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We first went to Aux P’tits Anges in 2017.

I found out about it online somewhere, because I was a bit fed up with the street hawkers and musicians strolling up and down Rue Felix Faure and Le Suquet outside of the main tourist restaurants.

Aux P’tits Anges fit the bill perfectly, as it is located far away from all that, yet is still in the centre of town on a side street near the Marché Gambetta: 4 Rue Marceau (near the corner of Boulevard de la République).

They still have the same maître d’, who likes speaking English. (He is fluent outside of saying ‘idee’ for ‘idea’, which is rather charming.) He worked in England for several months years ago and enjoys taking his family there on holiday.

The owner is the chef, by the way. He also employs two pastry chefs.

2017

Rue Marceau is a modest street of businesses and bars.

Aux P’tits Anges can be a bit difficult to find the first time around — and reservations are recommended. If I remember rightly, we scoped it out one afternoon and reserved a table during their lunch service.

We sat outside, which isn’t exactly scenic, but it did mean we could enjoy a cigarette between courses. Whilst service is good, the maître d’ serves all the tables, indoors and out, therefore, dining here takes a while.

We had the Menu Diablotin for €37 each. There is a higher priced menu, Menu des Anges, for €55. (More here.)

Starters

We both had the pan seared slices of the lobe of duck foie gras (escalope de foie gras).

We received just the right amount of slices, seared to perfection. On the side was a flavoursome mango chutney, which was an ideal complement.

Mains

We both had king scallops (coquilles St Jacques) seasoned with piment d’Espelette and topped with tiny slices of chorizo. We both enjoyed it a lot. As I noted in my food diary, ‘Beautiful!’

Wine

We had a Côtes de Provence rosé 2013 from Château Les Valentines in La Londe-des-Maures (Var). The château, incidentally, is named after the owners’ children, Valentin and Clémentine. I put the name in bold, as we ordered another of their wines in 2019.

Desserts

I ordered the cheese plate, which had two wedges of Tomme and one of Coulommiers.

My far better half (FBH) had a dreamy dessert which was a chocolate cigar — yes, it looked just like the real thing — with a creamy filling. It was served in a tuile ashtray. FBH still talks about it.

Verdict

We both regretted we had already reserved at other restaurants for our remaining nights. We resolved to eat here twice on our 2019 trip, which we did.

2019 — first visit

We did not make reservations for our first return visit this year.

It was a quiet Tuesday evening, and the restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

We opted for the Menu Diablotin again (still €37).

Starters

The chef changed the lobe of foie gras starter.

I preferred his former presentation, but FBH liked this one equally.

The highlight of this was the diced strawberries (with a touch of balsamic vinegar, I would guess) that came as the fruity garnish, rather than chutney, sautéed peaches or figs.

This year, the slices came in a sandwich format. The bread is a charcoal-turmeric marble loaf. The slices were lightly toasted with the foie gras slices in the middle. Obviously, this was not meant to be eaten with one’s hands. Chef probably thought this was a witty presentation.

For me, there was too much bread, especially as the top slice hid the foie gras. Why do that when fewer things are lovelier to look at than seared foie gras?

Initially, I left my bread behind.

Then, as more diners began arriving, the maître d’ understandably was busy taking orders and serving customers. I ended up eating the bread, which I still think is a strange combination of ingredients. However, such flavour combinations in bread have been the trend in certain French restaurants and bakeries in recent years. FBH enjoyed it, so it has its customer appeal.

Mains

We both had the roasted cod (cabillaud) loin topped with tiny slices of chorizo, served with a red pepper and raspberry sauce. It was to die for!

I don’t know how they do their sauce, and the maître d’ said that one could substitute raspberry vinegar for the actual fruit, but it was out of this world. I had to come up with a close facsimile when we got home, because we both wanted it again. What follows is my recipe, which comes pretty darned close to theirs.

Red pepper and raspberry sauce

200g raspberries
pinch of sugar
1 scant tsp balsamic vinegar
3 red bell peppers, finely diced
pinch of salt and pepper
dash of raspberry vinegar

1/ Put the raspberries and sugar in one saucepan and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Remove from the heat to cool, then strain. Keep the juice.

2/ While the raspberries are cooking, put the diced bell pepper into a pan with salt, pepper and the balsamic vinegar. Gently sauté until cooked through — around 15 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool.

3/ Put the raspberry juice and the sautéed bell pepper into a blender or food processor to blitz into a sauce. Strain again, if necessary.

4/ This is a sauce to prepare just before you cook your cod, because the sauce loses the raspberry aspect fairly quickly. If the raspberry taste needs topping up, add a dash of raspberry vinegar to revive it.

5/ Reheat the sauce and serve with the cod, spooning it around the side of the fish rather than on top.

6/ Top with sautéed chorizo slices or bits.

Wine

We had a red, La Punition (The Punishment) 2017, another great wine from Château Les Valentines (see above), priced at €45. The bottle’s tasting notes explain that the grapes — 100% Carignan — were difficult to grow for a number of years. The producers could hardly wait until they had enough Carignan to make this wine, hence ‘the punishment’. Whatever they’ve been doing to make their harvest successful has obviously worked.

Dessert

We both had cheese assortments on this occasion.

The maitre d’ did identify them for us, but I did not note them in my diary. They were very good, however.

2019 — second visit

We could hardly wait to return and, had in fact, booked our table in advance.

We opted for the Menu Diablotin once more, with FBH hoping for a second chocolate cigar!

It was rather windy that evening, so we ate inside for the first time ever.

