#1360. Bormes les Mimosas. Can Terroir meet Tourism?

By pascaljappy | Travel Photography

May 20

Apparently, Bormes les Mimosas is world famous. I had no idea, and that’s a good thing.

 

This charming village sits in the leafy hills overlooking the Med, about one hour away from my home. Predictably, then, I’ve visited quite a few times.

In fact, the place hosts a restaurant that combines a view to die for and a crepe to die for, though you only die once. The crepe (pancake) is called the Collobrières, named after another lovely little town situated about 20 km away, smack in the center of chestnut country (as described in this blog here and here). It consists of the pancake itself, chestnut puree, walnuts, salted butter caramel and chantilly whipped cream.

Since I enjoy cream and a good whip, it’s my goto when I’ve been a good boy, and often the main reason for a detour.

 
 
 

Bormes also features a nice main square, and a near constant flow of automotive exotica on sunny weekends (ye ol’ Bugatti, many Porkers and a Ferrarrrri during my munching of said crepe alone), as well as a couple of nice parcs, including one devoted to the Aussie plants that thrive down under in similar ancient-rock soil and climate).

But it is only on my latest trip, yesterday, that the vast majority of its charming heart revealed itself: street after street of well-decorated yet authentic houses, adorned with plants and little tables intended more for local residents that visiting outsiders, and little squares with fountains burbling life into the sedate afternoon while birds sat out the heat waiting – not unlike tourists on the coast – for the evening cool to resume their feeding and mating.

How is this place not more famous, I asked myself repeatedly after filling up my card and draining my batteries (neither of which is saying much, given my camera, mind you).

 
 
 

Turns out it is. World famous, apparently. I just had no clue.

While that probably puts me smack in the middle of camp dumb-dumb, semiotics are on my side. No iffy art galleries, no out of place Place Vendome jewellers, no dreaded buses, no large car parks, no tourists carrying their wealth – or lack thereof – on their faces like a badge of honour, no fry joint or vacuous fusion wha’ever, a tourist office that makes Potter’s bedroom look like the inside of a Tardis, what’s a naive blogger to think?

And yet, Bormes is definitely tourist friendly, and immaculate. But where the nearby seaside caters for the masses, this hillside alternative only allowed amenities to hug winding street corners as culinary Hengshans, or populate small courtyards like the refugia forests found in corners of Katherine Gorge.

 
 
 

Which got me thinking (it does happen). My beloved concept of Terroir refers to the know-how and culture that stem from the climate and resources (typically agricultural) of a very specific area such as those surrounding the white truffle of Alba, the chestnut of Collobrières, or the semi-wild bulls of Aubrac.

But what if a town’s resource is actually tourism rather than grape, hazelnut or saffron?

Seeing how differently cities handle the influx of tourism does make a point in favour of recognizing tourists as a resource for terroir. While some herd into globalized experiences for the poor or the rich (wouldn’t it be funny if the two got inadvertently mixed up) others, like Bormes les Mimosas, appear to cling to something more personal and geared towards the locals while still providing a lovely experience to outsiders. Hmmm …

 

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  • PaulB says:

    Pascal

    Wonderful images of a wonderful place. I would definitely like to visit.

    PaulB

      • Zbigniew Czudek says:

        Pure beauty.:-)
        Beautifully photographed beautiful village.
        I still miss the photos of the view and the pancakes. But I understand, you want to save us from a double death:-)
        These are the moments when one sighs with sadness that there are so many beautiful in the world but never get to see them in person.
        Are these photos taken by Hassy?

        • pascaljappy says:

          Thank you Zbigniew! Thankfully, there are beautiful places in all countries 🙂
          I didn’t take a photo of the crepe, but here is a smartphone pic of the view. The restaurant is at the far right.

          All photos in the post are indeed taken with the X1D 🙂

  • jeanpierreguaron660@gmail.com says:

    I don’t know whether I should thank you for sharing all these gorgeous photos of this beautiful village, or kick you in the shins for making me jealous, because I can no longer travel and I can’t possibly hope to ever be able to come here and enjoy the crepes, and the village, too.

    I suppose that, being a nicely brought up person, I have to shelve the shoe-kicking option and settle for loving the photos.

