Visiting the Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, for the first time can instill a love of southern France that never ends. The blue waters of the Mediterranean that give their name to this stretch of coast, the picturesque villages and beautiful countryside are captivating and are a certain tourist magnate. Lyn Baker from Perth, Australia tells us about her first visit to this most beautiful part of France when she spent a day on the Cote d’Azur France…
Surrounded by Provencal hilltop villages and superb vineyards to the north and west, Toulon with its harbour, and the surrounding area is famed for its rosé wine and its beaches. To the east are the fabled coves and sands of the Cote d’Azur and the setting for the legendary resort of St Tropez. Everywhere there is a fusion of sky and sea that form the essence of Southern France.
We drove along one of the world’s most famous coastlines and stopped at two charming villages and enjoyed some of the magic of this area. We headed west to Sanary-sur-Mer, marvelling along the way at the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean on one side and the rambling hills on the other. Within 45 minutes we arrived at the enchanting 16th century town which is open and active all year and known as the sunniest place in France. Incredibly it rains here only 60 days a year. Our cameras were kept busy snapping the panoramic views and delights, the pretty harbour lined with palm trees and homes painted in pastel shades. In the centre of town there were shops, restaurant and cafés where we could shop for French fashions, sip a cappuccino or enjoy an ice cream or crepe.
We found a Boulangerie and purchased a hot dog and quiche and the best coffee éclair I’ve ever had. We wandered through the little streets and fell in love with the quaint architecture – and the most unique downpipe ever, with the head of a snake spewing rain water into the drain.
The harbour has a 13th century tower; the main hill of the town is home to the 16th century Chapelle Notre-Dame, noted for its simple design and view over the bay. Jacques Cousteau had a home in Sanary and it was there that he pioneered the deep sea diving equipment he invented and developed.
We tore ourselves away and continued to our next destination 45 minutes away. Bandol is encircled by hills in a sheltered bay, famous for its great weather and peaceful setting. In the morning the Place de la Liberté is a bustling market with great fresh seafood, flowers and fruits. We strolled along this seaside harbour and came across a beautiful carousel. Even though we had been in this part of France such a short time, it was a very relaxing and unique experience driving along one of the world’s most famous coastlines and seeing two of its most charming villages.
Read: How the Americans “invented” the French Riviera as we know it today
Frejus celebrates the Bravade
The gorgeous gardens and chateau of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Take it Eze in the south of France
Lyn and Steve, travel bloggers from Perth, Western Australia married and began to travel at 50 when they took their first trip overseas for their honeymoon in 2011. Since then they have travelled to more than 30 countries. Read more about their adventures at www.aholeinmyshoe.com