After the storm with Mel worrying about drowning we continued east to Hyeres. This rather pleasant town has an old castle at the top of a hill which, in the heat, was pretty tough climb. Lovely views from the top. Following D539 to Lavandou we had some really good views and sights though the road was windy and slow going – a feature that was common in the SE corner of France – at least on the smaller D roads. Steering was fun considering I was still aching severely from the kite flying! Some more heavy rain came as we headed into St Tropez. Not exactly sure on what was going on – but it was very much gridlocked and eventually after getting in we were forced round into parking or exiting. As the weather was grim we exited into more gridlock and hugged the coast round not really that impressed with anything there…. That said – maybe traffic and weather was the cause…
The rain was so heavy with the forecast being grim for a few days, and everywhere was mentally busy, we escaped to a campsite for the night and see what happened.
In the morning the French proved they are as good as the British at forecasts as the weather was fantastic! Continuing along the coast we stumbled on Frejus which turned out to be a lovely surprise. We stayed 2 days enjoying the harbour/marina, a good sandy beach with some fun waves (cue my Daniel Craig unprompted pose – no sarcastic emails please!), a long beach front with ice-cream shops and restaurants and we had a lovely al-fresco meal. The western part of the beach was popular with kite surfers, and I did my good-citizen bit by helping out a kiter who was struggling with his board and kite and rescued his board before it hit the rocks. Poor guy was the only English guy we met there!
On our second night at Frejus we had a very spectacular thunder and lightening storm which ruined our plans for a long bike ride, so instead we vegged a bit and headed off to the old Frejus town which itself is worth a visit with some Roman ruins. Another ice-cream (Forrero Roche and Creme Broulle flavours!)
Moving on we headed to Cannes with a view to visit a campsite to empty tanks and fill up as we’d exhausted our stocks and didn’t know any aires, and upon entry to the campsite we got turned away as the site was flooded! The Cannes coast was rather grim – and though some were wild camping along it – it is awful. The harbour is nice with some big boats – and the town is okay – but the outside was rather ugly. We eventually managed to find an Aire to refresh and headed to Nice which itself was too chaotic to stop in so we opted to visit on our way back from Monaco.
Planning to visit Monaco in the morning, we had a nice drive the Monaco borders and wild camped at a spot overlooking the mountains – very pretty and easy access to Monaco in the morning. We drove in and parked in an underground car park with special parking for motorhomes. Very convenient! Monaco does stand out, as soon as you arrive everything is in such better order than France, with cleaners and police keeping everything just right. We walked the F1 track though the tunnel is having some roadworks, and admired the boats in the harbour. Some serious money there – but why were there no empty spaces? Does no one actually use their boats? The palace is worth a look along with the tight streets and beautiful gardens.
Upon leaving Monaco we headed back via Nice and parked in an aire about 5 miles outside and cycled in. Nice itself is a nice place and has a busy and fun centre. There was a dog-agility competition taking places and a load of fountains and sculptures. However we got a sense something wasn’t quite right, there were a huge number of “youths” around, a lot of police, and there was a fairly unfriendly gang type atmosphere that felt as if something major was going to kick off at any time. As such we cut short our exploration of the darker alleys so we went back to our aire and played boulles to see who was cooking tea (Mel!).
Leaving Nice we headed back inland to the gorges of Verdon which were supposed to be (and actually were) one of the most stunning natural sites in Europe. Not sure our pictures do it justice, but over the coming days we had some stunning and challenging drives with views that took the breath away. We stopped at Castellane and had a lovely walk to the top of the mound seeing a chamois deer (I believe). Great views from the top and a pretty good town overall with plenty of walks available,
From Castellane via the fun roads (D952, 95, 90, 71) to Les Salles sur Verdon, with exceptional views along the way. Breathtaking. Not really for the less confident drivers, but our nimble van enjoyed the drive as much as us! The lake at Les Salles sur Verdon had a lovely calm turquoise colour which was crystal clear. We had a good fresh swim in the lake which was lovely – a lovely end to our third week.