    No – I have a new idea – this is supposed to be a photographic group, not an issue of National Geographic. So why is there absolutely nothing about photography in this article? I’m sitting here admiring the quality of the images and wondering whether, if I say anything about “things you can do with a Hassy”, I’ll be chucked under the wheels of a bus, because you turn round and tell us you took them all with a cellphone, or something.

    Usually with your Hassy it’s about 2/3rds B&W with the odd splash of colour – this time it’s 100% colour, but I’m not being fooled -your second shot could ONLY have been taken with the Hassy, because I can read the sign on the fountain telling strangers that this is “eau non potable”. I defy you to do THAT with the cellphone!

    Of course I could be waspish and suggest a program like DxO ViewPoint4 to correct the verticals. But I think that comes under the heading of “stuff & nonsense” – AKA “à chacun son goût” (which the english seem to give a delightful translation to the effect that “there’s no accounting for taste” – or “everyone has their own ideas”)

    So instead, I’ll end this drivel by giving you this to read, next time you’re creping in Bormes (I subscribe to Wiki, so I think that gives me the privilege of sharing what I pay for, with you – in case you haven’t seen it already).

    I’m actually rather proud of this entry, despite the fact I have nothing to do with producing it – because it’s one of the most detailed and fascinating descriptions I’ve come across on Wiki, and all the more remarkable as it relates to what is, after all, a comparatively small town/large village. Enjoy!
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bormes-les-Mimosas

    It is an interesting example of how people have moved around, all over the place, in the past. Outsiders see us quite differently. The english are all supposed to be english – the french, all french – the italians, all italian – and so on. But it’s all nonsense. I have DNA from at least 7 different ethnic groups, although thankfully the majority of it is french. And of course I live in Australia – speaking of which, what’s become of Dallas? I haven’t noticed his presence or comments on DS for some time, and at my age it troubles me when
    that happens to people I know – I start worrying – hope they’re OK etc etc.

    And Wiki seems to think that Bormes was original settled by some of those foreigners from across the border – from north west Italy. Of course that’s no big deal – the opposite also happened. Frogs bounded across the border and settled in north-western Italy. In fact, I even uncovered some that had settled in the deep south of Italy – two villages in the southern mountains, not connected to each other, and both speaking occitan, which is the original lingo of the southern french. This is too long already, so I’ll head off to bed. See what happens to it, in due course!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Pete,

      First of all, the photos are all made with the X1D. The world is safe 😉 And my trusty old S9 is kicking the bucket, so not too able to make photographs at the moment. Replacement is on the way, that should however further the cause of phone photography 😉

      Thank you for the interesting Wiki page. The history part is cool 🙂

      I’ll enquire about Dallas. Last I heard, he was busy traveling the globe on boats. For all we know, he’s on a cruise ship somewhere in Antarctica.

      • jeanpierreguaron660@gmail.com says:

        Oh WAOW – I hope that means fantastic photos of penguins, which I also love to bits, and all the other marvels of what was once the bottom part of the original Pangea super continent that broke up to form Australia, Africa, South America, India and- I imagine much of Oceania

  • Jon Maxim says:

    Pascal, You fill me with envy by living in one of the places I most love to visit. Whenever I have been in the south I find that my pictures glow even more. But these are truly beautiful. There is something about the the courtyard (4th from the top) that immediately struck me as a “perfect” image. It has a feeling of stillness, light and shadow that is hard for me to describe. Thank you for this treat.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Jon, that’s so kind of you, Thank you for taking the time to write something that nice 🙂 Yes, it’s a lovely and inspiring place. I can’t believe it took me two decades to visit those streets, silly me 😉 Cheers

      • jeanpierreguaron660@gmail.com says:

        Probably because France is smothered in beautiful villages like this, from one end of the country to the other. Even if you live there, it’s probably too difficult to see them all.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    What a charming little village, Pascal! And chestnut crèpes as well – what’s not to love! If I get back to France, I’ll definitely check it out. It goes without saying that your images are selling it beautifully.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Aah, Pascal,
    a place to really enjoy!
    Luckily not yet plagued by queuing tourists…(?)

    ( Sadly missed it 1972…)

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