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Posts tagged ‘#Frenchriviera’

Hikes on the French Rivièra

Hikes on the French Rivièra, near Saint-Raphael

There are many reasons why we love the Cote d’Azur. One of them is because of the hiking possibilities. Part of our family loves the mountains, and part of our family loves the sea. On the French Rivièra, and particularly near Saint-Raphael, these two are combined in a breathtaking way!

Every time we go, we do at least one hike on the Esterel mountains near Saint-Raphael, which are also called the ‘Red Rocks’. It’s a beautiful scenery with the contrast between the red color of the mountains and the deep blue sea. From high above the mountains, you will have a view on the scenic coastal road called ‘la route de la corniche d’or’. We usually head up on the Massif de l’Esterel right before reaching Agay and walk on the ‘Sentier des  Senteurs’, which is not a round loop hike but filled with lovely smells of the south and views of the coast.

There are three other hikes we recommend to do during your French Rivièra holidays: the Lakes of Villepey in Saint-Aygulf, the Sentier du Littoral along the coastline in Saint-Raphael, and the hike towards the ‘Pont des Tuves’ the Pays de Fayence countryside!

Les Etangs de Villepey

 

Just behind the beach of Saint-Aygulf is the protected nature reserve of the lakes called ‘Etangs de Villepey’. It’s like a laguna which results of the encounter of the salt water of the sea and the pure water coming from inland. It often feels as if people don’t see it’s just there when they park to go to the popular beaches of Saint-Aygulf, but the nature reserve lies just behind the beach parking lot. A beautiful wooden bridge and observatory is constructed, but you can also walk along the small paths in nature to explore the lakes further around.

Le Sentier du Littoral

The coastline walking trail, or Sentier du Littoral, is a breathtaking hike! The same color of red of the Esterel mountains continue right by the sea, and you can walk for quite a long while next to the coast. We started our hike at the beach ‘Plage du Camp Long’, also known as ‘Tiki Plage’ and headed towards the Cap Dramont. We continued along the coast and hiked up to the Dramont and then back in a round loop to the parking lot. Lots of beautiful plants and rock formations can be seen along the way! Wear good shoes!

We hiked for about 2 hours which is a shorter version of the total hike which goes from Port Santa Lucia in Saint-Raphael, all the way to Agay (total 11 km) with some points described as ‘difficult’.

Pont des Tuves hike

This is quite a steep hike, but one you will not regret! We did this hike with our 9-year-old, and it took us 2.5 hours total. The difficulty is to hike back up.

Starting point: Montauroux, on the parking lot of the Stade du Défens and the rope adventure park.

The road towards the starting point will lead you to the hilltop villages of the countryside of the Pays de Fayence region. You will pass the cute village of Montauroux, and you will be close to the town of Callian which is picturesque and worth a stop.

The hike leads you through a forest and so lots of shade on hot days. It is very well sign-posted so you cannot miss it. The Pont des Tuves is a bridge dating from 1802, which crosses the Siagne river, from Montauroux towards the village of Saint-Cézaire. You will have a view on Saint-Cézaire during the hike at several points. People swim in the Siagne river although the water is very cold. You will see people jumping off the bridge and there is a small waterfall for an adventurous shower on the other side of the bridge. If you would like to swim but not jump, or, if you took the hike with small kids, there is a small beach area to your left, at about 50 meters from the bridge while staying on the same side of the water. After the hike, we did swim despite the cold water and it was nice and refreshing! One of the most beautiful hikes we did on the Cote d’Azur!

In case you would like to explore more hikes, the nature around and hike towards the Broken Dam of Malpasset in Fréjus is really interesting as well. The history of the site is sad, but nature blooms around it. To see this hike, check out our article on the Broken Dam of Malpasset:

For our top 5 of Best Beaches around Saint-Raphael, check out this article:

 

A day in Fréjus – Cote d’Azur

Fréjus is a beautiful town in the South of France, near Saint-Raphaёl. The old town with its colored houses is very much worth a visit, as well as the roman ruins, and walks in nature around it.

When you are driving there, you will probably pass by the impressive roman ruins, and see the well-preserved amphitheater. The amphitheater can be visited and hosts some big events in summer.

On Saturday’s, the old town center of Fréjus has a really nice market which is lively all year round. It is located around the main square, which has a lot of terraces, restaurants, a creperie, a smoothie bar, and other shops. In summer time, the market is even bigger and the stalls go all the way from the main square to the bigger streets of the town center. A wide variety of products can be bought at the market: typical food from the Mediterranean area such as olives, tapenade and dried tomatoes, but also non-food products, such as the famous soap ‘Savon de Marseille’, clothes, and products like kitchen towels or table cloths with a ‘Provencal design’ on it.

When you are at the market, you can easily visit the Cloisters, the cathedral and see the baptistery since they all are located on the square where the market is held. The Cloisters are very beautiful and a peaceful place. The wooden ceiling is quite unique in France and has hand painted images of imaginary animals and scenes of daily life on it.

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Cloisters

Baptistery

the baptistery

We like walking around in the old town of Fréjus, looking at the colored houses with the nice decorated balconies and colored shutters that are so typical of the south.

Parking: as in summer all towns in the south of France can get a bit crowded, we would recommend you to follow the signs of the Parking Aubenas. We actually have always found a spot there!

Once you have visited the the city center of Fréjus, there is still much to explore in the  surroundings of the town.

Chapelle Cocteau, a hidden chapel

A lovely discovery is the somewhat hidden chapel called ‘Chapelle Cocteau’. The octagon shaped chapel is in a forest just outside of Fréjus. The chapel is decorated by the artist Jean Cocteau. It is very small, so a visit is quite quick, but the paintings and the stained glass windows and doors are impressive.

How to get to Chapelle Cocteau: the official name of the chapel is ‘Chapelle Notre-Dame de Jérusalem’. Type that in on Google maps as there is no real address, you will see signs as you get closer.

Villa Aurélienne

The Villa Aurélienne in Fréjus is a villa built in 1889 and is located in a park with mediterranean plants and trees. You will see parts of the Roman aqueduct before entering the park. We love the architecture of the building, who got its name from its proximity to the Via Aurelia which led from Rome to Arles. Art exhibitions are sometimes held in Villa Aurélienne.

Winery: You can for instance taste some wine at the winery ‘Clos des Roses’ outside of Fréjus, which not only sells wine, but also has a very nice restaurant with a beautiful terrace and good food! Clos des Roses is located on a beautiful property with plenty of modern art pieces in its garden. Have a look at their website.

Fréjus town center

Malpasset Dam

Hike: If you like hiking and history, have a look at our blog post on a walk towards the: Broken Dam of Malpasset.

 

 

 

Cote d'azur

If you would like to read all my recommendations on what to do for families in the Cote d’Azur area, click HERE to see the entire article.

 

 

 

France

And how about it if you would get the taste of the Provence at home to get in the mood for the trip and learn an easy to make recipe of a local? If you like cooking, then read how to make Denise’s ‘Poulet Provençal au citron de Menton’ here.