STEP INTO THE BEAUTY OF COTE D’AZUR OUTDOOR MARKETS
The sun, colors, flavors, scents and flowers, this is what I like about France and its markets. On this journey I will devote almost exclusively to food, because I think a good way to understand the culture of a country is plunging into its cuisine and especially into its street markets.
FIRST STAGE From Saint Tropez to Cannes
The start of the itinerary is St. Tropez. The village is on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in the Gulf of the same name, with the hills of the Massif des Maures as a backdrop.
Getting here is quite complicated. The nearest railway station is Saint Raphael and the nearest airports are Toulon-Hyeres and Nice, about 50 minutes away. The motorway runs quite far from the village, you should make a detour through the back roads but expect heavy traffic jams on peak season. Of course you can also consider a yatch or helicopter, or a bus from various points in the region. Once in the village leave your car and rent a scooter or a bicycle.
Formerly a small fishing port, since the forties and fifties the village happened to be the preferred destination for the rich and famous. The village is tiny, the streets are very narrow and full of flowers, with many terraces and cafes crowded in summer time. The main activity is centered around the port and the port itself, from June to September the fishing boats share the marina with spectacular sailboats and yatchs.
Life in town is relaxed in winter but comes alive when tourists and celebrities arrive in summer months, when everything is so expensive. The Place des Lices in the village center within walking distance of the glamorous port, is the typical village square with its rows of plane trees and benches and the “habitues” playing “petanque”. The square is transformed on Tuesdays and Saturdays morning market, which is not the typical farmer’s market for there are fruit and vegetable stalls as well as antiques, clothing.
An every day market takes place in the Place aux Herbes, close to the fish market. A traditional Provençal market of fruits, vegetables, cheese and charcuterie. The fish market, which ends at the port, offers a huge variety of seafood.
HOTEL BYBLOS Avenue Paul Signac. Emblematic hotel, created four decades ago as a Mediterranean villa with gardens and courtyards filled with flowers, much to the style of the Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella (They belong to the same chain, The Leading Hotels of the World). The 52 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in warm Provencal style and elegance. The hotel is expensive but worth it.
HOTEL SEZZ Route des Salins. The Sezz is very different in style to the Byblos. This new hotel opened in 2010 and a is a gem. It has 35 rooms (bungalows or villas) surrounded by a park of 11.000m2. A bungalow costs from 400 Euros in low season, the villa 2200 Euros in high season, you must pay attention to the offers and promotions.
PASTIS HOTEL 61 avenue General Leclerc. A 10 minute walk from the harbor and the Place des Lices, this contemporary style hotel and romantic at the same time, is set in a Provençal building with a private garden. The breakfasts are very good, has good music, nice decoration and a heated pool.
LA FERME d’AUGUSTIN Romantic hotel de charme, just steps away from “Tahiti” beach in front of the Pampellone Bay, 5 minutes away from Saint Tropez. The hotel includes standard rooms with or without balcony, and Junior Suites, from 190 Euros low season for a double standard room to 720 Euros for La Tour Suite, high season.
CHEZ CARMEN ET DOMINIQUE 7 Place aux Herbes. Cheese, olives, oils, everything is delicious and good quality.
SENEQUIER Quai Jean Jaures. The brasserie located on the harbour opens into a terrace decorated in red. For breakfast or at sunset. Ideal for people watching while sipping coffee and pastis
LE CANASTEL 1 Impasse Feniers. Pizza and Pasta in a fun environment. There are tables in the garden. Advisable to book in summer.
LE CLUB 55 43 Boulevard du Général Patch. The beach club is on the beach of Pampelonne and is the best place for lunch, a legendary place in a simple and chic setting. There are white wooden tables and chairs, or U-shaped white sofas to accommodate large parties.Expect to pay 100 Euros in high season.
SALAMA 1, rue des Tisserands. Excellent Moroccan restaurant.
Le Club 55 Beach by Marc Veraart
Leave Saint Tropez and drive southeast for about 15 minutes towards the village of Gassin, one of the most beautiful villages of France and a great spot to stop for lunch at Au Vieux Gassin, place dei Barri. The village is perched high upon a rock and less than 4km. from the sea. Has beautiful views of the vineyards and the Gulf of Saint Tropez . Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are market days at Gassin, from 8h to 12h.
We leave Gassin and head to Cannes. There are two possible routes: one along the coast and the Corniche d’Or- 1 hour and a half drive; or across the mountains, 1 hour 20 minutes drive. The coastal route passes Saint Raphael and Mandelieu la Napoule, the birthplace of mimosa. The mountain route passes the village of Les Adrets de l’Esterel, a small town of about 2.500 hundred people, in the interior of the Massif de l’ Esterel. For driving directions check Google Maps or Via Michelin web pages. LES ADRETS DE L’ESTEREL The village is a wonderful spot in the heart of the Massif de l’Esterel, surrounded by magnificent landscapes, located in the ancient Roman Road, the Via Aurelia. A good spot to stay or a stopover for lunch and enjoy the tranquility of the place is the Hotel l’Estirado an inn with a panoramic view in a serene atmosphere and a restaurant with good regional cuisine. Prices from 80 Euros to 105 Euros a double. MANDELIEU LA NAPOULE Located at the foot of the Tanneron Massif, between Frejus and Cannes. the place is home to the largest mimosa forest in Europe The flowering of the mimosa trees is a cause for celebration on France’s Côte d’Azur. La Route des Mimosas is a trail celebrating it’s blossoming from January 15 to March 15.
