Places & Spaces Whilst Away

la côte d’azur

June 15, 2012

Sometimes, just sometimes, everything comes together and voila, you have the perfect trip. This was one of those times……

Was it the weather? For sure!!! Was it the people, the food, the accommodation? Of course. But it was more, it was the simplicity of just ‘being’ and just appreciating every moment of the beauty that surrounded me. Nothing else!

I’ve been visiting the south of france on a regular basis for over 20 years so there is not much i haven’t seen or done. I have had entire beach holidays with friends, stayed in villas over summer breaks, visited family and gone for business trips. I’ve eaten in the most fashionable restaurants, stayed in the best hotels and done st.tropez, monaco, cannes film festivals and the likes. In short, i’ve done the french riviera thing, the glamorous side of the côte’d’azur. Yet what seems to get right to my soul is the simplicity with which my more recent trips have been filled. It’s the combination of inner contentment with having worked out what is important to me and what really matters. That, my friends, is ‘enjoying the simple things’, drinking pure water, eating fresh grilled fish by the harbour, driving down the coastal road to various places and enjoying the beauty of nature.

The cote d’azur is my miami, my caribbean, my paradise. 90 minutes flight from london and you’re transported into a world of calm, relaxation, a place where i’m always overcome with how amazing the air is, how much better my skin feels and how i love to go there to re-charge my batteries.

It’s the first time i’ve been since i started blogging at the beginning of january and maybe this is another reason this trip was so perfect. I felt that my virtual family was there with me and that i would come back and be able to share my photos with you. I think that made it extra special.

In deciding how to write this post, i thought it might be fun to take a little tour down one part of the coast. I’m not going into great details on each stop as this post would end up being far too long. It’s meant to give you an impression of the region, my little favourite haunts and be visually stimulating. Our tour starts off in antibes, which lies between cannes and nice and we’ll end up in cap d’ail, just before monte carlo. Of course, we are taking the coastal road all along to really benefit from the beauty of the region.

The major attractions of antibes are its history, climate, art, beaches and yachting. The sandy beaches of antibes are completely manmade. It has the largest yacht marina on the côte d’azur, built in the 1960s on the site of a roman harbour. The chateau grimaldi – the old fortress, today incorporates a picasso museum, a must visit. Beyond all of this, antibes has a massive ex-pat community and you’re never far away from english speaking folks. To illustrate, see below heidi’s english bookshop. It’s an absolute institution and people travel from all over the region to come and buy books. I love antibes for it’s food market, it’s intimate atmosphere and for its quirkiness.

On the way from antibes to nice, some 20 km, you’ll pass a number of smaller places. One such place is villeneuve-loubet. It lies at the mouth of the loub river and i often stop just to go down the path to the river and greet the ducks. Take a look at the way the inhabitants park their mode of transport outside their houses. Not bad eh?

Next stop on our map is nice. There is so much to say about nice. It is where i will always stay for at least a couple of days and take in all the various aspects of the bits i love. You cannot go to nice without visting the old town, without checking out the daily food and flower market, without doing a spot of shopping and cruising down the promenade des anglais. It’s the fifth most populated city in france and i would happily spend 3 months in the winter there. I have my favourite shops, (there’s a post coming on one of them) favourite places to eat and i use it as a hub to get to everywhere i want to go. Visually, i love the various architecture of the buildings in their different colours, the habour and those glorious views of sea and mountains. I can never get enough of nice and will always return and discover more.

To go from nice towards monte carlo, menton, on the italian border or beyond there are various routes to take. Of course, you can choose the motorway. Why would you if you could use the famous corniche. I go on about people trying to get to to destinations but a route can be a destination too. The corniche is in reality three roads. You have the basse corniche, the coastal road i’m about to take you on and my personal favourite. The sea and alps views are truly breathtaking and always without fail make me gasp in astonishmsnt. Then there’s the moyenne corniche, the mid-altitude one and of course there’s the grand corniche, the most famous and romantic one (according to all the films). The choice is yours and you won’t be disappointed by any of them. The difference is the altitude between sea and sky and your preference. There is a phletora of beauty to discover on each route and my only advise is to try and avoid rush hour or you might find that all the romance has magically evaporated:)

Let’s take a little stop in villefranche sur mer. Here you have the perfect place for a spot of lunch, one of my absolute favourites in the côte d’azur. It is rare that you can sit in an habour and enjoy a casual lunch. Most quayside restaurants are tourist attractions and charge accordingly. Not here. In fact, it’s a secret spot and you won’t find any tourists. It’s mainly locals and people like me who will travel there as a destination. It’s casual, informal and the most tranquil spot. You will even see birds snogging!

Our last stop in this whistlestop tour is cap d’ail, just outside monte carlo. Here you’ll find the best rotisserie chicken, my favourite private beach and gorgeous properties.

