Chenes-Lieges May/June 2014

After an internet-free few days we are at last back on and I can update the blog.

The evening of Thurs. May  15th May we left Plymouth aboard ‘Pont Aven’ for a great crossing to Roscoff and set off at 8 am to drive down through France. Traffic was very light as is the norm at this time of year and we duly arrived at our hotel du Noirlac at 4 pm. Saturday May 17 saw us drive the remaining 460 miles to our bolt-hole near St Tropez, with a lovely journey  through the mountains and across the fantastic bridge over the gorge at Milau.

Having spent the last 2 weeks preparing for the plant sale and cleaning the house for selling we needed a rest. However our chalet was a little upside down since we had just had a new bay window fitted, and we spent the first day shifting the furniture and putting up new curtains, as well as getting out all the garden tables, chairs and loungers necessary for a 5 week holiday. Fortunately we still had some vin rose in the cellar to relax with in the evening.



Needless to say we brought a large number of plants left over from the sale and after a wet day on Monday we spent Tuesday doing the garden which resembled the Gobi Desert more than usual as there had been no  rain for a couple of months before our arrival. It’s now more like the Garden of Eden and with the strength of the sun flowers are starting to appear very quickly. More housework, gardening and shopping took us to Friday and time to relax a little.

Sunrise this morning

Sunrise this morning

Plenty of time to do all these jobs as we have had no internet until today and the Astra TV satellite which we received our television from has been axed – French government refused to pay Astra so after a 2 year battle they have pulled the plug!


Entrance to Petite Dunelm

Entrance to Petite Dunelm

Assembled the new electric BBQ and had tuna steaks! photo (6)Now the weather is really good and we are into our normal routine of 3 to 4 miles walking in the morning, reading and  jobs around the house and garden in the afternoon and a good swim about 5.30.  Tasting of the local beverages can then commence and there are still plenty to try! Sort of boot camp during the day and free for all in the evenings!


Thursday 29th May we walked up to the reservoir that supplies the St Tropez Bay area (quite a climb) and then on return had some bad news – poor little Daisy has a broken arm and was at Treliske until 4 am this morning. Feel rather helpless as we can’t do anything to help.

photo (7)

Time flies by as we have been entertaining some visitors from Devon – an old psychology friend of Jean and her husband. We spent 4 days doing our tourist bit and after seeing all the local sights, including a visit to the famous Rayol Gardens set on a magnificent coastal setting (below), we are having a quiet couple of days relaxing in the sun, walking and swimming. The weather is getting warmer by the day and is due to get hotter in the coming week with 32+.


Grenville, Angie & Jean

Grenville, Angie & Jean


photo (10)

View from nearby village of Ramatuelle

View from nearby village of Ramatuelle



Sat 7th June.

6 am sunrise

6 am sunrise

Had great walk along a rather demanding rocky stretch of the coastal footpath this morning. Knee ligaments fully tested as we climbed. Set off before 9 am as the temperature was already 23 – was 26 by the time we returned. Scenery was superb:-

photo (8)In the background is the peninsula called Cap Taillat where the film Chitty Bang Bang was located

Sunday June 8. Long walk to Port Grimaud before the temperature rose to 30 later in the day. A sudden surge of tourists everywhere as it is the Whitsun weekend here and a public holiday on Monday.

Le Lavendou 007

After a great swim in the pool, and a long overdue flute practice, we ate out on the patio

photo (13)

Monday June 9. Off again early and uphill walk to La Croix Valmer – fortunately follows an old railway line through farms and vineyards so climb is gradual. Took bus back home. The trains used to come to this part of the world but the French equivalent of Dr Beeching closed all of them just after the second world war. Shame really as it took 12 years at the turn of the century to construct through very difficult hilly terrain, but  the good thing is it has provided many cycle and leisure trails throughout the region. In the evening we had our first little party – 7 0f us for cheese and wine followed by desserts and accompanied by local wines. Great success and after all the washing up we retired at 12.45 am

Tuesday 10th June. Relaxing morning  after sorting out the furniture and watering the plants and new trees at the bottom of the garden. Its getting seriously hot and we went for a swim in the pool to cool off and were the only ones there. Its now 10.30 pm and after another swim and a meal in the garden we’re now firmly planted under the air conditioning unit as it’s still 27  outside. The Radio Classique here is excellent – bit like Classic FM without the chat and adverts. Strange but one really can manage without a TV ! Nice to hear from Dot and  Judy that the house is Ok and the move to Sticker is working well as Wendy has no internet or phone until the end of the month.

