Haut-de-Cagnes; Le village des artistes

The pebble-paved streets wind through Haut-de-Cagnes’ narrow alleyways past stone houses, artist’s studios, restaurants and a few shops. The Chateau Grimaldi, a fort built around the 1300 dominates the village overlooking the sea. Replicas of canvases by well-known artists who painted this romantic place are stationed at the locations of the scene. The clay colors of the roof tiles, grays of stone walls, colorful vines creeping up the sides of the ancient buildings seem to be growing where ever they can find a little earth. Haut-de-Cagnes is a heritage site, classified as a “Monument of France”.

When I first walked up the pebble streets some 30 years ago, I thought I was stepping into a Renior canvas. Brush strokes and pallet knives created this village from the imagination of a genius painter I thought. Of course it must be, because Renoir lived and worked in Les Colette just around the corner from Haut-de-Cagnes. The panorama over the hills and blue Mediterranean gave him inspiration and his canvases reflect the colors and vegetation of the region. So this must be where I am, in one of his paintings. Then, when I came back to reality, I saw that Haut-de-Cagnes was a real place, with real people, and real stone buildings and flowers and I was going to stay here forever. Well I almost did and have visited it many times.

Painters lived in this region of France such as Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Erté, Rodin, Bonnard, Matisse and Modigliani who spent time with Renoir – just to name a few. All conspired and enjoyed each other’s company in this medieval world. The village reflects the romanticism of the past and you wander through the streets appreciating the beauty that they saw. Today you can visit Renoir’s home, now a museum where you can see why he was in love with Cagnes-sur-Mer.

In recent years there has been a revitalization of Cagnes-sur-Mer and in many ways it has improved along the sea. A boardwalk goes on for miles all the way to Nice. Restoration of the beaches and buildings has brought new life with little seaside restaurants that serve both French and Italian specialties. The city is charming in the area of the market place where people seem to be stationed all the time in the café’s. Maybe they are really sculptures by Renior who probably joined in this typically French pastime of café life. Sometimes I feel they are purposely placed there so visitors think that relaxing and drinking espresso or a glass of wine is all people do here. There are many new apartments in the center of the city, which I suppose is to be expected, and in some ways nicer architecture then some other towns. The town has all the shopping you need with outdoor markets and excellent boulangeries. Years ago it was possible to find small boulangeries and boucherie (butcher shops) in Haut-de- Cagnes, but they are long gone. Many foreigners have bought apartments and live part-time here making it difficult for small shops to survive. But they have also renovated the apartments and have played a role in keeping the village alive and free from commercialism.

There is a parking lot in Cagnes-sur-Mer, a paid parking garage in Haute-de-Cagnes and parking along the streets, but the chances of finding parking is slim. The public parking lot in Cagnes-sur-Mer is a quarter the price of the parking garage and with very good bus service to Haute-de-Cagnes. The shuttle bus leaves every 15 minutes from June to September from the Castle and can be taken from several places along the route to Cagnes-sur-Mer. From here you can catch buses to other destinations along the Côte d’Azur. The shuttle is free and the bus service is inexpensive and a good alternative considering the lack of parking in Nice or Cannes.

By some stroke of luck Haut-de-Cagnes has survived tourism. You quickly appreciate this when you visit St. Paul de Vance. It hurts to think that such a beautiful village that inspired so many famous artists is now a big commercial mess. The people of Haut-de-Cagnes and all those who settled there saved this magical place from the sickness that takes over when people only see dollar signs. This could have easily happened here, but instead it has stayed the same and you feel like you are going home every time you visit. This is the village where I could easily see myself getting lost in forever and many new residents have. It’s simplicity and charm just carry you through life as though you have nothing else to worry about except stepping around the palate knife and paint strokes that created it.

Vance and St Jennet are easily reached and are a nice side trip. Vance has done a lot of restoration and in fact has replaced its fountains with ones dating back to its origins. Many guests visit the perfume factories in Grasse. Collectors search for perfume bottles that are now collectables at some of the weekly outdoor markets.

St. Jennet

Vance

St. Paul de Vance

I will only mention two restaurants in the village and one in Cagnes-sur-Mer that we found worth visiting. Le Fleur de Sel we did not visit because it was closed for vacation, we have dined here in the past and I was told that it was good and under new management.

