Monaco and the South of France - July 2011

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Europe » France
July 8th 2011
Published: January 6th 2012
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We flew into the airport at Nice and were immediately hit by the lovely, lovely heat! It was a beautiful day and we couldn’t wait to get out into it. We met up with Beth & Evan, Tish & Kent and Maurice (Beth’s Brother), picked up our rental car and headed down the beautiful coastal roads towards the Principality of Monaco, home of the rich and extremely rich.

We parked near the epic Monte Carlo Casino and took in the stunning views out over the bay of Monaco, a vast array of incredible super yachts dominated the harbour. We figured we should take a closer look so we walked along the piers and goggled at the sheer excess of some of the yachts – you could almost smell the wealth. After choosing our favourites, we walked up the other side of the harbour to the Palace, home of the Grimaldis.

Monaco is a very surreal place, it’s so tiny and densely packed but it feels spacious and open at the same time. In many ways it is very similar to the rest of the French Riviera, perhaps the main difference being the sheer weight of reputation. We explored the tiny streets near the palace and ate at a tiny cafe, enjoying the delicious French food and Martin even tried the local beer – aptly named ‘Monaco’. After another leisurely walk around town (it certainly doesn’t take long!) we stopped at the famed ‘Cafe de Paris’, for a much needed drink.

Next we stopped at the famous town of Nice along the way and took in the vast beaches and lovely streets. We then took the long drive to our hotel in the small and stunning town of Le Lavandou, along the "Corniche des Maures", where we would be staying for the next few nights. The drive was lovely, we passed through gorgeous towns nestled along the stunning coastline. La Lavandou is a charming, sleepy little town which really comes alive after dark with many pubs, bars and restaurants opening only in the evening. We had a wonderful dinner at a locally recommended restaurant, overlooking the ocean, the food was great and, to the amusement of all, the very friendly waitress took quite a shine to a very flattered Maurice!

The next morning we gathered supplies then took a boat trip across to the island of Port Cros. The island was gorgeous, sparsely habitated and surrounded by beautiful beaches. We whiled away the morning swimming at the quiet beaches and coves and relaxing at the laid-back bars. Later that day we went to have afternoon tea with Tish’s grandparents at their picturesque home in the hills outside town. The building itself is steeped in history, with many quirky period features and their gardens, their pride and joy, were glorious. That evening we had another wonderful meal in a very quirky and brilliant pizza restaurant and chatted and bar hopped late into the night.

The next day we drove out to the peninsula where Tish’s parents have their holiday home. The peninsula is gated and the entire area restricted to only 150 homes which means it feels very private yet very open and completely uncrowded. We only got access because we were with Tish, the views were wonderful and we spent a luxurious morning soaking up the sun and exploring the craggy rocks near one of the small harbours. It would have been so easy to spend a few months here, rather than mere hours!

All too soon it was time to leave the sun drenched south of France and head back to the Albion, an awesome weekend with a great group of people :-)

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