Sunday, 2 February 2014

Falling in love with Provence, France { A Road Trip Series}

One of my all time favourite holidays since living in England has to be one we did in June 2011. Four of us hopped on a plane to Marseilles, rented a car and zig-zagged throughout the beautiful Provence region. The South of France is simply magical and I loved it. 

I actually can't believe that we did this trip nearly three whole years ago, it still seems like yesterday in my mind. This was one of those holidays, that even though we were only away for something ridiculous like 4 days, when we returned to London it felt like we had been away for ages. In other words, the best kind of holiday!  Below are my five highlights and definite recommendations from our little voyage into the world of sunshine, croissants, macron's and lovely French goodness. 

This is the face of happiness, content and satisfaction. Also, this was the best Gnocchi I have eaten. Ever.

5. Winding roads and breathtaking window scenery 

This is pretty much guaranteed along the coastal route. We drove along the coast, from Marseilles, through to Monte Carlo in Monaco. The route took us through St Tropez, Cannes and Nice to mention a few of the spots we stopped at. I think between St Tropez and Nice I was literally hyperventilating from the beauty of the area. Having been cooped up on the muddy island known as the UK for too long, this brief respite from greyness into the sunshine soaked coast of Provence had me almost overwhelmed. We managed to just miss the school summer holidays and were rewarded with perfect weather and near-empty roads. I think that had we done this a few weeks later the experience might have been slightly more stressful and a bit too tourist packed for my liking. 

Beach in was very very Nice {hahaha}
2. Gelato and boat viewing in St Tropez

These boats are more like floating mansions. The amount of obvious wealth  in this small seaside town was somewhat worrying.  We didn't stay very long {due to parking costing approximately the same as the daily hire rate of the car!} but for some reason, I really enjoyed our few hours here. Maybe it was the fact we got to experience a small part of such a different world or maybe it was just the fact that the gelato's we bought and ate, walking along the pier, were to die for - whatever the reason, it remains one of my highlights. 

Look at the size of the people next to the boat, and this one was just an average sized boat...
St Tropez
3. Pont du Gard World Heritage site (Roman Aqueduct) 

This was an unexpected favourite of the holiday.  It is mind blowing that this structure was built in the 1st century AD. It is nearly 50m high and 280m long (it was originally 360m long) and seeing it in person, you can really understand why this is a UNESCO world heritage site. Not only is the aqueduct itself impressive, but the surrounding scenery is beautiful, it is built across a lovely river and on the banks of this are a handful of cute restaurants and cafes. Certainly worth a detour in any itinerary. 

2. Walking around St Paul-de-Vence 

It was like walking around the most perfectly preserved movie set.  This little town was gorgeous, I think that we stopped by on a particularly good day - the beautiful old architecture, coupled with the most perfect sunny weather and clear skies left us with a real-life fairytale experience.  I loved the cobbled walkways and the blue shuttered houses, the car-less streets and the numerous little art shops and cafes. I fell head over heels in love with this little village and would return in a split second if the opportunity arose. 

1. Breakfast overlooking the bay on the outskirts of Nice

This may seem like a rather random number one highlight of the whole holiday, but, simply put, it just was. We drove from Nice to Monte Carlo one morning and along the way we stopped at a view point right on the outskirts of Nice and ate breakfast against the most stunning backdrop. We had picked up some fresh croissants, cheese, jams and breads from a local supermarket and ate them while drinking in the phenomenal ocean views. I think it is fair to say  this was the best breakfast of my life to date and it probably only cost about EUR 3.00. It just shows that the best things in life certainly can be free {the view!}.  I will forever remember the feeling of the warm sun, croissant crumbs all over my clothes and face, the great company and the sea and sky so blue and clear they merged together as one. 

Talk about breakfast with a view...

Fun facts about Provence: 

  • Provence was the first Roman Province outside of Italy and there are still loads of Roman monuments in the area. 
  • Although most people speak French in this region, Provencal is actually the traditional language of the area. It is similar to Catalan or Spanish.
  • In Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape, a famous wine village in Provence, a municipal law of 1954 prohibits flying saucers from landing in the town - just so you know!
  • A pint of beer in France costs £4.66 (it should also be said it was cheaper to order wine than diet coke in most of the restaurants we visited)

1 comment:

  1. Haha, H's white socks + sneakers crack me up. Great style! Looks like you guys had a brilliant time! :)