As rapacious birds go, it is the vulture, not The Gannet, that is famed for its appreciation of the arts; nevertheless, I am partial to a meditative stroll around a gallery, especially as a prelude to something to eat.
An entry ticket to the Musée de l’Annonciade in St Tropez may be the only thing you can buy for a paltry €6 in the town’s glitzy harbour, and it is money well spent. The gallery has a great collection – a distillation of several neo-impressionist movements, with canvases by Seurat, Derain, Vuillard and Bonnard. Paul Signac’s pointillist paintings of St Tropez are a tranquil reminder of when the town was just a fishing village.
For lunch, I climbed a hill away from the port and installed myself at Le Mazagran, a family-run bistro with lovely views over the Mediterranean. Comme il faut just about nails it. A fat-studded terrine de campagne was properly squidgy and made with plenty of liver; moules à la marinière were creamy, with a tang of white wine; grilled sardines were fresh and fragrant and the house rosé flowed like water. Sometimes, a simple bistro lunch, with the sea shimmering in the background, is exactly what I want, and Le Mazagran hit the spot.
Should you find yourself in Lisbon and in need of artistic and culinary nourishment, head to Belém, by the 25th of April Bridge over the River Tagus, and the splendid Museu Coleção Berardo. Its 1,000 or so works span just about every major art movement of the past century; pop art – Warhol, Lichtenstein, Hockney and others – is especially well represented.
For bodily sustenance, the gallery is but a short saunter from Pastéis de Belém (pictured), a bakery dedicated to the custard tart – not just any old tart, but the pastel de nata, with its flaky, golden pastry and rich, eggy filling, warm from the oven, dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar.
Its fame has spread far beyond Belém in the 180 years since the bakery was founded – to Brazil, Mozambique and Macau, even unto Golborne Road in Notting Hill, where Lisboa Patisserie does a roaring trade. But there is no better place to sample one of Portugal’s greatest delicacies than in the lofty, airy surroundings of Pastéis de Belém, its walls decorated with magnificent azulejos, Portugal’s trademark blue and white tin-glazed ceramic tiles.
You might take an educated guess at the British artist responsible for one of the sculptures outside the Berardo – Reclining Figure: Arched Leg – but a word of warning: the custard tarts just around the corner are even more Moore-ish.