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Archive for the ‘Things to do’ Category

On Saturday, Mr Piglet, Baby Piglet and I descended on the in laws in Provence as we were going to a concert in nearby Vaison La Romaine and had persuaded Mr Piglet’s Mum to babysit and me to leave Baby Piglet for the evening.

Even though we had lived with them for three months and I had tried to eat my way through all the local restaurants and gourmet stops, there were still some stones left unturned. One of which we got to try on Saturday lunch time, the fabulous L et Lui restaurant in Saint Paul Troix Chateaux.

I’m quite a foodie but I’m also very conservative and have been known for always choosing the “safe” option. I appreciate good food but am often left disappointed in restaurants which has led to me spending more time cooking at home than eating out.

L et Lui had caught my eye whilst I was staying with my inlaws earlier this year. I was fascinated by the terrace that was hidden behind a red wall and by the blackboard outside announcing that there was “no menu”. What could this mean?

My investigations enabled me to discover that the food served was seasonal and changed daily according to what vegetables and produce was available. Whilst pregnant I wasn’t keen, fresh produce was of no interest to me as I was only attracted to ice cream and junk food, plus I had eaten far more leaks and seasonal produce between February and April than I ever cared for so tempted I was not.

Come the summer however I was keen to eat out and now that Baby Piglet is keeping more sociable hours last weekend was the ideal opportunity.

I was delighted to discover the garden, beautifully shaded by a variety of trees, offering a secluded, calm space within the town. Private and cool, despite the 30 degrees Celsius on the thermometer.

The waitress gave each of us a menu, which I opened to see a list of drinks and some text explaining that in fact there was no menu. Perplexed, I wondered what this meant and I looked around to see if there was a blackboard. Just in time the waitress came back and asked each of us if there were any foods we didn’t like or were allergic to.

A short while later she came back with an amuse bouche to whet our appetites:

Soft cheese with what looks like grass but is actually a variety of herbs

The tastes were truly amazing and even though it felt like I was eating grass and I was very skeptical I was surprised how each item was like an explosion of flavour in my mouth. The disavantage of not having a menu is that you have to have a good memory to remember what you ate (or write it down) and unfortunately I have neither a good memory or the forethought to write things down before I forget. I think some of the herbs we ate were mustard and garlic but have no idea on the others.

After we had a salad and watermelon:

The salad was courgettes with raviolis and apricot dressing with some herbs that I can no longer remember what they were and the watermelon was a watermelon and red pepper juice. They were absolutely delicious!

The main course was seabass with boulgar and the dessert was a type of Panna Cotta. By the time the main course was served I was totally engrossed with the food and savours that I forgot to take any more photos!

I wasn’t too keen on the panna cotta dessert but I’m not a great fan of Panna Cotta at the best of times.

The three course menu was 27 Euros or you could have two courses for 22 Euros. Given the freshness of the produce and the variety of flavours as well as the fact that most of the produce came from the owners garden I was very impressed. The food was as good as some of the Michelin starred restaurants I had eaten in for a fraction of the price! A definite recommendation if you should be nearby.

Do you like to try different foods when you eat out or do you prefer sticking to the “safe” options?

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The great thing about where we live now is the easy accessibility to many places of interest including Annecy.

I had never been to Annecy before and had heard great things. I know there is quite an expat community there and normally expats are drawn to touristy type places. Even my Mum (Grandma Piglet) knew about Annecy and had been hankering to visit it for the last couple of years, but when we were living in Lyon the long drive and battle with traffic to leave the city was off-putting for everyone.

My image of Annecy was mainly of the lake. I am drawn to lakes (water in general) so this had been my focus point, my reason to want to visit. The lake (Lac d’Annecy) is nearly 15 km’s long and 3.5 km’s wide. It is surrounded by mountains and is the second largest glacier lake in France, after nearby Lac de Bourget (near Aix les Bains).

The decision to go to Annecy was last minute. BabyPiglet had slept pretty much through the night and I had awoken that morning with plenty of energy, a rare occurrence. So I suggested to my parents and Mr Piglet that we make hay whilst the sun shines (this expression has a lot of truth in the countryside I have discovered) and head to Annecy.

Because of the last minute decision we didn’t get chance to research and we all piled into our little C4, BabyPiglet included. Thankfully we were only in the car for 45 mins before we arrived as we were squashed in like sardines!

Upon arrival in Annecy, our first thoughts were deception. Grandma Piglet began to wonder if she had imagined all the nice things she had read. The buildings were new, the architecture mediocre. As we sat in a traffic jam waiting to enter a car park we were all quite glum, no-one fancied walking around a commercial centre.

We parked easily and left the car park the opposite way to which we entered it and we were greated with Annecy’s fabulousness. It was like how I imagine Venice!

Arrival in Annecy - one of the first views we had

Medieval buildings rising out of the water, a canal like passage running through the street. All that were missing were the gondolas. The streets were buzzing with tourists and brocanteurs – an antiques fair was in full swing with ice cream eating tourists swarming around the stalls like bees around the honey pot.

Annecy - view from the lake edge

Annecy - walking along the water's edge

The outing was our first trip out with BabyPiglet so we were anxious to be comfortable and ensure she didn’t get hot, tired or hungry. Not easy for new parents with a small baby! Pretty much as soon as we arrived we stopped off at a small restaurant adjacent to the water and overlooking some really picturesque buildings. On the other side of the water canal was a hairdressers shop – we wondered how anyone could access it to have their cut.

After lunch we carried on walking around for a while, but I soon became achey and wanted to rest again. By this point we had arrived at the Lake and had spotted THE tourist trap – tour boats! Mr Piglet had passed his river and coastal boat license last year so that we never had to go on these boats again, but seeing the water, the boats and knowing that we could go on one there and then I was like a kid. A few quick checks with the company re-assured me that there was a shaded area and that we could get the pram onboard so off we set! Baby Piglet’s first boat trip!

The Tour Boat

The trip itself was a bit of a downer, the boat was packed and Baby Piglet became a tourist attraction herself. If I’d asked for a Euro for every time someone peeked over at her I would have probably have had enough to rent a private boat for a few hours. I was delighted though as she was totally unfazed about being on water as opposed to dry land and was quiet and relaxed throughout the tour.

Baby Piglet on the boat

Next time we'll rent one of these

If I win the Euromillions you may find me living around here

Afterwards, we decided it was time to head back to the car before she got tired and grumpy – the dreaded feeding marathon was approaching. Every evening from about 6pm she feeds non-stop stocking up for the night. It’s hard work but the reward is well worth it – uninterrupted night sleep for her and me!

On the walk back we couldn’t resist stopping off at one of the hundreds of ice cream parlors and each having an ice cream. There are ice cream parlors everywhere in Annecy, it was amazing. I had never seen anywhere in France with so many ice creams! Definitely not a place to go when you’re on a diet!

Once back at the car we were all tired and pleased to be on the road back to the house. Mr Piglet informed us that we’d only visited part of Annecy and that we still had the shopping area left to visit. It wasn’t possible to visit that area on the same day as we’d run out of time so we will have to plan another trip back next time my parents are over.

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