Summer 2019 Update

We visited in May to make sure the apartment was fully ready for the season.

Everything is looking good. We added a new painting in the main room which we hope you will like and we also had the Shower door replaced. (don’t have a photo yet.)

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New Furry Friend

New Furry Friend

Met this fella on a walk towards San Piere. He was very friendly though he looked like he would eat my coat, my hat and anything else he could reach.

The village is looking great. Someone has a little museum in their garage at the top of the main road opposite the best bakery and the Foyer de campagne.. It is only open occasionally and they have some fantastic motor cycling memorabilia.


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Flowers, flowers, more flowers and the occasional chicken!

It's amazing how just a few people can make such a difference in a village. In Plan there are one or two who go to great lengths to improve their area...without pay or reward. I've posted a few pics from a recent visit. I'm not 100% sure if it is the same person who maintains both. They are close to each other at the top of the village on the road towards Villaudry

Winner of the local floral contest multiple times

Winner of the local floral contest multiple times

Noture how the paintings survive the occasional thunder storm?

Noture how the paintings survive the occasional thunder storm?

Raising chickens is also very popular in the village and I know of three chicken coups. People often feed the chickens their leftover bread,

Important to keep the fox away with a decent fence.

Important to keep the fox away with a decent fence.

Wines and vines

I read recently that you can tell a lot about the quality of a wine by what grows between the vines. Apparently most wine growers use a lot of herbicides to kill any greenery and the idea is that associated bugs go away as well. This helps with the yield but probably has other less healthy side effects for the wines themselves.

There is a growing move towards organic wine growing in the south of fence where the use of herbicides and insecticides is discouraged. Every french supermarket has its "Bio" aisles and Ste Maxime has its own Bio Supermarket beside Weldom with a full range of Wines grown this way.

The pic below was taken close to Plan De La Tour and to me at least it looked like a pretty nice mix of vines and the local flora and fauna.

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Lunch at Plage du Debarquement

I've written about this beach before. Its Just past La Croix Valmer on the left hand side at a roundabout. A fine long sandy beach stretching all the way to Cavalaire. Recently I've managed to have lunch there. Both times at Le Nautic Beach  so its time to do a little review.

Never to early to start eating MUSSELS

Never to early to start eating MUSSELS

 

As usual this is the busiest of the cluster of restaurants around the beach and many of the seats are actually in the sand with a wooden terrace seating areas also available. No harm to reserve if planning to go there on a busy day. We arrived early (ish) 12:15 and even though it was pretty quiet at that stage it was full within an hour. 

Unusually, they dont do a menu du jour just a plat du jour which on this day was Salmon for  22 Euro.

For starters I had a goat's cheese salad described as being done in a Pizza style. This was a really substantial dish which I noted later many were having as a main course. It was really tasty.

The Starter

The Starter

For main course I went with Moules done in a creamy Chorizo sauce served with Frites. Again, this was an excellent dish. They had moules with 4 different sauces. It was interesting to see a small child at an adjacent table tucking into a similar bowl.

Moules in CHORIZO SAUCE

Moules in CHORIZO SAUCE

Finally, for dessert I went for the cafe gourmand which this place is noted for.

This is a mixture of bite sized desserts with coffee all on the same dish. It was really excellent. 

CAFE GOURMAND

CAFE GOURMAND

This place isn't cheap but its not outrageous either.. The starter was 14, the mussels 14 and the dessert 8. A nice house wine was 20. (Prices May 2018). After lunch you can work off some of it with a stroll down the beach. If you head towards Calavaire there are even a few beach bars en route!

 

 Menu from 2019 below. I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes before the main season.

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Marathon ticked off the bucket list

I got to complete the inaugural Marathon Du Golfe du St Tropez last week. Close to 4,000 runners took part and it was a great success and really well organised.

The start was at 8am on the iconic bridge in Ste Maxime. All the local dignitaries were present.

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It was pretty cold for the 8am start but we quickly warmed up as the sun rose and the pace quickened. The course took us from Ste Maxime to Grimaud village to Port Grimaud and then back into St Tropez where we had to run through the village and up past the Chateau.

That was the first 20K and not too bad.. After that we headed into the countryside towards Ramatuelle and thats where it started to get difficult. We had a steep hill to climb at the 30K mark and many struggled with this as the papers next day advised. The finish was in Calvaire and the run alongside the sea to the finish line was really enjoyable.

