Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Villa Kerylos Beaulieu

Beaulieu-sur-Mer overlooking the beautiful Baie des Fourmis can easily be reached from Villefranche by foot. We parked in Villefranche by the sea next to the harbour and walked along the waterfront passing the Plage des Marinières, then crossing the Cap Ferrat peninsula. It is part of the coastal trail.

Villa Kerylos is situated on Impasse Gustaf Eiffel just east of the Beaulieu casino. It was built by the archaeologist Théodore Reinach (1860-1928) between 1902 and 1908 as a near reproduction of an ancient Greek villa, designed by architect Emmanuel Pontremoli. During the planning, both Reinach and Pontermoli made several trips to Greece. The only exceptions that were made were glass windows, a concealed piano, and good early 20th Century conveniences, such as electricity and running water. Reinach lived here for twenty years in a classic Athenian style. In 1928, the building was bequeathed by the owned to the Institut de France although Reinach’s children and grandchildren continued living in the villa till 1967 when it was classified monument historique. During WWII, the villa was seized by the Nazis.

Today the villa is open to the public. Events, such as concerts and wedding are held there.

Villa Kerylos is a visual experience. It is quite small, and most visitors spend about an hour exploring it. We had a super guided tour (in French), and could therefore visit the terrace on the roof top. The panorama from the roof is exceptional. All rooms have Greek names. All the marbles were from Toscana, and floors were beautiful mosaic.

There are several good restaurants about 0,5 km from Villa Kerylos. It was a beautiful October day, and we had lunch at the marina, sitting on the terrace enjoying the warm sunshine.

Beaulieu Port de Plaisance


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Red cabbage simmered in casserole

Simmered red cabbage with veal chops and potatoes

Too often restaurants are skimping on vegetables. Sometimes they are completely forgotten even here in Nice which is famous for its Mediterranean culinary roots. Some Cours Saleya restaurants have served a tasty fish for plat du jour, but accompanied with only white rice and no vegetables at all.

It is time to focus more on vegetables as we are now advised to eat nine different vegetables and fruits daily.

The following red cabbage slowly simmered in a heavy casserole goes nicely with any meat or chicken in winter. Leftovers can be reheated the next day or frozen.

6-8 servings

1 small red cabbage
2 small onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
50 ml water
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cabbage in four sections and remove the core. With a large knife finely chop the cabbage leaves.

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy casserole such as Le Creuset. Cook the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, balsamic vinegar, water, and some black pepper and mix.

Add the red cabbage, cover and reduce the heat. Let simmer for 45 minutes stirring now and again. The cabbage is going to be scented and almost melting after slow-cooking.


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Renoir's house in Cagnes-sur-Mer


Pierre-Auguste Renoir built his house, Les Collettes, in 1908 in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The house was equipped with all the modern facilities at the time, and a north-facing studio to catch the afternoon light.

In the garden and the museum one truly finds serenity -a short escape from the busy Côte d’Azur!

Renoir settled down at Les Collettes with his wife Aline and their three sons, Pierre, Jean and Claude. All the sons showed artistic creativity. Jean Renoir later became a famous film director. Despite the severe rheumatoid arthritis Renoir painted every day at Les Collettes. He was fascinated by the olive trees which surrounded the house.

The museum was totally renovated in 2013. It now has a collection of original paintings by Renoir and others such as André, Bonnard and Dufy. There is also a more extensive collection of sculptures by Renoir himself, assisted by Richard Guido and later Louis Morel, as well as a bust of Renoir by Aristide Maillol.


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Parmentier of butternut squash

Parmentier of butternut squash

The classic French parmentier is made of potato mash which covers diced meat or ground meat. The dish is named after Antoine- Augustin Parmentier who in France promoted potatoes as a food source for humans. Thanks to his efforts the Faculty of Medicine in Paris declared potatoes edible in 1772.

In the following recipe, the potato mash is replaced by butternut squash purée. Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty taste, and as its deep orange colour suggests, it is a good source of antioxidants.

