Friday, 31 March 2017

When in France...

When one of my longest and dearest friends contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking if I had any tips for places to visit while she was holidaying in Sainte Maxime in May I couldn't stop writing when I replied...

We adore the south of France, and I know I've mentioned here that we go to Cavalaire-sur-Mer (very close to Sainte Maxime) as often as we can.

As soon as we've loaded up our rental car at Nice airport we drive just over an hour to the beach at Embarquement where we order a carafe of rosé and sink our feet in the sand. It's become our ritual and always signals the start of a spectacular stay.

Plage D'embarquement
I feel connected to this place, it has a very special energy. Nowhere has ever captured my heart quite like here.

So if you want to take a look, here's what we love to do in my favourite place...

Image source
To eat / to drink...

1. Couleurs Jardin (Gigaro)
Boulevard de Gigaro, 83420 La Croix-Valmer, France
A fantastic lunch and dinner spot beside the sea on Gigaro beach. Sublime food, a stunning view and excellent staff.


2. Café de sports (Cagolin)
4 Place Victor Hugo, 83310 Cogolin, France
A misleading name but this little place is as French as it gets. Set right beside a tranquil boules square, it's a perfect spot for an afternoon drink - just realising (as the name suggests) it must be a good place to watch a match too!


3. Pizzaiole (Cavalaire)
Promenade Du Port 83240 Cavalaire Sur Mer, 83240, France
We can't get enough of this restaurant! An all-time favourite in the port of Cavalaire. Family-run with great, reasonably priced food and friendly staff.


4. Nou-Noi (Cavalaire)
Prom. de la mer, 83240 Cavalaire-sur-Mer, France
Vietnamese cuisine on the promenade across the road from the sea. We go in the evenings, and love the dumplings to start, followed by the yellow curry and mochi balls for dessert - divine.

5. La Tonelle (St Tropez)
6 Rue Gambetta, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
A lovely little rooftop lunch spot in St Tropez. Friendly Italian staff, a perfect place to eat with kids.
(Pic)

6. Restaurant l'Olive (St Tropez)
9 Rue Aire du Chemin, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Great for dinner. Not only is the food good but the staff are wonderfully pleasant too. Another kid friendly spot.

7. Le Caneldel (St Tropez)
Down one of the cobbled side streets and a little fancier than the other two restaurants mentioned, but still a good place to go with little ones for an evening meal. Bring an iPad and they'll blend right in :-).

8. Barbarac (St Tropez)
2 Rue Général Allard, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Located right on the port overlooking the yachts, our go-to spot for the best ice-cream in St Tropez.


9. Senquier (St Tropez)
 Quai Jean Jaurès, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
A favourite of ours overlooking the port of St Tropez. A great spot for taking in the atmosphere. Pricy but worth it.


10. Le Clem (Grimaud)
3 Boulevard des Micocouliers, 83310 Grimaud, France
We've been eating in this restaurant for as long as we've been going to this part of the south of France (10+ years). Family-run, in one of the most picturesque spots in the Var, highly recommended.




To do...

There's an abundance of pretty little towns around these parts, some of our favourites include...

Grimaud
A picture perfect town with shuttered sandstone buildings and cobbled streets, just begging to be explored. Drink in the views and stop off for a couple of ice cold drinks and a spot of lunch in Le Clems (3 Boulevard des Micocouliers, 83310 Grimaud, France).


Bormes-les-Mimosas
An enchanting village made up of narrow winding streets perched high up on a hill. We love to eat in Le Café du Progress (7 Place Gambetta, 83230 Bormes-les-Mimosas, France).

Cogolin
Très French. A bustling little town full of locals, one of the reasons why we love it. Not quite as pretty as Bourmes or Grimaud yet has a wonderful charm in a friendly understated way.

Domaine le Madrague le Croix Valmer
http://www.lesvinsdelamadrague.com
We haven't visited this beautiful vineyard yet but it's been on our to do list every single time we go!



Beach cycle
A great way to spend the day... hop on a bike, cycle through the vineyards to Gigaro beach, relax, read, have lunch and stop off in Cavalaire on the way home for a drink in the port.



And for the little ones, all these places are located just off the junction at Geant Casino...

Azur park
http://www.azurpark.fr/fr/
Mini golf la Palmeraie
http://minigolf-lapalmeraie.fr
Bouncy castle park
I just can't remember what this park is called but you can't miss it at Carrefour de la Foux!
More information for activities for little ones in the Var here: http://www.baofthevar.com/documents/Children%27s%20Activities.pdf


To shop...

1. Geant Casino
An attraction in itself. The supermarket where you can buy almost anything. Stock up on baguettes, wine, salamis, visit their fish market - buy a fridge, beds, baby clothes! There's very little this 'geant' shop doesn't stock, all under one roof and with an elegance that only the French can pull off in a giant supermarket!


2. Markets
Markets are a great way to spend a morning and most of the towns have a weekly one. The ones we love to go to...

Cavalaire (Wednesday)
One of the best ways to spend a Wednesday morning... Petit dejuner in La Palmier (a café on the main street) followed by a ramble through the local market - bliss.

Sainte Tropez (Tuesday or Saturday)
Leave as early as possible on market day for St Tropez and you'll get ahead of the traffic and a parking spot on the port just a short walk from Place de Lice - St Tropez's market square. We always arrive as the vendors are setting up their stalls so we head to either Le Clemenceau or Stephanies (cafés next door to one another and both overlooking the market) for petit dejunier and a view of the busting square.


3. Interiors shoping...


Sainte Tropez

There are lots of cute little interiors shops along the side streets of St Tropez, one of my favourites:
Marinette30 Rue Georges Clemenceau, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France

Maison Du Monde 
RN 98 Lieu Dit Font-Mourier, 83310 Cogolin, France
Full of great, inexpensive items for the home. It turns out I can fit A LOT of purchases from here into my tiny cabin bag that's already filled with clothes. Where there's a will there's a way!


To chill...


There must be 100's of stunning beaches along this stretch, these are three we love...

Embarquement beach
Gorgeous beach, great for families, with restaurants, bars and shops. We always stop off here when we arrive on the way to the apartment for a carafe of rosé. Easy parking too. One of our favourite beaches.



Gigaro beach
The drive along windy roads and vineyards to get to here is spectacular (we've even managed to cycle it). The beach is in the bay which makes it a really beautiful place to kick back and chill beside the sea.



Cavalaire beach
There are loads of fantastic restaurants right on the sand along Cavalaire beach. We love going to Plage Terre de Sable (Avenue St Raphaël, 83240 Cavalaire-sur-Mer, France), a rustic beach hut style restaurant. Delicious food, helpful staff with couches and sun beds for relaxing after lunch right on the beach.



Pampelone beach
Where the famous Club 55 is! We've only been to Club 55 once as it's quite pricy - and I felt as though myself and the kids had to be on our best behaviour! - but definitely worth a visit. A beach restaurant in St Tropez with a very tranquil feel under sail awnings right on the sand. There are lots of other beach restaurants to choose from here - Zanzibar is another one we like. 




Some other places I love on the drive back towards Nice...

Cannes

Mougin
Image source
Valbonne

We always cram a lot in so it's a long list! But I hope I've covered most of the reasons why I love this part of France so much.

Have a FANTASTIC trip!!!




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