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I was well on the way to a 3.30 finish but the hills got the better of me and I eventually got home in 3.34 which was a personal best for me and probably the end of my marathon running efforts!

It's probably only in France that you would be rewarded with a bottle of local wine (Rose of course!) and a slice of the local cream cake (Tarte Tropezienne) for running a marathon. But they were both very much appreciated as was the occasionally petit verre of Rose along the route.

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Recommended Restaurants

First the Basics

This is an expensive part of France so there aren't too many bargains to be had. But having said that if you are a little clever you can eat really well for not too much more than very ordinary food costs at home.

Always consider lunch rather than dinner and always go for the menu du jour. This is usually 2 or 3 courses for a fixed price. Many places will include a 'Cafe Gourmand" which is a nice combination of Coffee and desert.

The list below is intended to be brief. I have brief reviews of some of the restaurants mentioned here and I have eaten in all of them more than once.

Plan De La Tour

La Tour du Plan - one of the oldest and most reliable in the village. Their lunch on the terrace is just under 20 Euro (2018) and includes three courses of lovely food. The garden terrace is where everyone eats and the new owners are working hard to build on the reputation of the restaurant.

Pizza Pierrot - Great wood fire pizzas including the famous "white" pizzas made with creme fraiche rather than a tomato base. Pierrot is the owner and Chef and the Pizza will be served when it is ready. Not a moment earlier or later. If you want one of the 2 indoor tables best to reserve it. the Lasagne is really good also. Plenty of seating outside. This is great choice for dinner as it is inexpensive and consistently good.

Le temps des Copains. This charming restaurant has just gained new owners for 2018. Previously the food was excellent and they regularly have a band playing.

Le 19 -Expensive with the dinner menu costing over 40 Euro for Dinner and around 23 Euro for lunch (2018) but very good quality food. Have dined here for dinner just once and it was excellent. 

On Road to Ste Maxime

L'instant. Located on the left hand side as you go to Ste Maxime before the junction with the main route. Good solid week day lunch. always packed with locals. Have never been there in the evening but the reports are good.

Hong Kong Buffet:  Not far from the main supermarket on the left hand side as you head to Ste Maxime. . Plenty of Parking. Not very french I know but sometimes when you are really really hungry a good quality all you can eat buffet is what is needed. The choice and quality here is excellent. The best value is mon-thur lunchtime when it costs around 14 Euro. night times at weekend it goes up to around 21 Euro (2018). 

Ste Maxime

La Maison Bleue. This is in one of the main restaurant streets up the hill on the left hand side. Excellent fixed price lunch menu. Food is always superb and the cafe gourmand finished it off nicely. You need to be seated by 13:30 at the very latest. The menu for the week is on the wall so pick the day when something you like is being served.

L'amiral. right in the middle of the port this place has a great view and great food. Again a fixed price lunch menu is the best value and the week's menus are displayed on a board on the quay. the carafe of Rose is reasonable. Bottled water is very expensive so ask for a carafe d'eau which is free. After lunch why not order an extra carafe and sit on the couches enjoying the sun.

Chez Sophie. Located in a side street in Ste Maxime the main claim to fame is a 10 Euro such with main course and desert. Choices when I was there recently included Moules Frites and a steak frites. Basic but fine for lunch. Frequented by locals which is usually a good sign.

Les Issambres

Restaurant La Réserve Gayrard. This comes highly recommended. Lunchtime menu is about 30 euro (2018) for three courses. Very expensive at night but the view is worth it. Entrance ff the main road is very modest.

http://www.completefrance.com/travel/road-trip-explore-the-cote-d-azur-1-4918384

• n°3609, RD 559, Les Issambres, 83380 Roquebrune-sur-Argens • France
GPS : 43.345034 x 6.710487 • NORTH : 43° 20' 42.122" - EAST : 6° 42' 37.753"

St Tropez

Coming soon

La Croix Valmer - Plage Dembarquement

 

 

 

 

Chateau Ste Roseline and the vintage cars

Quite close to Plan de La Tour (just Past Le Muy so about 20 minutes) there is a fantastic chateau which has a lot of history attached and which hosts an annual vintage car show in April.