The chef-owner’s wife and mother-in-law have chosen the little plaques and artwork about happiness. These small additions are rather over the top, but the general atmosphere is one of elegant charm.

Starters

FBH had the lobe of foie gras again, partly for the marble bread.

I opted for breaded gambas (jumbo shrimp), perfectly deep fried and served with courgette tagliatelle. It was delightful.

Mains

We both opted for the duck breast stuffed with foie gras. The sauce was a raspberry coulis, which was perfect.

We ordered seasonal vegetables. These were largely courgettes. The maître d’ explained, ‘Chef loves his courgettes. He puts them with everything.’

The duck was okay, but it was not great. In fact, neither of us would order it again. We expected a juicy, unctuous duck breast with a rim of rendered, crispy skin on top enhanced by an equally unctuous insert of foie gras. The reality was a dry duck breast devoid of all outer skin that even a foie gras centre couldn’t save.

Oh well.

Wine

Another bottle of La Punition (see above)!

Dessert

Amazingly, I did not write down what I had.

But that doesn’t matter, because I will now describe FBH’s dish which we dubbed ‘the dessert of the trip’.

FBH still has fond memories of the chocolate cigar, but the chocolate tart ranks right up there. The experience was further heightened when we saw the two young pastry chefs (both men) go out for a quick ciggie break. They were the same chaps who made the chocolate cigar in 2017.

It was the most elaborate — and tasty — creation.

The filling was a light chocolate mousse topped with a spun red sugar spiral, two tiny chocolate cookie/vanilla ice cream sandwiches and two caramel filled chocolates on the side.

We would have paid any amount of money to take a box of those chocolate caramels back to the hotel. The salted caramel oozed out and was sublime, if not divine.

Additional notes

TripAdvisor has customer reviews.

Conclusion

We will definitely return to Aux P’tits Anges on our next trip.

By then, the menu will have evolved further, including the desserts!

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My far better half (FBH) and I first ate at La Potinière in 2001.

It is located in the heart of Cannes, near the main post office and Palais des Festivals at 13 Square Mérimée.

Potinière means ‘gossping place’, by the way.

2001

I was not keeping food diaries at that point, but I vaguely recall having something with artichokes and most certainly had either prawns or Mediterranean sea bass (loup).

Desserts

What we remember most were the desserts.

The association of olive oil producers had put out a few new, cutting edge recipes that year. One was for strawberries in olive oil with basil, ground pepper and black olives.

It sounds disgusting until you taste it.

Strawberries in olive oil

1 punnet strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
4 – 5 shredded basil leaves
3 – 4 twists of black pepper
1 – 2 tsp sugar
6 – 7 pitted black olives, thinly sliced
Dash of balsamic vinegar

Mix everything together 15 minutes beforehand and serve in a parfait glass with a sprig of mint.

As I was sceptical of this combination, I opted for the restaurant’s homemade ice cream. That was when lavender ice cream was all the rage along the French and Italian Rivieras. The owner said he would give me a scoop of lavender and one of pistachio. A Mediterranean combination made in heaven! Sheer bliss.

FBH had the strawberries and raved about them. I tried a spoonful. They were fantastic!

We made this recipe at home several times afterwards. Our guests loved it, too.

2003

Again, I had no food diary, but what we had was excellent.

I don’t think they had the strawberries on the menu anymore, which was somewhat disappointing.

Gossip

What I do remember was a conversation we had with the man we reckoned was the owner, who is no doubt the son of the founding family and father — probably — of the current proprietor. He was in his 50s at the time.

When we had been there in 2001, a chef from London opened his own restaurant next door. I’d read about it in the Evening Standard a few months before we went to Cannes. We didn’t eat there, as the interior was very dark: purple walls.

In 2003, the Englishman’s restaurant was no longer there. We asked the gentleman from La Potinière what happened. He said that he and other restaurateurs attempted to befriend him and welcome him into their little informal club. The Englishman, to his detriment, was not interested.

Our man told us how important it was to be on good terms with other restaurateurs in Cannes. Whilst they are competitors, they are also allies, sometimes friends. He said they can help you source better deals and, if you run short of something, they can supply it on a busy night.

Unfortunately, the Englishman, the man said, thought he could do it all by himself. Eventually, business trickled off and, as he had no restaurateur friends in town, it closed.

Moral of the story: when someone in the know, especially your next door neighbour, extends a professional hand of friendship, accept his kindness.

Subsequent years

We went to La Potinière a few more times afterwards.

I can’t remember when we stopped going. Possibly 2013 or 2015. The menu changed and seemed a bit lacklustre to us. Service, even from our man, was so-so.

In any event, they expanded next door, which was good.

2019

We wanted a restaurant nearby this year, because on the night we went, a new episode of Philippe Etchebest’s Cauchmar en Cuisine (Kitchen Nightmare) was going to air on M6 at 9 p.m. There’s nothing like watching one of your favourite foreign television shows on the night it airs, is there?

So, we opted for La Potinière. Our man was still there in the background, but it seemed as if his daughter (?) was running front of house. She made a point of speaking English to us most of the time, even though we kept responding in French. She was quite friendly, although rather forceful.

They had a new summer apprentice and she taught him how to present wine to the customer, how to open the bottle and then pour a tasting portion. He must have only just turned 18. He was rather nervous, understandably. It was his first day.

Starters

FBH had smoked salmon.

I had deep fried king prawn spring rolls Indonesian style (4 pieces), which were excellent: hot and crispy to the very end.

