we surmise is the micro kitchen.

The menu had two options – the first was a menu that included starter and main or main and dessert or a tasting menu that covered a 6 or 7 different dishes. We opted for the all inclusive lunch menu.

The pictures tell the story of the meal – so I won’t speak too much about them expect to say it was wonderful. I would say, however, that the number of amuse bouche was amazing. There must have been 6 or 7 different little bites that were where served before the first course.   Very nice.

Amuse bouche smoked mackerel
Amuse bouche – cube of halibut and a delicious sea foam cream
Amuse bouche – sardine paste
Amuse bouche – squid ink ball
The bread tray
Amuse bouche – something wonderful but don’t remember.
Amuse bouche – quinoa sesame broth


We were in the restaurant for almost 4 hours! Certainly not rushed and the pace of presentation of the various things was relaxed and quite enjoyable.

Smoked sword fish with salted lemon confit
Seasonal local mediterranean tuna, squid, octapus with bouillon of vadouvan, cauliflower lovage. This had a hint of curry in the juice.
Beef from Piedmont with eggplant and tamarind with wild pepper and oxalis

Our waiter guided us on what we had and suggested an approach to eating them when there where multiple items at the same time.

Dessert – Apples three way s from the tree in the yard
Dessert – Glass tube had a lime water to drink with the quince on the top plus bits of taste treats
Dessert – Plum confite
The final dessert – Tasty treats

At the end of the meal we asked to have a picture taken with the Chefs’ who joined our gallery of gourmand. All in all Janeen had a wonderful birthday in Nice.

Brothers and Chefs Gaël and Mickaë Tourteaux Restaurant Flaveur in Nice
The Birthday Girl!

03 – 2 & 3 – 19 Violet Festival and Restaurant Clovis

The Violet Festival has taken place in Tourrettes-sur-Loup since 1952. Violet production became this village’s main agricultural activity in 1880. Today, only the Victoria variety is cultivated in Tourrettes-sur-Loup.

Every year in March, the Violet Festival rounds off the violet season and celebrates spring. The village streets are full of activity from in the mid morning with serenades and local dances. The whole village is full of flowers and the sweet scent of early spring. A Floral Procession starts in the early afternoon. This is why we came to this part of France – to see and be part of the celebration of violets in this little village.

The village grew out of the top of the mountain.

Tourrettes-sur-Loup is small with only about 4,000 folks.

Along the path into town – the village hangs off the hill.

Many of these have come to be part of the artisan community – potters, weavers, wood carvers, jewelers, painters, and sculptors – lots of people creating interesting things through the town. In fact, the City Council has encouraged artist by providing work areas within the old city.

Flowers decorated many of the shops.

We visited on a couple of days – just prior to the actual festival and again over the weekend during the actual event. On our first day it was quiet with little activity throughout the area. On Saturday, the first day of the festival, it was much busier with tents set up in the parking lot, musicians performing,

Music and period dress were around the city.

strolling groups of performers Rose, Violet and Lily of the Valley dancers on stilts, and flower bedecked music float. While Violets are the reason, flower decoration was happening in several areas using local flowers. It reminded me of float building for the Rose Parade.

It took the better part of all day Saturday to complete this.
The finished product.









OK, not so much as what happens in Pasadena on New Years Day but people decorating structures with pretty flowers was nice to see.

Violets spilling out of the basket.

The tents had various vendors showing off their wares and selling stuff, including a contingent from Japan. We picked up some local olive oil and balsamic both of which are lovely. When we first got into town on Saturday it wasn’t all that busy yet so we stopped at the boulangerie for a Coffee Long and a taste treat.

A coffee long and a taste treat.

When we came back on Sunday, admittedly it was later in the day and Sunday was the “big day”, the place was mobbed!

These three stilt walkers did a wonderful dance around the area. See Janeen in the background?
Event the kids get into the decoration act.

The decorations around the square where beautiful, the stilt walkers were doing great and other musicians were pleasing the crowds.

Violet Festival decorations on many places.
Decorations of flowers on even the various artworks around.
Happy to be here.

On Monday we went back to this little village for lunch at Clovis. To say the place was quiet would be an understatement for sure. Many shops were closed, no crowds, all the tents in the parking lot had been removed and most of the flower decorations had been removed. However, our lunch at Clovis was wonderful.

