After spending the Christmas in New York, we were thinking about our next destination. For the dates that fitted us, we decided on the Cote d'Azur, and began to prepare our trip. Cannes is a coastal city on the French Riviera. It is relatively small, and it owes its fame to the glamorous film festival that every year is celebrated in the city.
With my trip to Cannes I have had different sensations throughout. I decided to reconcile and enjoy a beautiful and very nice city which is a pleasure to take a walk and to which I am bound by a lot of good memories. It is a city that breathes luxury, especially if you walk along the Promenade de la Croisette, which runs parallel to the sea.
It is likely that Cannes is just a stop along the way for a trip along the Cote d'Azur. Or maybe to have it as a base to travel by car or train to the beautiful nearby towns.
Day 1: ARLES - AVIGNON - LES BAUX DE PROVENCE - SAINT TROPEZ - CANNES
From the window of our hotel room, we could see the main square of the town, with a market of local products of the region. Today we started the day with a good breakfast buffet of Nutella crepes at our accommodation in Arles. We have a day full of visits to Avignon, Saint-Tropez and in between the small village of Les Baux de Provence.
Around 9 o'clock in the morning and before following the route we went to visit some of the most important streets and places of Arles. We see the Baths of Constantine, and the Roman Theatre of Orange. The first place we approach is Las Arenas, the famous Roman amphitheater that stands on a small scale at the Colosseum in Rome that we visited last year.
We also make a small tour of some of the places in Arles that inspired Van Gogh to paint his most famous paintings. Around 11 in the morning we set off for Avignon another of the visits we will make in this trip to the Cote d'Azur. When we arrive, it seems like a normal town until we reach its walls and cross them.
We parked the car and went to the Palais du Papes, of which there is only one word to describe it. It is impressive both the narrow street that leads to the square, and the construction itself. After a walk around the area, as we are going a little bit ahead of time, we decided to go directly to the Pont Saint-Benezet of Avignon.
It is another of the most emblematic places of Avignon. From the place where we are we see it perfectly and we can take good photos, so we chose not to enter (there is a entry fee). We walk for a while through the streets of the walled city of Avignon and we go in search of the car to continue our way.
From here we head towards Les Baux de Provence, considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. After seeing it we understand why they have described it that way. We parked in one of the car parks that are closer to the entrance of the town, about 5 minutes walk from the most central area. We started to walk around its streets.
Of course, we get lost among the shops and the menus of the restaurants, taking advantage to look for somewhere to eat. At the end after several laps, we stopped at a restaurant, with a patio, which looks good and we were not wrong. We have charged energy for the rest of the day. After getting lost for another hour through the streets of Les Baux de Provence, we head towards Saint Tropez.
Our route turns out to be through an impressive mountain pass. We arrived in Saint Tropez and at the entrance there is a different atmosphere. We parked in one of the parking lots of the port and begin to feel that chic atmosphere by which this French city is known. The yachts that we see are impressive as we get closer to the port.
After strolling through the interior we arrive at what is the harbor promenade in the town and this is where the luxury acquires full meaning. It is completely out of place. We have traveled a lot and consider that we have seen quite a lot, but we have never seen anything like this.
There are yachts docked in front of the cafes of the Saint Tropez promenade, with people sitting in the armchairs admiring the landscape. The truth is that it has even given us the feeling that this was the paradise of exhibitionism. Yes, we have taken a seat in the front row at the Cafe Paris, where we gladly paid for a coke and a pina colada.
And so we spent the rest of the afternoon, watching the exhibitionists from the front row. After this technical stop, we go through the rest of Saint Tropez, a much quieter inland area. We are impressed by the contrast and how such a small town can hold so much luxury at first sight. After this walk we return to our car, fill the tank and set sail for Cannes, the place where we will sleep tonight.
Saint Tropez says goodbye to us with a great sunset, which will surely take us a long time to forget. We drink something on a terrace of an elegant cafeteria as only the French know how to do it. The trip to the city of Cannes was delayed a bit more than Google Maps showed us since we decided to make a detour to get to know a little paradise called Bandol.
After seeing the beach, we continued walking and pass through Toulon. We cross another mountain pass, crossing a boar included in the middle of the road and braking. After some time we see what happens with these routes that skip the highways and the GPS does not detect them. We took from Saint Tropez to Cannes an hour or so and we went to the hotel. It is at the heart of Cannes.
After leaving the suitcases we went out to dinner. Being away from the center we have to take the car and we go to one of the parkings of La Croisette. There we begin to see that Saint Tropez stays short in terms of chic atmosphere. Or it has coincided that today night the creme de la creme has come out or that this is always the case.
We will have to return another day to discover it. We had dinner in a restaurant cum pizzeria, without being able to stop looking at the people who are passing by. After dinner we see that it is 11 o'clock in the night and now it is time to go to rest and recharge our batteries to continue our trip along the Cote d'Azur.