Mains

FBH had a roast chicken breast, which was competently prepared.

I had fillet of sea bream (daurade royale), which was outstanding.

Wine

We drank a bottle of white Cassis — Bodin 2017 — for €39.

Bill

We each had the €25.50 prix fixe menu. Our bill came to €90 — our least expensive evening out on this trip.

And, yes, we left the restaurant at 8:45 p.m., in plenty of time to be ready for Cauchemar en Cuisine, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Additional notes

The founders’ grandson, Larry, was the head chef for several years and has been managing the restaurant for at least four or five years now. He trained under Jacques Chibois and also attended Alain Ducasse’s cooking school.

The current chef favours lighter, modern, no-frills dishes focussing on a main ingredient, be it fish, meat or aubergine. This is a vegetable-friendly establishment. They also have their own traditional pizza oven.

TripAdvisor has customer reviews for the restaurant.

Conclusion

Would we rush back? No.

Is La Potinière a good place for dining on simple food relatively quickly? Yes.

This year, I was pleased to have been able to attend two Sunday services at the Reformed Church in Cannes, 7 rue Notre-Dame.

The name in French is no longer ‘Reformed’ because, those churches unified some time ago with the Lutheran churches in France to create L’Eglise Protestante Unie.

That said, L’Eglise Protestante Unie in Cannes offers a Reformed service rather than a Lutheran one.

2017

Although I went there in 2017, I did not document it. I previously posted on the church in 2015, in the final weeks of Pastor Paolo Morlacchetti’s tenure there. He went to Nice to serve at l’Eglise St Esprit that summer.

I appreciated my visit in 2017. At that time, they had a newish pastor, the Revd Philippe Fromont, who is still there today, I am happy to say. His sermons are very good.

Their organist that year was excellent. I could have listened to him play for hours.

2019

I attended Exaudi and Pentecost Sunday services, both of which were very good.

Pastor Fromont has cut back on the liturgy somewhat. We had only one reading each Sunday and no Psalm. By contrast, in 2015, there were two readings and a Psalm.

Both were Communion services.

When entering the church proper, congregants take a hymnal, a Bible and the liturgical booklet, all of which are neatly stacked in the back pew. The liturgical booklet is colour coded for the Church year.

Exaudi Sunday

Exaudi Sunday is the one between Ascension Day and Pentecost.

The reading was from Acts 1:

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Pastor Fromont’s sermon followed the traditional, bittersweet Exaudi Sunday themes: the feeling of sadness that the disciples had following our Lord’s Ascension and the anticipation of a new beginning.

He said that they had no idea what would happen when the Holy Spirit came and asked how often we feel that when an abrupt change comes into our own lives: a severe loss, followed by a new beginning. While the new beginning is not what we had expected, it is often better than we had feared. His sermon was far superior to my summary, by the way. It was actually comforting and inspiring.

After the service, on the way out, he wished me a pleasant stay in Cannes.

Pentecost Sunday and Confirmation

This service was exceptional, as it included a Confirmation service.

Fromont said that it was the first he had performed thus far during his three years in Cannes. He confirmed two boys, Alexei and Dmitri, both of whom are probably 16 years old. If I remember rightly, both have French fathers and Russian mothers.

I spotted Dmitri straightaway as soon as I entered the nave. He was dressed in a suit, white shirt and bow tie. He was talking with family and friends, bussing them, shaking hands and so on. His comportment was very advanced for his age. He was intriguing to watch, because he was very much at ease with young and old alike.

The reading

The reading was from Acts 2:

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Fromont’s sermon expanded on the Exaudi Sunday one, which was a good segue, especially to get us into the mindset of the disciples.

He continued to explore the idea of an end and a beginning. One stage of the disciples’ lives had ended and another began at that first Pentecost. They entered into a powerful new phase not only of their lives but that of the Church. Again, my summary doesn’t do it justice, but I could have readily listened to more.

The sermon ‘joke’

Fromont then turned his attention to the two confirmands.

They, too, he said, were ending one phase of their lives and entering into a new one through Confirmation.

He told an all too real ‘joke’. (By way of explanation, many families stop going to church once their children are confirmed.) A Catholic priest had problems with pigeons in his church’s belfry. He’d tried everything, but they would not leave. So, he decided to consult the other clergy in his small town. He enquired of the rabbi, who offered his commiserations but had no solution. He then asked the Protestant pastor for his advice. The pastor said, ‘Baptise them, confirm them and you’ll never see them again’.

Fromont said he hoped that would not be the case with the two boys he was about to confirm. Each is going to study abroad during the next school year. He said, ‘We won’t be seeing you for a while, but we hope that you will not forget your church family. We look forward to seeing you again upon your return.’

Confirmation, he said, was a beginning of a new life with the Triune God, not the end of attending church. (How true.) He said he hoped that they would continue to grow spiritually and manifest their faith to others, including in the countries where they were going to study.

I pray that they do, too.

Confirmation

I was encouraged when Fromont invited both sets of parents and both boys’ godfathers to speak individually to the congregation. Both sets of parents said that their sons had begged them for Confirmation classes. Fromont catechised the boys in meetings and discussions over a period of months.

Dmitri’s father gave a sermon, giving his son — and us — his favourite Bible verses ‘to live by’. The man, who is an instructor at the Conservatory in Cannes, is a powerful speaker. I can see where his son gets his self confidence.