Julien Bousseau Bistrot Gourmand Clovis

Chef Julien Bousseau, opened the restaurant in February 2012, dedicated to a creative, fresh and tasty cuisine. All the products he uses are chosen with the utmost care. They work as much as possible with local producers and our fruits and vegetables are largely from organic farming. The wine list was a surprise with some local and little known wonders and will also with renowned big estates.

‘Croquettes’ made with duck confit leg, cooked egg sauce made with rare peppers, fresh green peas and fava beans with mint
Sea weed tartar and potatoes, stew of smoked Kambu, herrings roe and oyster sorbet
Roasted sea bass with almond crust, fennel, green apple & sea fennel slices
Poached duck filet, mandarine sauce infused with fresh violets, turnips and honey carrot and celeriac.


The menu is created on a two-week cycle to be able to capture all the seasonal variations that occur during the year. This is a Michelin 1-star restaurant and has been on the list for the last 7 years.   We had a delightful lunch and would certainly consider returning for another menu.

Very happy to be here!

03-05-19 Vence and the Chapel of the Rosary

Vence is our home village for our stay for the next couple of weeks.  Located about 14 miles from Nice in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France Vence is home to about 19,000 folks.  The history of the place goes back to a Roman settlement of Vintium and subsequently became the bishopric and domain of the Villeneuve family.  The remnants of a Roman triumphal arch still remain including several “Marsellais Columns”

Vence our Village for two weeks.

Within the historic village, a medieval walled village, there are numerous interesting sights and monuments.

Porte du Peyra Gate
The Peyra fountain was made in 1822 by architect Etienne Goby. It replaced another fountain dating back to 1578 and had replaced a fountain built in 1439 and is fed by the water from the Foux River.

The Peyra Gate was remodeled in 1810. The fountain was rebuilt in 1822 replacing an older one dating from 1578.   Strolling through the area are various courtyards, dining areas and art displays.

A lovely plaza with fountain and monument.
Walkways with restaurants along narrow streets.
A little art decoration along the walkways in the old section of the city.

 The castle is today the Fondation Èmile Hugues,  a modern and contemporary art museum.

The Vence Cathedral – Built in the 14th century on the site of a Roman temple, it is the smallest one in France

The cathedral was built in the 4th century on the site of a Roman temple. The stone of the western façade dates from 239. Another, on the right, was engraved in December 220. Other stones in the external walls represent funerary dedications.

The stones on the wall around the cathedral represent funeral dedications to characters little-known from inhabitants of the City of Vintium during the Roman Period. This stone shows a dedication made by a Roman soldier Lucius Veludius to his wife Vibia Paterna, daughter of Mucius.

Also on the western side of the church, the Pierre du Tauroble evokes the cult of Cybele  and also the Great mother of the Gods of Mount Ido.  A chapel in the cathedral has a mosaic by Marc Chagall, dated 1911.

This passageway allows you to continue through the old town.
In the past the Bishop’s palace was built against the side of the church similar to the one above the arches.
Janeen at a lovely doorway

The rue des Portiques is a section of the old Roman road.

Rue des Portiques part of an old Roman road

After our stroll, we stopped for lunch across from the Plaza du Grand Jardin.  This Plaza is where the local markets are held plus various events.  Surrounding the Plaza are a number of restaurants and shops – well mostly restaurants actually.  Sitting on a wide sidewalk enjoying the afternoon sun was a treat.  After our lunch we headed back to the apartment to drop off the car and walk to the Chapel of the Rosary.

The Chapel of the Rosary, or also know as Chapel Matisse is a small place just a 5 minute walk from our apartment. 

The Chapel of the Rosary is small but very beautiful.

After major surgery in 1942, Henri Matisse went too Nice to recover.  During his recovery he met Monique Bourgeois who was his night nurse.  During his recovery they became quite close and she modeled for Matisse on several occasions.  However, she felt the calling and entered the convent and became Sister Jacques-Marie. 

The view of the Chapel of the Rosary from across the small valley. The vertical windows are filled with stained glass.

Once she took her vows, she and Matisse continued to communicate and when she came to Vence he visited often.  During one of his visits he learned the sisters were beginning the design for a chapel – a small chapel due to the facilities available.  Matisse offered to help design the interior and he was granted the commission.  Over the next four years of intensive and exclusive work in collaboration wit the Dominican community a final design was created and built.  Henri Matisse is quoted as saying “Despite all of its imperfections, I see it (the chapel) as my masterpiece…It is the result of a life devoted to seeking the truth”…”What I have done in the chapel is create a religious space…To take an enclosed space of very reduced proportions and give it, solely by the play of cloys and lines, the dimensions of infinity.”

