8 days in France & Spain – part 1

We got back last night from a fabulous week away in France and Spain. We visited some gorgeous places, oohing at the stunning vistas and ahhing over the charming buildings and places. I’m feeling very relaxed and content after a week of good food and wine, warm sun and no work!

Part One – Côte d’Azur

Our holiday started on Saturday with a 6am flight to Nice (thanks to Kieron for the ridiculously early airport drop!) which placed us on the Côte d’Azur by lunchtime. We met up with Lynley who arrived by train from Avignon and together we spent the afternoon exploring. The center of Nice is impressive to walk around with cool fountains, big open spaces and the palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais. We spent the late afternoon basking in the sun on the beach. The beaches in Nice are all rocks rather than sand and the water in early summer is still very cold for swimming. Despite that it was still great to relax on the beach for a while. We ate dinner in a restaurant called ‘Le Maori’ which featured a ‘Maori burger’ with egg in it and also an ‘All Black’ dessert. Hilarious.

On our second day of holidays we decided to take a day trip along the coast to Monaco. After a false start taking the train (unexplained problems with the rail lines) we managed to catch a bus to Monaco in time for lunch. We stopped in at Monte Carlo, saw the casino and the beautiful views out over the sea. Monaco seemed to be a country of expensive cars, designer stores and luxury yachts. Well out of our league but still cool to visit. From the casino we walked down to Monte Carlo beach which was packed with vacationers. We ate gelato and people-watched for a while before taking the bus back to Nice. Tired feet and red shoulders and faces after our second day of sunny sight-seeing.

Our third day we checked out of Nice and took a hire car along the coast. Matt had the task of driving and did a pretty good job of adjusting to driving on the right (wrong) side of the road. Our first stop of the day was in Cannes. We were there a week too early for the famous film festival 🙁 but we did get to see all the tents and pavilions being set up in preparation and we walked on the red carpet hehe. Cannes was not a glam as I’d expected with much of the town feeling a bit ‘past its prime’. Like most of the Côte d’Azur the beach here was lined with deck chairs and divided up into sections by all of the restaurants and hotels planted right on the beach-front. So different from being at the beach in NZ, I would take a nice unspoilt stretch of the Coromandel over the French Riviera any day!

From Cannes we drove the winding coastal road along to St Raphael. Some stunning views along this drive – charming houses dotted along the cliffs and gorgeous blue sea stretching out to the horizon. Unfortunately by the time we reached St Raphael the sky had turned grey so we turned inland and plotted our course to Avignon via Aix-en-Provence…