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

On the 23rd July Tom & I flew into Nimes airport, on 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 sat on our ferry coming home, undecided whether to bore you with a 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 (bear in mind Tom knows the area and I am clueless. The only time I’ve 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 (a small town 15 minutes drive) Market Day. We headed into the town a 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, where we had booked 2 nights in Chateau Le Cagnard (15 minute drive from Antibes Centre ) . 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 for 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 bestfriend for dinner, who works in the Town.

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 to the Monte Carlo Metropole Hotel for drinks. Thankfully when your mocktails are 25 Euro you get free chocolate and macaroons! The service and staff of the Metropole Hotel were faultless, and so the drinks were incredible – money well spent.

That eveming 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 and the marina at night. On our way back to the hotel we drove past an amusement park, which meant Tommy 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. But nothing beats lunching, people watching and shopping. Late afternoon we drove back up home to Sablet.

Now this is where the days are a little blurred, as most of our days were spent lunching, reading, sunbathing, strolling around markets and making excuses to go to patisseries more than once 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 Pain Au Chocolat for breakfast followed by freshly made delicious sweet treats.

The beauty of the South is the weather, meaning reliable sunshine. This meant we could eat outside every night and due to it being 30 degrees even after we’ed eaten, we usually stayed outusde reading until it got dark (REMEMBER to douse yourself 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 proximity as possible.

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

Day 13: We closed down the house and headed down to Dijon, which 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 hours up to Reims for a little shopping and then onto the Veuve Cliquot Headquatres.

Centre of Reims.

We had a tour of the cellars and a tasting was set up for us. Unfortunately for Tom he was driving, but i wasn’t! It was absoloutley fascinating seeing the vast size of the cellars and learning 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 tiddly! We has a glass of the standard Veuve Cliquot Champagne, Rose & Vintage 2008 Rose, and 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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