Our week of French Mountain Life
After getting aquainted with our week long home, we drove into the outskirts of Nice and spent what seemed an eternity buying groceries at Auchan - a supermarket not far from Nice. The best supermarkets in France which will have everything are Carrefour and Auchan, which you will find across Europe. You will find wheat and gluten free in the diet aisle.
I shopped at Auchan, and it is here that I recommend that you will find the best gluten free and wheat free range of food such as bread, cakes, biscuits, soya milk, pasta, and crackers. The rice cakes will contain at least four other wheat grains along with the rice, so don't buy these. Look for sans gluten and sans ble (without wheat) on the labels and usually a picture of wheat with a red cross through it.
There was something so real and so earthy about our week in the mountains which form the start of the French Alps. Chopping wood as though our lives depended on keeping the farm house warm, writing a week long menu of what we would cook each night on our wood stove, and preparing all our food from fresh - Chilli Con Carne, Coquillettes Pasta and Pork Strips, Potato Cakes and Salmon baked in Oranges (the oranges were from the neighbourig farm), Chicken & Garden Pea Risotto, and a Courgette Fritata.
Then there was our Christmas dinner of Snails (Escargot) Provençal , Roast Chicken basted in olive oil, red wine, fresh grated nutmeg and served with roast potatoes, carrots and sweet corn, apple and cinnamon sauce and finally a good helping of one of Christine's Puddings with Sainsburys Free From already made custard - oh and of course a lot of white and rose wine. At 2Euros a bottle, who can resist!
A traditional French Christmas is celebrated with a meal on Christmas Eve - usually following midnight Mass. The photo to the left is from our French kitchen - preparing the Escargots Provençal.
So, back to our week in the French mountains - we were revitalised, energised and able to cath up on Series One to Three of the Sopranos completely undisturbed. I was able to write in my food journals about the gluten free travels experiences from over the years and look at the year ahead from Around the World Without.
Caught up in the sheer romance of where we were living for a week, we started planning our future chopping more wood, eating more food and living on an olive farm - watch this space!
Peillon, Southern France
Perched high on the edge of a mountain above Nice, you are staying in heaven at the Auberge De La Madon in Peillon, Southern France. This Hotel has 14 rooms and 3 apartments and a restaurant serving really good provence food. Telephone +33 (0) 4937 99117.
We walked to this viallage from our mountain retreat. The walk, mostly up hill took us 45 minutes and a lot of hard work.
The Croissette in December - This is winter South of France style
Once in a while us mountain folk have to venture down and so we headed towards the bluest sea the Cote d'Azure has to offer. The drive into Cannes is 25km from the centre of Nice on the A8. Spend a day, a night, a week on the beautiful blue coast with the rich who refuse to smile when walking their tiny dogs along the croissette.
Get your bearings with the famous Palais which is home to the red carpet for the Film Festival in May each year. The Palias is situated right on the front and you will find the Marina to the right and the Croisette and boutique hotels on the left. Opposite the Palais is Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton and more.
The Old Town is situated to the right of the Palais and leads you into gorgeous alleyways lined with restaurants and art galleries. The photo to the right is the Palais.
When you head into Cannes, you will be able to do a food shop at Monoprix supermarket with fish and meat counters and a special diet aisle. The Monoprix at the top of Rue Ma Foch Cannes has a small diet section, but you will find what you need to keep you in comfort for your stay.
Cannes is like our second home. My French is pitiful with many stories circulating our circle about a slip of the completely irrelevant manage a trois into a sentence while ordering beer in Monaco. With Mr Smith by my side and some good insider knowledge, we head straight for the good stuff that Cannes has to offer. Head towards the old town to escape the orange people in top to toe fur and to enjoy good food. A favourite is Astoux Brun, 27 Rue Felix Faure, Cannes. We eat Moules Mariniere, Soupe de Poisson & Gambas (fantastically big meaty prawns).
Astoux Brun is also a fish market, so all seafood is prepared on site right through the day. If you don't want to stop for a meal, just choose your seafood and head back to your apartment to cook up a storm.
Another favourite in the Old Town is Le Manoir, 4, Petite rue Sant Antoine, 06400, Cannes. Tel: +33 (04) 93383549. This is where I first indulged in Black Truffle Risotto.
Of course, if you want to be spoilt with six courses of georgeous food, then you have to dine at the Martinez. Speaking with the food team about a wf and gf menu wasn't a hassle at all - very happy to make sure I was happy with everything. Telephone the hotel and ask to speak with the banqueting manager in advance and they will send you through a menu by email for your approval. We paid 160Euros each for our six courses - I won't tell you how much our wine bill was!
French translation to ensure you have a gluten free time
Je souffre d'une importante allergie alimentaire (due a une coelialgie): j'ai une tres forte intolerance au gluten et au
There are so many estate agents in and around Cannes and you will find a host of apartments to suit - just make sure you book well in advance if you want to party with the film stars during the film festival. Check the tourism web site for Cannes because there are so many festivals throughout the year.