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Saint Raphael
Saint Raphael

Saint Raphael

I'm not going to try to cover this quite vast coastline in any detail, but what I will do is concentrate on four places which I found to be of special interest and actually takes in most of the length of the Côte D'Azure.

Firstly, the area need not be too expensive, if you steer clear of the mega-resorts as far as eating and residing is concerned. On the other hand, it costs nothing to "window-shop" does it?

Travelling by train, as usual, the first large resort you come to after Marseille is Saint Raphael. So that is where I based myself to enable me to use the scenic rail line along the coast all the way to Italy.

And it is Saint Raphael where I stayed at a hotel I would not recommend in these pages. No names, as I don't think that's fair, but my choice did not compare to any of the others featured. It was reasonably clean, right next to the harbour and small, but it was part of a very ordinary cafe/bar and my room seemed to attract all the fumes from the cigarette-smoking regulars in the bar one floor below!

What the hotel couldn't help was the fact that I stayed there in the week preceeding the Monaco Grand Prix. So what, I hear you say. Well, the hotel was situated on the corner of a street by a roundabout which was the main road from Marseille to Monte Carlo! My last 2 nights were sleepless, as cars, lorries and more especially, motorbikes roared up to the roundabout, changed gear and roared away again. Nuff said?

Saint Raphael, together with the older town of Fréjus, is a very typical seaside resort. Lovely sandy beaches, big boats and lots of holiday-makers (many English). Tourist restaurants abound. It doesn't have the quaintness of the smaller, cove-like resorts further along the coast.

What you can do is take a boat trip to St Tropez for the day. In an hour or so, you reach that mecca of the rich and famous and can spend a few hours enjoying the buzz. Coffee is only 3 a shot! Take a picnic and find a place on one of the free beaches. Then back on the boat to reality.

Saint Raphael

Click on above image for more information on Saint Raphael (on-line web page)


Antibes / Juan-les-Pins
Antibes

Antibes

 

 

OK, on the train for some serious sight-seeing! The journey from Saint Raphael takes you along the Mediterranean coast to the Italian border on what must be one of the most picturesque rail jouneys in Europe. A bit like the line from Dawlish to Teignmouth only longer (and hotter and sunnier).

 

 

AntibesAntibes

First, it's Cannes. I was there on the first day of the Film Festival and the whole of the world seemed to be there too. It's OK but not a place I'd choose to stay.

Then, a place I would stay - the twin resorts of Antibes & Juan-les-Pins. Exclusive, posh and full of the well-to-do, yes, but also very much a proper lived-in place. Plenty to see and do. I've a feeling Antibes welcomes you regardless of your wealth situation.

Antibes

Click on above image for more information on Antibes / Juan-les-Pins (on-line web page)


Monte Carlo (Monaco)
Monte CarloMonte Carlo

Monte Carlo

 

Back on the train, through Nice (I say through - not stopping!) and out of France, technically, to Monaco. The train stops at Monte Carlo's tiny station and you step into a dream. We've all seen the Principality on TV and in films and it is everything you can imagine and more. I loved it. The roads which feature in the Grand Prix are ordinary traffic routes. The Palace with its guards is extraordinary. The harbour with the multi-million euro yachts. It's all there.

Again, it's a place to spend a day wandering around if you're just a person with an ordinary bank balance, like me! So, onward towards the French/Italian border and the last main resort in France - Menton.

 

Monte Carlo

Click on above image for more information on Monte Carlo (Monaco) (on-line web page)






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