France - Provence

by David Sutcliffe



A short trip, but an intensive one - I spent just 4 days in the south of France, but managed to visit a couple of dozen villas as well as the towns of Nice, St Tropez, Antibes, Villefranche, Biot, Vence and, just down the road, Monte Carlo.


We were based in the lovely, very traditional, French town of Vence which gave us easy access to the whole of the coastline and up into the mountains.  Vence is how I imagined all French towns to be, the main square being used by people playing pétanque before enjoying a 3-hour lunch accompanied with pastis and rosé wine.  The food (as with everywhere we visited) was superb - particularly the fresh moules (mussels) served with pommes frites.


On arrival into Nice airport we had a couple of hours to spare so I took a little detour into Monaco.  Although it was only a brief visit you get an immediate impression of wealth and glamour (I've never seen so many Bugatti Veyrons in the space of an hour) and I would love to revisit some time to give it my full attention.


St Tropez's reputation as a wealthy hedonist's playground preceded it, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It had a beautiful harbour filled with huge yachts, not dissimilar to Puerto Banus in Spain, but without quite so much tack.  Again, the main square was used by locals to socialise and eat like kings, but without paying excessive prices.


My 2 favourite towns, however, were Antibes & Villefranche.  Antibes for its effortless chic style, lovely beaches, boutique shopping and old town area & Villefranche for the port and the best views I've witnessed in a long time.  Looking down on Cap Ferrat, Nice & Villefranche itself, from up in the hills is just idyllic - hard to comprehend that you are just 2 hours flying time from Leeds!