I should say that both boys spoke before their parents and godfathers did. Both thanked their pastor for the catechism instruction and thanked their parents for allowing them to be confirmed. Dmitri is incredibly comfortable speaking in public. He spoke at length, only glancing at his tablet now and then. He will go far in life, I’m sure.

After the speeches, Fromont prayed over both boys and blessed them. There was no anointing with chrism (blessed oil), but I did not expect that.

Music

There was no organ music that day. Dmitri’s father played guitar, accompanying another Conservatory instructor who played the piano. The two were so good that I felt we were listening to recorded music.

Students from the Conservatory also made their contributions, as Dmitri’s friends. The first group were three little boys who played ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ on violins. The lady playing the piano conducted them. She also conducted one of the violinists and played a sombre duet with him.

A teenage boy played a Glenn Miller number on his saxophone. He was very good, too.

So, although these students’ contributions were not religious, they were, in a sense, offerings to God of the talents He had given them.

Communion

There is a certain etiquette to receiving Communion there, which is why I prefer the services without the Sacrament.

Everyone gathers around the altar. The bread is cubed brioche. Some people offer a cube to the person next to them. I did that years ago and the woman to whom I presented it gave me the side eye, so I never did it again. This year, I took mine and passed the plate to the man next to me. He side-eyed me, probably because I didn’t put the bread in his hand. I don’t know.

The cup is then passed in two forms: the chalice and little plastic cups. Whether one drinks from the chalice or the plastic cup, it’s grape juice, not wine.

Fromont gave us his views on Communion on one of those Sundays in his sermon. He adopts the Zwinglian approach, that both the bread and the ‘wine’ are symbolic of the Last Supper. He does not believe in a sense of Real Presence. However, he did say the Sacrament was a means of grace, which was why we needed to partake of it.

On Pentecost Sunday, the confirmands came by with the bread and the wine, which was really nice to see. This was their first Communion, too.

———————————————————————————-

I hope to report on church again when I next visit Cannes, God willing.

Still in a Provençal state of mind after this year’s holiday in Cannes, I planned a blow out Bastille Day menu this year.

Starter

We had half a lobe of goose foie gras, cut into thick slices and sautéed quickly over high heat.

Keep the thawed or fresh foie gras in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. That way, it retains its firmness and shape in the pan.

Experts, such as Urban Merchants in the UK, recommend using duck foie gras for sautéeing instead, because goose has a higher iron content. They are correct in saying that goose foie gras does less well under this cooking method, nonetheless, it was unctuous! We had the other half of the lobe today.

As foie gras of any sort requires fruit or chutney on the side, I borrowed an idea from a restaurant in Cannes, Aux P’tits Anges (To the Little Angels).

Instead of using chutney, fig or sauteed peach, they served their seared duck foie gras with a tablespoon or two of finely diced strawberries instead. It is a perfect — and inexpensive — seasonal complement.

I prepared my strawberry garnish for two in a small bowl, mixed together as follows:

9 medium sized strawberries, hulled and finely diced
1 scant tsp balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 pinches of freshly ground pepper

Today’s foie gras is produced humanely. As I have written before, these ducks and geese are naturally conditioned to want food frequently. They are like overweight humans who, over time, turn off their bodies’ natural appetite suppressant in the brain.

Foie gras is healthful, as the French — particularly those in the southwest of the country, the main foie gras producing region — know only too well. There are a lot of healthy elderly people in France who are well into their 80s and 90s.

This 1991 article from the New York Times discusses the health benefits of foie gras and focuses on people in the southwest, many of whom eat it every weekend.

One thing I did notice in France was that most of the restaurant dishes are largely keto. Remember that bread is served on the side, so how much the diner carbs up is up to him! Too many carbs combined with too much fat will cause a health problem, which is what a lot of people do not realise.

Wine

Serve a sweet wine with foie gras, such as Coteaux du Layon or Sauternes. We had Sauternes this year.

Main

We had gambas — large prawns — for our main course. Ours were the largest, which come 8 to 10 to the kilo.

Earlier in the day, I deveined them and made a delicious stock from the shells and heads, which I used for a sauce (see below).

I put the prawns in an olive oil based fresh herb, crushed garlic and seasoning mixture to marinate for a few hours, then, refrigerated. Once I brought them out of the fridge to room temperature for 30-60 minutes (depending on outdoor weather), I sautéed them for a few minutes each side over medium high heat.

Prawn sauce recipe:

2 tbsp corn flour
2/3 cup prawn stock
3 to 4 cloves crushed garlic
Seasonings — salt, pepper, cayenne, Old Bay
2 tbsp Noilly Prat or other white vermouth
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp butter

1/ Make a slurry with the corn flour and prawn stock and place in a saucepan over medium heat.

2/ When the sauce thickens after a couple of minutes, add the crushed garlic and add seasonings according to taste.

3/ Add the vermouth and stir.

4/ Add the cream and stir.

5/ When finished, add the butter and stir for a glossy appearance.

6/ Take off the heat. Reheat once ready to serve.

Some people can handle starch and protein better than others. Those people get a hefty portion of chips. Others can have a timbale of seasoned rice on the side.

Serve with a green vegetable of choice.

Wine

As it was Bastille Day, we opted for champagne!

Other accompaniments

We watched the Tour de France — what else on July 14?

We first ate at Au Mal Assis in the Old Port area of Cannes in 2015.

I gave it a rave review then.

We have since returned twice.

Au Mal Assis is the oldest restaurant in the Old Port. It has been in operation since 1914 and is located at 5 Quai Saint Pierre.

2017

Be warned, the portions are generous here.

