I loved every single face of the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur) experience. I was even blamed for trying to spoil the wealthy people’s territory. But now I can breathe easily when I say it’s a must see for everyone, including families with children. Also, I realized that some experiences are simply a matter of putting yourself in the right place.
So, let’s start!… it’s half term again and it has been a long winter. We missed the sun so much and the thought of swimming in a warm sea sounds glorious. After searching the web, not many options are suitable for us. That’s because we are looking for something more than to lay on the beach all day. So, we start to spin the earth globe for our next adventure.
Parlez vous français ?!
Since I was studying French I’ve always been intrigued by the name Cote d’Azur which means the Blue Coast. I was dreaming of a mild Mediterranean climate, blue turquoise seas, lots of orange and olive trees and a sparkling world. It turned out to be very close of what I have imagined. Actually my expectations were exceed when I met amazingly friendly people, ready to walk with you for a mile or two if they had to, the best food which would fulfill any taste or preferences and several hilltop medieval villages.
Therefore, we have chosen our destination. “Good “, we said, let’s search for a flight! The only airport very close to this area is the one from Nice. In fact, is the third biggest airport from France after Charles de Gaulle and Paris airport. Because we’ve done it again by looking flights just a couple of days before departure, we can’t find anything affordable. After combining all kind of planes, airports and dates, we decided that car is the best option.
A “how to” guide will be nice (or Nice)
Google map was saying we do around 12 hours drive until Cannes. So, I think it was good that Google map kind of lied to us because we didn’t got scared of so much driving.
On the contrary, we start looking for accommodation. And we found Club Maintenon which I can highly recommend for a relaxing and quiet stay. We had a beautiful apartment, fully equipped and with quite a large kitchen fitted with hob, oven, fridge and dishwasher. The apartments are situated right in the center of Cannes. Very close from the shopping street of Rue d’Antibes and about 0.2 m from the famous Boulevard La Croisette. Also very important just 5 minutes walk to the beach (Plage de la Croisette), to port (yachts harbor), to Palais des Festivals and the station. Club Maintenon
Hit the road Jack!
After a full day at work, school and other activities, we are at the door in no time. Passports ready, luggage check and a sat nav of course. We bought a ferry ticket Dover to Calais (France) just one day before leaving and we find it to be very convenient. ferry
We’ve been on board of Pride of Canterbury on a Friday night. I’m sure you’ve seen a formicary (ant’s nest) before. Because this is exactly how it was looking, babies crawling on the floor, groups of schoolmates telling horror tales and love stories that are built under our own eyes. My son’s recent passion is about Titanic. We’ve watched together so many documentaries about it and find out more about the Titanic’s passengers and their lives. Suddenly, chills on my spine make me think it must’ve been something similar, different stages of life, different backgrounds and different aspirations…all in one boat.
While crossing, about 90 minutes, you get to enjoy a nice coffee in their restaurants and brasseries. Or even have a round in their shops or if it’s day light just enjoy the magical beauty of the sea from the panoramic windows or even from the deck.
You may never seen Dijon but you’ve certainly tasted it
We drove all night and as soon as the sun came out we start wishing to explore a bit the beautiful France.
So, long before to reach our destination, we made a stop in Dijon…which is the capital city of the historical Burgundy region in eastern France, one of the country’s principal wine-producing areas. This city has conquered me almost instantly and not because their world famous mustard but for being packed with impressive medieval, Gothic and Renaissance buildings. For whoever is passionate about history, Dijon is a must on your list.
With all of these, this city doesn’t get that pragmatic air but rather a very romantic and mystically face. We only spent a few hours here but I’ll come back any time as it’s a lot left to discover. As I said previously, what I find to be awesome is that many of the gastronomic specialities that originated here are known worldwide. Among them are the escargots de bourgogne (not my favourite but…), cassis, a black-currant liqueur and the Dijon mustard of course (named after the city because it used to be a centre of mustard making in the early Middle Ages, in France).
Speaking about food, we enjoyed a nice brunch at Tartin’art. It’s kind of a a boulangerie but with coffee and tables. Is situated near the covered market and you find a wide choice of amazing food (the best quiche ever, baguette with tasty jambon and warm croissants need to be added to your to do list). They got such friendly staff and if you don’t manage to order your food speaking French, no worries, they do speak English.
We said goodbye to the lovely Dijon and headed to our home for a week…Cannes
Cannes – limousines, paparazzi, red carpet, celebrities
As soon as we entered the city, something strange was happening to us. We find ourselves trying to adjust to a new rhythm. Everything and everyone was on the move. I even thought there must be another way to breathe too. Police car columns passing by, motorcycle columns, limousines with tinted windows, a lot of security, paparazzi and a lot of press everywhere. That was the moment when we realize the movie festival is the reason for all of these.
The locals don’t seem to make such a fuss about it. Actually try to avoid the event as much as possible. We might be impressed of all these atmosphere but not the people from Cannes. I haven’t decided yet if it’s because they’re so used with, being the 70th consecutive year of the festival or they simply don’t enjoy their life to be disturbed.
Anyway, I haven’t been all this way for that, no, no, no!
Le Suquet which is the old quarter of Cannes, is the kind of stuff I’m looking for. Away from the glitz and glamour of the busy marina and above the promenades of Cannes.
Old narrow streets, small cofee shops and local restaurants, then at the top…yes, you guessed, you finally get the cherry. You get a 360° view of Cannes plus the clock tower and a church, ready to be explored. Once I’ve seen Le Suquet I said it must be more, I love how well preserved their medieval villages are. There are a couple to visit in the area but what you want to add on your memories is Eze.
Eze, the eagle’s nest
Èze has been described as an “eagle’s nest” because of its location overlooking a high cliff 427 metres (1,401 ft) above sea level on the French Mediterranean.
There is a connection with Britain also. Some very old silver coins that been found in Eze, dating hundreds of years BC are now at the British Museum. The village is not just amazingly gorgeous but also has a lot of interesting history.
We loved the botanical garden (Jardin Exotique) situated at the top of the hill. It’s a real gem not just for the tropical and succulent plants you get to enjoy but also for the beautiful views above the sea. The region is famous for the many flowers that grow here. As well there are a number of perfumeries to be visited, including the famous Fragonard perfume factory.
And I can talk or write about it all day long but I feel like I’ll spoil the surprise. So, you have to go and make your own experience. Now I know Cote d’Azur is not just for wealthy people or for the ones that look like they’re coming from a fashion show and just stepped down from the catwalk.
We often find ourselves copying other people stories or experiences, that even might not suit us. Why don’t you dare to get creative and allow yourself to be you?!… walking in flip-flops on the famous Boulevard, wearing the fancy hat that you keep it hide it in the wardrobe thinking everyone is going to laugh at you, yeah…why not?