Chestnuts, Collobrières and Cogolin

Today, there are two Fêtes celebrating the season of the chestnut – or marron.  The sweet chestnut is known as the châtaigne and is a frequent visitor to autumn dining tables and village fêtes.

If you would like to taste roasted chestnuts, head to Collobrières in the Var today or Saint Paul de Vence until 7pm for the Fête des Châtaignes.

marrons chauds (roasted chestnuts)

marrons chauds (roasted chestnuts)

Collobrières is a main town for the chestnut industry, and is also famous for cork production where it is reputed to be the first place in France where the Spanish taught locals how a certain tree plugged into bottles allowed a wine industry to flourish.

If you miss the Fête today, Confiserie Azuréenne in Collobrières sell all kinds of chestnut-related goodies including tea, nougat, marrons glacés and preserves.  I have tasted châtaigne spread before, it is lighter than peanut butter but I found it too rich tasting for my toast.

Chestnuts are known as marrons and châtaignes

Chestnuts are known as marrons and châtaignes

Near to Collobrières, two worthy detours are to the restored 12th-century Carthusian monastery La Chartreuse de La Verne (Monastère Notre-Dame de Clémence) surrounded by oak and chestnut woods, and to the town of Cogolin which is famous for traditional craft manufacturing such as knotted wool carpets, wrought-iron furniture and highly sought after reeds for wind instruments.

The monastery is open year-round; it is closed every Tuesday, the whole month in January and on religious dates such as Christmas, Easter and Ascension Day. Adults entrance is €6 and there are guided tours available and information pamphlets in English if your French leaves much to be desired. The nuns sell ceramics and artisan products such as honey and wood sculptures.

Interestingly, Cogolin’s lesser-known claim to fame is that it is the town that invented tarte tropézienne – the cream-filled and calorie-laden brioche sold everywhere and often credited to nearby Saint Tropez.  If you want the real McCoy in the way of tarte tropéziennes, head to La Tarte Tropézienne (420 avenue des Narcisses) in Cogolin where it is still prepared to the original recipe that Polish baker Alexandre Micka patented in the 1950’s.

Tarte Tropézienne - cream-filled goodness & not something for those people on diets!

Tarte Tropézienne – cream-filled goodness & not something for those people on diets!


Yachts du Coeur – Saturday 10 October – CANNES

Yachts du Coeur, an initiative organised by Eco-Mer in conjunction with the Cannes Mairie and major seafaring corporations such as SNSM (Société Nationale des Sauveteurs en Mer) and CIRFA (French Navy) is being held this Saturday at the Lighthouse Jetty at Port Pierre Canto in Cannes from 10am – 5.30pm.

Yachts du Coeur food bank collection, Saturday 10 October 2015, Lighthouse Jetty at Port Pierre Canto in Cannes

Yachts du Coeur food bank collection, Saturday 10 October 2015, Lighthouse Jetty at Port Pierre Canto in Cannes

The day incorporates animations from maritime companies, fun competitions such as blindfolded bowline knot tying and the main cause – a food collection from maritime and seafaring companies and professionals that benefits the Banque Alimentaire des Alpes Maritimes (Alpes Maritimes Food Bank).

At 11am, the traditional human chain for the food collection will take place in the presence of the Mayor of Cannes, Mr David Lisnard.

Visitors and participants are invited to donate non-perishable food.  If you work on a yacht berthed at Port Canto, please donate to this collection and it is appreciated that you share this blog post to support a worthy cause!  A few of the confirmed participating yachts include Heliad2 (35m Lynx Yachts) and Madame Kate (61m Amels).

Car parking is available at the Port, on boulevard de la Croisette or at Palm Beach.  Bus service Line 21 and City Palm with Palm Bus also connect central Cannes with stops nearby to the Port.

In the evening, head along to the Yachts du Coeur  ‘Pirates Crew Party’  taking place at the Croisette Beach plage, next to the Carlton Hotel, Cannes (Tickets include a gourmet meal with ½ bottle of wine).  There will be a raffle to the benefit of the Yachts du Coeur with parrotrestaurant meals, and hotel prizes. Tickets available online here




About Eco-Mer

Our mission is the defence and promotion of the marine environment and its values, leading in particular to communication activities on maritime solidarity, accountability in the world of the sea and ecological matters, advocate for maritime and seafaring professions, rescue of the marine environment, and more generally to improve knowledge of the marine world.

image: Eco-Mer

image: Eco-Mer

About Banque Alimentaire des Alpes Maritimes 

Banque Alimentaire des Alpes Maritimes gives year round help to nearly 26,500 needy people in the Alpes Maritimes region by providing the equivalent of 2.740 000 meals (1370 tons of food) through its network of 118 associations and social partners.