The Chapel is quite small and he created a space filled with light and color. 

A view of the Interior of the Chapel of the Rosary designed by Henri Matisse

In addition to the Chapel there is a small museum of his work – many sketches for the Chapel as well as other subjects.

The Museum part of Chapel of the Rosary with works by Matisse.

The entire day was relaxing and filled with new sights and sounds.  All in all another wonderful day in the South of France.

03-01-19 South of France was Calling

About 6 months ago, I asked Janeen where in the world she wanted to be for her birthday. After careful thought, she came up with Tourrettes-sur-Loup France. It seems that every year they have a harvest festival in March for the end of the Violet season. This has been going on for some time – with Tourrettes-sur-Loup being the center of the activities. Originally the festival had floats and parades but all of that has been scaled back in the last few years. The festival is first weekend in March (the violet’s growing season ends in early March) and includes various events including a conference on making perfumes, musical events, displays and lots of interesting activities.

Once we knew where we were going I started looking for a place to stay ending up at a Vacation Rental by Owner in the village of Vence (about 2km from Tourrettes-sur-Loup). The apartment is nice – 2 bedroom, living room, full kitchen all the things you need for an extended stay. After arriving in Marseille, we picked up our rental car and headed out. In hindsight, it would have been better to fly into Nice but I wasn’t thinking straight when I made the reservations. A little over 2 ½ hours after leaving the airport we found our way to the apartment.

Prior to arriving we had stopped at the market to pick up some essentials but really all we wanted was a place to settle in and recover from the flights (Dulles to Charles de Gaulle and then to Marseille). After a quiet dinner of cheese, fruit and beverages we hit the bed for the night.

The following day we headed out to Tourrettes-sur-Loup to check out the place and figure out parking and all the other stuff related to visiting a small village (maybe 4,000 residents) on a busy day.   Well, on Thursday it was quiet – a bit chilly and without anybody around! A tasty meal of lamb and frites, was prepared by a French Vietnamese chef and staff and topped off with espresso.

A nice lunch – really wasn’t a busy spot.

We stopped at the Tourist Office and got all the necessary maps and schedules and then spent some time wandering around the old section of town.   As you can imagine, it’s OLD with all the things that go with Medieval – cobble stone streets, old buildings, winding narrow passages and lots of great views of the Valley.

Shops and apartments along the path.
I wouldn’t want to have to walk these every day – particularly in the rain!
The cat isn’t anyone’s in particular, it just lives in the area and poses for pictures.

The City Council has made an effort to encourage artisans to create a workshop and sales space within the old section. This results in some interesting places – olive wood, pottery, metal work, sculpture and other shops are scattered among the more traditional gift shops

One of the gift shops along the way.

and restaurants. We had a very pleasant conversation with a jeweler (from Mexico) who is one of the craft people along the way. He recommended a restaurant (Bistrot Gourmand Clovis – a Michelin star restaurant) we are going to check out next week.

Olive wood bowls, platters and lots of other things. Great prices!
Need a wooden spoon and fork?









After walking around a bit, we went to the Bastide aux Violettes – the museum of the history of Violets. Along the way we stopped in to a little chapel – very small with very modern art on the walls.

The chapel along the way.
A modern take on an alter scene.
A neat depiction of the flood and Noah.

After stopping for a few minutes, we continued on to the Violet Museum.

The Violet Museum
Cute artwork!
These had a number of these “planters” arranged around the outside of the museum. Very cute.

This is much more than a museum; this space is a really meeting place with past traditions and culture of the violet “Victoria”, cultivated in the village since 1880. The museum covers the history of growing and cultivation of the violet

Early violet production tools.
More displays

and gives insight into the use of violets (primarily for perfume). There is also a green house where they grow them but only during the October to March growing season.

The Green House with my love looking at me.
The end of the growing season, sadly.
Proof positive we are both in the greenhouse.

More about the Violet Festival, Tourrettes-sur-Loup and Vence as we continue our exploration of the area.

This is the start of almost 3 months in Europe. We start in the South of France, head to Bordeaux, Belgium, Amsterdam (two river cruises start in Amsterdam) ending in Switzerland (after a 10 day tour) before heading back to Paris and flying home on May 15th. So there will be a lot to see and report. Stay tuned for more as we progress along this European adventure.