My thoughts on the French Riviera…..

The French Riviera is a fantastic location and we are very fortunate to have it on our door step. The people are very friendly and 99% of the locals recognised us as Sikhs.

The hotel, La Chèvre D’Or is worthy of being a member of the Relais & Chateau for it’s location and rooms. The staff are not as helpful and sometimes unfriendly, you get the feeling they are only doing the job because they have to. We have stayed at other hotels where staff have shown passion in their work and will bend over backwards to make your stay, delightful.

For vegetarians I would not recommend the 2 star michelin restaurant. The chef could have used more then the basic fruit and vegetables for our dishes!!

Loving Hut in Menton is a fantastic restaurant and definitely worth the visit. The food and service are very good.

Eze village is a great medieval village and has quaint galleries and cafes. Off season the location is quiet and peaceful, I can imagine that in the height of summer this will get very busy and crowded.

Menton…..

Menton…..

After a relaxing morning where I did the childish but enjoyable things (like brush my teeth whilst using the lift and after a shower dry myself, again whilst using the lift!) we had a wander around the hotel’s amazing terraced gardens and then ventured out to the Loving Hut in Menton, we found free parking in a nearby car park.

Enjoying a morning coffee at the hotel
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Views from the room
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Before leaving the hotel we asked to see another suite
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Views from the hotel
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Driving to Menton
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Menton
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The free car park
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A building in Menton
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Looking out from Menton
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The Loving Hut restaurant is part of the same chain we have visited in other countries. The Loving Hut marketing slogan is Be Vegan, Make Peace.

Loving Hut Menton
649 Promenade du Soleil
06500 Menton
T: +33 4 92 07 32 57
E: menton@lovinghut.fr
W: www.lovinghut.fr
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Sangeet ordered a falafel mix and I ordered a loving burger, for starters we had summer rolls. My dish came as a deal, burger, fries and dessert or drink for 12 euros. We got chatting to the owner, Afigour, he mentioned that all the staff who work there are vegan, those that weren’t became vegan. As you talk to Afigour you can tell he is very much into veganism and spirituality. He told us about increasing veganism around the world and how Mongolia is leading the way. He talked about various healing lines (‘blessing lines’) coming to earth and how these can be attracted to earth by very spiritual people.

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Vegan cakes
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Plenty of seating inside
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Literature and products for sale
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Our food
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Two hands are not enough!
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Falafel mix
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Dessert
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Vegan dog food!
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Whilst chatting a fellow Sikh came to say hello, he was from Glasgow and his name is Surjit Singh Sokhi, he has been coming to this part of the world for the last ten years and thoroughly loves the area. Also whilst chatting we found that we had many friends and relations in common. What a small world!

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We left the restaurant a few hours later after having great food and fantastic company.

We had a wander around Menton which is a very beautiful town. We walked along the Promenade du Soleil seeing people of all shapes and sizes sunbathing, we saw the Basilique St-Michel Archange, a 17th century church, the beautiful gardens of Garavan and the Jardin Bioves and nearby Palais de l’Europe. it was enjoyable just wandering about enjoying the beauty of the architecture and gardens and taking in the energy of the place. We were around 1km from the border with Italy and were tempted to pop over. On the way to the car we bought locally grown strawberries, we were looking for oranges especially after seeing the many orange and lemon trees during our walk, unfortunately the oranges for sale were from Spain and the satsumas were from Israel.

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httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EAcYfuiPt8&sns=em

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On the way back to the hotel we drove through Monte Carlo, as they are preparing for the Formula 1, the stands were being erected. I managed to drive fast through one of the straight roads. Apparently you have to be very careful as this is frowned upon by the police.

As we entered Eze village there was a fantastic vista point where we could see our hotel hanging on to the cliff edge. We parked up and as we were walking to the point a motor biker passed us and shouted something out, he then turned around and came back to talk to us, he kept saying Guru Nanak, looking towards the sky and shaking his head side to side!!

We arrived back at the hotel around 7:30pm in time for our 8pm dinner reservation at La Chèvre d’Or, a Michelin 2 star restaurant at the hotel.

We walked to the restaurant and were greeted by a number of staff and three maître d’hôtel! Now I understand why the food costs so much, just to pay the staff wages!

For aperitif we had a asparagus, notice I said ‘a!

Well judge for yourself:

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I felt so sorry for the asparagus it felt so lonely and sad!

For starters:

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The base is eggplant and various vegetables and flowers were on top, a bit like a herb garden. I am now thinking surely it must get better!

For mains we had:

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Basically mixed vegetables cooked in its owns waters!

Between and alongside courses I was filling myself up on:

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Which was the nice bit!!

For dessert Sangeet had sorbet:

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I had fruit cocktail:

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On a bed of finely cut kiwi and I mean finely cut! There were various fruit.