Starters

My far better half (FBH) had octopus (poulpe) salad which included two langoustines and two large shrimp (gambas). That could have been a main course. I noted at the time: ‘HUGE!’

I had a dozen escargots and was able to retrieve each from the shell. The parsley/garlic butter was copious and perfect with baguette.

Mains

BH ordered the veal escalope with creamy mushroom sauce and skinny chips (fries). It was another huge plate of food.

I opted for the coquilles St Jacques (king scallops) in sage and balsamic sauce over rice. What a delight!

We decided then that we would return in 2019.

Wine

We drank a satisfying red Bandol from the Var region: Domaine La Ragle 2011 (83330 Domaine de la Roque).

Dessert

I ordered a cheese assortment (assiette de fromage), which was a delightful end to dinner.

FBH declined, having had too much to eat!

2019

This was the first restaurant we went to this year.

Our expectations were high.

The bill came to €111.50 for two.

Service

Service was very slow this year. Admittedly, we went out later than usual this time.

Starters

The dozen escargots were once again on the money. Unfortunately, I could retrieve only ten this time.

FBH ordered the home made foie gras de canard, which was delicious.

Mains

Both of us had stunning sea bass fillets (loup from the Mediterranean) which was encrusted with a tasty basil and bread crumb crumble. We would certainly order that again.

This dish is priced at a reasonable €22. In my notes, I wrote: ‘GREAT VALUE!’

Wine

We drank a white AOC de Provence: St Victorin from Christian Troin et Fils (Var).

I noted: ‘GOOD WINE!’

Desserts

As it was late, I had eaten sufficiently.

BH wanted a cheese platter, but our waiter took so long to return to our table that we gave up, which was disappointing.

Additional notes

This is the menu, which shows that some dishes are much more expensive than others.

TripAdvisor has very mixed reviews.

As we left, one of the staff was assembling a two-tiered sumptuous seafood platter. We told him it was as if we were watching an artist at work. He smiled broadly and thanked us. Every bit of seafood had its precise place on the plates.

Conclusion

We would return to Au Mal Assis but would go shortly after it opens. The later one goes, the greater the likelihood of poor service.

2017 was the first time we dined at Gaston Gastounette in the Old Port area of Cannes, at 6 Quai Saint Pierre.

We returned this year.

I looked at my restaurant notes to see that the two of us had ordered nearly the same dishes both times.

The service can be painfully slow — and this is a place that has experienced old school waiters — but the food is worth the wait for first or second time diners.

Either the menu has changed since we were there a few weeks ago or it is merely representative, but the descriptions below should demonstrate that the cooking is competent.

Diners choose two starters and one main course. Prix fixe menus are currently priced at €33 and €41.

This is the wine list.

2017

In 2017, both my far better half and I ordered the €40 prix fixe menu. We sat outdoors next to a British couple.

The waiter brought us regional black olives as an amuse bouche.

Service

The wait between courses was so long that both of us yearned to light up cigarettes. However, we didn’t, because of the couple sitting next to us.

When it came time to leave, all four of us got up at the same time. We moved a few yards away and all of us lit up simultaneously.

We all remarked that, as we were together, we could have easily smoked between courses at dinner — and had a good conversation.

All of us wondered why the service was so doggone slow.

I remember that we kept eating the bread — thankfully, the waiter refilled our bread baskets regularly — and that I ate all the butter provided. Believe me, there was a lot of butter.

Starters

That year, the two of us began with two starters each of salmon tartare, filet of sea bream (dorade) and three oysters. There was a garnish of salad on the side of the plate. Why they left the salad undressed is anyone’s guess. A bit of vinaigrette would have added just the right note of acidity.

Other than that, the starters were very good, indeed. The oysters were of a good size with perfect flavour: sweet and salty at the same time.

Mains

My far better half (FBH) ordered deep fried squid (calamar) and shrimp (gambas). In my notes, I wrote, ‘Looked great — nice and crispy’. The tempura batter looked perfect.

I ordered baked sea bass (loup, from the Mediterranean) garnished with sautéed artichokes. I noted, ‘Lots of artichoke! Yum!’

Wine

We drank Bandol Blanc, Domaine Bunan 2015, Moulin des Costes from the province of Var (83740 La Cadière d’Azur).

Desserts

My FBH had baba au rhum, described as rather ‘industrial’.

I had a competently prepared creme brulée.

2019

This year, we chose the €36 prix fixe menu.

We sat indoors near the window this time. There were no tables outside the restaurant.

The waiter brought us regional black olives as an amuse bouche. I was happy to see that they continue to do that.

Starters

Each of us ordered oysters, which were perfect, as in 2017.

For the second option, my better half had the raviolo with white truffle.

I had the artichoke salad, which was ginormous, with lots of artichoke.

Mains

This time, I decided to have the deep fried squid (calamar) and shrimp (gambas), too.

Both of us thought they were excellent. The tempura batter was outstanding.

Wine

We drank Cassis, which is a white or a rosé wine from the Var and not in any way like creme de cassis (blackcurrant) used in kir.

We chose the Domaine du Paternel (Santini family) for €44.

Service

Service was execrable, considering there were only a few tables of diners. We got there shortly after 7 p.m.

I am happy to say that I did not devour the whole pot of butter at our table.

Dessert

The waiter did not even ask us if we wanted dessert! He just presented us with the bill (€114).

Additional notes

I understand that the ladies’ loo is done in marble and is above average for Cannes restaurants in its cleanliness.

You can read more about Gaston Gastounette on TripAdvisor.

