I’ll never tire of visiting France
We are so lucky that France is just on our doorstep, a quick hop across the English Channel and we’re there. This time though, we were skipping the delights of the north like Normandy and Alsace and heading south.
We love reminiscing about our trips and jogging each other’s memories of the places we visited or the restaurants we ate at. Surely, this one of the reasons we all love to travel, right?
We’d visited Provence and the Cote d’Azur a couple times before, but there is so much to enjoy about these regions of France that once is never enough. Also, Gary and I were celebrating a significant anniversary, and I needed no other excuse than to head to France.
The trip wasn’t all going to be dreamy sunflowers in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and rocky coastlines by Villefranche-sur-Mer. We’d planned a couple of stops en-route of Arbois in Jura, Annecy in Haute-Savoie and Aÿ in Champagne (or Marne to be exact).
Arbois in Jura, what a treat!
Louis Pasteur had his family home in Arbois, which you can visit along with his laboratory. Also, enjoy a lovely stroll around the town by following the Louis Pasteur Trail.
Arbois has an incredibly attractive central square, here you can sit back, relax and treat yourself to the local tipple of Vin Jaune (yellow wine). Vin Jaune is quite an unusual wine; some might say an acquired taste and is similar to a Sherry.
Yes, I know, you’ve probably heard it all before; however, I’m going to say it again, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is wonderful.
Duck egg blue shutters flung open to the Provence sunshine, tiny lanes to stroll through, passing boutiques with an aroma of lavender. Ahhh, take me back.
If you love Provence as much as we do, you'll want to start planning your visit now.
I so enjoy using the DK Eyewitness books, as they are extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Provencal road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
Strolling through Nice
I urge you to head up to Castle Hill, the views from above are breath-taking. A bustling harbour one side full of yachts large and small.
Then stroll around to the other side, and you get the incredible view across the terracotta rooftops of Nice and the sweeping golden sandy beaches beyond.
You can cheat!
Hilltop villages of Provence and the Côte d'Azur
When I think of Provence and the Côte d'Azur, quite often the rocky hillside villages teetering on the edge come to mind.
Around this region of France, there are so many beautiful towns your only problem will be, deciding which ones to visit.
In Provence, there are places like Gordes, Les Baux-de-Provence, Bonnieux and Roussillon. In Côte d'Azur, there is Eze, St Paul de Vence, Gourdon; the latest one we visited was Tourrettes-sur-Loup.
Tourrettes-sur-Loup was beautiful, and we were so lucky with our timing.
If you fancy cruising the Grand Prix streets of Monaco and visiting the Medieval hilltop village of Eze, let someone else take the strain. Jump on this trip with Get Your Guide, sit back and relax.
The elegance of Villefranche-sur-Mer
It’s a must to stroll around the harbour and the bay; however, you should also head back a lane or two, to Rue Obscure or the ‘Dark Street’.
These dark enclosed streets date from 1260 and run underneath the buildings along the harbour front. In darker days these were used by smugglers and ne’re-do-wells.
Aÿ in Champagne
Located by lush vineyards, you’ll have to watch your backs for all the tractors passing through, laden down with the grape harvest.
Aÿ is also the birthplace of René Lalique, the famous glass designer. You can follow a little trail around the town and find out all about him.
I love nothing more than planning a trip through France and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our French road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
Mixing with the locals
We were so lucky while staying in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence as our visit coincided with, Les Route des Artistes a contemporary art market with over 100 exhibitors.
It’s only held a few times of the year. Also, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, they hold a night market on a Tuesday evening.
A stroll around Saint-Tropez
I’m so pleased we stopped as it was delightful wandering around the harbour. It’s still has a lot of old charm and character, some elegant residents and views across the bay to be very envious of.
If you’re staying in Nice and fancy a day trip to the elegant shores of Saint-Tropez, hop in this tour with Get Your Guide.
Nibbles and tipples
So, while we were in Arbois, we went for the Comté cheese fondue. Admittedly it was incredibly delicious, but not too sure it was the right choice for a hot day. Although that didn’t stop Gary ordering one in Annecy when it was 30 degrees.
So, my weakness is ice-cream, and I just couldn’t walk by the Fenocchio ice-cream parlour in Old Town Nice without stopping.
It would have been rude not to have one.
However, the following day, it all changed, and we were won over by Annecy’s charm.
It is a beautiful location, meandering canals, half-timbered houses and window boxes overflowing with flowers. And Lake Annecy is stunning, go grab a little boat and soak it all in.
Dipping my toes in the Med
If you love Provence as much as we do, The Olive Route, a delightful book by Carol Drinkwater, will transport you to the beautiful olive groves in the South of France instantly.
Carol, a British actress now living in Provence, takes you on an enchanting journey through the breathtaking Provençal countryside in search of liquid gold; what's not to love?
Vincent van Gogh
The changing landscape
A lap of the Monaco GP Circuit
Could we have done any better?
The choice is yours
You have various options when visiting the South of France if you’re travelling from the UK. Firstly, you can jump in your car and hop on Le Shuttle and head south, this is our preferred option.
Also, you have the choice of letting Eurostar take the strain. You can catch a train from London St Pancras International direct to Avignon. How good is that?
Alternatively, if you are flying in, head directly to Marseille Provence Airport or Nice Côte d'Azur Airport. This is also a great option for travellers visiting from further afield. Why not give Rental Cars a go, as they search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals.
First impressions can be misleading
Where we stayed on this trip
Driving in France
The French roads are so easy to drive upon, particularly on the autoroutes. They are often quiet and free-flowing. The main thing you need to bear in mind is that the autoroutes are usually toll roads.
Keep your credit card handy as it’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to pay.
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