South France VW T25 1981 Campervan

Southern France if it wasn’t already hot enough leaving Italy it sure up’d the anti here, we drive the mountainous rocky coastline towards Monaco, which is a Republic of Monte Carlo. Here we got a tip from a German couple to go see the aquarium in Monaco itself, driving through Monaco was a surreal experience, obviously money gushes around here in abundance with towering apartment blocks over looking the harbour, wealthy people walk around in their top notch attire. We park up and set off to the aquarium which is behind the Royals palace. Unfortunately this aquarium is like all others and lacks the size and space for the species and even seeing such a vast amount of differing varieties they looked routine in swimming in their small aquariums. From here we aimed to drive the Monaco Grand Prix track in the Green Machine and were on it for a good 10 minutes, but the traffic was heaving, very unlike Grand Prix! And the fuel tank is running rather low and not a petrol station in sight, and believe me its not easy driving in Monaco!

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We decide to move on and make way to a place near Nice, that night we were accompanied by a very friendly English couple and he was just so informative. Giving us tips to have a look at a few places along the coast we change our plans a little enroute to meet up with Karens parents in the middle of nowhere in South France. We took a look at Port Grimaud which was a rich persons docking point for their boats, this is surrounded by typical southern France chalets over looking their wharfs, we walk around and veiw some of the luxury launches and boats that were stationed with some having a ramp for cars to drive on and off. Just a totally different world again. We drive further around the coast to a camper stop next to the beach this area is called Ranatuelle, the water just keeps getting warmer! Stunning beaches and plenty of space among the other holiday goers, a night swim even ensued in the calm ocean.

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All set and ready to head into typical southern France countryside, Karen’s parents had booked a typical cottage in Provence in a small town called Neoules. We are to stay here for the next three nights with the place to ourselves, a proper brick oven for bbq’s and quality company with plenty of food and drink. The following day would prove eventful, lets just say we can experiance a break down together! Ian and Maureen’s little Renault rental had a flattie, 1 and 1/2 hours later a tow truck comes to take the car to a tyre warehouse. No spare tyre with the car or tools to do the job which would of been quicker! So after a little ride in the tow truck the 4 of us we get our tyre and move on towards the coast to catch a ferry over to Porquerolles Island, here we move to a beach called Plage D’ Argent with a restaurant overlooking the sandy beach we stop for some french platter food and drinks, finish up and enjoy the life on the beach! Couldn’t get much better than that really. The island was busy and bustling with beach goers great place to hire a bike and just set off exploring.

The following day would see us start the morning with pancakes cooked in the Green Machine with our table and chairs prepared for the four of us under the awning.

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After that good tucker we were ready for a drive inland of South France through old quaint towns and wind into some rolling mountains where we encounter a large blue lake called Lac Ce Ste. Crois and at the end point there is the Gorge Verdon. Lunch bought and a pedalo for four and we set off in the gorge, scenery wise it’s pretty spectacular and the water is very deep yet it was so warm, with plenty of people scaling cliffs to bomb off. A few laughs had with a gentle tap from me tiping Karen ove the edge and a clumsy looking fall from Maureen off the pedalo had us in stitches, a great day had and would see us stop off at a little french village called Cotignac,

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This town has prehistoric caves that were lived in by cave men on the cliff side of the hill, here we wander the small village and stop at a bar for drinks, Ian orders me a typical french drink called Pastis which is accompanied with a glass of water to water down how you wish. The drink is of a more sweetened down version of Sambuka, was really a refreshing drink. Stock up on meat from a typical french butchery, pastry shop ’cause I couldn’t really resist… And Ian would always agree anyway! That was our day set and done with plenty of food, drink and games had in the evening…. Girls clawring their way back in P’s & Q’s thanks to Ians generosity gave the girls another chance which would make the final day the decider! Last day at the cottage and we just enjoy the sun, pool and a final game of P’s and Q’s to which the boys take the victory! A really nice break from having to drive anywhere to enjoying the luxury of the cottage. You become quite unaware how taxing the trip in the Green Machine is, yes we are on holiday but stick to a time plan you have to be ruthless at times and just keep going because quite frankly there are just so many places you can stop and enjoy the surroundings.

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We begin towards the coast to stay 2 nights at a small fishing village called Carro, we are parked right onto the beach with the view out over the ocean, can’t beat it. Next morning we head 2 mins down the road to the local bakery to purchase the much talked about baguette, and there’s a line out the door for them! Chocolate tart aswell why not! As we walked through the fishing harbour every morning there is a market for fish, all the markets are empty around 7/8am and then the fisherman come in with the prize catches and the locals are in force to pick from the vast array of fish. To note this area for some reason the weather is hot, but the ocean is freezing cold to us realizing after a bomb of the boulders! Not a place to swim it seems. A few days catching up on errands and we are ready to move.

Here we begin again in the Green Machine and head towards Arles which has the much talked about Amphitheater, to this day it is used for bull fighting not the sort where they kill the bull in the end! This was built back in 90 AD and can hold up to 21,000 spectators. It was really cool to see this situated right in the middle of town, this is missing alot of the upper seating areas as there was once a town built in this Amphitheater. 12th century they say homes were built with a small square in the centre, a drawn out picture that I will put on here shows it quite well. So after looking around its quite striking to think here was gladitorial fighing, to an old stone quarry and then built a town in there with fortified towers surrounding it, then to restore back to it’s original state.

Very cool, and we are off through the town where The Roman Theatre is situated 5 min walk from the Amphitheater. This was built in the end of the 1st century BC and could hold up tp 10,000 spectators, this was no theatre like Plovdiv but was still a great find and drawings of what it once looked like would of been really spectacular. We take a walk around this local french town that is built right next to the river Rhóne, time to move south and get some serious distance covered for Spain. We stay one last night in south France alongside a beach before heading over the border into Spain.

South France was a pleasant surprise, one I knew little about except for the food even then still didn’t know enough. You hear about the south France little quaint towns and cottages in the middle of nowhere with the classic wooden shutters all closed to the searing heat, but once there to discover this place oozes charming harsh countryside with vineyards in abundance, to gorgeous beaches along the coast. So yes pastry has been something of a regular treat, but nothing compares to what the french bake, that is all in its own league! Wines are first class too, and it’s easy to see why they snob other countries wine, maybe snob is the wrong word but they sure are passionate about their own country. We could only do a little bit with Spain beckoning but it’s nice to know we are coming back out the other side to explore more of France.

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