Phew, back in london and i’m freezing. I have had the best of times and hope to have wet your appetite for a little trip to this gorgeous part of the world. I will certainly return in the next few months and as they say: à la prochaine!

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  • Reply Igor June 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Oh wow, your photography is magic, Tina. And the Côte d’Azur – well, it is a bit of paradise on earth!! Love it!! Happy Friday!

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks Igor, happy you enjoyed. Yes, it’s truly magical!!!

  • Reply Lauren June 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Simply stunning, Tina. I’m so happy for you that you got away and were able to soak up a bit of sunshine. Happy for us too, that you took us along! This is a part of the world I haven’t yet been. Yet! I’ve always been itching to go, and now even more so. Welcome home, dear. xo

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks love, you were so sweet on Instagram. i really felt you guys were with me….

      When you get there, you will love it. I know that for a fact! Who knows, I might zoom down to meet you:) x

  • Reply Ursula June 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Looking rather splendid Tina, we could do with some of that sunshine here!

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      Yes, some sunshine would be great!

  • Reply Holly June 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    so perfect! Looks utterly amazing – I definitely need to go. And your photography is equally admirable.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking us with you 🙂

    ps. peonies are one of my three favourite flowers, including lilacs and ranunculus (did you know that already? sorry if I repeat myself, lol). I just adore your image. Pinning it right now 😉 … actually do you mind your images being pinned?

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      Pin away, gosh will I ever get to start pinning properly.
      OK, will put it on my to do list this week.

      I think I read somewhere you like peonies and ranunculus, and so do I…
      Yes, definitely try and get to see this part of the world. X

  • Reply Chi@106 June 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Welcome back, Tina! What a truly magical place!
    Your photos are absolutely stunning but then I’ve come to expect nothing less! 😉

    We’ve been talking about a trip to France in the near future and this looks perfect for our needs. I’ll certainly bookmark this post as a guide. Thanks for the virtual tour, darling! 😀 x

    P.S. The photos of the knobbly sun-kissed tomatoes are making my mouth water. I bet they tasted divine!

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Oh, trip to France sounds good. You can’t ever go wrong with the South of France. I’ve been all through the year and the weather is always quite good, even in winter.

      I saw the same tomatoes today in London and they wanted £2 a piece. Crazy when you think you can pick them up quite reasonably in the market there…. now I’m getting hungry for a tomato x

  • Reply Kelly Sparkes June 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    The depth of light and colour in your photographs is amazing and I love the way you have written the post, feels like I’m on the trip with you!

    I do love driving along coastal roads, even if it does take twice as long I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t x

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Thanks Kelly and Happy Birthday lovely… Venice, how utterly romantic of your hubby.
      I hope and am sure you’re having an amazing time. ( well brekkie looked gorgeous )

      You can’t go wrong with Venice. Anyway, am now having withdrawal symptoms. haven’t been for a while!
      Enjoy your stay x

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily June 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Jealous, moi? completely gorgeous lovely. Fell like I’ve been on a little min holiday myself now!! Ooh and thank you so much for Spargel for Helga shot!! :-))) xx

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      The weather was incredible. I think it made it so special as the weather in London is so miserable! I so wasn’t ready to return. Never mind, will try and go back in September. June and September are the best months to visit.
      Hope you are well. The Spargel are sold in my local shop. i was surprised to see that… X

  • Reply Catherine Bedson June 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Photos are breathtaking, can’t wait to visit this part of the world myself one day.

    • Reply tina June 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Thank you Catherine….I can’t wait to visit your part of the world… Is the long flight that puts me off:)

  • Reply Ingrid Weir June 17, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Hello Tina,

    Sitting by the fire on a wintery Sydney night- I so enjoyed reading you post. I really hope to get there one day,

    all the best,

    • Reply tina June 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

      Hi Ingrid, of course, you guys have winter. You know that normally we are the ones who envy your temperatures:)

      As I said to Catherine below, one day I hope to get to your shores.
      Be well…

      Going to check whether one can now leave comments for you..

  • Reply Toni @skandivis June 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Now that is summer! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos
    good to know that you had a fab break.

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 6:19 am

      Ha. Ism’t it just. I nearly cried at the airport, knowing I would come back to this!!

  • Reply Christine Martin June 18, 2012 at 1:18 am

    ohmygosh, tina, these are stunning! wish i was there. some years ago, my hubby and i spent time in nice, france and loved it. the shots of the farmers’ market are beautiful. so glad you had such a lovely time. btw, what type of camera do you use? i’d love to upgrade mine and your shots are so crisp.thank you for sharing your trip with us.

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 6:36 am

      Thank you Christine. Glad you had a good time in Nice:)

      I use a Canon EOS 60D and am rather happy with it. I’m always amazed that they come out pretty sharp as I shoot handheld and sometimes it can be windy.

