Die Ebene und das Massif de l'Esterel

A while ago I got a wonderful mail from a reader. The love for the Côte d’Azur was noticeable and the enthusiasm for the region around La Bouverie contagious – and so one fine Sunday, we set off to explore this area (which we had neglected shamefully until then).

As usual, we arrived at noon and as usual every restaurant was closed. With growing desperation and the firm will to put into practice what I thought I had learned about French cuisine, we drove on and – again: as usual – stumbled across a real restaurant gem and had a wonderful day! Thank you, Delia ?.

Bistro vs. Restaurant

From one of Christine Cazon’s last crime novels, which I read recently, I learned that people always eat well and cheaply in bistros. Actually, that wasn’t new to me, we had always made excellent experiences during previous visits of bistros, but I thought it was a coincidence. Today, I really wanted to test whether it was a rule or a coincidence, and so we found ourselves looking out for a village bistro. And we were successful. Unfortunately, “for sale” was written next to the menu. When I asked the waiter (I wanted to make sure that I don’t swarm about it and then it will be gone by the time you come here), they told me that the sign is hanging for two years now and that it will stay hanging as long as no successor is found. And that’s why I’m now telling you about our great lunch. May your mouth be watering…

Le Bistrot

Why wasting time on a name? Le Bistrot – and everyone knows what’s all about. I like that.

You will find the bistro on the square with the plane trees next to the town hall. Too inaccurate? 513 Grande Rue, 83600 Bagnols-en-Forêt

One sit very comfortably on the terrace in the shadow of the trees and the parasols. The dog got some water and then dozed in the shade, and we gormandized:

We had a small amuse-bouche, seafood and fish as starter and fish skewer with ratatouille and wild rice as main course. The dessert was too creamy for the lactose intolerant among us (me!).

My conclusion: Delicious with a funny waiter, who either really had all the welcome schnapps that no one wanted (like he said) or who was a joker by nature. We definitely felt very comfortable and laughed a lot.

Fortified we visited the place, whose existence is documented since 909. The number of churches for such a small place was impressive. There are 4!

But the view of the surroundings impressed me most:

Gorges du Blavet, Grotte du Mueron

On the outward bound we passed a parking lot and a sign in the middle of the forest and thought: this will be our today’s dog tour. The Blavet rises here and flows 15 km further into the Argens. There are a number of caves in the area where even traces of Homo erectus and early Homo sapiens have been discovered! Fascinating, isn’t it? But above all, the landscape is great, check it out:

At the start, someone wrote a warning on a sign saying that the path was unsuitable for dogs, which made us a little nervous but couldn’t stop us from walking on.

Those who are bad walkers (no matter if on two or four legs), will not be able to walk this circuit till the end. It starts with a straight path through the forest. But latest at the point where you have to cross the river (without bridge!) you have to climb a lot. Afterwards you walk over hill and dale and you cover some meters in altitude. Such tours are fun for us and the dog, even though I’m not a sporting ace My assessment: sturdy shoes, comfortable trousers and then you will manage the walk well if you have a sporty level like me (which means none).

You have to cross the river twice by climbing over the rocks. And you have to climb quite steeply and mainly diagonally up the mountain. (No, I didn’t deliberately hold the camera lopsided This is real! You will see for yourself when you come here…)

On top is the grotto, a real climbing paradise. But it’s also quite impressive even for us down-to-earth-people.

On the way back you have to cross the river again, but in the meanwhile you have enough practice.


Even if the trail is for experienced hikers and exhausting, it is still worth it. If you have had some refreshment in the bistro before, you can climb away the dessert here. The landscape is great and I think I have seen the sea on one spot.

Have you been here before? Or do you have any other tips where we should go? Let me know.