South of France: Because I Cannes

We bid au revoir to our French Riviera retreat, and drove the scenic, winding road towards Le Pont-du-Loup. South of France South of France Tucked into the mountainside on the bank of Le Loup river is the Confiserie Florian, France’s answer to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. At the original Confiserie Florian in the Nice Old Town, traditional candies have been cooked down and created since 1974, following the purchase of the former Florian chocolate factory. South of FranceTo this day, traditional practices are followed, specialising in candied fruit and crystallised flowers. But, this isn’t all that’s cooking in this sweet shop.
South of France South of FranceThey’re well known for their jasmine jam, and I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the smell coming from the hot, floral liquid was.  South of France South of France Trays of crystallised candies sat drying until ready to be packaged. Here they make use of flowers and herbs already being used in the profitable perfume industry in a more edible sense. South of France Fruit sweets and jellies surround the workers in bucket loads, ready to be put in their pretty packages and sold across the world. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to control myself should I work behind the glass. In fact, I think I would go full blown Augustus Gloop on my first day. South of France South of France South of France The sweet shop above the factory is bursting with any sweet tooth’s every desire, including floral jams, chocolate candies, toffees, sweets, crystallised flowers and their famous candied fruit.

Positively buzzing and seriously sugar high on samples, we left for Cannes, the resort town synonymous with the flashing lights and glamour of its world-famous film festival. South of France Infinitely more calm than red carpet season, we wandered the picturesque little port town, soaking up the sunshine and salt air. I’ll let you explore the streets with us, but you have to imagine a buzzy atmosphere of lounging locals, meandering tourists and warm sun on your skin. South of France South of France South of France South of France South of FranceSouth of France South of FranceSouth of France South of France

If you know me at all, you’ll know all three reasons I took this shot ^ 
South of France South of France South of France We eventually reached the port for some sea-shopping of enviable variety. South of France South of France South of FranceSouth of France South of France South of France South of France Each as beautiful as the last, we gave up admiring the port-candy for some edible entertainment: fromage.
South of France South of FranceCheese shops in France are nothing short of heavenly, filled with angelic assortments of aromatic offerings. South of FranceSouth of FranceHardly able to contain our hunger much longer, we sank our toes in the sand at Plage Goeland, a beachside restaurant, for some lunch.
South of France South of France To start, an avocado and prawn salad. South of France Followed by a rib steak served with pepper sauce and a mountain of frites. South of France And a sweet finish of panna cotta topped with strawberry sauce. The view, surrounding scenery and sound effects were far better than the food itself, but we happily wiggled our toes in the sand and absorbed every last drop of Vitamin D before leaving for London.South of FranceA sensational trip of sensory indulgence. Mille fois merci, France, for another fabulous escape. Á la prochaine!

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South of France: A Taste of Mougins

We woke up early and headed for Cannes. Rid your mind of a glamorous day of seaside shopping and designer fare – that’s for tomorrow. Today was an adventure of epicurean delight, starting in the Forville Provencal Food Market. South of FranceAccompanied by Head Chef David Chauvac, we searched through tables of bountiful produce, all seasonal and sourced pretty close to home. South of France We watched merchants and locals interact like old friends, swapping stories, explaining recipes and bargaining for better prices. South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France I then fell completely and utterly, head over heels in love. No, not with more cheese – with this guy. South of France Just look at his little ears! He was curled up under a table of fish, waiting patiently for someone to play with. It took a lot of self control to not scoop him up and take him home with me. South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France Having snagged the best produce, freshest fish, and other incredible ingredients, we headed back for the kitchen of Le Mas Candille to get cooking. South of France South of France South of France South of France South of FranceHere, Chef David began by dipping courgette flowers in a light batter and frying them, before sprinkling with sea salt and chilli. South of France South of FranceHe began to cook down artichoke with onion, thyme and citrus, filling the entire kitchen with its aroma.
South of FranceA meaty beef tomato was paired with a langoustine and topped with basil oil.South of France The artichoke and onion was then ready to be plated, the delicate flavour of citrus pairing beautifully with the tender vegetables. South of France South of France Beetroot and monkfish were cooked together, giving it a pink presentation and deliciously sweet flavour. South of France Seared tuna with broccoli and a teriyaki glaze hinted at Chef Chauvac’s love for Japanese culture. South of France Followed by a Japanese stir-fry with massive, perfectly cooked scallops. South of France Having spent the afternoon grazing on Chef Chauvac’s creations, showcasing his talent for inventing dishes on the spot from whatever local produce looked best, we were thoroughly impressed and incredibly full. But, when in France, temptation is always around the corner, or rather, on your plate.South of France Just look how perfectly soft and slightly melty this goats cheese is!South of France

Chef relieved us from our sous chef duties, and we sat on the terrace, spreading cheese on bites of grilled baguette. I even cheekily asked for more of the fig compote from last night – one of my favourite snacks in the world. 
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A surprise soon emerged from the kitchen – a pear and chocolate tart topped with a white chocolate disk for a satisfying crunch.
South of France I leaned back on my chair, replete with French fare, ready for a chat-nap. Instead, I snuck off to the Shiseido Spa for a unique Qi treatment, a massage that incorporates tsubo point stimulation, leaving the body and mind with a sense of well-being. Feeling completely revived, we took a walk to the hilltop town of Mougins. South of FranceFor the culturally inclined, this is a true haven. In modern times, Mougins has been frequented and inhabited by many artists and celebrities, including Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Arman, Yves Klein, César Baldaccini, Paul Éluard, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Winston Churchill, Catherine Deneuve, Édith Piaf and Jacques Brel, to name a few.
South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France South of France As if the streets themselves weren’t stunning enough, the view of the Côte d’Azur between rooftops was simply breathtaking. I can see why so many have fallen for the allure of Mougins.South of France South of France South of France South of France I can’t recommend a trip to the Mougins Museum of Classical Art enough. A British businessman became enamoured by Greek armoury. His collection eventually grew to hold ancient Greek and Roman art and armoury, and had expanded so much, that he decided to put all his pieces in a museum, and open it to the public. It’s unlike anything you’d expect, and the way that the collected pieces are juxtaposed with modern art makes the perspective truly remarkable. South of FranceWe watched as the sky put on another show, filling with vibrant, pink lines, highlighting clouds in yellow. This was the sun signalling it was time for yet another feast. South of FranceWe stayed in Mougins for dinner at a little local restaurant. To start, I had creamy slices of foie gras, paired with winter berry purée and brioche.
South of France My main was… interesting, to say the least. Apple tarte tatin topped with beef and seared foie gras – not something I’ll be ordering again in future.
South of FranceDessert of moelleux au chocolat was a sweet saviour, ensuring I never end a night in France feeling less than satiated.

If you can believe it, tomorrow is even sweeter! I can’t wait to take you to France’s own Willy Wonka-esque chocolate factory – only it’s Florian’s, and very French and much more refined.

À bientôt!