4 servings

About 500- 600 g ground low- fat beef
1 butternut squash
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Provençal herbs
100 ml tomato sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
200 ml vegetable stock
75 g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Cut into smallish pieces.

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large casserole, add the vegetable stock, and the butternut squash. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes until the squash pieces are soft. Drain, but do not discard the liquid. Mash the squash, adding stock as needed, until you get a nice purée which is not too dry.

Preheat the oven to 200° C.

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium- high heat and fry the ground beef. Add the onion, garlic, tomato sauce, Provençal herbs, and black pepper and continue sautéing for about 10 minutes until the onion is softened.

Coarsely chop the hazelnuts.

Place the ground beef as a layer in the bottom of a gratin dish. Cover evenly with the butternut squash purée. Divide the chopped hazelnuts on top of the purée.

Bake for 20 minutes until the gratin is golden brown. Serve with steamed broccoli or a green side salad.


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Chick pea cream with prawns

Chick pea cream with prawns

Our supermarket in Nice sells good defrosted and peeled giant prawns, gambas. They go nicely with creamy chick pea purée, fresh basil, and olive oil to make a carefree lunch with some baby salad, mesclun. Add a slice or two of whole wheat bread if you like.

2 servings

About 200 g peeled prawns
1 tbsp. olive oil
2- 3 sprigs of basil

For the chick pea cream:

1 tin (400 g) chick peas
2 tbsp. crème fraîche, 15% fat
1 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 clove of garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Some basil leaves, chopped

Rinse the chick peas under running water, then drain and place in a bowl. Add the crème fraîche, olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, and basil. With a hand-held mixer purée into a nice creamy consistence which is nevertheless thick enough to be eaten with a fork.

Place the prawns in another bowl. Add the chopped leaves of the basil sprigs and the olive oil and mix.

Divide the chick pea purée on the plates and flatten it slightly. Divide the prawns on top of the purée.  Add a handful of baby salad leaves on the plates and sprinkle with some olive oil and vinegar dressing.


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Mont Vial

Gélas seen from trail to Mont Vial

Driving north from Nice along the Var River Valley, Mont Vial (1550 m) is the first mountain top reaching over 1500 m.

The summit itself is not very pretty, being marred by telecom and other masts, but it offers great 360° views to high Mercantour mountains, and over the vast Moyen Pays.

We started the hike from the village of Reveste-les-Roches (850 m) on a warm and fairly clear day in late November. There’s good parking by the D27 road just after the church, and signpost # 31 at our trailhead was just across the road. We climbed passing the last houses of the village to signpost #32, and continued along the vast south-eastern flank of Mont Vial. Given the steep incline of the mountain’s adret slope, the ascent was pretty easy in a terrain that varied from some screes to thin pine woods. The views from the ascending trail were unobstructed most of the time.

The trail eventually circled around the eastern incline of the massif, with Var Valley 1000 m below us. It was the most impressive part of the ascent. We came to the northern side of Mont Vial where the forest was denser, and now in the shade, the temperature dropped. In fact, parts of the trail were slippery after previous night’s frost.

At Col de Serse (1416 m), we came to a crossroads where we forked left to Mont Vial. We came directly to a narrow service road going to the installations on the summit (signpost #285). The highest point of the summit was about 300 m to the right (northwest).

After lunch, we considered the alternatives. The original plan was to use the same trail back, but the icy parts of the trail would have been more difficult to negotiate when descending. A longer trail would have continued along Créte du Vial northwest, then back to Reveste des Roches. We decided to take the service road that zigzagged down along the southern slope. By using the road we took a shortcut, and could enjoy the afternoon sun.

We soon came to signpost #66 that had toppled and hence almost undetectable. Here, we forked left and followed the trail first to the village of Tourette-du-Château (signpost #43) and then to Reveste des Roches. This part of the trail was less marked and the local hiking map was essential.

Elevation gain: 704 m
Mont Vial trail

Distance: 14.3 km

Duration: 4h 40

Map: IGN 3642 ET Vallée de l’Estéron Vallée du Loup


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