For mocktails:

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Considering this is a 2 Michelin star restaurant, the chef could have been more creative and instead of giving us boiled vegetables done some other type of dishes.

It does make you laugh when you think for lunch we ate at loving hut, we ordered what WE wanted and paid 34 euros, at the Michelin 2 star restaurant they tell YOU what you are having and then at the end of the meal give you a huge food bill for mediocre food! Saying that we have to be very thankful that with God’s blessing we are in a position to be able to come and try food at this restaurant. After a lot of laughs over the whole dining experience, including the waiters amusing descriptions of each dish (ours and other people’s), we retired to our suite.

Nice…..

Nice…..

Sangeet bought me a birthday treat, a long weekend away in Nice, South France.
After a manic rush and being held up in traffic we dropped our bags 40 minutes before departure. We were so relieved not to miss the flight.

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The flight was with Lufthansa via Frankfurt, when we landed at Frankfurt we went through customs and back onto the same plane, which was bound for Nice. At Frankfurt airport I went through the security checks with no problem, they did not pat down my turban, with Sangeet the security lady started physically patting down her turban without even asking for permission, this annoyed Sangeet very much and she had words with her and another nearby security guard about the importance of not touching a Sikh’s turban. Apparently they are not allowed to use any other search method which seems strange. Sangeet is going to check what the security guards told her and take appropriate steps. It is crazy that we travelled around the world without ever having issues with security over our turbans, yet in such a developed country like Germany so close to home, there is so much ignorance.

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The plane flew over the Alps which gave us a chance to enjoy fantastic scenery.

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Once we landed at Nice we collected our bags and headed to Avis to pick up our car. The Avis desk has now moved to Terminal 2, therefore if you take the exit A0 out of the airport there is a free shuttle bus. Once you enter terminal 2 you will see most of the car rental desks. As we are Avis preferred members we got a reasonable upgrade. The car is a Alfa Romeo, we like how it drives and looks, the car is brand new with only 1km on the clock.

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We exited the airport and took signs for Monaco, the drive is along the coast and goes through Nice. At a vista point we just had to stop and take in the beauty. Nice is a two hour direct flight from the UK but it just feels like a million miles away. It is like we have stepped into a picture.

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On the way to Eze
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A coastal drive
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We continued our drive to the hotel in Eze village, about 10km from Nice, as Sangeet had kept the hotel a secret I was not aware of the name. We arrived into Eze village a quaint village and turned right towards the hotel…..just arriving at the entrance I was wowed by its beauty and that is just at the entrance!! Eze is a medieval village, perched on the cliff edge overlooking the stunning Riviera coast and Mediterranean Sea.

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The area surrounding Èze was first populated around 2000 BC as a commune situated near Mount Bastide. The earliest occurrence of the name “Èze” can be found in the maritime books of Antonin as a bay called the St. Laurent of Èze. The area was subsequently occupied by not only the Romans but also the Moors who held the area for approximately 80 years until they were driven out by William of Provence in 973.
By 1388 Èze fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Savoy, who built up the town as a fortified stronghold because of its proximity to Nice. The history of Èze became turbulent several times in the next few centuries as French and Turkish troops seized the village under orders from Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543, and Louis XIV destroyed the walls surrounding the city in 1706 in the war of the Spanish succession. Finally in April 1860, Eze was designated as part of France by unanimous decision by the people of Eze.
Èze has been described as an “eagle’s nest” because of its location overlooking a high cliff 427 metres (1,401 ft) above sea level on the French Mediterranean. It’s so high that the light ochre church within (Notre Dame de l’Assomption built in 1764) can be seen from afar. An Egyptian cross inside the church suggests the village’s ancient roots, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honour the goddess Isis.
Traditionally, the territory of the Principality of Monaco was considered to begin in the Èze village (outskirts of Nice), running along the Mediterranean coast to Menton, on the present Italian border.

It is valet parking so we walked the 400 yards to the hotel reception, I was flabbergasted at such an amazing hotel. Sangeet knows exactly what I like!

The hotel is called La Chèvre D’Or
06360
Eze Village
T: +33 4 92 10 66 66
F +33 4 93 41 06 72
View from hotel gardens
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It is a member of Relais Chateau. Relais & Châteaux is a global fellowship of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. Although the total number or members changes as members are added and others drop away, the group currently has some 500 members in 60 countries on five continents. Strongly represented in Europe, the association is growing in North America and Asia.
Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is “to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character.
The group is known for its extremely strict admission standards. In addition to luxurious facilities, members must have special features distinguishing them from chain hotels. Most of them are historic landmarks such as castles, manor houses, or townhouses in idyllic settings and offering exquisite cuisine. Relais & Châteaux is an example of affiliate marketing
Prospective and current members are evaluated by the group’s traditional “five C” motto: Caractère, Courtoisie, Calme, Charme et Cuisine.