They rely on free donations, the fight against waste, giving, sharing, volunteering and philanthropy. All distributed products come from EU donations, industrial food processing, supermarket donations and public food collections.

Web Links:



An expat’s rugby dilemma in France

It seems only fitting that my third contribution to All About France blog link up deserves a post dedicated to rugby with the current Rugby World Cup 2015 happening right now until 31 October 2015.


If you love rugby (like me!) then read on.  If you’re bored stiff of anything rugby-related, don’t read any further because this blog post may just convert you into one of those crazed fans that sits in the half-light of the living room at 2 a.m watching your team playing on the other side of the world.  Luckily for me, the Rugby World Cup is being hosted by England so the matches are played at a bearable hour for Northern Hemisphere spectators; unlucky for many of my friends and family they’ll be watching the red-eye matches screened in the Southern Hemisphere.

An expat’s rugby dilemma in France

Born and bred in New Zealand, my rugby loyalties lie – of course – with the All Blacks.  The current world champions, I watched the All Blacks compete in a cat-and-mouse 2011 World Cup final in a local French bar crowded with every Kiwi fan within a 50 kilometre radius.  We beat France and it was a satisfying win.

My brother and father played rugby in their youth, my nephews play rugby and the odds are my own sons may play rugby (though my eldest son at 4-years old has declared that being a ninja is more fun).

My dilemma lies with juggling loyalty for my home country (New Zealand) but feeling passionate enough to support France when they play other countries.  France is my home (my eldest son has French-branded sports team clothing), but my heart lies with New Zealand.

So, where do you watch rugby on the French Riviera if you don’t have satellite TV?  You can head to one of these bars I recommend – Where to watch Rugby World Cup games on the French Riviera.   It’s not an exhaustive list but a round-up of a few bars I know that screen live matches for rugby (and also the English Premier League football if that interests you).

Kiwi players in France

New Zealand rugby has a strong foothold in France.  Many other French rugby fans speak to me enthusiastically about the All Blacks and they have an appreciation for the best Kiwi players – though it is always their dream for France to beat the All Blacks in every match!

Many ex-All Blacks finish their careers in New Zealand teams and are snapped up by teams based in Japan, the UK and Europe and it can be lucrative for them to base themselves overseas as professional rugby players in New Zealand are not paid well in comparison to the immense salaries received in football (soccer).

To put it in context, Super Rugby player salaries are capped at $190,000 (though top All Blacks earn around $1 million) but Dan Carter, who at 33 is nearing the twilight of his career, will earn around $2 million in one season in France.

Wealthy club owners, sponsors and a new broadcasting deal have put the French clubs in a powerful position and some Kiwi players headed for France aside from Dan Carter, include Colin Slade and Tom Taylor.

Rugby and the French Riviera

Southern France is a hotbed of rugby action, particularly in Perpignan, Toulouse and Toulon. Closer to home, the Nice Côte d’Azur Université-Racing team went into liquidation a few years ago leaving the region’s main rugby team to be reborn as Stade Niçois, nicknamed The Eagles.  Top players who have been based at Nice previously include the Armitage brothers now playing in the UK, and Kiwis Grant Hill and Dean Moxham.

Logo: Stade Niçois

Logo: Stade Niçois

If you have moved to the region, you can join a club at Nice, Monaco,  Antibes, Grasse etc.  More club info is found at


Part and parcel of being a professional sportsperson are the accompanying endorsements and sponsorship deals. You’ll notice rugby players endorsing clothing, shoes, insurance, cologne – even deodorant is not left untouched.

One of my recent favourites is an in-flight safety video by Air New Zealand featuring some of the All Blacks and other rugby greats such as David Campese  (ex-Wallaby) and Martin Johnson (ex-England captain) in a Men-in-Black inspired performance.  Air New Zealand loves to make quirky in-flight videos; previous releases have seen have seen Bear Grylls and the Lord of the Rings actors coax passengers into watching these vital, but usually mundane, videos and I think it makes them memorable.  If you missed the  All Blacks collaboration, here it is:

Did you know?

The alleged inventor of the game – William Webb Ellis – is buried in Menton where he died in 1872.

Lou Messugo