Driving Along the Cote D'Azure

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Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Bandol
June 15th 2011
Published: June 17th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

After last night’s thunderstorm in the mountains around Grasse and the forecast of light rain in Monaco it looked like our plans for the day might need modifying. But as the sun rose and the temperature climbed our hopes for a great day soared.
Driving in this part of the world can be a scary business. The roads can be narrow, many sharp corners to be negotiated and the need to share the road with all manner of vehicles and drivers. We took the N7 road through Nice to the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer that had the wonderful little beach we discovered yesterday. The drive down to the beach involved countless hairpin bends, a quick tour through the remains of the old castle and a drive-by of the cafe where we had lunch yesterday.
The temperature was rising, the sun was high in the sky so out came the swimwear and into the amazing Mediterranean we plunged. Once the shock of the water hitting hot bodies had worn off it was quite a refreshing dip. Along the beach were a few large piles of gritty sand which had been trucked in ready to spread over the stones that make the dash to the water a bit painful.
It was time to retrace our steps back up the hill and continue on our way. By now it was obvious there would be no rain today, not for us anyway. Quite unexpectedly we found ourselves on the starting grid for the Monaco Grand Prix. We think we were in pole position and when the starter’s flag dropped we headed around the headland, under the hotels over-looking the marina and past the Casino. It was only 24 hours earlier we had been walking the same route.
Arriving in Menton it was time for some lunch. By chance we had parked near a hairdresser and one of the tour group was in great need of another French haircut. Lunch and haircut were done, we crossed the border into Italy. Like many European border crossings there was no fanfare or flag waving, just a smooth transition with only the language on signs changing. The drive along the coast road (SS1) was uneventful except for the huge number of motor scooters and the 3-wheeled Paggio trucks that look so ungainly you expect to see one flip at any moment.
Time was getting on so we decided to take the autostrada to our destination near Cogoleto. It is an amazing experience driving on a motorway that just seems to be a continuous line of viaducts and tunnels high above the coastline. The toll charge was worth it. Our accommodation is in a family hotel in a small community up in the hills above Cogoleto.
Tomorrow our tour group increases to three when our daughter, Catherine, joins us for the next week. It will be fun having someone else with us, especially a family member, to share our experiences of this wonderful trip.


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