This hotel has a 2 Michelin star restaurant. Since Michelin started in France, the guides are sometimes accused of having a bias towards French cuisine/style/technique, or towards a snobby, formal dining style. In New York City, for instance, there are seven restaurants that received the top three-star rating, and only one of them greatly varies from a classic and formal dining experience. (That’s Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, where the meal is served at a kitchen table.)

Michelin Stars Defined:

One star: A very good restaurant in its category.
Two stars: Excellent cooking and worth a detour. First class cuisine of its type.
Three stars: Exceptional cuisine and worth a special journey. Often extremely expensive, and with an extensive wine list.
The reason Michelin stars are so coveted is that most restaurants receive no stars at all. For example, in the Michelin Guide to France 2009, 3,531 restaurants are included, but just 548 received a star. Most of these restaurants — 449 — received one-star, 73 received two stars, and 26 received three.

After checking in we were taken to the hotel terrace where we enjoyed a welcome drink, a mixture of nuts and the amazing views. We got chatting to a couple who were sat nearby, they were from South Africa, the chap’s name is Merlin and the lady’s name is Susie, a very friendly couple who had come over to watch the Monaco Masters Tennis, something which attracted our attention.

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Once we had enjoyed the drinks, snacks and views we headed back to the reception where they showed us to our room, well I thought we had booked a room, Sangeet had booked the Suite!

We have stayed in some amazing suites but this is one of the best. The suite is on four floors with it’s own garden, it even has a lift!!

The suite is named after Luis Navarro, named after a musician and painter with a very recognizable style. He was a passionate yet discreet man, a contemporary and friend of Picasso who worked and lived for many years in this region. The Navarro Suite boasts contemporary, high-tech interior décor, and the artists’ illustrations are perfectly suited to these two very distinctive suites.

It has a fantastic mix of the old chateau with modern mod cons, the lights, audio system and temperature are all controlled by a electronic pad, there is a lift to access various floors as well as stairs.

This is really an amazing suite. Sangeet did an absolutely amazing job at arranging this!

The following video of the suite is a must see!
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad_CoY0yofs&sns=em

The suite lift
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The suite Hifi system
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Lights, heating, audio and door intercom are electronically controlled
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One of the views from the suite
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Our private garden
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Living room
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Audio system on the left, lift on the right
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The guest bathroom
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Exit to the garden
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The kitchen/dining room
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What you see is the whole of our suite
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Eze village
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After admiring this amazing room (basically means I was playing around in the lift and making sure the audio was playing in every room including the garden!) we decided to get some food, now there are two vegan restaurants in this area, one which we planned to go to tonight is called Loving Hut in the town Menton, which is around 14 km away. It was a costal drive with amazing Vista points. Once we got to Menton, Sangeet who is a fantastic map reader guided me directly to the restaurant.

Menton
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Just everywhere!
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Great architecture
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Unfortunately the restaurant was closed though it was listed on Happy Cow’s website as open on Wednesdays. By now Sangeet was hungry, for once I was not, probably because I was still excited by the amazing suite. We decided to drive around Menton to see what other cuisine we could find. After a little short wander around Menton town, we ended up at:

Le Taj
19 Quai Monleon
06500
Menton
T: + 33 4 93 17 41 91

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The owners are from Sri Lanka, a very chatty couple who assured us the food will be made completely separate to the non-veg.

Sangeet ordered Saag Aloo with Rice, I ordered Bhagan Bharta with Naan, the owner informed us that the naan is cooked in the same tandoor as the meat, so I decided to have rice instead. It was good of her to be so honest, it gives you peace of mind as you know the food will be cooked totally separately. Once the food arrived it was ‘okay’ both main dishes had the same base taste of cream! The rice was very nice, it consisted of rice (obviously) cashew, raisins and various spices. I also ordered raita which was nice. We shared a delicious halwa dessert – the Sri Lankan ladies own personal recipe.

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Halwa
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We left the restaurant and drove back to the hotel, Sangeet had nodded off, she awoke to find me talking to some lady through the intercom at a highway toll station, as my co-driver and excellent navigator had fallen asleep I took a wrong turning! The lady said you have to pay a toll go along the highway for 5km then turn back, I paid 2.30 euros each way!

Back at the hotel I decided to have coffee, as there was no milk/cream I ordered some coffee and Creme from room service, they sent me coffee capsules for the coffee maker, which is what I wanted and body lotion!

The suite bedroom floor has a glass section, this looks down to the living room
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After enjoying the coffee and messing around some more with the audio system and lift we fell asleep.

Today has been an amazing day. The South of France is fantastic and the hotel stunning and immaculate.

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