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SOUTHERN FRANCE

SOUTHERN FRANCE

The most Turquoise BLUE Water we have EVER SEEN!

ROADTRIP #VANLIFE

After a few days of heavy rain and cloudy weather in Scotland and Wales, we started to get tired. We were really fed up with the bad weather, we couldn't visit half of what we had planned and we had counted days to be in England. We drove south looking for good weather and as on the mainland there was no improved forecast, we decided to visit an island: "Isle of Bute".  We took the ferry in Colintraive (17 eur round trip) and there we went in search of the good weather. No, we didn't visit anything on the island, we just went looking for sun and tranquility. And ... we found it! We were also lucky to meet seals... it was a really cute moment, to see them there so close to us.

Southern France

We then headed for Wolverhampton where we went to see a game of the city team. The English team with the most Portuguese in their team. We spent two wonderful days there... we first went to see the training centre and the next day we went to see the official game: Wolverhampton Vs Fulham. Watching a Premier League match is an indescribable sensation. If you like football, you have to watch an English league match, because only here can you feel the true spirit of football!

 

Southern France

We had bought a ticket for the ferry, with a date set in advance, so we headed for France. Finally ... Southern France, here we go. We really started to get excited for the heat and the beaches of the Mediterranean.

We typed the destination into our GPS and it was about 10h ... but that didn't discourage us, after all we knew that we had to cross the whole of France. On the outskirts of Paris, we had a technical stop to make the 10.000 km revision of our Pingu. Poor thing, these crazy people get into adventures and she pays for it!

We wanted to start exploring the south of France by visiting the Marseilles area, but on google maps, we saw that there was a Natural Park nearby. As we are huge fans of natural parks, we went there. Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, is a protected area with a beautiful lagoon, Étang de Vaccarès. The trail we followed along the lagoon is fascinating, full of vegetation, animals, such as wild horses, cows, bulls, herons... but without any doubt, the ones that stand out are the flamingos! It is enchanting to walk and see the lagoon full of flamingos, of a wonderful pink color. It's really worth to visit.

Southern France

Marseille is a very large city, and in these cases, we never stay overnight, we always try to stay in nearby cities to escape the confusion and to find a place to park Pingu. Of course, staying overnight here is also unthinkable for security reasons. On the Mediterranean coast, we were beginning to feel a little "hatred" against caravan drivers. There are banning signs everywhere. No, not just regarding overnight stays, even parking was forbidden. So we saw a campsite in Martigues (before Marseille), very cheap compared to the others, 15 eur per night, with all the comforts, so we decided to stay there. A few meters from the beach, an excellent location: Camping Pascalounet. Here we really felt that we arrived at what we were looking for, we set up our little place, table, chairs, our hammock... it was so good that we stayed two nights.

Southern France

We had met some French people on the road in Scotland who advised us to visit Les Goudes and the Calanques of Marseille. My brother came to see us and we made this journey together. From Marseilles to Les Goudes, the road is by the sea, beautiful, the beach full of people windsurfing, the turquoise blue water...top! The village has a very friendly fishing port, with a bay full of restaurants, and following the way, the road is flanked by large cliffs to the turquoise sea, a beautiful ride!  We decided to go to another campsite, this time closer to the Calanques : Les Cigales, in Cassis. It was the first time that four people slept in Pingu... we had a full house!

The Calanques of Marseille, are limestone cliffs or canyons, opening towards the Mediterranean sea, forming several beaches of turquoise blue water. They are found between Marseilles and Cassis, for around 20 km. There are several, the best known being the:

– Calanque d´En-Vau

– Calanque de Port-Pin

– Calanque de Port-Miou

– Calanque de Sormiou

After some research, we decided to visit the Calanque d’En-Vau because it is the most natural one (with a quite difficult access) and, they say, the most beautiful one. We woke up very early, prepared some sandwiches for lunch, and there we went. We parked the car in the parking lot next to the Col de La Gineste road and walked along the Route Gaston Rebuffat, since there was a barrier that prevented the cars from passing. From there, there are several trails, we opted for the easiest by the road, and just follow the signs. The walk is long (about 2 hours) but beautiful, in the middle of nature and accompanied by wonderful landscapes with the Mediterranean in the background. As we reached the beach, we shouted a big "WOWWWW"...a beach surrounded by immense cliffs and water of an amazing blue. We sat down to contemplate that beauty while gathering courage to jump into the water. Well, the water was freezing, but it didn't discourage us to take the first dive of the year!

Southern France

On the way back we went halfway along the road and another halfway along the "hard trail" as it is referred to on the signs. It took us a lot less time by taking that shortcut and we did it super well.

Recommendations:

- Bring water and food because there is nothing on the beach.

-Take walking shoes or boots.

- Park in the park next to the road. Further on, on Route Gaston Rebuffat, choose the difficult trail (left through the woods) or the easy trail (right, following the road).

- All the way is marked with marks on the ground or trees.

- About 3.5 km ahead there will be another car park (but the cars can't go there), Parking Col de la Gardiole, and you have to choose again the difficult trail (left through the woods) or the easy trail (right, following the road).

After this long walk, the swimming, the sun, it goes without saying that we were very tired and needed to recover on a terrace in the Port of Cassis, drinking a fresh drink. Cassis is a small village, with a beautiful harbour and some very charming terraces around it. It has a shopping street with very nice shops, ice-cream parlours, for a moment we thought to be in Italy.

In the morning, we left very early towards a lake that we discovered in an Instagram post, but on the way we came across a very beautiful road, La Route de Crêtes. Curved and counter-curves, turns and more bends, it had breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Southern France

It took a few hours, into the interior, to the famous Lac Saint Croix, but as soon as we saw it from above, we were left openmouthed. We really wanted to get a spot next to the water to enjoy that colour very closely. We took a stony path and there we reached the perfect place.

My God, we were speechless. The turquoise blue of that lake was something unbelievable. We wanted to sleep there, but the prohibition signs everywhere discouraged us. We ended up sleeping in a car park with no view at all, in the middle of the mountains, and we still didn't understand the reason for all the caravan banning signs. However, that is a very controversial issue and one day we will talk about that.

Southern France

It was time to return to the coast, we left Aiguines, where the Verdon River flows into the lake. We drove along the riverbank, by the D71, until Campus Sur Artuby. The road went always along the mountain with a huge escarpment beside us. Quite scary! When we finally got to the end, the view of the Mediterranean was fresh relief.

SOUTHERN FRANCE

SOUTHERN FRANCE

 In Saint Tropez, we stayed on the best camping site ever, right on the beach. We parked Pingu on the sand. The sun was gentle, that blue sea with the waves, an amazing panorama. We could do a little workout, walking along the beach, we could even take a dip. So nice... We paid 30 eur for one night at Camping La Plage, but it was worth every cent.

Then we followed the blue coast from Saint Tropez to Monaco, always by the sea. Wonderful landscapes with wonderful blue water, each village with its own beautiful port... We were constantly stopping to take photographs and videos. Cannes, Nice, Monaco, all with impressive wealth, from big cars and giant yachts to very good-looking people. In Cannes, we started to see a lot of movement, the red carpet, spotlights, paparazzi and we realized that we were in the middle of the Cannes Festival. In Monaco, there was only police everywhere and we realized that they were setting up the circuit for the Monaco Grand Prix. Two cities, two big events – we really chose the right day at the right time!

SOUTHERN FRANCE

This was our last stay in France before entering Italy, where we will stay for a month.

Stay tuned for the next episodes and …

Be happy,

Backpackers

 

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