Conclusion

As the service so slow and we were not even asked if we would like dessert this year, we are unlikely to return.

We’ve been there twice and ordered the same things twice, so there is no need for a third visit.

That said, Gaston Gastounette is worth a visit for those who don’t mind waiting. The food is excellent.

This is the final instalment of my Cannes notebook for 2019 (see parts 1 and 2).

Tomorrow, posts delve into the city’s restaurants.

Before then, here is a bit more about Cannes past and present.

The Anglo-French relationship

In 2017, I wrote a brief history of Cannes, from its earliest days to the present.

For centuries, the Church — via the local monastery on St Honorat Island — played a huge part in the lives of the townspeople.

After the Revolution, things changed dramatically. By then, the English were making their grand tours of France and Italy.

In 1834, Lord Brougham and his daughter Eleonora toured the Côte d’Azur in the hope of finding a place where she could recuperate from her bronchial ailment. By chance, they stopped in Cannes — then, like neighbouring Nice, a poor fishing village — where she recovered. The Cannois extended exceptional hospitality towards the two, and it was not long before Lord Brougham built a villa there for his daughter.

He and his family enjoyed their stays in Cannes. He told his English friends that they, too, should consider spending their holidays there.

With that, the numbers of foreigners grew and grew. By the time Lord Brougham died in 1868, dignitaries and royalty from not only Britain but also the Continent had built holiday villas in Cannes.

Today, everyone visiting Cannes can see a grand statue of Lord Brougham in the city centre (next to McDonald’s!) overlooking a large fountain facing the Bay of Cannes.

As one can see from this Provençal festival poster below, the English were still involved in the city’s activities in the 1920s:

The Lord Brougham referenced there would have been a direct descendant.

The Entente Cordiale between Britain and France began in 1904. This short British Pathé newsreel shows the 25th anniversary commemoration of this important alliance, which exists to this day. In 1929, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, was the honoured guest in Cannes, along with many other British and French dignitaries:

The cityscape looks much different these days! For a start, the old casino in the film was razed a long time ago.

New developments

Mayor David Lisnard has been making many changes which he hopes will further improve the city.

I am less sure, but then I always liked the little quirks that made Cannes such a unique place. They are quickly disappearing.

Rue Felix Faure

This street runs parallel to La Croisette and has the city’s most popular restaurants.

Lisnard is pedestrianising the street so that it forms a new esplanade running from the north side of the Croisette near the bandshell all the way to the restaurants’ frontage.

I already miss the traffic that used to go down there. I used to look at the registration numbers to see where the various cars were from. There were no bin men doing their early evening collections, either. Oh well.

I can understand Lisnard’s objective, but yet another quirky aspect of Cannes daily life has disappeared.

Plage Zamehnof

Zamenhof Beach is at the eastern end of La Croisette.

It has recently been enlarged and improved:

Largely, it’s a great move, especially as this is a public beach.

But …

Look at the rocks to the left of the photo. When we first started going to Cannes regularly in the late 1990s, they used to be a haven for locals who sunbathed nude. They did not bother anyone because the place was deserted. The sunbathers did not seek each other out. They placed themselves as far apart as possible.

Some years later, the nearby marina was expanded, making that area more exposed. Fewer lone sunbathers went there for privacy and quiet.

Now, as you can see, the rocks are deserted.

Another quirk gone forever.

Le Carré d’Or

The Golden Square is just off the Croisette.

It had the city’s nightclubs, particularly the late, glitzy Sparkling (6-8 Rue des Frères Pradignac), which was no stranger to the local news in 2013.

This area, comprising the small streets of Rue Macé, Rue des Frères Pradignac, Rue Gérard Monod and Rue du Commandant André, is undergoing renovation:

I can vouch for the fact that, since 2014, a number of traditional French restaurants in that area have closed. I accept that a) people retire and b) restaurants fail.

However, their replacements in Le Carré d’Or are highly-priced, characterless, blingy restaurants and bars designed for those on expense accounts, i.e. conference goers.

I liked the old places better. It was in this Golden Square that we had our first serious dining experiences in Cannes.

Another bit of ‘old’ (my term) Cannes that is no more.

Rue des Serbes

Arrgh! This is where the Nice Airport bus used to stop on its return journeys. It was so easy for travellers staying in the vicinity.

Note the palm trees in the before and after photos:

Okay, it’s now streamlined, and no doubt delivery lorries find it much easier now, but it’s too darned tidy!

I also lament the absence of the palm trees just to make a new bus lane.

This part of Rue des Serbes coming off La Croisette was actually quite pretty in the ‘old’ days. No longer.

Le Suquet

On top of Le Suquet, the old quarter, is a fortress which was turned into a modern art museum many years ago.

Added since our last visit is a large gold CANNES sign, similar to the HOLLYWOOD one in California, only more discreet.

You cannot see the sign in the photos below, but when you are in the centre of town a few storeys up you can see it and the clock clearly, even if the clock looks tiny here:

I haven’t been up there so I cannot comment, but I have been along the streets below the fortress, and they had some character to them. I will have to return next time to see if everything there has been cleaned up, too.

Conclusion

We saw a lot fewer cars in the centre of Cannes.

It seems that is one of the objectives of this exercise.

With that, however, the city is also beginning to lose some of its innate charm.

Cannes needs a bit of its old chaos. However, that’s all by the wayside now.

Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage

I attended Mass in this 19th century church in May 1978, in the days when I was still Catholic.

