WANDERLUST ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA



a few weeks back i went to a very odd, but very interesting tourism event with easy jet, where the focus was the cote d'azur. not just cannes and nice and st. tropez, and those typical south-of-france destinations, but the tourist board and our airline hosts did an amazing job of showing off those lesser-known towns and villages, where maybe there are less celebrities to spot, and a lot less obvious sights to see. this opening of eyes had katy and i instantly planning road tripping holidays in france for next year. we're both already almost fully-booked for this year, but planning ahead gives us the opportunity to do a little research about the places we want to visit in the french riviera, like:


martigues

famous for its flowers and gardens, martigues is sat right on a beautiful lake, and linked to the sea by the caronte channel. the town itself has recently undergone some extensive industrial expansion, but none of the new additions have done anything to dampen the pretty town's attraction. because of the amount of canals, islands and bridges, martigues is commonly known as the "venice of france", which basically has me lusting after a quiet ramble along the water, sorbet in hand, soaking up the sun. and if that doesn't do it for you, you might just appreciate the tiny port of de carro, a charming fishing port and marina, and the beautiful la couronne beach.


menton

this is the last stop in the cote d'azur before you hit italy, but it's so close, it might as well be. menton's old town is a blur of pastel-coloured buildings, shady cobbled streets, and zingy lemon trees, all linked to the town's lovely old port. the history of the town is pretty colourful too; the medieval old town was founded by pirates, and many of the cobbled alleys inside the town still bear their names. not only that, the lemons from menton are supposed to be the best in the world, and the princes of monaco - who owned the port-town for more than six centuries, introduced a lemon tax for the residence to help them fund their carnol├ęs palace back home. bitter much? (#badpunz)


villefranche-sur-mer

this is probably one of the most charming and authentic-looking villages on the french riviera. monaco is on one side and nice on the other, so no-one thinks to visit it. especially because every february, villefranche's fishermen celebrate "carnival" with a bataille des fleurs (battle of the flowers); they deck out their traditional fishing boats with fresh flowers, parade them around the harbour, and then throw flowers at each other - and spectators - until sunset. doesn't that sound like the most harmless fight you've ever heard of?! i think it's sweet, and it's certainly right up my alley.

these are just a few of the towns i was introduced to recently, but there are so many more i could add to this list. like toulouse, where i found out i might just be heding to next week for a whistle stop tour. and, when you think about the other important things like french food and drink, well the cote d'azur is an obvious solution to a problem you never knew you had. i'm doing a lot of eastern europe this year, but next year, i want to visit places closer to home. exploring more of the cote d'azur is first on that list.




*post written in collaboration with james villa holidays, but all wanderlust is mine.

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