24 November 2010

FRANCE: Day 5 - St. Raphaël y La Motte y Callas

We think about being lazy today, and manage to veg until around 11:30am when we get it together and drive west to the Corniche de l’Esterel (scenic area where the red cliffs of the Esterel Mountain range, meet the Mediterranean Sea). Fabulous. CA does some fancy driving and I navigate… It’s possible to take a train that runs along this scenic ridge and have a leisurely experience with these same views.

Keeping in mind that lunch has to occur before 2:30pm and that shops are closed, for the most part, from 12:00n – 2:30pm, we arrive in St. Raphaël with time to spare. After parking in a garage above the Gare, we walk along the sea and find Le Poussin Bleu (The Blue Chick)—a mid-range restaurant offering straight-forward French fare. CA and I both opt for the Croque Madame with salad and frites and a marvelous rosé.

After lunch we wander through the streets for awhile, then collect the car and drive toward Le Muy and then La Motte since CA wants to scope out the Chateau D’Esclans vineyard. He’d recently sampled their wines at the Wine Cellar in Palatine, IL. He enjoys the tasting, while I take photos around the Chateau. CA is told that all the locals take their olives to Callas for processing and that we can view the process at Moulin de Callas and purchase a supply to take home.

We love being at the olive oil mill. It's a taste of the local culture and we're allowed to walk freely about the mill. It smells lovely, and we can't wait to buy some to take home. At the boutique we're allowed to taste three versions and immediately i.d. a favorite. I would love to buy one of the darling oil 2 litre-sized cans, but it won't fit in my suitcase.

It’s getting toward sunset as we leave Callas, taking secondary roads (D562) toward Grasse. We’re in the magic hour-- the setting sun casts a rich topaz glow into the trees giving a magical ambience that feels as if we’re on a mythical journey through a dreamscape as we wend our way around gorgeous Lac de Saint Cassien, just east of Fayence.

We’re both short on patience and good humor and decide to jump on the A8 at Grasse toward Mougins. Again, it’s too early for dinner and after arriving at our villa, it’s obvious we’re in for the night.

We’ve made some chicken stock with our chicken from Saturday and some pot au feu vegetables (carrots, a turnip, leeks, onion, and parsley). There’s fusili remaining from Monday’s pasta meal which we add to the soup mix. A simple chicken soup, but just perfect to round out our day.

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