Monday, November 13, 2016 | France – Languedoc-Roussillon, Argelès-sur-Mer | Petra
RENDEZ-VOUS AT THE CÔTE D’AZUR
BEAUTIFUL SOUTH OF FRANCE
Temperatures decrease while our need for warmth increases. We want to go south. It’s our plan to go to Spain as quick as possible in the hope that we get some more degrees on the thermometer.
We leave San Remo in the morning to drive to adjoining France near Antibes. There we park our truck at Parc de Vaugrenier. Within the next days we trudge round the hotspots Nizza, Monaco, Antibes und Cannes conveniently by bus and train. As well we visit Saint-Tropez, the Gorges Du Verdon and Calanques on our vehicle. Done within ten days it is much faster than before but still convenient.
We get new impressions every day.
MONACO – THE PRINCIPALITY
The Principality of Monaco seems to be some kind of badly build and everlasting construction noise doesn’t help us to fall in love with the favorite tax haven. We are flabbergasted when we watch at the dense development of the rocks. Even the state-of-the-art station is integrated 16 (!) levels belowground to the bedrocks.
The Monégasques themselves love their city and for sure they know why. To be honest, we don’t know.
One special moment happens while we stand at the roadside, when a convoy of police on motor bikes and cars of the princely house passes. “It was Princess Charlène, who sat in the back of the car, wasn’t it?!” Once again we are flabbergasted.
CANNES – FILM FESTIVAL CITY
Cannes, the City of Film, on the other hand is a lot less sophisticated than we expected, but much more vibrant.
There is the market hall in the center, where they sell fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and other delicacies of finest quality. Even the horses of the police on horseback stop by to pick up an apple or some greens to nosh on. So cute!
Many cozy cafes and restaurants share the small alleys with a lot of pretty shops. To stroll up and down the streets is fun. What must it be like during the film festival, when stars and starlets dominate the scene?
GRASSE – PERFUME CITY
We don’t take to Grasse, the famous city of fragrance and perfume. If it is more likely the cold weather?
Alleys and streets of the old city are emptied. Autumn also blew off the outside seats of bars and cafes together with the tourists. The morbid atmosphere doesn’t quite do it for us.
Certainly Grasse shows it’s beautiful face in summer, when tourists crowd the historic city. Then life takes place outside. At least Grasse was highly recommended as an absolutely must more than once.
Place aux Aires in the historic center of Grasse
Flower power all throughout the year
SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE – THE PEARL
Again upon the recommendation of our friend Günter we visit Saint-Paul de Vence. On our enduro we saunter along Avenue des Alpes uphill to this picturesque artist’s village.
We melt away at first sight. Romantic alleys, neat houses, old masonry, little bars and a lot of colorful galleries. To discover this medieval place is great fun. No wonder that even celebrities like Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Romy Schneider or artist Marc Chagall felt comfortable here before.
You can find sculptures and paintings at each corner and everybody interested in fine arts, visits La Fondation Maeght. Works form Chagall to Miró are all gathered in this place. We also can recommend Saint-Paul de Vence as an ‘aaaaabsolutely must’ to everybody.
LE VERDON – PARADISE OF NATURE
After exploring such a lot of cities and places we desire pure nature. Günter, our reliable source concerning interesting travel advices, sends us to Gorges Du Verdon – one of the largest canyons of Europe.
The public camp site in Les Sallessu-Verdon is the starting point of our Verdon tour. The way to this place leads us on well prepared roads through the Verdon Natural Regional Park with its beautiful landscapes and without any traffic at this time of the year.
No wonder therefore that we are lonesome at the camp site, where we arrive at night. Nobody is there apart from us. And again we get confirmed the important rule for campers to find your place for the night before nightfall. It feels much better to see the place once during daylight. We sleep well and enjoy a quiet night regardless.
The next morning we start our trip to Moustier-Sainte-Marie and La Palud-sur-Verdon, which appear a little bit lost in late autumn.
From here we take the Route des Crêtes | D 23. We get stunning views of Gorges Du Verdon and the French Alpes. We love it to be almost alone on the fully developed mountain road. And the tunnels along the route fortunately are high enough for our truck.
