Provence, French Riviera, Monaco, Florence and Pisa (ok, we've been busy)
15.09.2010 - 20.09.2010 25 °C
Provence, days 17-18
Just a short stop in Provence on our way to Cannes, Nice & St Tropez. We stayed in Mt Saint Victoire, a beautiful, rocky mountain, just outside of Aix. It was such a beautiful, peaceful camp, it almost had the feeling of a hippie commune. Aix itself is a very pretty, cultural town, lots of small alleys filled with cafes and shops, there was a gorgeous market the morning we were there, with actual, nice things rather than the Chinese stuff one tends to see everywhere.
Next stop, Marseilles. A lovely harbour town with a beautiful and huge marina, loads, and loads of boats. The harbour is surrounded with shops and restaurants, although they are a bit pricey. The local fishmongers were selling, right there, couldn’t get fresher than that (that is actually literal since some fish were still alive).
We drove on after that towards St Tropez.
French Riviera, days 18-20
We stayed in Port Grimaud, just the next bay along from St Tropez. We were totally agape at our campsite, we thought we had come to the wrong place. Giant, flash gates, portfolio given as you sign in, 5 restaurants, nightclub etc etc. And the beach was amazing! Like out of a travel brochure. Unfortunately the day we went to St Tropez & Cannes it was a bit rainy, but still warm.
I really enjoyed St Tropez, although Stu was quite disappointed. Huge luxury yachts in the marina, worth millions, but the town was quite shabby looking. Till you looked at the names in the shops. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, you name it, and the number of stars who have gone to the bars & restaurants there!
Cannes was a real disappointment though. Grubby, lots of construction, and very small. We didn’t stay long there, but the shopping was slightly cheaper than St Tropez which was a good thing.
The drive up to Florence was through Monaco, where we decided to have lunch. We drove through the most spectacular coastline, turquoise seas, rugged cliffs, homes perched so close they look like falling, interspersed with white sand beaches. Sooooo lovely.
Monaco itself was fantastic. Squashed between the sea and the cliff, it mostly consists of high rises, exclusive-brand shops, and of course the stunning Monte Carlo Casino & Hotel. It was very quiet, few people about, but you can tell it’s a place with money. You barely saw anything other than BMWs, Roll Royces, Maseratis and Ferraris. Plus the giant yachts in the picturesque bay.
Florence, days 20-22
We arrived in Florence about 8 or 9pm, in a RAGING storm the likes that we have not seen in years. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning that rocked the ground, it was horrendous. We managed to just pitch our tent before the full force hit, and actually managed to not wash down the hill. I had very little sleep as every time lightning flashed it would wake me up. That and the sound of the rain battering our poor tent.
The next day dawned warm and wet but the clouds rapidly cleared. Off we went to Florence (Firenze) where we could go and absorb some culture. We walked the city, exploring the sights, including Michaelangelo’s David, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo & various other buildings. We walked up to the Michaelangelo Piazzale (monument) which was a crazy climb up through parks but well worth the view at the top. An icecream was a treat for us as it’s very expensive in Europe.
We made a lightning visit to the leaning Tower, which incidentally is a really pretty building, and the privilege of paying protection money to some dodgy looking Nigerians NOT to break into our car. Probably the most nervous I have felt leaving our stuff alone since we got to Europe, but worth a look for sure.