A Travellerspoint blog

May 27 2011 - Orange

Orange

overcast 20 °C

Orange was just a 50 minute drive from the L'Hermitage. The Roman Theatre Antique is interesting but really all that is left is the stage wall - now this wall is 103 metres long and 37 metres high but I was just expecting more of the original building - that's all you get for EU8 each. The rest of Orange is nothing to write home about, so I won't

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Back to the L'Hermitage for an early evening swim followed by a picnic in the 3 acres of grounds and a late evening bottle of local rose

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Posted by kforge 12:05 Archived in France Comments (0)

May 26 2011 - Provence

AH, PROVENCE!

sunny 33 °C

There is very little choice of road heading north towards Aix-en-Provence from Sanury-sur-Mer, so we hopped on the A50 motorway knowing that there would be a toll charge somewhere; actually there were 4 toll charges in the 1 hour drive to Aix, costing EU8 in total (not too bad, I suppose). The drive was pretty spectacular as we cut through gorges and crossed the mountains of Chaine de la Ste-Baume.

Now let's just say we must have arrived in Aix on a bad day - the traffic was worse than Sydney, there were thousands of tourists and every hotel we tried was completely booked out (we gave up after 6). As we trudged around the old Quartier Mazarin we miraculously found a hotel with one room left on the Place St Jean de Malte and we snapped it up. Key in hand we returned to the car park a couple of kilometres away and started the drive back to the hotel; after interminable delays and one-way streets we just gave up! Unfortunately we still had the key so we had to find our way back to the hotel to return it - and yes I know we could have stayed, but we would still have had to find another parking garage as the hotel had nothing. And, Aix didn't look that good anyway

Jeni looking happy after we'd found the hotel across the road:
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But now what? A friend had kindly given us the names of some villages that he and his wife really liked in the Vaucluse. We picked L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and what a beautiful place this is

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Unfortunately all the hotels were full so it was up the road to Pernes-les-Fontaines and, yes you guessed it, all hotels were full. Two very helpful women in the main square suggested we keep going north towards Carpentras and then over to Switzerland. However just out of Pernes we were lucky enough to see a road-side sign for L'Hermitage - it looked closed but as we drove around to the front of the mansion there were people and a magnificent garden with swimming pool. We nearly didn't go in as it looked like a 400EU per night place but then things were getting desperate. EU77 got us a beautiful room looking out across the gardens!!

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Posted by kforge 02:20 Archived in France Comments (0)

May 25 2011 - Cannes to Sanary-sur-Mer

PICKED UP A CAR AND WE'RE OFF

sunny 32 °C

Early morning we picked up a diesel rental car from Avis (EU419 for 2 weeks) and headed off towards St Tropez along the coast road around the Esterel Massif - the section from La Napoule to St Raphael is breathtaking

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We stopped at St Tropez for a couple of hours and had a good look around the Musee de l'Annonciade - mainly post-impressionist work displayed in a lovely old chapel by the quay. We both really liked the feel of St Tropez but it was very crowded and can't imagine what it would be like in summer - maybe like Padstow in Cornwall

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And then we ran into our first problem of the trip; from St Tropez we headed for Hyeres as we'd read that it was a long-established "beach" area and could make a good overnight stop. Well it was really uninspiring so we decided to try La Seyne-sur-Mer on the far side of the bay around Toulon - a container port! Finally we found an idyllic little fishing port called Sanary-sur-Mer and and an idyllic hotel right on the quayside. Of course it was completely full but just up the road (and not on the quay) was the little Hotel le Gallieni - pretty basic but only EU59. We then spent the entire evening in a quayside cafe, drinking rose.

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Posted by kforge 01:34 Archived in France Comments (0)

May 21 to 24 201 - Cannes

IN CANNES

sunny 32 °C

Getting from the downtown Nice to Cannes can be surprisingly difficult. There are direct buses from the airport for EU20 each but from downtown it can get expensive and, of course, a lot of the "local" buses do not allow baggage to be taken on-board. We decided to do taxi-train-taxi. The taxi-driver wanted EU25 to take us to the station but we got him down to EU20 (this is about a EU10 ride but it seems all of taxis charge the same). On the way, and he had to be quick, he told us the train fare would be EU20 each so for just EU85 he would drive us to all the way to Cannes. We thought the train was about EU5.00 and it turned out to be EU6.10. A good if crowded 1 hour ride, a EU10 taxi (a longer ride than Nice) at the Cannes end and we were in our new apartment which is in the old part of town called Le Suquet

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When we had originally tried to book this apartment, the owner said our dates clashed with the Cannes Film Festival, so of course, we changed them. What I hadn't realised was that the Festival would still be on when we arrived. Anyway we had a fun Saturday evening wandering amongst the tens of thousands of people who were trying to get a glimpse of their favourite stars - I think we saw Catherine Deneuve!

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We decided to change the pace on Sunday, so jumped on a small ferry that took us across the the Iles de Lerins, Ile Saint Marguerite (EU11.50 each return for a 15 minute. Unfortunately another "don't bother" - there is difficult access to very rocky swimming areas on the north side and on the south, the water is pretty grubby due to all of the private boats that come over for the weekend. The big annoyance is a stupid regeneration programme that means on a fairly flat island of about 3km by 1km, probably 50% of the time you walk around the coastal path you cannot see the water - great thinking planners

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Monday morning saw a search for some sort of broadband connection. Cannes is very good at extortionate restaurants prices (all serving the same dishes) but seems unaware the wi-fi is pretty much a standard requirement these days. We eventually found a cafe that had wi-fi and then walked the length of La Croisette and back (about 5km). And then an afternoon swim; the water was still cold but by then the heatwave and fully kicked in and we were happy to have some relief from the 30C heat (and no breeze). Late evening we strolled up the the Castle Square to look out across the bay in the failing light

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Tuesday we thought a trip to Antibes to the Picasso Museum sounded good. Our bus fare was the usual EU1 each way but during the ride we found out that you can actually travel all the way from Cannes to Monaco on that EU1 ticket

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Antibes is a really nice, small town and although Picasso is not one of my favourites, the setting in the former Grimaldi Place is outstanding as is the sculpture terrace overlooking the Med. The EU6 price is a bit high if you're not that keen on him

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Posted by kforge 02:57 Archived in France Comments (0)

May 20 to 21 2011 - Nice to Cannes

IN NICE

sunny 25 °C

Today we took bus 81 to the Ephrussi de Rothschild Museum. The 30-minute trip hugs the coast high above the sea with truly glorious views. And that was the hightlight of the visit; the museum charges an astonishing EU12 per person and unless you really like porcelain, the place is a complete rip-off. The building was completed in 1912 and is very average; the location and views are superb and the gardens are good. I have nothing more to say except, don't bother.

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After returning to the town, we walked for kilometres along the Promenade des Anglais, ending up in the Sporting Plage for early evening drink

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By the way the transport system in Nice, and the rest of the Cote d'Azur, is really well thought-out and fares are just EU1 per trip regardless of the distance. For EU4 you can get a pass for unlimited trips on 1 day and for only EU15 you get a weekly pass

Saturday we were up early for a swim before we headed off to Cannes. The Mediterranean was freezing cold ; it could not have been more than 18C. Memo - swim in the afternoon in future

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Posted by kforge 01:30 Archived in France Comments (0)

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