It is absolutely beautiful and, if I am not mistaken, Grace Kelly attended Sunday Mass when she was in town for the Cannes Film Festival one year in the 1950s.

This is another restoration project the city is undertaking:

There is a stone plaque on the side of the church along Rue Notre-Dame commemorating Napoleon’s march along that route.

It is one of Cannes’s oldest churches and why it is important to Mayor Lisnard and to the city. Both the exterior and interior will undergo renovation:

The importance of classical music in Cannes

Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage is known for its organ music. Often, between 6 and 7 p.m. you can hear the organist rehearse for Mass.

On June 24, the local Conservatoire de Musique et Théâtre gave an end of term concert at the church:

Here are some excellent photographs of that event — and of the church interior:

Education

As I mentioned yesterday, education has long been a priority for Cannes.

A new initiative has been launched for every child born in Cannes who is still living in the city on his or her sixth birthday — a set of six books to enjoy during their formative years:

These books will cover traditional subjects such as fairy tales, mythology, history, animals and nature:

Lisnard’s EAC — Education Artistique et Culturelle — has been achieved and appears to be going nationwide:

Parents attend special art workshops with their children. This one was held on a Saturday in June:

The mayor also actively promotes civic education in schools:

In order to receive the ‘passport’, each child has to undertake eight activities, involving personal behaviour, citizenship, computing and the environment:

This was a voluntary school project but will become mandatory in all Cannes schools for the next academic year:

Mayor Lisnard distributed the passports personally:

Thus ends my summary of Cannes for another year — with nary a celebrity or film star in sight!

Yesterday’s post was the first of three parts about my visit to Cannes in 2019.

Today’s post gives a bit of insight into this beautiful city.

Mayor David Lisnard (LR, conservative) has a personal mandate to make Cannes even more beautiful.

Sustainability

Over the past several years, Cannes has adopted national and its own local measures that help to keep the city clean.

A few years ago, posters on street furniture and municipal vehicles brought litter fines to the public’s attention.

As of May 1, 2019, 72,993 fines have been issued since 2014 for everything from litter, including domestic pet detritus, to disturbing the peace. As the tweet notes, money from said fines goes to the State rather than the City of Cannes:

This is the view from the mayor’s office at City Hall. Lisnard notes that the city is already clean for the day, which is just as well, because there is plenty of activity even before office hours:

City Hall is on the right in this photo of the Old Port:

Here is the mayor’s office:

Here is the interior:

Lisnard is also concerned about what is going on beneath the city:

This year, we noticed tiled roundels next to many of the grilles over the city’s gutters. Each was labelled with this reminder:

Ici commence la mer. Ne rien jeter. (The sea starts here. Don’t throw anything (here).)

There are plenty of public waste bins, including ashtrays.

Markets

Marché Forville in the old part of the city continues to thrive, supplying restaurateurs and the general public with fresh produce, fish, meat and cheese. There are also flower stalls and, on certain days, intriguing second-hand markets with stunning china and silverware from house clearances:

We went here every other day.

As seen on La Croisette

La Croisette is the main boulevard running along the coastline in the city centre.

Cruise ships, such as this one, can be seen on the horizon. One or two a week dock at the end of the Old Port. In this tweet, Lisnard has asked the French prime minister Edouard Philippe to require cruise ships to limit their pollution:

On the other side of the spectrum, we saw this vessel while we were sitting watching the world go by:

This is the sort of sunset one can expect to see:

At night, the iconic carousel is illuminated:

As seen from the hills

This is the cityscape that one sees from the neighbourhoods in the hills of Cannes:

Sunrise

The sunrises here are incredible:

Here is the Old Port:

Sunset

Here is a beautiful shot of the city as the sun sets on La Croisette:

And looking westward towards the Old Port:

After the sun sets, the city’s natural beauty is still alluring:

Education

Schools have long been a priority in Cannes.

The city is currently the only one in France to mandate art and music classes as part of the local curriculum, as per Cannes Soleil magazine (June 2019).

I will have more on local education tomorrow.

Better spending, more improvements

Since 2014, David Lisnard has managed to reduce the city’s debt …

… whilst spending public money more efficiently through better controlled salaries and fewer city employees …

… in order to renovate districts throughout the city:

Local taxes are among the lowest in France:

More to come tomorrow.

I was delighted to have been in Cannes once again for a satisfying stay.

I didn’t really write much about my holiday there in 2017, because Trump was in his first year as president, and I wanted to document that. Consequently, his trips that summer overtook the rest of my holiday report, especially with regard to restaurants.

This also includes a bit on Nice Airport, which has undergone a few exterior changes at Terminal 1.

Nice Airport

Terminal 1 at Nice Airport has expanded outside the arrivals exit leading towards the city and regional buses.

In 2017, we were still able to wheel our luggage out the door, buy bus tickets for Cannes and hop on the bus which was in Quay 3. It was a very short walk.

Since then, it’s all changed.

Now there is a sprawling esplanade where the buses used to park.

There are three cafés there with plenty of seating and open space, making the walk to the buses somewhat longer.

The Nice Airport bus service to Cannes is now in Bay 4. The round trip price for two people is €66.

Airport bus changes

The airport bus — Cannes Express 210 — used to be part of the regional transport services.

Now it is run by Zou. The schedule is the same — every half hour — but the drop off points have changed in Cannes.

Going to Cannes

On the way in, the bus used to stop at Vauban in Le Cannet, just before entering the centre of Cannes.

Its next and final stop was near the Hôtel de Ville (Mairie) — City Hall — where a taxi rank is right across the street. It was very simple.

