France is famous for producing some of the best food in the world, whether you prefer the tables of haute cuisine where the top chefs are national celebrities, or the no-nonsense traditional dishes served up in bistros across the country.
The cooking is as varied as the landscape and differs greatly between regions – here on the Côte d’Azur, the proximity to Italy results in a recurring use of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, seafood and Mediterranean produce such as olives, aubergines and peppers.
Wonderful and flavourful produce is found at every town market, but those small family-run restaurants where you can eat for less than €15 are becoming more rare though there are hidden dining gems everywhere.
French people love food – ask a local for their restaurant recommendations, or opinions about the best boucherie or boulangerie and they will fiercely explain their views. Meal times here are a leisurely experience to be enjoyed not rushed and unsurprisingly one of the best things about living here is the number of annual food festivals!
Food festivals celebrate anything and everything gastronomic – bread, chocolate, cheese, chestnuts, harvest season fruits and vegetables, olives and olive oil, pastries….if you consume it, there’s a date in the calendar for it!
Here are details about two upcoming Food Festivals on the French Riviera which should satisfy anyone keen on cuisine :
- Les Etoiles de Mougins – 18,19, 20 September, Mougins
My pick for a foodie event is the brilliant Les Etoiles de Mougins. Celebrating its 10th year, this festival of gastronomy is jam-packed with cooking demonstrations, market stalls and culinary workshops. There are so many top chefs that attend each year (many awarded with Michelin status) that budding sous chefs and gastronomic wannabes (like myself!) are left speechless.
Enjoy chocolate and ice sculpture displays, cocktail making demonstrations, food trucks and chef competitions. Parents will be pleased to know there is a garderie (nursery) at the festival so you can browse the festival stalls to your heart’s content while the kids are looked after.
Entry to Les Etoiles de Mougins is free, however the culinary workshops cost €20 per person.
How to get there
Car parking is notoriously difficult in Mougins – I recommend if you’re driving to take Exit 42 on the A8 motorway and park at one of the satellite locations that are all serviced by regular free shuttles during the festival. Some of these locations are EcoParc and Mougins School. This map should help regarding parking:
Mougins doesn’t have a train station, however you can take a train to Mouans-Sartoux and there will be free shuttles between the station and festival.
Mougins is a perched village so the town surfaces are paved but there are areas of difficult access – if you have reduced mobility and need specific advice about accessibility in Mougins please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Fête de la Gastronomie – 26 September, Cagnes-sur-Mer
As part of a nationwide programme that is held the last weekend in September, Cagnes-sur-Mer is participating with market stalls, degustations and cooking displays all held at place de Gaulle in central Cagnes-sur-Mer.
From 10am-6pm you can watch table decorating displays, listen to chef seminars and eat your way around a number of artisan stalls.
A number of restaurants in centre ville, Cros de Cagnes and Haut de Cagnes are participating in a ‘Fête de la Gastronomie’ menu for a special price of €20 (excluding drinks) to festival goers – my insider tip is that the wonderful Hôtel Château Le Cagnard in Haut de Cagnes is offering this special deal. They don’t mention it on their own website, however the hotel and restaurant is a stunning location for a meal with a retractable roof and outlook over the coast and village.
How to get there
Place de Gaulle is centrally located and there is lots of car parking in the centre of town. Free car parks are at Stade Pierre Sauvaigo – du Souvenir – Pagnol – Pompidou – Ecole Daudet.
By train, the Cagnes-sur-Mer train station is just 5 minutes from central Cagnes. The station is named Gare de Cagnes-sur-Mer; don’t get off at Cros de Cagnes which is the neighbouring stop. The train station has an accessible toilet inside the ticket area, and elevator access to the platforms.
If travelling by bus, these are your options that all travel to either centre ville or the train station:
Bus 49 La Gaude-Cagnes train station – timetable link here http://www.lignesdazur.com/horaires_ligne/?rub_code=6&keywordsLine=&lign_id=1080
Bus 200 Nice-Cannes line, Bus 217 Nice-Villeneuve Loubet, Bus 400 Nice-Vence and Bus 500 Nice-Grasse – all timetables are downloadable at this link Buses to Cagnes-sur-Mer