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Buzz Buzz: Provençal Attitude
Sailing past Juan les Pins in 1887, Guy de Maupassant observed that "one day it will be the coast's prettiest resort." How could the miserable old scribbler have possibly worked that out at the time, when Juan consisted of a few pine trees and a sandy beach; Guy was probably on the absinthe big time. Whatever; fast forward to 1926, when Coco Chanel declared a sun tan a must have and then to 1930 when Léo Roman (I don't know who he is either) invented water-skiing in the bay of Juan (I don't know how he did that either). Of course there's the Scott and Zelda connection, what with their renting a villa on the beach, and Florence Gould's legendary literary lunches that made summer in the South of France official.
Driving past La Maison des Pecheurs, Juan, a few years ago Francis Ferrante, of the Family Ferrante, having just acquired the fabulous Hotel Juana, Juan les Pins, recalls: "I had a shiver when I remembered the old place where I used to dine and dance, and probably where I had my first kiss." Ferrante, not happy with the abandoned luncheonette of his youth, bought it on the spot, lock, stock and old fishing boat. And what did the Ferrantes do next? Lavished at least 3.5 million euros transforming it into a chic beach resort. "Tres courageux, the place has been left rotting for too long," sniffs Pierre Rayon, who built Port Gallice, the adjacent harbour.
Well, you should see it now, state-of-the-art with pretty Provençal attitude. Six thousand square meters of pure pleasure, sandy beach and designer retro cabines to change/ shelter from the sun: what more could you want? And there's even somewhere to park the yacht for the likes of Ivana, Claudia and Flavio. Racing driver Jean Alessi was there this week. "I'm waiting for the supermodels; so far we've only had sports personalities, but that will change with the upcoming Jazz Festival, I hope," laughs Patrice Courrier, the Executive Chef.
Poached from the Hotel Carlton Intercontinental, Cannes, Courrier is a Member of The Academy Culinaire de France and won a Michelin star for creative cooking at the Casino Royal, Evian. He's used to stars, is Pat--his name translates as Postman Pat, and boy can he deliver. "At The Carlton, during the Cannes Film Festival we used to serve 2,500 covers a day, while organizing Galas for 1,500 glittering celebrities." So La Maison des Pecheurs will be a piece of cake, a holiday? "Not really, this is a big project with three restaurants and space for parties, product launches, cocktails, bar mitzvahs, weddings for up to 3,500." Quite. Sorry, Pat.
During the day it's a totally Caribbean experience--drive the Ferrari into the car-park where a Brad Pitt look-a-like takes it off your hands, relax on the beach, water-ski, dive, work up an appetite for lunch in the shade of the paillote "La Plage des Pecheurs" or they'll shlep it over if you can't bare to leave the amazingly thick striped mattresses under huge umbrellas. "It's a fun menu at lunch time: salads, fresh pasta, pizzas cooked in a pizza oven, grilled fish and meat, home made patisserrie and ice-creams," says Pat.
At dusk, with the seagulls crying, the setting is magnificent. You're overlooking Port Gallice and the Esterel Mountains. Laurent Icke and Rene Vega, two very experienced maîtres d'hotel (ex- Hotel Juana) will take you by the hand and explain the menu. Laurent Brard, the sommelier, will suggest the wines: "We've chosen those we feel are perfect for hot summer nights and that marry best with the dishes," he says.
Starters include a minute de rougets (from local fishermen) drizzled with olive oil, peppery roquette (22€) or a sexy lobster "undressed" with artichokes (38€-- or escabeche of grilled baby tuna with a millefeuille of province vegetables with red peppers and balsamic vinegar (18€). Pat says it's a tour du monde menu, but to me it's a showcase for the Mediterranean. There's risotto "Arborio" with sea food and parmesan (22€) and of course the signature dish of the old Pecheurs, La Bouillabaisse des Pecheurs (don't ask), Soup des Pecheurs, Soupière de la Petite Peche, Les poissons de la Marmite (70€) with garlic rouille and croutons, piments d'Espelette. Delicious. There are always grilled gambas (30€), crayfish (18€ for 100gr), and sea-bass (9€ for 100 g)-and for carnivores, lamb, veal and beef (from 25€). Desserts are sophisticated, as you would expect--Corne d'abondance en cascade de fruits rouges et sa crème parfumée coulis de fruits des bois, well worth 13€. All washes down nicely with a Château Simone white or a Château Rasque red. Dance all this off in the baroque n'roll restaurant- bar-lounge with VIP section and DJ's.
Plage Les Pecheurs,
Restaurant de la Plage,
Restaurant Les Pecheurs and Le Cap for boogie nights.
10 boulevard Maréchal Juan,
T: 04 92 93 13 30
And also, same owners:
T: 04 93 61 08 70.
T: 04 93 61 08 70.
You definitely won't find Jacques Toubon at Café Muffin (he was the party-poop who declared Franglais illegal). These muffins are supposed to be low-fat and, with delicious ingredients such as figs, prunes, honey, sunflower seeds, nuts, dates and sesame seed, should keep you going all day. The creators, Michel and Georges Chouéri, worked in Canada and have come back to France to "combine the best Canadian and French flavours for a new generation of muffin mavens." Sounds good to me.
Look for them on www.infinities.fr or go visit at:
99 rue de Rivoli, 1st.
T: o1 42 60 10 63.
99 rue de Rivoli, 1st.
T: o1 42 60 10 63.
Did you know you can rent a mobile phone in Paris? Delivered to you 24/7. Then you can order a picnic from BE boulangerie (01 46 22 20 20) or beg for a table at La Régalade (01 40 25 02 68).