Day 2: CANNES - MOUGINS - SAINT PAUL DE VENCE - NICE
The day was rainy and gray when we woke up around 9 am and ran the curtain from the window of the room, which opened onto the main square of Cannes. Today we go down to breakfast in the lounge of the hotel. We have a most complete day with visits to Cannes, Mougins, Saint Paul de Vence and finish in Nice.
The breakfast is served on a terrace of the hotel that faces the courtyard and is quite complete. After a breakfast of coffee and croissants we take the car and go straight to the parking lot of the Palais des Festivals et des Congres. Here the famous Cannes Film Festival is held, one of the most important film festivals in the world.
Near the Palace of Festivals and Congresses is the walk of fame. By the way it is nothing great with some of the traces of famous actors and directors who have paraded through its red carpet. We have a feeling very similar to what we had when we visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. But they are things to do on the French Riviera and we cannot skip it.
Cannes in addition to glamor breathes cinema, and you can see it just by taking a short walk through the most central area. Another place we visit is the Promenade of the Croisette where we see the private beaches of the hotels and the branded fashion stores. After soaking again in the luxury that emanate from cities such as Cannes today and Saint Tropez yesterday, we go ahead to Mougins.
It took us about 15 minutes to get there from Cannes to Mougins. After parking and touring a part of the most tourist area, we have to say that it is beautiful, but the truth is that I expected something more. After an hour strolling through Mougins we went to where we had parked the car to set course, following the coast, to our next goal to Antibes.
In less than half an hour we park near the center of the town. The sun was shining and the sky had returned to its original blue color. We walk through the old town of Antibes until we reach the sea line, where there is a kind of fortress almost on the shores of the blue sea of the French Riviera. Little more we squeeze Antibes that and four more beautiful corners of its old town.
As we were going quite well ahead of time, we decided to take advantage of what was left of the afternoon. We make a visit to the medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence, perched on a hill of Provence in a landscape. It reminded me a lot of the Italian Tuscany region.
It is the great discovery of the day and possibly of this trip along the Cote d'Azur. As soon as we arrive we park in a car park near the town and we go for a walk around the town. Saint Paul de Vence is a beautiful town nestled in a hill, which scatters before us a feast of art. Being a town that is on a hill, it dominates the landscape of soft green hills of the surroundings and the Maritime Alps on one side, and the blue sea of the Cote d'Azur on the other.
One of the things that strikes us the most is that it is full of galleries where we can admire paintings and sculptures. It is one of those places where we could spend hours and hours admiring its streets. Saint Paul de Vence is that corner of the Cote d'Azur that we will surely return to dedicate a few days.
We take this opportunity to have a drink in one of the cafeterias and, with renewed energy, we head for Vence. We take a ride with the car and the truth is that we do not get too much attention, so we go to a central parking lot and look for a place to eat. We see the lavender bags sold in the area.
Here we will make a point and it is to comment that the parking in the Cote d'Azur are not as expensive as we imagined. What is expensive is water and drinks in general. Although this is something that usually happens in the most touristy places. After lunch we decided to go to what will be our last point of the day to Nice.
It took us half an hour to get from Vence to Nice through the highway. We ate at one of the many Italian restaurants scattered through the streets and squares before starting the ascent to Castle Hill. Once up, we enjoy incredible views of the city, with its red roofs in true Lisbon style.
Saving the distances, I found certain similarities between both cities. Nice also has a melancholic air so characteristic of the Portuguese capital, or it would be the rainy day, I do not know. What I know is that it is worth the gentle ascent through a park to enjoy the views.
Before going in search of our hotel we thought of going to Promenade des Anglais. Here we take a walk and see the beach, completely covered with pebbles. Then we go to the old town, which reminds us a lot of the Latin Quarter of Paris, with many shops. We go by chance to the flower market and walk through streets and streets full of shops and restaurants.
Without any warning it starts to drizzle. So we decided to go to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice. Here we paid for the entry and we were dazzled by a small but very cozy interior. It is nice to bump into this type of building next to the Mediterranean. With the Russian Church we concluded our visit to Nice and set course for our next goal of the day, the picturesque Villefranche sur Mer.
It took us 20 minutes to reach this beautiful fishing village. Once there, there was little to do but enjoy its narrow streets and its marine atmosphere, descending to the pier by the steep stairs. The truth is that it looked like a ghost town, because there was no one in the streets. Villefranche must be very different in the middle of summer.
We took a few pictures of the town and its bay, formed by the Cap Ferrat Peninsula, and plagued with colorful fishing boats. We set off for the hotel in Nice with the idea of resting for a while before going out to dinner. The surprise is that when we arrive we are told that the parking lot is full and that we have to go to a parking lot that is farther away.
At the end we found the parking and then come back to the hotel again. Of course, we have to say that after we discovered that the parking is only 5 minutes from the hotel. After resting for a while in the room, we go to the port area to see a bit the atmosphere of the parties. We have discovered that all restaurants and streets are full of people.
So we decide to change direction for dinner somewhere quieter. After 10 o'clock at night we come back at the hotel. Tomorrow it's time to get up early. We have one of the highlights of the trip to Monaco. We concluded our second day on the French Riviera.