This post will focus on the cars but it is a place I will be visiting again to see the famous church, tour the winery and learn about the role it played in the liberation of France in 1945.

Here is their website.

http://www.sainte-roseline.com/en

I visited in April 2017 when the retro car display was in full swing. Admission was supposed to be a very reasonable €4 but if you arrived early (10.30 ish) as we did then no one was charging anything.

The cars were fabulous and the drivers were as diverse as the cars.

We had a great time and unfortunately did not have time to go on the tour of the winery or explore the ancient church of Ste Roseline.

We will return!

An old alfa romeo

An old alfa romeo

A Peugeot

A Peugeot

Jaguar

Jaguar

A lovely Cadillac

A lovely Cadillac

Finally, just a hint of the other treasures contained in this chateau which I will definitely visit again. The plaque on the wall is in memory of a Us army general who spent some time here in very different circumstances in 1945.

 

 

Election Fever

I was lucky to be in France for the first round (Premier Tour) of the Presidential Elections. There were 10 candidates and it was interesting to see how things are done compared with my home country (Ireland)

First of all the poster are highly regimented and each candidate has a designated spot on the panels which are erected in each village. No posters are allowed outside of this.

Emmanuelle Macron - one of the front runnners

Emmanuelle Macron - one of the front runnners

Voting always takes place on a Sunday. There were at least 10 candidates in the first round and two (Le Pen and Macron) made it to the second round.

In Plan de La tour Mr Fillion topped the poll but did not make it to the second round.

The second round takes place two weeks later (Mid May) when the president of France for the next 5 years will be selected.

 

 

2017 Spring Visit

I got to spend another week in Plan this April.

The apartment itself is in great condition and I painted the railing on the balcony as well as buying (more!) pillows, changing the table cloth on the small round table, replacing the cutlery  and some other routine maintenance.

Externally, the walls of the buildings  badly need cleaning and thankfully the AGM of the Syndic (who manage the residence) have agreed to get all the external walls power washed and some dodgy plaster replace, I don't know yet exactly when this will happen but I know that the cost which will be shared amongst the owners will be in the region of 75K euro.

The village is looking great and one local has turned the garage beside the house where he stayed last winter into a museum. When I asked him why ,,he said that it kept him busy in the winter!

Workshop Museum

Workshop Museum

 

 

 

 

Plage du Débarquement - La Croix Valmer

This is an really good beach not that far away from Plan (about 30 - 45 mins drive depending on traffic.). It has soft sand, a great view and easy access.

NOTE: It's a shorter drive from Plan if you take the hill road to the infamous la foux roundabout and follow the signs to la Croix Valmer from there. A little longer if you drive into Ste Maxime and take the coast road to la Foux. Avoid St Tropez Market day on tuesday if you can!)

The beach itself is just past the pretty floral village of La Croix Valmer and is off a roundabout on the left hand side. There is plenty of parking (free out of season) and the beach is approached through a path lined by shops and restaurants. If you fancy a picnic there is a Spar at the other side of the roundabout.

How yo get there!

How yo get there!

The locals have cleverly constructed a jetty which you can walk down and where ferries to and from the various islands in the locality stop in summer season. There is a ticket booth with timetables etc on the walk to the car park.

The Beach

The Beach

This beach itself was one of the landing points for the Allied Invasion of Southern France which began here on the 15th of August 2015. There are a number of plaques marking this event including the one below.

Plaque showing the landings.

Plaque showing the landings.

Incidentally, ff you are ever in this region on 15th August there is a large military vehicle parade which passes through Ste Maxime and Plan de la Tour.

The view from the beach back to land is stunning and the many restaurants and bars offer plenty of choices.

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There are a number of sailing schools on the beach where all sorts of boats can be hired by the hour. There are also public toilets and beach restaurants. 

The beach itself stretches all the way to Calavaire and is at least 5K long on one side. On the other side there is a coastal path which goes back towards St Tropez via Gigaro beach.

When I visited in April there were magnificent flowers growing everywhere on the sand.

Beach flowers

Beach flowers

Finally, if you are a feeling bit energetic you could do worse than walk/Jog down the beach towards Calavaire and about 2 Km along the way there is a cute cocktail bar selling excellent Mohitos!

Panorama

Panorama