This time we early enough arrive at the nice camper parking of Castellane, after we have enjoyed a picture-book like excursion. We even can buy some fresh baguette at the local bakery. Dinner is waiting!
Win and I are agreed that one day we will come back to this region for hiking holidays.
SAINT-TROPEZ – THE HOTSPOT
Contrasts make life exciting. Therefore we drive from the mountains to the coast again, where it is a little bit warmer.
At Saint-Tropez they should have a simple caravan parking next to the beach. The nice couple from the Netherlands we met at Castellane told us. We soon will meet them again at Plage de Pampelonne at Saint-Tropez.
After we have arrived there, we cook a yummy lunch first and later on take the bikes to Saint-Tropez. This means six kilometers with heavy dead wind.
Saint-Tropez is an unexpected small village, which in November is everything else but a sophisticated holiday resort. Almost each shop is temporarily closed. Obviously the shop owners recover from summer hurly-burly before coming back for Christmas season. Apart from construction works and refurbishing nothing is going on and we have to search quite a time for a boulangerie to get some bread. The cold wind and two promising pieces of Tarte Tropézienne, sweet and yummy, make us rushing home after our flying visit to the village.
Early the next morning we enjoy a refreshing walk along the deserted beach. Air is nice and fresh and the sun tries to warm as well as it can. We imagine how it might be in summer season, when the jet set conquers the beautiful Plage de Pampelonne. Celebrities and expensive yachts bustle at famous Le Club 55, maybe the most famous beach club of the world. Helicopters with VIPs, coming from airport, cause vibrations in the air. Myriads of paparazzi lurk at the beach for the best shoot of the season.
Now it is empty and lifeless. You only can hear the sound of the sea and the low wind – sounding eminently beautiful.
During Christmas and New Year it is open for four weeks and again dead boring until May. But then, for some hot weeks of summer this hotspot really rocks …
Let’s have party!
CALANQUES – THE BAYS
The wild and romantic bays of Calanques rank among the most impressive natural beauties of France. Let’s have a look! (Dear reader, guess who gave us this hot tip?)
At Cassis we make camp to go for hiking along the impressive backdrop of sea, rocks, surf and beach the next day. The rainy and cloudy sky clears up and we enjoy a marvelous tour to Calanque de Port-Miou und Calanque de Port-Pin in the sun at nippy 15 degrees.
The beach and the blue-green sea at the bay are appetizing, but a shade too cold for a bath. It must be wonderful to go swimming here in summer.
On our way back we stop at the port of Cassis to get a little more sun-kissed. We wait for sunset while having a drink, a small Pastis. Au revoir !
In Cassis schlagen wir unser Lager auf, um am nächsten Tag diese beeindruckende Kulisse aus Meer, Felsen, Brandung und Strand zu erwandern. Der regenverhangene Himmel hat sich verzogen und wir genießen bei strahlendem Sonnenschein und kühlen 15 Grad die wundervolle Tour zur Calanque de Port-Miou und Calanque de Port-Pin.
Der Strand und das blaugrüne Meer in der Bucht sind verlockend, für ein Bad ist es uns dennoch eine Nuance zu kühl. Im Sommer muss es herrlich sein, hier zu schwimmen.
Auf dem Rückweg von unserem Wanderausflug machen wir Halt im Hafen von Cassis, um uns noch ein wenig von der Sonne streicheln zu lassen. Bei einem kleinen Pastis warten wir, bis sie im Meer versinkt. Au revoir !
YOUTH AS RESEARCHERS
We trudge on rocks around Calanque, when we suddenly stand still. Do hear what I can hear? … A fierce hiss coming from the rock over there? What is it?
Courageously Win stands to attention and follows the scary noise like a researcher. Meanwhile I record proceedings photographically from a safe distance under the pretext of collecting images.
His sensational discovery: It is the wind from the sea blowing through a rock crevice. With each wave crashing against the cliffs air gets pressed up. It sounds like a serious warning. As if the rock tries to protect the hiker against the bold cliffs.
The murder is out, expedition successfully finished.