Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Cote d'Azure and the French Mediterranean

We have just recently returned from a week or so travelling through the Cote d'Azure and Provence. A little bit of camping at Cassis, some Caravaning at Port Grimaud and some B&B at Villefranche-Sur-Mer and then Nimes on the way back.

 We were just chatting about our trip when we realised, if you include our visits to Port Vendre, Leucate, Gruissan, Narbonne Plage, Valras Plage, Cap d'Agde and the list goes on, that we have pretty much visited the entire French Mediterranean coastline from Spain to Italy.

So then the question begs.... were we disappointed by any of the places we have been to? The honest answer is absolutely not, there are differences as you travel such a long distance, changing scenery, terrain and pebbles that turn into golden sand and back again. But one thing they all shared in common was the beautiful blue Mediterranean, which never disappoints, and glorious sunny weather. How lucky are we to be able to visit such a fabulous coastline to the extent we have.

The photograph above, as I am sure many people will know, is Monaco and this was the furthest east we travelled on our trip. We stayed for the day, had lunch near the famous Casino, walked the full length of it and then got on the mini-train for a guided tour. It really is a fabulous place and a city that would impress anyone, so well worth the visit.

We then took the coast road back to Villfranche-Sur_Mer only about 1/2 an hour from Monaco and stayed the night in a hotel there. The evening was spent in a restaurant just off the Marina, which was surprisingly inexpensive and which served some fabulous food on their vinyl cloth tables. Personally there was more Moule et Frittes than I could handle and trust me, I never leave food without a fight. I was so impressed I went back the next day to take a photograph. It is actually located directly behind the 'Welcome Hotel' which overlooks the marina, but I couldn't work out where the name of the restaurant was hidden. Perhaps they don't worry about little details like that.

It turned out that Villefranche-Sur-Mer was a little gem of a place and a big favourite for the many tourists that visit this part of France. With a lovely marina, cafes, restaurants and a Friday morning market, we were certainly glad we hung around the next day to have a better look at the place. Although it was obvious by the highly attended restaurants and bars, from the evening before, that it was pretty popular and that was even before the arrival of a large liner that was there in all its glory the next morning.

After Villefranche, we went around the coast to Antibes, then Cannes before driving the Corniche coastal route back to St Rapheal and then Port Grimaud for one more night in the Caravan where we had spent a few days after our camping nights in Cassis. You can get a water taxi from Port Grimaud to St Tropez, which is a lovely way to visit and gets you off the very busy roads of the Cote d'Azure. But despite the traffic, driving the coastal roads of the Cote d'Azure is a delight and a must do at least once for everyone who loves France.
Actually that wasn't the end of the trip, we still had to travel home and on route planned to visit Arles and stay at Nimes so we could compare the Roman Colloseums that both cities play host to, they were actually pretty fabulous. Then we were off to see Uzes a city cited by many as a must visit location, we soon realised why, and then finally we wanted to visit the Pont Du Gard, a World Herritage Site and amazing water aquaduct. When you see places like this you start to understand why France is the most visited country in Europe, but I'll save that part of the journey for another post so I can do it justice.

So what I have I learned from our trip? Mostly that I want to do it again and next time I want to start at the Spanish border and drive all the way to the Italian border using the coastal route all the way. Then I will be able to say I have visited the entire French Mediterranean coastline rather than virtually all of it.

Images are the copyright of ©Brian Stephens 2013 but can be viewed full size by clicking on the images. Hope you enjoy them.

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