Since moving to France almost 3 years ago we have celebrated my husband’s birthday in March with a week at Marina Baie des Anges near Nice. What a beautiful resort this is. The Marina is a delight to the eye and the location is so convenient for exploring the Côte d’Azur in both directions.
We particularly enjoy spending an afternoon in Menton shopping in the old town where you can buy soap for gardeners and cooks as well as the more usual perfumed varieties. Well worth visiting is the spectacular Grand Canyon du Verdon near Castellane. We encountered sun, rain, mist and snow all in one day!
Having the car meant that we could follow the three corniches – the scenic roads between Nice and Monaco – and Eze village with its Jardin Éxotique. Monaco is not the easiest place to drive around as most residents use two wheels – the number of motorbikes and scooters has to be seen to be believed. For lovers of the Grand Prix who can arrange a trip to Monaco a week before the race, it is possible to drive around the actual circuit, all set up like we see it on TV. We did it in a Vauxhall – not as exciting as a Ferrari, but good fun all the same!
If you don’t have a car you can take a bus along the three corniches. The views are just as good if you are able to sit on the right side of the bus!
Last year we found a small Italian restaurant, La Toscana, in Cannes, full of local people at midday – always a good sign in France. We had a delicious lunch and plan to go there again.
We were disappointed when we could not get an apartment at Marina Baie des Anges this year. We were offered an apartment at Malibu Village instead. On a previous visit the resort was very busy but this time we were just a small group of English speakers. At the welcome party we were given a slide show of the surrounding area by our tour guide, Guy. A day trip to Carcassonne, a UNESCO world heritage site, and an afternoon in the medieval quarter of Perpignan sounded interesting, so we signed up for these. Guy turned out to be the best tour guide we have ever had anywhere. A mine of information, there seemed no end to his knowledge of medieval history, art, military architecture and warfare, etc. Fluent in several languages, communication was no problem, although at Carcassonne he couldn’t remember the English term ‘arrow-slit.’! We forgave him for that, however, when he took us to a reasonably–priced restaurant where I ordered a home-made cassoulet which was delicious. (Cassoulet is a local dish consisting of a bean stew with duck and Toulouse sausages, but every cook has his or her own recipe.)
Our afternoon in Perpignan rounded off the week very nicely as it included a visit to the palace of the kings of Majorca. We learned a great deal about the palace and life in medieval times. Guy explained that he was a qualified French national guide, which enables him to work anywhere in France. We regard him as a qualified national treasure!
. . . we had great fun following the Mackintosh trail, taking photographs in the places where CRM had painted his pictures almost 100 years before.
Architecture is one of our interests, so on our two visits to Duchally Country Estate, another superbly appointed resort, we spent some time in Glasgow visiting the School of Art, the Willow Tea Rooms and other buildings designed by the Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. At the church at Queen’s Cross, now the headquarters of the Mackintosh Society, we bought a book, ‘Rennie Mackintosh in France,’ and from it learned that he had spent some time in Port Vendres where he had painted a number of water colours of the town and surrounding area.
Port Vendres is not far from Malibu, so we had great fun following the Mackintosh trail, taking photographs in the places where CRM had painted his pictures almost 100 years before. The locations are all marked with a plaque. My husband particularly likes his painting of the port. Now framed, the print has pride of place in our sitting room.
No visit to the Roussillon would be complete without a visit to a vineyard. The Chateau de l’Esparrou close to Malibu has a wonderful selection of wines on offer. Once upon a time I used to envy my sister her 2 weeks’ timeshare in Tenerife.
Not any more. The Club La Costa points system enables us to travel to different places at any time of the year. We and our family have had some wonderful holidays. We have yet to sample the new resorts in France. That is something else to look forward to for next summer.