Château Hotel Restaurant – Unique & Unbelievable Beauty

I recently discovered a “hidden gem”:  an amazing five-carat luxury hotel restaurant in a medieval village, with magnificent views to match.  If that’s not enough, the building dates from the 13th century and exudes history and art, keeping its heritage evident amidst the upscale decor.

I wanted to know more about this beauty and recently interviewed the General Manager, Frida, a friendly Swedish woman who first came to Nice at age 19 and was “taken with France.”  With a background in the hotel and restaurant business, in both Sweden and Nice, in an events business in the U.K., and having an International Business degree from the U.K., Frida is well equipped to run this luxury hotel and restaurant, “Château Le Cagnard.”  Now fully renovated to a high standard, the reputable hotel re-opened in October, 2012.

24/7:   Obviously history and art have a major influence on the hotel – how has this aspect been preserved during the renovation?

LC:  The hotel has been updated and refreshed to maintain its romance and charm, as well as to enhance the artistic aspects, such as the “Salle des Gardes” – the dining area where knights once dined – with its unique elephant frescoes painted in 1928 by Emile Wéry that I restored.  Instead of room numbers, our 26 suites and rooms are now named after a local artist, to add a touch of personal artistic romance with a trompe l’oeil, not to mention the 200 hand-painted roof panels in the restaurant with the ceiling that opens up to the Mediterranean sky.

24/7:   What in particular attracts your clientele to your hotel in this small, medieval village?

LC:  I think it’s the hotel’s uniqueness, attention to details,  and its charm, with an overall concept of being a great get-away, but yet centrally located to Nice.  We also have a lot of activities at the hotel: language courses, wine and champagne tastings, cooking school (all by request, for the moment) to provide guests with a chance to experience France in one location.  We are open seven days a week, all year round too.

24/7:  What nationalities have you welcomed into your hotel?

LC:  Our clientele, due to our hotel’s long established reputation, are multi-national, coming from Mexico, Canada, Japan, Germany, U.S., and the U.K.  Since there is a large Scandinavian sector who live in the village, they generally frequent the restaurant.

24/7:  How do you decide on special promotions and publicity campaigns?

LC:  I collaborate with the chef, Stéphane, for what would attract foreigners because we are selling a unique experience and feel for our clients, in keeping our high standards of excellence.  Yes, the three-night stay for the price of two, and market shopping with the chef with the meal then served on the terrace, has proved to be popular promotional package and is a perfect gift idea too.

24/7:  Do you distribute guest surveys?

LC:  Yes, we provide a paper format and have a reception area guest book, as well as social media sites for guests to provide comments.


Frida then gave me a personal tour, showing me a couple rooms and suites – the overall beauty of the antique decor juxtaposing the modern amenities, with each room having a French-style trompe l’oeil wall painting left me virtually speechless (good that this part took place after the interview!)  — self explanatory when you see the below photos.

(All photos provided by Le Cagnard, except for the first four)


Scarf-Foulard-Echarpe-Châle: A Fashion Statement

A scarf is such an iconic, French fashion accessory, for women in all seasons & for men in winter. Have fun feeling “French” when you next wear a scarf, and enjoy trying all these different styles!

How many do you already know how to do?

Note: French men generally wear the European Loop and Basic Loop style.

Scarf Video

Authentic Italian Cooking Class

Created and sponsored by Silvia from “beataMente,” meaning blissful mind: a cultural association representing the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, providing activities, tours, tasting classes, and much more, “aiming to share knowledge and human experiences through the spirit of community and conviviality.”

I recently attended their first, small group cooking class, given by Paola Ricchi, a “spirited chef” from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  Born in Bologna, Paola loves to cook and share traditional recipes from her area: today’s recipe was “Tagliatelle Bolognese,” with everyone getting their hands involved in making the tagliatelle pasta from scratch!

First, we learned how to make the egg & flour pasta, the correct way to knead it to just the right elasticity, the rolling method, repeated to get just the right thickness, the rolling pin method in preparation for slicing, and finally the un-raveling of the pasta to make the ribbons of tagliatelle.  In the meantime, the sauce was simmering, as we tasted “Lambrusco,” a refreshing, red sparkling wine, as an aperitif. In keeping with the region, a delicious Emilia-Romagna dessert was also served, called “English Cream” – oops, it was so delicious that I ate it before thinking to take a photo!

Held at the lovely apartment of friends, Cristina and Don, in support of the “slow food” movement in Italy, we all shared laughter, lighthearted fun, and a luscious experience. BUON APPETITO!

For more information:

(website currently under construction)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

La Vie en Rose…Petals

The French Riviera is well known for its Mediterranean-style cuisine, featuring tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, and its beautiful, azur blue sea: ingredients, indeed, for “la vie en rose”!  But, there is an additional specialty, specific to this area, included in MY “vie en rose” — jam made with real rose petals – it actually smells and tastes like roses.  This jam, made and sold by Florian is one of many flavored-jams, made from flowers, at their main candy factory, “Confiserie Florian” founded in 1921, located just outside of Nice; they also have a smaller facility at the port in Nice. They provide free, guided tours followed by a free tasting of their specialties.

Here’s a silky, piano bar/jazzy version of this iconic song, to listen to while looking at the below photos:

I did a guided tour of their main factory years ago, which was very interesting, and their candies and jams make lovely gifts — special souvenirs to savor from this area!

Rose jam

Rose jam

florian jamOrange, Lemon, & Grapefruit jam

2012: My (not quite) Year in Review

A last, quick look back to my first blog almost-year with monthly highlights!

Monthly picks of the year

March:   Tidbits of Trivia

April:    Top 5 in Nice

May:     A Bubbly Sunday

June:    Cannes  & Croisette

July:     Villefranche

Aug:     Petanques

Sept:     Wine Feeling

Oct:       Nice

Nov:     History of the World in 2 Minutes

Dec:     Royal Ballet

Vide Greniers: Attic Sale / Flea Market / Car Boot Sale

Just next to the racetrack near Nice, there was a day-long flea market that I decided to stroll through. Although I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without, there were numerous items for sale and a lot of people (and dogs) in attendance. Which item do you think is most amusing?

Jamais deux sans trois! (Things come in threes)

1.  We had a roof leak a few weeks ago that required major repair!

2.  One door closes & another opens – literally !

Out with the old…..meaning literally out(side), since I was locked out of the house last evening!

In with the new…..meaning literally a new door lock installed this morning!

After drilling out the keyhole, it turns out that the exterior side of the lock was broken, but once inside we could lock the door – who knew a lock had two independent sides?


The locksmith came back this morning to install the replacement lock, which I think is too new and shiny looking, not to mention an ugly key.


3. Clogged tub and sink drains – plumber here now.

What can one do!? C’est la vie! At least maybe I’m done now and have my 3 things out of the way for 2013!