If you have a Francophile Mom in your life, she would love to have a French Riviera themed Mother's Day. To spend an afternoon in the sun, a glass of Rosé in hand, enjoying delicious food while being pampered by the ones she loves. The French Riviera for me is more than a destination, it is a way of life - living each day as if it was that perfect summer day that you never want to end. Sun kissed, deliciously slow and luxurious with a soupçon of glamor.
While travel to France is still not possible for most - there are ways to re-create the French Riviera joie de vivre - for the Mom you love wherever you are.
Enjoy your morning coffee outside
In North America, coffee is often drank (guzzled, in many mom's case) while doing other activities. Chores around the house, running errands etc. I can't tell you how many times I lose track of my coffee each day. On the French Riviera coffee is seldom served to-go. Even in the middle of a busy work day in Nice, I used to walk to the Promenade des Anglais to sit down and savor an espresso, every day.
Invite your Mom out for coffee to start her day on a special note. I suggest setting up a tray with coffee and breakfast pastries to enjoy in your backyard or on the terrace if you have one. It is a luxurious way to start the day that makes Mom feel appreciated right from the moment she wakes up.
Go for a walk
When we lived in Nice, going for a long leisurely walk was something we looked forward to every weekend. We would sometimes pick a location for a walk in a place we wanted to discover, but most of the time we simply walked out our front door to see what we could discover. Sometimes the walk would take us to the market on the Cours Saleya, where I would inevitably buy more than I could ever carry home, and sometimes it would take us to the Old Port where we would enjoy a light lunch at the Bistro du Port.
Now that we live in the suburbs of DC our walks are less destination driven, but I still love walking around our neighborhood with my family. Conversation flows easily without the distractions of phones, TV, chores etc. I love watching my kids grow and discover new things every time we go for a walk. Ask your mom, I bet the one thing she wants most is to spend quality time with you.
Set the table - Mettre la table
There is nothing that sets the mood for a special meal than a well-dressed table. I could serve simply a bowl soup or take-out pizza - but if I lay out a table cloth and put napkins on the table it elevates the meal to an experience. Even the kids understand that when the table is set it is not your average meal and they are on their best behavior!
For a French Riviera inspired table I love to use yellows and blues - it feels immediately like the South of France. Add some natural accents to the decor such as wooden cutting boards and a sprig of lavender or rosemary on each plate and Mom will feel like she has arrived at a Michelin starred restaurant. Such a treat!
Prepare a delicious French Riviera inspired lunch
In France, Sunday lunch is often the most special meal of the week. On holidays, the French really go all out to make Sunday lunch extra special. A beautiful table setting, a well thought out menu, delicious wines and often pastries picked up from the patîsserie make for an experience that lasts several hours.
As always, I like to serve dishes that are easy to prepare but look, and taste, fancy. Asparagus with a champagne citrus Vinaigrette or Scallops and Leeks in white wine to start. Petits Farcis, Filet Mignon or Branzino with Vierge Sauce as the main course. For dessert I love the decadence of a Moelleux au Chocolat but also would really enjoy a tarte au citron picked up from a local bakery.
As the sun sets on Mom's special day, I recommend enjoying the French tradition of L'Apéro, or cocktail hour. Simple to prepare and so wonderful to enjoy. A few choice ingredients and your apéro could take the place of dinner. The principal of the Apéro is that everything is set out (similar to a grazing board) so that no one has to take care of the service and you can really enjoy each others company.
If you have space outdoors, set up your Apéro on the table or even better, a coffee table. Apéro can include anything you want to nibble on but if you want the true French Riviera experience I like to include the following items:
Rosé or Sparkling wine. With a little crème de cassis you can make a Kir or a Kir Royale.
- Olive Tapenade and Totis ( toasts made with day old baguette),
- Radishes served with butter
- A selection of cheeses (I like to serve one hard cheese- like a Comté, one soft cheese- like a chèvre, a one stinky cheese - like a Roquefort)
- A selection of Charcuterie - Saucisson sec, jambon de bayonne, your choice!
- Vegetable sticks - perfect for also enjoying with the tapenade or else hummus.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Olives - if your local grocery store has an olive bar you can make a wonderful mix. If not - look for a jar of Kalamata olives and also a jar of big green olives (I love if they are stuffed with garlic!)
I hope you have enjoyed reading this list of ways to make a French Riviera themed Mother's Day.