There is something about street markets that fascinates me since childhood. Whether it’s the best market in the world or the one just around the corner, market day is a feast for every sense. Fruits and vegetables in bright colours mix with heavy smells of charcuterie, garlic, cheese and the chitchat of groups of neighbors gathered for that special occasion. Friendly local producers come along with their trucks full of products, smiling and greeting everybody. The view of manicured stalls is a feast to everybody’s eyes, strawberries carefully displayed in wooden boxes, cherries in big baskets, as well as a large variety of huge mushrooms, champignons, fresh cepes. The smells, the colors, the shouting of the vendors and all the noise originated appeals to me in an inexplicable way.
I remember years ago, well, not many, about 30 years, when I was very young and was traveling in Italy, lived in an apartment of a lady who rented us a room in a town called Sestola in the region of Emilia Romagna. You will wonder how did we get there, because Sestola is not one of those places recommended in tourist travel guides. We got there with my husband because he was doing a tennis training course and I accompanied him, but that’s another story.
Let us go back to the markets and Sestola. One morning I woke up early with an unexpected fuss in this town that nothing ever happened. I opened the windows, was a spectacular summer day, and saw a major move into the town square. It was market day. It seemed that people were plugged into 220 Volts. I was like hypnotized watching the stalls and stayed all morning enjoying the show. More than a market, was a fair, with vegetable and fruit stalls, meats and cheeses (the cheese of the region are famous). There were also stalls selling antiques and clothes and in one corner had a few stalls with various circus entertainment like jugglers dogs, shooting, the typical organ grinder and more. Missing was the bearded lady, absolutely fascinating. There are many famous markets in the world and when I travel I try to visit them all, on my trip by car on the Riviera I found many of these markets really worth remembering.
Regions of Var and the Maritime Alps to the south of France include the well-known Cote d’Azur in the Mediterranean Sea and extremely picturesque and different mountain regions.
Google Maps From St. Tropez to Saint Paul de Vence
Via Michelin An essential guide to planning the trip is also available on the website of Michelin, it distinguishes roads ranging from motorways to side roads, the recommended route according to your interests, kilometers and also what is spent on fuel and tolls. You can change itinerary and add stops clicking in the left bar, you can choose the option “show hotels, restaurants and tourist sites” along the journey.
BEST TIME TO GO
I think the best time to visit is between May and October, the months of July and August are very hot but very nice to enjoy swimming, is also high season and prices are expensive, is more difficult to find accommodation and the beaches are very crowded.
The region’s climate is typically Mediterranean, mild winters on the coast but there is usually snow on the mountain area. The mistral, a persistent wind that descends from the north, blowing in the winter and spring, bringing winds of up to 90km per hour and a bit of madness to the locals.
These are ideal places to enjoy nature in the area.
LERINS ISLANDS Of the four islands off Cannes, only two are inhabited, the Sainte-Marguerite and St. Honorat. You can reach the islands by taking the ferry that leaves from the port of Cannes or the boat of a friend (or your own). There are walks to do and spectacular coves where you can enjoy the sea, good restaurants and a very tasty liquor, the Lerinchello, a lemoncello made by the monks of the Abbey of Lerins on the island St . Honorat.
Abbaye de Notre Dame de Lerins by Ahef
THE THREE CORNICHE ROADS The Basse Corniche, or the RN98 road, the Moyenne Corniche and the Grande Corniche. All these are roads along the coast between Nice and Menton, with stunning views and dangerous curves, you should go very slowly. Do not even think about grabbing that route if you have to get to the airport, then best to take the motorway that goes above.
Moyenne Corniche View by Karmor
SEA AND MOUNTAIN VILLAGES AND TOWNS Eze and Eze-Bord-de-Mer, St. Paul de Vence, Gassin , Coaraze, Sainte-Agnes, Theoule sur Mer, Tourrettes sur Loup
Sainte Agnes Village by steagnes06
Eze looking toward Cap Ferrat by Karl Holland
MASSIF DE L‘ ESTEREL The massif is a very steep rock formation in the panoramic road that goes from Cannes to St Raphael. Fabulous views of cliffs, islets and red rocks that emerge from the water. A visit to the village of Les Adrets de l’Esterel in the heart of the mountain is mandatory.
Massif de l’Esterel by Haaveilla
ART AND CULTURE
The region has been a source of inspiration for great painters, musicians and writers. The route of the painters in the French Riviera is an interesting journey to discover the towns where artists like Renoir and Chagall lived and the panorama that inspired them. Several of the attractions and museums of the Côte d’Azur show prehistoric remains, ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are also well represented. From the Middle Ages were the abbeys, chapels, fortresses and castles, from the Baroque era the monuments, churches and palaces, from the Belle Epoque palaces and luxury hotels, boardwalks and facades that remind us the luxury of that time. I leave here a list of what I found most interesting to visit.
LA TURBIE The ruins of the Alps Trophy (Trophy of Augustus), a Roman monument built by the emperor Augustus to celebrate his victory over the Ligurian tribes living in the mountains of the area and attacked the merchants who plied the Roman trade routes.
FORT CARRE Antibes. Fortress dating from 1550
Fort Carre in old Antibes, viewed from Port Vauban by AlextheC@t
SAINT ELME CITADELLE Built in the 16th century by the Duke of Savoy to protect the County of Nice from the invaders.
LA CITADELLE Villefranche sur Mer by CHRIS230***
EGLISE SAINT MICHELE ARCHANGE The church was completed in 1777, the interior is exquisitely decorated, worth seeing the altar with 17 different types of marble, the communion table of onyx and agate, and the triptych of San Pedro on the right of the chapel.
KERYLOS GRECQUE VILLA This villa was built in 1902 by Théodore Reinach, to reconstitute the luxury and beauty of a noble house of ancient Greece.
VILLA & JARDINS EPHRUSSI DE ROTHSCHILD Built by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild during the “Belle Epoque”, inspired by the great Renaissance residences of Venice and Florence. It has seven different gardens: Spanish, Provencal, exotic, French, Oriental, Japanese and classic.
Ephrussi de Rothschild Gardens by vincen-t
FOOD & DRINK
There is no city or town in France that does not have its local market, for most of the French is a tradition to buy in the markets, a common practice throughout the country. Wake up early and head happily to street markets to fill the basket with wine, baguettes, pates, cheeses, vegetables and fresh seasonal fruits. The flower stalls, so beloved by the French, are a spectacle of art and color, rivaling the species baskets and bunches of herbs. The cuisine is typically Mediterranean, as is logical. The olive tree provides us with olives, olive oil and the typical “tapenade” an olive pate, vegetables masquerading as salads, “petis Farsis” (stuffed vegetables), “pisaladiere” (like a caramelized onion pizza with black olives and anchovies), the “bagna cauda” (vegetables in olive oil). From the sea comes the lobster in butter olives, “rascasse meuniere” (fried rock fish), the “bouillabaisse”, a typical fish soup originally from Marseilles, but eaten along the entire coast. The typical drink of this area is the pastis, made from distilled alcohol and a mixture of herbs and flowers.
Spice Stall Nice Market by kh1234567890
After this introduction, needed to locate in the region, I will focus on our route.
The car ride from St Tropez to Monaco if just one hour 50 minutes there is so much to see along the way that one can spend a week visiting cities, beaches and mountain villages. In the next post I continue with the tour of towns and markets, beaches and mountains.