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!

2 reasons to visit the French Riviera at any time of the year

Reason 1:   Large-scale events

The French Riviera is known internationally for large-scale events, and in particular February, May and July are ‘festival’ months here.

Some of the major large-scale events with international television and print media coverage include:

Cannes Film Festival  https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/sightseeing-cannes-film-festival-on-a-budget-14-25-may-2014/

Monaco Grand Prix https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/activities-monaco-monaco-grand-prix-22may-25may-2014/

Jazz à Juan (Juan les Pins Jazz Festival)  https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/mojitos-music-at-the-juan-les-pins-jazz-festival/

Other main events on the French Riviera include:

  • Nice Carnival
  • Nice Jazz Festival
  • Mimosa Festival (Fête du Mimosa)
  • Lemon Festival (Fête du Citron)
  • Monte-Carlo Circus Festival
  • Antibes/Cannes/Monaco Yacht shows
  • Pantiero festival
  • Events at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes such as MIPEM, ILTM, Cannes Lions.

Reason 2:  Small local events and festivals

Whether you are interested in art, history, music or sports there are plenty of free local events and festivals throughout the year.

One of our favourites is Biot and the Templars (Biot et Les Templiers), a medieval weekend with jousting displays and traditional workshops. https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/sightseeing-biot-biot-les-templiers/

There are also many fireworks displays, also known as Festival Pyromélodique, on the French Riviera in summer months, including https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/fireworks-in-juan-les-pins-and-antibes-2014/

The French Riviera has many cultural festivals celebrating their traditions including:

  • Bataille des Fleurs parades (Battle of the Flowers)
  • Fête Napoleon (re-enactment of Napoleon’s landing at Golfe Juan)
  • Fête de la Saint-Pierre (a festival to honour the patron saint of fishermen and the sea)
  • Fête de la Châtaigne (a festival celebrating chestnuts including tastings of delicious roasted chestnuts)
  • Journées du Patrimoine (held in September 2014, free entrance to museums and other cultural/historical sites. For the French Riviera region, click on this link to see where to go) http://www.journees-du-patrimoine-2014.com/DEPARTEMENT/journees-patrimoine-06-alpes-maritimes.htm

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Activities – CAGNES SUR MER (Fête de la Châtaigne – Saturday 16 November 2013)

This coming Saturday, Cagnes-sur-Mer will be transformed into a mini high-country extravaganza straight from the Vallée de la Tinée.

Beginning at 10am, see below for the following activities and attractions on the day:

– Folk music groups

– At 11am, a sheep herding display at place de Gaulle

fete_chataignes-moutons_0

Sheep herding – Fête de la Châtaigne

– Mini-farm with goats, pigs, turkeys, geese, chickens, rabbits

– Free roasted chestnut tastings

– On sale: Mulled wine, socca, cheese, meats, honey, local produce from artisans of Vallée de la Tinée

– Free donkey rides all day for children aged 3-10 years

– At 12.15pm, daube (stew) and polenta – cost 2 euros per person – at place de Gaulle

The festival is easily reached by taking the train to Cagnes-sur-Mer and it is a short walk to centre ville from there.  If you are driving, the centre of Cagnes will be closed so parking is at Villette or Stade Pierre Sauvaigo with free buses linking to the gare routiere main bus stop in Cagnes.

What: Fête de la Châtaigne

Where: Centre ville, Cagnes-sur-Mer

When:  Saturday 16 November 2013, 10am-6pm

Cost:  Free entry (costs applies for meal at 12.15pm and purchases from market stalls)