Visiting Chateau de Berne and Ch. Roubine vineyards


Our first stop was Château de Berne near Lorgues. We drove through Lorgues following signs to the Château. After a rather long drive along a narrow and winding road we suddenly saw the impressive domain in front of us. The domain has not only a vineyard, but also a 5-star spa hotel, a swimming pool, a bistro, a gourmet restaurant, and of course a wine shop. Various physical activities are offered. Their wine cellar produces 750000 bottles a year.

As many regions, including Paris, had school holidays, we had reserved a table in the bistro. The reservation was conveniently done online.

It was a warm and sunny spring day, and we were happy to sit outside. We all chose Formule de semaine which offered two choices of the first course and main course, then dessert or coffee. We opted for Caesar salad with giant shrimps followed by cod with red wine sauce and vegetables. Both dishes were exquisitely prepared and Berne’s rosé went very well with them.

After lunch we did some wine shopping. We have previously tasted their rosé which has always been fresh and fruity, but we were not so keen on their rectangular bottles. Luckily they had one rosé, Les Oliviers, in classic round bottles. It turned out to go very well with typical Provençal summer dishes back home, and at about 9€ per bottle was good value for money.

Our next stop was Château de Roubine between Lorgues and Draguignan. This 75-hectare vineyard has a long history; it has been known since 1307 when the Templar Knights sold it to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Later, various great Provençe families were the owners. From 1955, the Ministry of Agriculture awarded the title “Cru Classé” to the production of the domain. The vineyard is now owned by an ambitious couple making typically Provençal elegant wines. They export to 40 countries and have recently acquired the 50-hectare Ste Béatrice vineyard nearby. As a reminder of previously Monegasque ownership, many Ste Béatrice bottle labels continue to sport the coat of arms of Monaco.

It was easy to find their no-nonsense wine shop and vineyard by the D562 road. We were already familiar with their red Premium Cru Classé, about 15€ per bottle. As it is a bit hard to find in Nice, it was our natural choice.

We made a leisurely stroll in the vineyard following loosely the sentier vigneron, a footpath with information about their production, grape varieties etc. It was only us and the workmen in the vineyard bordered by pines, oaks, and the old castle surrounded by a garden.


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Plan des Noves hike

Cheiron Mountains seen from Plan des Noves

Plan des Noves roughly 7 km north of Vence along the RD2 road is ancient farmland. Surrounded by hilltops, most of the plateau nowadays belongs to the Parc Naturel Départemental.

In spite of the modest elevation, this easy loop trail offers some great views towards the high mountains, the Baou St-Jeannet, and even a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea.

The starting point is from the parking (780 m) of Plan des Noves by the RD2 road just before Col de Vence.

It was late March, but signs of spring were scarce. The weather during the last few weeks had been unusually cool and wet.

From the parking, we first followed the GR51 trail (white/red markings). Plan des Noves lies about 100 m below the starting point. The signposts marked the correct trail, showing the clockwise itinerary of Circuit du Plan des Noves. There were other paths and trails crisscrossing the plateau. At the first crossroads, we turned left (north), still following the GR51 a bit. After about 300 m, just before some ruins, we forked right leaving the GR trail and followed the trail with yellow markings. We crossed Plan des Noves heading southeast.

We then ascended a bit along a ridge with nice views to the east, notably to St-Jeannet and its Baou. We continued south, passing ruins of a stone hut, then to the west to a hill called Mangia Pan.

The trail now descended to the north, passing more ruins. We soon joined the GR51 again and ascended along it back to our starting point.

Duration: 2 h hiking time

Climb: 240 m

Distance: 7,5 km

Map: “Cannes-Grasse” Côte d’Azur 3643 ET

The image shows our GPS trail. The Randoxygène guide (in French) has a description of this hike, too.


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Baked trout with herb paste

Baked trout with herb paste

I got the inspiration for this recipe from one of Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police books. Bruno baked a whole salmon of three kilos wrapped in foil and flavoured with herb paste.

The following recipe is my twist of Bruno’s salmon. I have replaced the salmon with portion size trout and tarragon with dill. The recipe is glutenfree.

2 servings

2 portion size trout
½ organic lemon
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

For the herb paste:
Zest of ½ organic lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp. finely chopped dill
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Mix the herb paste. Then peel the lemon half and thinly slice it. Arrange the lemon slices inside the trout.

With a sharp knife, make deep slashes into the sides of the trout and stuff some herb paste into each slash. Stuff some herb paste inside the trout. Thinly coat the trout with Dijon mustard and spread the remaining herb paste on top.

Wrap the trout in foil and bake on a rack for 15- 20 minutes.

Serve the fish with wilted spinach or steamed asparagus and new potatoes or quinoa. The herb-
lemon flavoured olive oil when you open the foil will give a nice sauce.


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