At the beginning of September we went to the Côte d’Azur with a friend of ours who owns a property in the Nice area which he wanted to visit. We took it in turns driving as it was over 1000km. It was very hot in the car so the journey was quite tiring. We decided to go to Vence to look for a hotel and were able to get 2 rooms in the first hotel I phoned. We had an excellent meal in the hotel that evening.
We had coffee and croissants on a pavement terrace and explored Vence in the morning. Vence is famous for having been visited by and painted by large numbers of artists in the past and it is indeed very picturesque.
In the cathedral we saw a wonderful collection of wooden statues making up the stations of the cross, most of them dated from C14 onwards. In the square behind the cathedral was a building which had an unusual pair of ‘twined’ windows (according to the information plaque on the wall).
When I read the French version I realised it should have read “twinned”. Many of the buildings had trompe l’oeil facades painted on them – almost impossible to tell until you touched the building!
We then drove to the next village of Tourettes-sur-Loup for lunch as Tom remembered that this was a good place for lunch. It turned out that it wasn’t this village at all – he had confused it with St Paul, we discovered later, but it didn’t matter. We lunched in the main square – very good and generous helpings.
We then wandered through the village which has been lovingly restored. The Tournesol pottery has provided ceramic wall plaques with the house numbers for most of the buildings in the village and these were delightful.
Other views of Tourettes-sur-Loup:
We decided we would drive down to the coast to see if we could find somewhere to sit and have a drink near the sea but the traffic was dreadful so we headed back inland and went to explore the walled village of St Paul – another very famous village. It had a very different feel to it than Tourettes and was, sadly, much more touristy. We stopped for a drink at a bar and sat watching the sun go down. These are some of the pictures I took in Vence:
This is the famous sculpture “the thinker” by Auguste Rodin
We dined that evening in the Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence, whose back door dates from 1551. We had a good meal but during the course of it, it started to rain very hard and we all got soaked going back to the car. It rained all night and when Tom woke up, his room was flooded and some of his clothes had got wet.
The next day we drove to the chapelle du rosaire (rosary chapel) designed by Henri Matisse, which was only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for a few hours. The chapel is entirely white inside and has green, yellow and blue stained glass windows. The windows behind the altar depict a prickly pear plant which represents the tree of life. Apparently on a sunny day (which this wasn’t) the sunlight casts beautiful coloured patterns on the floor. There were no decent postcards showing this unfortunately and it was forbidden to take photographs.
We drove into Nice to meet up with Tom’s friend, Hervé, for lunch, and had an excellent lunch at a restaurant called the Safari, in the historic part of Nice.
We then walked through the back streets to the port and walked down to the end where an enormous sailing ship, the Sea Cloud II, was berthed as well as lots of small, colourful fishing boats.
It started to rain very hard again so we returned to the car and drove along the lower corniche, round the Cap Ferrat peninsula, through Beaulieu, Villefranche, Monaco and towards Menton. Monte Carlo was just a mass of apartment buildings with little or no green spaces.
Taking the upper corniche we headed for the village of La Turbie where we had intended visiting a Roman monument but it was raining hard so we walked back to the car and drove on to the village of Eze, another of these hilltop villages and our final destination of the day. In spite of the rain we did have a look round here but it seemed that you had to pay if you wanted to see any of the views. Entrance to the exotic gardens was another 5 euros and there was a very expensive, exclusive hotel in the village where the rooms cost over a thousand euro a night. Apparently the view from the hotel is reputed to be one of the best in the world but we couldn’t see it.
Here be dragons:
Until the year 1230 there was no water supply in the village, when this fountain was installed.
Until then all the water had to carried up to the village.
We drove back towards Nice and had the bright idea of trying to get back to Vence across country. 2 hours later we were back in Nice in pitch darkness and rain so we managed to find our way to the motorway and returned to the hotel that way where, after a large lunch, we could only manage a light dinner.
On our last day we had coffee and croissants in Vence and I photographed the tower of the chapel of the white penitents with its beautiful tiled dome.
Then we drove along the coast on the motorway as far as the exit to Bandol. There we drove through the countryside and into the port of Bandol, which closely resembled Bodrum (Turkey), with restaurants almost on the edge of the port. We followed the coast road to La Ciotat
where had lunched on aioli (fish, potatoes and vegetables served with VERY garlicky mayonnaise). Then we took the Route des Crêtes along the ridges of the hilltops (which took us ages to find) towards Cassis. The views were stunning.
Unfortunately we couldn’t go into the centre of Cassis because of roadworks so we returned to the motorway, got lost (again) at Aix en Provence trying to find the RN to get to Apt. Arrived in Apt about 6pm where we were due to stay the night. We went down into town, had a drink and then went for a meal in the restaurant the two Pauls had found in the summer, which stays open late. Back to the cabanon to sleep.
On the Saturday morning we went into Apt to look round the market and found this beautiful fabric.
After breakfast of coffee and croissants we eventually left Apt at 11 and drove back to Lux, arriving at 6pm, tired but happy after our short, but somewhat frenetic break.