Le mimosa de l’Esterel by CHRIS230***
The last stop of this first stage is Cannes, famous resort because of the Film Festival. Driving distance from Les Adrets de l’Esterel is of 27 km and 8 km from La Napoule. I like Cannes, but it is not the most fascinating places. The beach is bordered by the Boulevard de la Croissete, many of the beach areas are private because they belong to hotels across the street, the old port area is nice. The shopping street is the Rue d’Antibes, behind La Croisette, also in the old city there are many shops, especially art galleries. The old town, Le Suquet, is the most beautiful part of Cannes. The houses are all very old, the streets were laid out at least 400 years ago. It is a 5 minute walk from the beach and is full of restaurants around the rue san Antoine and the rue du Suquet, a lot of the area is pedestrian. The views of the city and harbor are fantastic.
Old Town by Renato Pequito
Forville Market is the best known located just outside Le Suquet, the Old Town. It is the most complete because it is the leading provider of restaurants and yachts of the city. Open daily from 7am to 1pm except Mondays. It has a huge choice of fruits, vegetables and flowers also sell fish, cheese, salami, mushrooms, herbs and a selection of delicious appetizers such as sun-dried tomatoes, olives and vegetable oil. Nothing is missing. Opposite is a bakery, Paul’s Bakery, that sells delicious baguette, with all that we have a complete lunch.
There are other interesting markets in Cannes, not as large as the Forville, but no less attractive.
LA BOCCA MARKET Place Paul Roubaub (Fruit – Vegetables) daily from 7am to 12.30pm except Mondays
ALLEES Behind the Old Town, Flower Market open daily BYGONE TIMES MARKET Place de l’Etang, open every Friday from 8am to 7pm
ARTS & CRAFTS MARKET Les Allées de la Liberté, open Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm
MARKET ANTIQUES Second-hand goods, open every Monday from 8am to 6pm
This is my choice of hotels in Cannes, each in a different setting. Prices are on a range of 135 to 400 Euros, depending on your room choice.
VILLA ST BARTH 5-7, avenue de France. Located 5 minutes from Cannes in 2000 m2 of tropical gardens with palm trees, hibiscus and bamboo. The hotel has four spacious rooms and a terrace overlooking the private garden. Guests can enjoy an outdoor pool or enjoy the spa to relax in the hammam or jacuzzi. Free WI FI. Prices from 135 Euros to 335 Euros.
1835 WHITE PALM HOTEL 1, boulevard Jean Hilbert. Located at the edge of the Old Quarter. 134 hotel rooms and suites, each offering a spectacular view overlooking the city, Côte d’Azur, the Old Harbour or lush hotel gardens. Price range 230-330 Euros.
HOTEL GRAY d’ALBION 38, rue des Serbes. Price Range from 105 Euros the standard room to 355 Euros the executive room. The hotel has 199 rooms (8 suites), two restaurants and a bar. The hotel is in a great location on the seafront, close to La Croissete.
Cannes by TOMOYOSHI
MANTEL Just steps away from La Croissete, in the Old Town, 22 rue Saint-Antoine. Menus 30-57 Euros. Provencal cuisine, I ordered a rissotto and it was excellent. Other in the same street: Le Mesclun, 16, rue Sainte-Antoine .
LE BISTROT GOURMAND 10 rue Dr P.Gazagnaire, marché Forville. Price range 15-30 Euros
LA MERE BESSON 13, rue des Frérés-Pradignac. French Cuisine. The restaurant began in the 1930’s and serves either breakfast, lunch or dinner and is one of the favourite dining spots in Cannes. Dinner menus 28-33 Euros.
OTHER MARKETS THAT WORTH A VISIT
FOOD MARKET City center, every morning unless Monday. FISH MARKET Old Port, every morning. FAIR MARKET (esplanade St Jean) Monday morning. ANTIQUES Square Coullet, every Tuesday (all day long). ARTISAN MARKET On the old port every Sunday & bank holiday . ARTISAN NIGHT MARKET The market is only held during the summer from 8pm to midnight. There is something for all tastes, from jewelry to paintings.
FAIR MARKET Saturday Morning, next to the Arenas, Sunday morning, along the beaches. FOOD MARKET Wednesday & Saturday morning historical center, Tuesday & Friday morning Frejus beach and St. Aygulf, square La Poste, Thursday morning Frejus Port. ANTIQUES every Sunday Quartier du Reyran. NIGHT MARKET every summer night.
Sunday Market Frejus by Passion Leica
Well, finally I’m done with this first stage of this itinerary, in the next post I will continue telling the story of my journey from Cannes to Nice and Monaco, through mountain villages, seaside towns and wonderful markets.