      I have a 18-200 lens and a f1.8 and find they are sufficient for now. There is so much on this camera and I haven’t really explored it all. I can highly recommend it. Only downside, it’s quite heavy to carry:(

  • Reply Theresa June 18, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Tina, thank you so much for taking us along on this amazing, picturesque trip. Your photos are beautiful. I’ve never been to the south of France. Dare I say, it looks as magical as Paris. It really does. I think it’s the water that’s doing it for me. I loved following along on Instagram, as well. I loved when you wrote that the trip took on special meaning knowing that you could come back and share it with your virtual community. I feel the same way now. [smile] I bet you feel refreshed and inspired after such a wonderful trip. Welcome home.

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 6:42 am

      Yes, both Paris and the SOF are magical in their own way. Living in a big city, of course, I will favour the sun and sea, so that’s why it’s so special to me.

      I’m shellshocked to be back in this weather and am seriously considering to sneak away again next weekend, but pssstt:)

  • Reply Laura June 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I have some amazing memories of holidays in this area, it was lovely to be reminded of how beautiful it is. Your photos are fantastic and make me want to go back tomorrow. Glad to hear you had such an amazing break.

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Hello Laura:) happy to have evoked memories, especially with our weather. I trust the boys are well. When will I meet them???

  • Reply annie June 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Well I guess it’s up to me to write the Cannes bit then! 😉

    Do you speak French Tina?

    Photos are great and look at all that blue sky and I can feel the heat emanating from the page. I just cannot wait for Friday.

    I would love to spend a holiday doing a road trip there and I’ve always wanted to go to Monte Carlo.

    Glad you had a great time and I hope you are feeling refreshed x

    PS £2 for a tomato??? Was it one of those heritage ones that have appeared from nowhere?

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      I especially left Cannes for you:) Look forward to your impressions of the Martinez and M beach. I have a feeling whether good or bad, you will LOVE the weather!!That’s for sure…

      I do speak french but not as good as I’d like. Not good enough for having invested so much money in it and not as good as my other languages.

      See what you think of Monaco. I can see the attraction for first timers but believe me, you will not want to return:)

      Those H tomatoes are seen as delicacies here and they believe they can charge the earth. I usually buy mine from Patricia at La Fromagerie but refused to pay £2 from a local shop!!

      Oh, Annie, forgot, enjoy the Colombe d’Or… I’m so happy for you the weather will be nice x

      • Reply annie June 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        Martinez is very nice but unremarkable in my opinion so I doubt I’ll be blogging about it.
        I’d like to go back to Belles Rives but the service and food were so appalling that I doubt we will. Which is a shame as it’s a glorious hotel.
        Can’t wait for Colombe d’Or.
        Wish I could speak French! Richard and I take turns to speak awful school level French when we’re there. I think I’m a little better than him. But not much.

  • Reply Erin June 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Oh wow! Lovely photos, Tina! Simply stunning, all that blue water and those gorgeous shutters and those adorable ducks and peonies! It looks like a lovely and restorative vacation. I’ve never been to the south of France but I am dying to go, solely for those views! I’ve always been so curious about Monaco, and how everyone is so incredibly wealthy and how tiny the country is. It almost doesn’t seem real! You are very lucky to be able to go to this part of the world so frequently and for so many years. I bet you’ve seen the area change as its become more attractive to tourists, non? Even still, I bet it is gorgeous and serene and that your pictures don’t even do it justice. And they all could be postcards! xo

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Yes, what you’ll see in Monaco is a bunch of tourists snapping away at Ferraris, Maseratis etc.
      I suppose the Casino and Hotel De Paris are worth seeing.. very grand. I’m probably biased coz have been so many times and prefer other places. My dad lived there for 15 years until his death… he never understood why I don’t like visiting:)

      One day, let’s have a Pias meet up in the South of France, d’accord?

      I can assure you my pictures don’t do the places justice. You will have to go and experience it. x

  • Reply Sam Lennie June 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Lovely Tina, how I would love to be there now. The market looks to die for. I’ve never done the south of france so it’s yet another destination to add to my burgeoning list. You car drove the trip, yes? Not moped ?

    Thanks for sharing love x

    • Reply tina June 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Haha. Funnily enough, when all the motorbikes passed me I did think for a moment… probably better in the car, so I can carry my 100’s bottles of water, my changes of clothes and my HEAVY CAMERA:) x

  • Reply Nicola June 19, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Beautiful photos as usual Tina! And a breath of fresh air and sunshine brought to my day x

    • Reply tina June 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Oh, Nicola, glad to make you smile and ‘brighten up’ your day. I call this: job done!!!
      Glad you’re back xx Hopefully you’ll post on teeandgee:)

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