South of France – Monaco, Antibes, Cannes, Avignon, Dijon & Reims.

On the 23rd July, Tom & I flew into Nimes airport. It was the first day of our two weeks off work, which we were spending in the South of France. Tom’s family is fortunate enough to have a house in Sablet, a small village not too far from Avignon, so it seemed like the perfect destination.

As I’m writing, I’m currently sat on our ferry coming home, undecided whether to bore you with a day to day run down… Day 1: I ate lots of cheese and sunbathed. Day 2: I made too many trips to the patisserie and Day 3: I went to a vineyard. Or whether to give you an overview and pick out my best days and recommendations. I like compromise, so I’m going to bore you with a bit of both, but be warned, this may be long and tedious but I have the best intentions.

Day 1: We flew into Nimes, picked up the car and headed straight to Pont du Gard (bare in mind Tom knows the area and I am clueless, the only time ive spent in France has been skiing)! Pont Du Gard is a Roman built Aqauduct set in a beautiful park with a museum, cafes, resturants, watersports and swimming in the river. We then drove towards Sablet, stocked up on food and settled into the house.

Day 2 fell on a Tuesday which is Vaison Market Day (a small town 15 minutes drive), we headed into the town, spent a couple of hours walking the markets full of local produce, and then stopped for lunch in the centre.

Day 3: We drove further south to Antibes. We had booked 2 nights in Chateau Le Cagnard (15 minute drive from Antibes Centre but up in the quiet hills). As Chateau Le Cagnard is up in the hills only small cars (Fiat 500s etc.) can fit through the streets. This meant we had to park the (slightly too large) RR at the bottom and the driver collected us. We settled in and then walked further up into the village of Cagnes for lunch. I ate the most delicious mussels with a view of the ocean and countryside. That night we headed into Antibes and met Toms best friend, who works in the town, for dinner.

Day 4: After breakfast, with the best view over Antibes, we drove to Monaco. This only took about 45 minutes from our hotel in Cagnes. We walked along the dock picking out which yacht to buy next, and stopped for lunch on the front. We ate and had drinks for about 3 hours and then headed for some shopping. Then, off to the Monte Carlo Metropole Hotel for drinks and thankfully some free chocolate and macaroons (needed when a mocktail cost 25 euros)! The service and staff of the Metropole Hotel were faultless and the drinks were incredible, money well spent.

That evening we drove back to Cagnes, relaxed, and then headed into Antibes again. We had drinks, strolled around the old town, and went on a ferris wheel which gave a view over the city at night and the marina. On our way back to the hotel we drove past an amusement park which meant Tom drove straight in and pulled me right up to the tallest ride.

Day 5: After checking out we drove along to Cannes, yes, for more food and shopping. Nothing beats lunching, people watching and shopping. In the late afternoon we drove back up home to Sablet.

Now this is where the days are a little blurred, most of our days were spent lunching, reading, sunbathing, strolling around markets and making excuses to go to patisseries more than once in a day. It really got me wondering, WHY don’t we have patisseries in every village in England?! Because nothing beats (cliché warning) crossiants and pan au chocolat for breakfast followed by freshly made delicious sweet treats.

The beauty of the south is the weather, reliable sunshine. This meant we could eat outside every night and due to it being 30 degrees, even after we’d eaten we usually stayed outusde reading until it got dark (remembering to douse ourselves in mosquito spray!).

I didn’t cook every night as the surrounding villages have some wonderful resturants with even more wonderful views of the area. It was a great opportunity to try local produce and traditional cuisine (I’ve now ticked snails off my list, or should I say escargot). Something that really stood out to me was the emphasis on local produce, pretty much everything is located from as close in proximity as possible.

Day 10: Canyoning! This was a day all organised by Tom, he booked it and drove us 2 1/2 hours to the Alps for canyoning, something ive never done before but Tom is well aquainted with. We hiked for 45 minutes up to the top of the canyon where we put on our wetsuits and harnesses and began our descent back down the mountain through natural slides into rock plunge pools, jumps, abseiling down cliff faces all into fresh water cold rock pools. The hike in the heat was tortuous, but made so worth it for the pleasure of the descent and cold mountain water. 11/10 would recommend.

Day 13: We closed down the house and headed down to Dijon, it was a stop-over to break up our journey back home. 4 hours later and we checked-in to our hotel, had a swim and then headed out for dinner. We ate dinner in a beautiful old street with plenty of people-watching and then finished off our night with another swim.

Day 14: From Dijon to Reims! We drove a couple of hours up to Reims for a little shopping and then onto the Veuve Cliquot Headquarters.

Centre of Reims.

We had a tour of the cellars and tasting set up for us. Unfortunately for Tom he was driving, but I wasn’t! It was absolutely fascinating to see the vast size of the cellars and learn more about the story of Veuve. It’s Tom’s favourite champagne so it was a big treat, although I did leave feeling a little tiddley! We had a glass of the standard Veuve Cliquot Champagne, Rose & Vintage 2008 Rose. Obviously I kindly finished Tom’s glasses for him!

Sadly, this meant the end of our trip and we left Reims and drove to the ferry. We had a very memorable trip and i’ll be returning as soon as possible!

The best book reading spot in Gordes.
Final dinner in Sablet.

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