European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal: Côte d'Azur Roadtrip

Mar 29, 2012

Entry No. 16: Côte d'Azur Road Trip 
Menton. Roquebrune Cap Martin. Monaco. Nice. 
Cannes. Saint Tropez. {+ everything in between}

I shared one of my favorite spots along the French coastline yesterday and today I'm going to share a broader take on the Côte d'Azur. We felt a little adventurous near the end of our stay in the South of France and one day we decided to wake up early and drive to the French/Italian border at Menton and then work our way westward along the coast to St Tropez. We made stops in Menton, Monaco, Cannes and Saint Tropez. I'm not sure I've ever seen so much beauty in one day ...

Starting the day in Menton, the Italian influences were apparent and abundant, the colors bright and cheerful.

This rainbow wash of colour on these homes in Menton made me think of citrus-flavoured sorbets ... tangerine, citron, melon, grapefruit, anyone?

We crossed the Italian border just because we could, took a pic or two ...

... and then headed right back to our beloved France ...

We had to stop in Monaco. Marble sidewalks, McLarens, Monte Carlo and, of course, Princess Grace ... it was nothing like I had imagined ... it was soooo much better. :)

... On the road again ...

Loved how the nerdy GPS car looked like it was going to fall off the port, hah! {We were parked on the Cannes harbour}

What's that saying - save the best for last? That's exactly how I felt on this day - the sun was sinking and the sky was saturated with dreamy pastel hues as we made our way to St Tropez ...

And here's what was waiting to meet us:

I travel frequently but it's not too often that a place really 'clicks and sticks' with me.

The first time I flew into NYC and saw the skyscrapers stacked like legos with the occasional cloud intercepting my vision, something clicked. The island seemed to hold so much promise and hope - it was more than just visually beautiful. The energy and inspiration seemed fully tangible looking down on the city from above. {Queue the Jay Z song ...} That instant, that first view of the city, has always stuck with me.

And that's the same kind of feeling I had when we walked around the corner and my eyes first took in the harbour of St Tropez. Something clicked. The moonlight glistening on the still + amazingly blue-green water, the row of skinny pastel homes accented by the cafe and club lights, the incredible blue sky punctuated by the bright stars. That instant, that first view of the St Trop harbour, will always stick with me.

... Now if only I had enough money for one of these lovely yachts .......... :)

Even though we were obviously here in off-season {hah, try to look past the burgeoning crowds}, we had to stop for drinks at Senequier {despite the non-people-watching views ... boo!}. In Spring 2011, Karl Lagerfeld hosted a Chanel test run in front of Senequier ... if only we had planned a spring vacay! ;)

omfg. I may or may not have squealed when I spotted this most perfect Vespa. I mean, c'mon! It just doesn't get better than a pink Vespa with Burberry detailing. Talk about coveting ...


CB's Top Tips for a Road Trip across the Côte d'Azur:

- It was soooo much fun to drive along the twisty coastal cliffs of the Côte d'Azur. I would highly recommend renting a teensy tiny sports car {the more luxurious, the better} to really hug the curves and have some fun. {Extra points for vintage} Any airport you fly into should be able to help you arrange this.

- We spotted a flea market in the town center of Nice but didn't have time to stop. It would be fun to chart out a few markets and incorporate them in your itinerary for some one-of-a-kind souvenirs. :) I'll share more in the next few posts about discovering flea markets.

- If I were to choose a few spots to recommend spending a night or two, it would be the following: Menton {and it might be fun to head over to Italy and do a little exploring}, Monaco, St Tropez, and Cassis.

- Common sense but if you want to do any celeb spotting, come in the hotter months. I actually really enjoyed the calm and quiet, the comfy temperatures and the non-existent crowds but whatever floats your boat, right? ... I do have to admit, it would be pretty killer to see Kate Moss on vacay ...

Coming up next in the travel journal .... more Provence! ;)

If you have any tips, insights, suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear them! Hope you enjoyed this installment of the European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal! And to catch up on my other European travel entries, just click here. 

{All images by moi}

European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal: Cassis, France {Côte d'Azur}

Mar 28, 2012

Entry No. 15: Cassis, France {Côte d'Azur}

Waaaaay back in October, I shared that I was headed back to Provence with some friends for a week-long road trip. I've been meaning to edit the photos {all 1,487 of them!} over the past few months and I am finally getting around to it. There is soooo much gorgeousness and great tips to share for potential honeymoons! I've decided to break it all up into several different posts but the first locale I have to share is Cassis ...

Obviously, Cassis is coastal. ;) It's a little gem located in southern France in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region about 20km east of Marseilles. We had decided to take a short road trip down to see Saint Tropez one day but unfortunately, a fierce storm decided to unleash its fury right as we arrived in St Trop - nothing seemed to be open so we decided to head over to Cassis {don't worry, we made it back to St Trop and I'll share more on that later}. I snapped the above photo right after we parked in Cassis - we had finally found a parking spot perched on a hill away from the crowded port and we could hear crashing waves so we found a little stairway and this is what we found at the bottom ... I felt like I had discovered an oasis ... a secret surfers' spot ... the 'blue lagoon' ... it felt incredible, magical and completely unreal. If mermaids exist, this is where I would expect to find them.

Visiting Cassis and the entire Côte d'Azur {we drove along the coast from Menton to Saint Tropez on another day} was an intoxicating experience. I usually spend hours and hours researching our trips and while I had spent an exhaustive amount of time planning our travels in Provence {+ all the fab flea markets we visited}, I really hadn't done much to prepare for the Med. And it was the best thing I could have done. Because I didn't know exactly what to expect, I was completely blown away by the mesmerizing beauty of the coastline ... the jagged cliffs ... the undulating blue waters ... the crashing white waves ... the most picturesque harbors I could have ever imagined ... I was in a state of perpetual awe.


 Above: One of my many French addictions ... the Citron Crêpe. Just lemon juice and sugar. So simple yet so refreshing.

Too bad the hideous green trashcan is in this photo but I still love it. :)

Yes, those are olives .... and yes, she may be the chicest old lady I've ever seen. The sunnies, capelet, bag, coiffed hair and little bit of houndstooth peeking through equal total fabulousness for me! Lord, I hope I look that good in 50 years!

Cassis is noted for its cliffs (falaises).

I plan on sharing lots more tips for the Provence and the Côte d'Azur but I'll share a few now ...

CB's Top Tips for Cassis:
- Walk all the way out on the pier {and don't bring your DSLR like I did} to experience the height of the waves. You'll probably get splashed - we were seeing 12 foot waves when we were there in late October.

- Enjoy a meal in the harbor and soak up the beauty. There is also a restaurant right on the water with fabulous panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs.

- Take a tour of the sheltered inlets called calanques that surround Cassis. We didn't get a chance to do this but it's on my list for this summer when we {hopefully} return {and hopefully my husband can join us this time around - fingers crossed!}

In the next travel journal, I'll share about our road trip from Menton, Italy to Saint Tropez. I'll also be sharing about our great time in Provence - visiting L'Isle sur la Sorgue, Gordes, Fontaine de Vauclause, Nîmes + Avignon.

If you have any tips, insights, suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear them! Hope you enjoyed this installment of the European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal! And to catch up on my other European travel entries, just click here.

{All images by moi}