February is peak carnival time in Europe. With Ash Wednesday marking the start of Lent, Carnival was traditionally seen as the pre-Lenten period when homes had to purge themselves of any rich food and drink in preparation for 6 weeks of abstention and self-denial. The origins of the word carnival are thought to have emerged from the Italian “carne levare” to remove meat. Households would not eat meat during the Lenten period, and as the invention of the freezer was still a few hundred years off they’d have to make sure they’d cooked and eaten it all before Lent started. It was essentially a medieval version of the final festive blowout before the diet starts on 2nd January!Details
So I thought I’d do a quick bit of research and find out who exactly this St. Valentine chap was and why we celebrate all things love on 14th February. Well, as with many things in life it wasn’t quite that simple. Turns out that it’s not just a straightforward story of a saint who champions romance. The reason that we now celebrate love on Valentine’s day is due to a whole host of theories and legends with a few facts thrown in for good measure.
We came across the small Château de la Napoule quite by accident when driving from Cannes along the coastroad back to our campsite in St. Raphaël. Driving slowly past it looked so pretty that we took the spur of the moment decision to stop – the handily placed carpark a couple of hundred meters ahead and a quick glance in the back confirming that our 2 year old was asleep hastily confirming our decision. With sure handedness that would make any bomb disposal expert proud we transferred the 2 year old to his buggy without waking him up and high fived each other that we could actually do a little bit of sightseeing.Details