You won’t find many restaurants in the village but a few stand out. Chef Stephane Francolino, owner of Entre Cour et Jardin, told us that many Italians fled to France during WWII and settled in the region mostly in Grasse to work at the perfume factories. Since we had just come from Dolceacqua, Italy, his hometown, it was an interesting connection for us. The region’s culture is intermingled with Italy and its cuisine reflects this. Entre Cour et Jardin is a lovely little restaurant decorated in the style of the village with paintings adorning its walls and in one corner a typical French fireplace. The chef’s menu reflects his love of travel and his creativeness in combining his roots with his cooking. He is the cook, waiter and owner and takes pride in his relationships with his customers, who he calls his family. Stephane and his restaurant are as enchanting as the village and exactly what one would expect to find here.

Thank you Stephane for this lovely recipe.

Entre Cour et Jardin
Stephane Francolino
102 Montée de la Bourgade
06800 Haut de Cagnes
Tel: 04 93 20 72 27
Fax: 04 93 20 61 01

Crème de foie gras et fruits
(Cream of goose liver and fruits)
Stephane Francolino

Yield: 40 glasses
Bake: 15 minutes @ 212ºF

250 g (9 oz.) of stuffed goose liver terrine
2 eggs
1 egg yoke
90 cl. (3 1/4 oz.) cream
Salt
Pepper
Pimient d’esplette (Basque chili pepper)

Mix all the ingredients.

Put a raspberry and some raspberry coulis (puréed and strained raspberries) at the bottom of the glass, and then add the preparation.

Bake approximately 15 minutes in the oven at 100º C (212º F)

Put them in a cool place for 2 hours. They can be refrigerated for a few days.

La Goutte d’Eau
108 Montée de la Bourgade
06800 Le Haut de Cagnes
Phone: 04 93 20 81 23

La Goutte d’Eau has contributed a wonderful typically French “tarte au citron”. I will test the recipe and post it at a later date. I loved it because it has a light citron flavor, not overwhelming, with an Italian meringue topping. The little outdoor eating area is very pleasant in the evening and owners run back and forth to the restaurant to serve its guests outdoors. They are fun and it is a casual restaurant with an atmosphere so typically French.

Le Renior
23, Place Sainte Luce
06800 Cagnes Sur Mer

The restaurant is located next to the left of public parking lot in Cagnes-sur-mer. Its contemporary setting is a surprise, as the outside looks quite old with a small outdoor terrace seating area. The food was very good and even on what one would have considered an off night; it was completely booked with locals.

Le Cagnard Hotel
Rue Sous Barri
06800 Le Haut de Cagnes, France

Le Cagnard Hotel, our choice for many years has come upon some difficult times. Still beautiful, it’s one time one star Michelin restaurant has been closed. But I remember my first encounter with Madam Barel showing me each of the 4 rooms and 2 apartments so that I could choose my favorite room (They have many more rooms now). There were huge tulips on top of the antique chest and on stools placed around the hotel. It had a small elevator that never seemed to stop at the right floor and has a beautiful restaurant with its painted ceiling tiles (now opens to view the stars). I remember the New Years Eve we spent here with a fire glowing in the large fireplace and the huge selection of chèvre for dessert. This is where I was introduced to chèvre. On our 10th anniversary of visiting Le Cagnard, Madam came into the dinning room as we were having breakfast and insisted that we join her for a bottle of champagne to celebrate our 10 years of visiting her. We never made it back to Switzerland that day and she has remained in our memories of Haut-de-Cagnes. This year we opted to rent an apartment which we find a more interactive and interesting way to enjoy a place that is a home away from home.

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~ by Patricia Turo on July 17, 2010.

19 Responses to “Haut-de-Cagnes; Le village des artistes”

  1. Patricia…I was actually there with Hubby last Autumn…it seems like just last week…where does the time go?
    I love the captures you took of the area…just beautiful.
    Didn’t have a chance to visit that restaurant in particular and of course now you managed to re-create on of their recipes… that is great for those who’d like to know what goes into such a creation ;o)

    Have a great week and flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

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    • Claudia,

      How exciting it is so nice to know that you know Haut de Cagnes. My husband and I have always loved this village. It has many international residents but still remains absolutely French. If you go again please tell Stephane how you heard about his restaurant. You and I seem to search out some of the same places. It is a very famous village.

      Regards,
      Patricia

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  2. Patricia…it will unfortunately be quite a while before I have a chance to go back to the same place. Our travels bring us everywhere…and too little time to get to all the places I have on my wish list. Speaking of which…the 2 islands I’ve enjoyed most and am sure to return to one day are both Corsica and Sardegna I get the feeling you’ve been?!?
    Not to forget also the extremely charming and very tiny island in Greece named Koufonissi not far from Naxos.
    Patricia…one day, I also get the felling we may have a chance to meet in person…and watch out…we will never have enough time to share all our interests ;o) Any chance your travels will bring you to Montreal, Canada? Email me if that opportunity ever comes up.

