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Apr 30, 2011 02:16 PM

Mothers Day meal: French Riviera, Vence?

Hey chowhounds, what's happening?

I'm going for an adventure with my mother. I live in Sicily, and I'm taking myself and my car on a ferry from Palermo to Genova this Wednesday. My mom's going to meet me in Genoa (she's coming by air from the States). From there we will explore along the coast, or wherever the wind takes us, ending up in Barcelona where we have a week-long apartment rental lined up.

OK, so where should I take Mom for Mothers Day?

Here's a little about us, our tastes... I wouldn't call ourselves foodies but we LOVE TO EAT. One of my personal heroes is Julia Child. We generally prefer cooking at home to eating in restaurants. We're both a little on the frugal side of spend-y-ness (read, cheap). Mom's allergic to nuts. She lives in Ohio, so she probably doesn't get as much seafood as she should. Also, my mom is really into "what the young people are doing", especially visual art. We don't speak French, but I am willing to try. For preparation, I have been listening to Francoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg.

According to my calculations, we should be somewhere around Vence for Mothers Day.

Also feel free to clue me into any of your favorite dishes or eateries that we might find along our proposed route, at ANY point (not only Mothers Day)... especially France and Barcelona. Not so much Genoa cause Mom is already familiar with that city. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!!!

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  1. Hi, and welcome to Chowhound. I just did a search on this board for Vence, and came up with this thread:

    It's been a long time since I've been to Vence but I had a very memorable meal at Jacques Maximin. He has been one of France's top chefs for many years, so I am sure his latest venture would be a great choice. Since Mothers Day is a Sunday, you would have to check to see if they will be open. Many restaurants in Europe (as I'm sure you know) are closed on Sundays.

    For other places you will be travelling, use the search facility on each country's board, search the towns and cities you will be visiting or passing through. There is a wealth of information here. If you do some more research and then ask more specific questions, and be very specific about your budget in dollars or euros, you will get a lot more responses. It sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned and I hope you have a great time.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      I did not discover anything of interest to me by searching the France board. That's why I started this new thread. So much for chowhound. Oh well. I think I found the right place on Rosa Jackson's blog.

      If anyone has been there and would like to comment, I would love to hear about your meal!

      Also, is there an email out there for these folks at La Penne? All I could find was a phone number, and I would prefer to make a reservation by email if possible.

      1. re: marylmarylmaryl

        "I did not discover anything of interest to me by searching the France board."

        Did you search other Riviera towns famous for good eateries like La Turbie, Les Hauts de Cagnes, Nice, and find nothing that interested you?

        1. re: Parigi

          Thanks, both rrems and Parigi for your warm chowhound welcome. And Parigi , thanks for helping me get my bearings on the France board! Your suggestions for some of Provence's good eating towns lead me to this thread

          Like the original poster in that one, my mom and I aren't big "restaurant" people. I am confident that the thoughtful recommendations yall gave her will point us in the right direction. Will be sure and report back next week.

          I remain interested in the place I mentioned above, L'Auberge de la Penne, for Mothers Day. Has anybody been there? Do you know if they rent rooms?

          1. re: marylmarylmaryl

            The Cannes crowd is mainly concentrated in Cannes. With some spillover to the hotels and restos in Cap d'Antibes and Mougins.
            "my mom and I aren't big "restaurant" people"
            The recs on those towns are not all focused on big restaurants. They include fancy places and also casual bistros. They are just about good eats.

            1. re: marylmarylmaryl

              I've eaten at the Auberge de La Penne many times... it's my favourite restaurant in France. email: pouletchicken"at"aol"dot"com

              The chef is French but his wife is English, so no sweat about communicating in English, either email or phone. They're lovely people.

              And yes, they have (basic) rooms, with a beautiful view over the Esteron valley.
              Lots of hiking trails in the area... we like to go up there to eat, spend the night, and then go wandering. (if you're not so sporty, there are numerous charming villages that you can drive to and through... Cigale, Roquesteron, Ascros to name a few)

              Highly recommend.

      2. Last May my husband and I were in St Paul de Vence and Menton. We took the train to Villefranche( just east of Nice on the train line) on Mother's Day and had a delightful meal at La Mere Germaine overlooking the Mediterranean. If you are in the mood for fresh seafood or bouillabaisse while sitting at white linen tablecloths 10 feet from the turquoise water, then you might enjoy this restaurant in this cute little seaside town.

        1. Oh, geez. It has just dawned on me that I have been planning this road trip without any thought to the Cannes Festival. 11-22 May. Perfect. Does this mean that I will be fired as my mom's travel agent?

          Tell me Provence lovers, how bad will the crowds be? To what extent do the tourists overflow from Cannes?

          1. A couple of notes- you may know this, but just in case- Mother's Day in France is not celebrated on the second Sunday in May, which is probably a good thing as far as restaurant availability this Sunday.

            Since you mention that your mother is into art, you may want to research museums and galleries along your route and decide where you want to visit on Sunday and then come back to search for nearby food recommendations. For example, not too far from Vence is the Fondation Maeght, which I think is a wonderful place to visit. Then you might have lunch either in Vence or Saint Paul.

            Here's one website with museum info,

            Finally, I don't know if you came across this thread when you were searching, but it contains several reviews of places in Vence,

            Hope you find this helpful, -sou

            2 Replies
            1. re: souvenir

              In addition to the Fondation Maeght, St. Paul-de-Vence also has La Colombe d'Or, a legendary reataurant-cum-art gallery that is filled with works by Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Cezanne, et al, who painted for their meals. The only way to view these masterpieces is to dine at the restaurant. Sounds like that might be right up your mom's alley.

              1. re: ChefJune

                I too thought about Colombe d'Or but the OP described herself and her mom as on the frugal side, so it didn't seem to be a good fit.

            2. I recommend a restaurant that is smack ON the beach in Cap d'Ail (Just west of Monaco). A lovely, dreamy venue, the warm breezes and the smell of the sea air of the Mediterranean.

              We've been several times and the place never disappoints, a small but thoughtful menu and a couple of blackboard specials.

              Le Cabanon, on the beach at Doaniers Point, just follow Av Winston Churchill from the main road as it winds down to the beach. GREAT PLACE!


              P.S. The Cannes Festival is not a public event. So the crowds are minimal, it's a lot of movie stars and their entourages. Many come by boat. The event that you should not be around for in the area is the Monaco Grand Prix, which brings a million people into the Riviera. That's the last week I May, I believe.