Wed 11th June. After walk at Cogolin Marine and a bit of shopping on the way home, we spent a  leisurely hour before g0ing to Cogolin Market for some new tablecloths and towels for the kitchen. Jean went to Le Clerk to get a bit of shopping – it was so full I managed to read most of the daily newspaper waiting in the air conditioned entrance hall. Had a late swim and were the only ones in there again:

Jean in the pool

Jean in the pool

Had a late BBQ having some delicious tuna steaks bought on special offer at Casino washed down with a suitable local beverage. Starters were pears wrapped in parma ham and done on the Barbie – quite adventurous for our resident BBQ chef!

Thurs 12th June. Slept in so had to go walking in the heat of the day – was 32 when we finished. Every day we have to water thoroughly the plants as the sun in particularly strong even for here.  A lazy afternoon ahead and after swimming we are going with Chris and Chris to a nice restaurant in St Maxime.

The Bedding plants we brought over from Cornwall 4 weeks ago

The Bedding plants we brought over from Cornwall 4 weeks ago

GGRRRRR!! No internet for several days. Now Wed 18th June so here is a summary of the last week. We had our first crested tit in the garden for this visit (the French name is Mesange Huppee, which actually means hooped tit)  and a black kite overhead one day.

on the feeder

on the feeder

Crested Tit

Crested Tit

Thursday evening we entertained our French neighbours, who speak no English,  for a drink and spoke French for 2 and half hours – mentally exhausted but delighted to have managed it. Last Saturday we celebrated Fete des Voisins (neighbours) and 16 of us ate and drank the night away.

Fete des voisins

Fete des voisins

Went to Maison Bleu, a really good restaurant in St Maxime, with our friends Chris and Chris, so plenty of eating and wine in between long walks and swimming. Just returned from the beach and swim in sea. Now setting up the automatic watering system because we leave in 7 days and want to keep all the plants alive for our family in August and for us in September.  They grow at an amazing rate here. Have taken to walking on the beach in the evenings when we’re not going out as it’s cooler and still sunny and light. Getting a bit worried about settling back to normal life in Cornwall as we are so relaxed here.

Jean relaxing in hammock

Jean relaxing in hammock

Had a bit of a shock as yesterday we could not find our French Bank debit card. Rushed to the bank and they were most helpful – no one had used it – and without any fuss they just cancelled the card and issued us with a new one free of charge. Crisis over!! Filled up with diesel while we were out – exchange rate good and £1.01 a litre was the price.

Thurs 19th June. Another nice morning on the beach and walking along the seafront. Sea very warm today. Swimming pool even warmer – 30 degrees. After fairly lazy day went down to beach again in the evening for walk along the shoreline. Phoned Dorothy on her 91st birthday.

Friday 20th June. Great morning on beach and in sea. AGM of Club in afternoon followed by drinks. We then had a small party for our friend Pat Malich who is leaving after more than 30 years here.

Saturday 21st June is Fete de la Musique in France. We shall be going to Cavalaire this evening for lots of entertainment and a meal. Started day a bit late so it was 12 noon and 30 degrees when we finished our walk to Port Grimaud. There was some outstanding sandcastle building going on!



We went to 4 events at the fete in the evening. Outstanding from the principal group of mostly wind players of various descriptions – recorders, bagpipes, flageolets with only 4 finger holes and a thumb,  so that they can be played one-handed! Plus 2 guitars, bass and drums. Highland Cathedral was memorable. Other groups – French chansons, modern jazz and youth rock band. The picture isn’t brilliant but it may convey the atmosphere.

photo (22)









Sun 22nd. Beach for the morning preceded by a walk in the hills overlooking Gigaro (our beach of choice). Swim in the sea and then retreated around 12 noon as rather hot. Lazy afternoon and a swim in the pool. Brief walk on the beach before we spoke to Lucy and Chris who seem to be enjoying the nice weather with BBQ and swim in neighbours pool.

Had farewell party for Pat Malich (bottom right of picture) who is leaving us after more than 30 years here.Pat's farewell


Monday 23rd June. Last trip to the beach as tomorrow is our last day and lots of work to do closing up for 6 weeks. Great swim in the sea and  after lunch following the cricket on text in what maybe an exciting finish. Quite an art form the text transmission with lots of humour and comments from around the world.  One more drinks party with the neighbours and bed. Rather too late but never mind.

Tuesday 24th. Started by cleaning the car ready for early start tomorrow. Jean doing fridge defrosting. Tested the automatic watering system which should keep plants alive until  next visitors. It’s really too hot today for this kind of work!

Now back in UK having had a good journey, great rest stops and calm crossing. Almost first off the boat so home by 10.30 pm.

4 Responses to “Chenes-Lieges May/June 2014”

  1. Love the blog and the photos. Keep it coming!

  2. Looks like you’re having a great time Ossie!

  3. Hi Jean and Geoff. It looks a stunning place, glad to hear your having such a lovely time. Can we have some of the good warm weather!!

  4. Dave Smeath Says:

    Sounds idyllic. And you are right, you really can get by without a TV. Glad you are both keeping well

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