Medieval Village Festival

I attended one of the four summer series of festivals, held in August in Cagnes-sur-Mer:   the one at the castle/château in Haut-de-Cagnes, hosting various musical troupes and a pyrotechnic concert. What was really interesting was the stage box for the drums, which also served as its storage and transport container, with everything folding inside it, as a all-in-one concept!

The main square in this medieval village was crowded, with interesting people of all ages enjoying the performances, dancing to the instrumental drum beat and “dancing to the beat of their own drum,” as well !

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All that Jazz: Château & Village Tour !

During July and August, there is a free jazz concert every Friday evening at 9pm, held in Haut-de- Cagnes-sur-Mer (about 11 km west of Nice). I attended the first one of the season, and

at 10pm did a lantern-lighted, historical walking tour of the village. There were people in the group from Normandie, Lorraine, Paris, as wll as some locals, with three of the children present designated to carry the lanterns and do a short introductory, verbal presentation at each stopping point; impressive since they had to memorize, on-the-spot, the information that the tour guide had whispered to them.

It was a beautiful, warm, moonlit night; on one of the small medieval streets, we had a distant view of fireworks, taking place at the city’s Hippodrome (horserace track). A booming ending to a great, jazzy evening!

Cuisine “sans chi-chi “

When I get home late, or don’t feel like cooking (usually the latter!), I know I can always rely on a nearby restaurant for good traditional French cooking and good value (3 course menu for 17€). I haven’t been disappointed, having eaten their often. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, whether dining inside or on the small front terrace (amusing to watch the village shuttle wind its way down the narrow side street).

Le Manoir is owned and run by Jean-Claude (from Cannes)and his sister, Liliane (from Theoule-sur-Mer) who prides herself on her traditional French, home-style cooking, “sans chi-chi” (simple with no added fuss), and her versatility in using fresh ingredients.

In searching for a restaurant site, they visited Haut de Cagnes-sur-Mer, a medieval village just outside of Nice, and immediately fell in love with it – their current location, a few steps below the Grimaldi Chateau, officially opened in 2007. Although closed on Tuesdays, they are open on Sundays, and will warmly welcome you, “sans chi-chi”!

Doors – an exhibit of art !

The textbook definition of a door: used to enter and exit a space and is typically a rectangular panel that swings on hinges within a rectangular door frame. OK, simple enough, but doors can be different sizes, made of various materials, such as wood and metal (or combination thereof), as well as painted individual colors – to create a personal touch, and perhaps even, to stand out from the rest.

As I was walking in a nearby village, I couldn’t help but notice the doors, which were not only personalized by choice of color and material, but also by the external hardware (nails, hinges, door knockers, and door knobs) and accessories of glass, bells, buzzers, and curtains. The doors were also in various shapes, in order to accommodate each door’s frame and stonework, exhibiting many ‘faces’: new, shiny, old, weathered, whimsical, and even chateau-like! Each door had it’s own look and personal style, and so, I tried to imagine the corresponding personalities of the inhabitants – based solely on these artfully-exhibited and individually-beautiful doors!

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Grand marche en plein air!

Last Sunday, my husband said there was a big street fair in a nearby town, in case I wanted to go, but being “Poisson d’avril” (April Fool’s Day), I thought he was joking, not to mention that it was Sunday when most stores are closed. Mais non, three streets were actually barracaded for about 6 blocks, making a giant square communal area. There were pedestrians, street performers, and stands everywhere selling ‘everything but the kitchen sink’!

I browsed and people watched a lot, so I guess, the April Fool’s joke was really on me!

(All photos copyright of 24/7 in France)

Haut de Cagnes-sur-Mer

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This medieval village is only 7 miles west of Nice, with its history directly linked to its castle, constructed as a fortress in 1309; the castle, indeed, withstood assaults for two centuries. Around 1620, it was converted into a palatial residence (by Baron Jean-Henri Grimaldi) with its magnificent staircase, loggias, balustrades, and baroque architecture.

In 1873, the castle was purchased by a couple, who restored it; the town re-purchased the Grimaldi castle in 1937, and it was registered as an historic building in 1948. Today, the Grimaldi Castle-Museum houses various art exhibitions and welcomes visitors from all over the world. (Source: Office of Tourisme)

From Nice, you would take bus #200, 94, or 400 and get off at the main square (gare routiere), called “Square Bourdet” in Cagnes-sur-mer. Then, just a few steps away, there is a bus stop to take the free shuttle (#44), that runs every 15 minutes up to the village (Chateau stop). The streets are steep and windy, and therefore, this village is referred to as the Montmartre of the French Riviera (musical video in this link). There are also pedestrian access paths from below, if you are feeling energetic!

For the size of the village, there are quite a few restaurants. I have eaten in the main square at L’Atelier, Le Jimmy’s, and Les Baux, and (within walking distance) at Le Manoir and La Goutte d’Eau (favorite being Les Baux due to its sunny terrace, and ambiance-this restaurant will be moving to Nice in June, 2014), although all of them have good food and a friendly, village atmosphere.

This charming village is a nice day-trip getaway, without being too far away from Nice!