The bus now goes directly from Nice Airport to Cannes railway station — gare — in the centre of town. The taxi rank is at the other end, so entails a longer walk.

Paradoxically, the railway station is closer to our hotel, but a real pain to walk with luggage, as the street where the hotel is located is very narrow. There was much more walking room along the Croisette and even Rue d’Antibes with the old City Hall stop. This map illustrates the situation better.

Returning to Nice Airport

The airport bus used to stop on Rue des Serbes along with the local Cannes buses to pick up passengers headed for Nice Airport.

That was most convenient, because a lot of hotels are nearby.

Now one has to go back to the railway station, all the way to the end of the bus bays near Monoprix. It’s quite a walk, and the streets are crowded, especially on Saturdays. Negotiating pedestrians is not easy at the best of times. It’s even worse with luggage.

On the return trip, the bus continues to stop in Le Cannet at Place Bénidorm, which is no doubt a relief for the people there.

A win-win for taxis

The rerouting of the airport bus must have seemed simple for city planners and their consultants.

However, they do not seem to have done the trip themselves with multiple pieces of luggage on a busy afternoon.

Many bus users with several bags will probably hire a taxi to take them a very short distance to the railway station. They will pay a crazy price for those trips, I’m sure, especially when large conferences are going on.

Ferries to the Îles de Lerins

We have never been to the Îles de Lerins — Sainte-Marguerite (old fort) and Saint-Honorat (monastery). It used to be very easy to get the ferry which was located at the ferry terminal — gare maritime — in the centre of the city.

Since our last visit in 2017, those ferries now leave from the Old Port, which is a considerable — 15-minute — walk from the Gare Maritime.

That’s another win-win for local taxi drivers! Maybe they had a say in redoing the ferry stop along with the airport bus stops!

Taxi fares

We have noticed during our biennial stays that taxi fares are unpredictable, even when going a similar distance or along the same route.

Some drivers charge €7 for the same journey whereas others charge €8 and even €10, so it is worthwhile planning to pay more rather than less.

Supermarkets and prices

I checked supermarket prices in the centre of town at Casino (just behind the railway station), Monoprix and Carrefour.

Pastries

The Carrefour at 6 Rue Meynadier has really improved over the years. It was good in 2017 and is even better now. What used to be a sad, down-at-heel supermarket has been redone and has every item you’d expect to find. Carrefour had the best prices overall and excellent quality, especially in the fresh bakery aisle, where we bought two satisfying Trianon slices for under €4. Their two coffee religieuses for €3.50 are not only a bargain but of a very high quality indeed.

Chocolate

Chocolate prices are much more expensive than in the UK this year.

Normally, I buy several tablets of baking chocolate to bring back. Not so this year.

Supermarket own-brand chocolate from the Ivory Coast is a little over £1 in the UK and more than triple that in France.

Coffee

Coffee prices in France are on a par with those in the UK.

My favourite is Suprêmo d’Arabica, available here in Britain for £4.50 (250g).

Although our labels say Rombouts, the coffee is actually produced by one of their subsidiaries, Malongo, which is in Carros, not far from Cannes.

Malongo has a great range of coffees, including espresso.

There are Malongo cafés now in the south of France. I meant to go to the one at Nice Airport before returning to London — it’s right where we used to board the bus to Cannes —  but we didn’t have time.

Jean-Luc Pelé

For a treat, I returned to local chocolatier, pâtissier and boulanger Jean-Luc Pelé’s shop at 36 Rue Meynadier to buy a box of nine assorted dark chocolates for €10. The lady behind the counter asks what you would like, which is a nice touch.

N.B.: Do not put his chocolates in the refrigerator! They should be kept at room temperature.

Pelé trained at the renowned Lenôtre in Paris where he learned how to make macarons. His shop has macarons in all sorts of flavour combinations. He also has a bakery there.

Pelé also has a café at 3 Rue 24 Août, specialising in sandwiches and desserts.

Pelé’s main shop is in Le Cannet at 104 Boulevard Carnot. The airport bus goes right past it. He and his team were contestants in M6’s La Meilleure Boulangerie de France several years ago. I think they were just a bit too fancy to win that week’s regional finals, which was a shame.

Conclusion

I will go into our restaurant experiences this week and next.

Cannes is a marvellous city, full of wonderful experiences.

If you have a bad time in Cannes, then you’re with the wrong people.

By chance, I saw this tweet from France 3 television about one of their documentaries:

This clip shows a French patient who has Alzheimer’s. Rose is in assisted living (EHPAD), and her facility has implemented ‘train ride’ therapy.

The video shows a room with a mock SNCF (French railway network) departure board. Rose and her therapist go into another room which is set up as a train compartment. The window is a screen showing a film of the countryside just as one might see it from a train.

There seem to be a few choices of railway scenes for patients: countryside, the sea and so on.

This therapy is used for patients who become troubled or troublesome. In this case, Rose is often on the verge of tears.

Therapists say the ‘train ride’ calms the patients down. They ask the patients what they see as they are ‘travelling’, what they are reminded of and so forth. The experience generates a conversation about what patients remember from their past. Rose’s husband used to work for the SNCF, so she would have taken quite a few train journeys during her marriage.

This a brilliant idea. The therapists interviewed say it came from Italy, where it has been implemented on a larger scale. It is said to be in use not only for Alzheimer’s patients but also other mental diseases and traumas.

I like the creativity going on here, which really seems to work. I hope this brings out more interesting types of therapy for Alzheimer’s patients.

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