06 December 2010

FRANCE: Day 17 - Les Arcs y Callas

Rain again. We’d hoped not, but the predictions came true plus they’ve extended the wet forecast until Thursday. We’re disappointed for LFW as she’s not getting great weather. She’s used to New Orleans, so this cool and damp weather feels like winter to her. We’re happy for high 40s – mid 50s because we know that it’s in the 20s and snowy at home.

We start our day in our favorite way—with a trip to the café and some Internet time. We’re going to Les Arcs sur Argens today—I’ve been lobbying for about a week to visit Maison des Vins Côtes de Provence. I’ve read some about it in Kristin Espinasse’s French Word-a-Day blog. It caught my attention because we’d visited the area in 2008 —the Sainte Roseline Vineyard for a tour and tasting and eaten lunch in a small café in Les Arcs.

Maison des Vins is a slick way to encounter the wines of this area—they offer 800 at the same prices as you’d find visiting the individual vineyards. You can taste up to 16 wines a visit at no charge. The young man who assists LFW and CA with their tasting is likable and helpful—gift wrapping the special wine from Cuers that LFW is buying for a friend who’s family originated in that town. We’re charmed.

When we drive to Les Arcs for lunch, CA and I try to i.d. the small café we visited two years ago, but to no avail. We eventually have lunch at the obvious choice, Café de la Tour, for the plat du jour. Both CA and LFW order duck—two different preparations. CA’s is roasted, sliced, and served in a Morel mushroom sauce with pan roasted potatoes mixed with haricot verts. It’s spectacular. LFW’s is 1/4 roasted duck with pomme frites, which she thoroughly enjoys

On the way back to the car park, we see signs for the 11th century Medieval Village of Les Arcs and decide to check it out. We love it! People live here, there are no shops or boutiques--it's a slice of old France and feels real.

After lunch we drive back to Sainte Roseline Vineyard but are disappointed to find that the Chapelle is not open on Mondays. This time we won’t get to see the shrunken remains of Sainte Roseline as she lies in-state near the altar. We wander about the tasting room; no one is interested in engaging us in conversation or a sales pitch, so we take a few photos and decide to drive LFW to Callas to the olive oil mill.

We again totally enjoy the drive from La Motte to Callas—because of the rain we don’t have the same spectacular scenery, but it’s still lovely. When we arrive at the olive mill, there are more vats of olives ready for processing today, and as before we’re allowed to wander freely amongst the processing stations. LFW totally enjoys the olive oil mill, and we are reaffirmed in our earlier purchases when she selects the same olive oil. We’re all smiling as we head back to the car.

CA does such a fine job of driving us around, and it’s not easy. There are many narrow lanes, sharp curves, unguarded cliff sides, round-abouts, and one way streets in the towns and villages in the Var, and the A8 has its own challenges. Usually by around 4:00pm he’s done-in and ready to take us back to the villa.

We’ll eat in again tonight, so CA and I walk down the hillside to the boulangerie for two baguettes, pear-lemon-apple tarts, and a quick trip to Carrefour for peppers, shallots, and mushrooms. LFW makes a great salad, and I whip up an omelette stuffed with the vegetables and the semi-soft goat cheese the cheese monger gifted us with at the Provençal Market in Antibes yesterday.

We’re going to Nice tomorrow, even in the rain, for some shopping. If it’s too wet for the Marche aux Fleurs, we’ll come back on Wednesday so we can get the full effect, and have lunch at Safari. Maybe it won’t rain tomorrow…


emmanuel said...

The cafe you were looking for is probably still being rebuilt as everything else in the village following the disastrous flood of June 15, destroying everything in its path including 140 cars (I have many photos and links to small films). The Cafe de la Tour not only was one of the first to reopen after 2 weeks, it is now hosting, for free, the newspaper store still not repaired. Glad you were able to visit the Parage. Incidently, Christin used to live here. EmmanuelGPS@hotmail.com

Marielle said...

Merci, Emmanuel. We hadn't known about the flood. Marielle

emmanuel said...

You can see many links to many photos of the flood by going on page one of www.gwenemmanuel.us. Incidentally (and I am sure you will filter this entry out), when both the server/barman and the waitress/owner asked you if the lunch was OK and both days (you came on 2 different days, once as a couple, once in a trio) you answered that if was just fine AND that you didn't return any food (you finished the gnocchi)why say that it was bad food on your blog?

Marielle said...

Good point, Emmanuel. Notice that I've removed those comments from the post. I do believe the gnocci was mediocre, but the foie gras sauce was probably very good--just not to my personal taste. I was more harsh in my comments than necessary. In any case, both of my companions very much liked their food.

I truly appreciate the info on Les Arcs you've shared with me and will definitely read more on the flood when I'm back in the U.S. and have better Internet access.