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

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    • Claudia,

      We have been to many places in the world. But the last 20 years we have really gotten stuck in Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. Even with going to Italy every month, we still discover new places and new foods and we just never get tired of it. Who knows we just may find ourselves in the same place at the same time. Nice to communicate with you Claudia, I also have a feeling we would get along very well.

      Patricia

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  3. Years ago in an antique shop in Bermuda my wife picked out a water color of a residential street of this beautiful village dated 1913. we just now discovered the script stating Cagnes on the matting. The artist signed the painting but it is difficult to read,it looks like some first name initial then Lossain then a space and 920Yeuz. The painting is beautiful and now that we know where it was painted we will be visiting this historical village.

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    • John,

      You need to contact the town hall or Art Association in Cagnes sur Mer and see if they can give you information on your painting. This period saw many famous artist who live in Haut de Cagnes, St. Paul de Vance, and the entire region. Rodin lived right around the corner in Colette. You may find that you have a important painting worth a lot of money. I highly recommend visiting the village, it is very beautiful and still an artist village. Glad you found my post and I hope it brings you luck with your painting.

      Let me know if you visit Haut de Cagnes,
      Patricia

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  4. Dear Patricia, It’s been a long time and thanks for those marvelous comment you made on Entre Cour et Jardin and now I’m getting famous with my foie gras mousse.
    Lot of news for you and I’m sure you’ll like that : The Cagnard as been sold to a swedish familly and i’m partner with them so I’m gonna run the restaurant there, we are actually creating a brand new kitchen and grand reopening of the restaurant and the hotel is due begining december 2011, now I have to find someone nice to take care of Entre Cour et jardin.
    Best regards from sunny and warm Haut de Cagnes
    Stéphane

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  5. This is so intreresting concerning what is happening at Le Cagnard! We have stayed there meny times, it is always our arrival or departure hotel on our trips to Southern France. We were there last July, 2011 and we realized that things were not quite as perfect as they had been. We soon found out that they were closing having been bought by a Swedish company. I did look today, but so far do not see that it has reopened. Is there a time table there, but very happy that Stephanie will be in charge of the new restaurant. Thank you for keeping me up to date.
    Diane Dioguardi

    Like

    • Hello Diane,

      First of all thank you for reading my post. I don’t know that there is a time table, I heard from Stéphane last October 2011 and he told me that the Grand Opening of the hotel would be December 2011. However, you know how these things with renovations. They were going to completely renovate the kitchen as well. He was also looking for some to run Entre Cour et Jardin for him. I expect that they want to be open for this season.

      If you find out let me know as it is also one of my favorite little hotels.

      Regards,
      Patricia

      Like

  6. LOVE this village – easily accessible and close to Nice!

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  7. Dear Patricia, dear Diane
    Hello from sunny Haut de Cagnes
    That’s it we made it The Cagnard had reopen his door since the 12th october and I am runing the restaurant
    http://www.lecagnard.com
    really hope to see you soon around
    Stéphane
    0493207321 / stephane.francolino@lecagnard.com
    all the best

    Like

    • Thank you so much for keeping me up to date….love your posts. Please change my e-mail address to: *nalta615@att.net* I can still use the other, but not for much longer. Thank you again, and I hope to stay in Le Cagnard this summer.

      A bientot Diane Dioguardi

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  8. Great post – it is indeed a lovely place to visit. Stephane is now the chef at the hotel Le Cagnard which now has new owners and has been renovated. (See my interview blog post)

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  9. Delighted to find this site. I first visited Haut de Cagnes around 1966 when I was taken to the Chateau Grimaldi for lunch by a wonderful elderly couple. She was very vivacious French and he was the perfect English gentleman.
    The restaurant was accessible by a ladder into a large loft type room. I can remember the tables being long and set in a U shape in the manner of a
    Medieval banquet. The food was excellent.
    I wonder if anyone else can remember the same experience.

    Sue Hall

    Like

  10. I am wondering if all is still good in Haute de Cagnes? We are close by and would love to go the the Hotel and restaurant if it is open in Feb? Does anyone know?

    Like

    • It has been 6 years since I have been there. But as of then, it is still beautiful and the hotel has been bought and reopened. The chef is part owner and as I mentioned in my post also has another restaurant in the village. He is very good and I hear from him from time to time. I suggest you call the hotel for more information.

      Like

  11. Reblogged this on Piacere – Food & Travel without rules!.

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  12. Thank you so much for this article. I also so love Haute de Cagnes and always get a sense of melancholy when I read about it! I wish Le CAGNARD the very best…have stayed their numerous times and they always took such good care of me!!

    Liked by 1 person

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