The idea of visiting the South of France together was ripening in our heads since very long time. The current route came into realization when we found a great deal at a car rent agency (yes, yes, so pragmatic) letting us taking a three-days one-way drive from Nice to Toulouse.
During these three days, we visited six cities, one national park and even were at several beaches. The route looked like this:
Nice justifies its name: it’s absolutely nice! It was my third brief visit of Nice, therefore we split up, I didn’t want to do sightseeing again and decided to spent some time with a friend of mine and her cute family at the beach, Mareike also spent half-a day at the beach with her friends and boys went to Monaco. I didn’t take much photos there this time, therefore here are some photos from the last trip.
In the afternoon, we picked up the car and started our long anticipatedroad trip! The coastline between Nice and Saint-Tropez is beautiful (so the people tell), but we didn’t find a suitable place to stop, somehow all observation points (besides one) were on our right and we didn’t dare crossing the demarcation line. The glimpses of the scenery we have seen through the window were pretty nice though.
The highlight of this day was the charming Provence-style village Bormes-les-Mimosas. Very touristy but nevertheless very pretty, Bormes-les-Mimosas is worth a small detour and a short stroll to the castle on the top and back.
We reached Marseille quite late, at around 10 pm and faced the problem that the majority of restaurants were closing around 10:30 – 11 pm. What a pity! We were living the whole day on baguette and water only to save the hunger for the restaurants of the big city… Nevertheless, we decided to give it a chance and were lucky to found a great place with very limited menu (only in French) which was open until midnight. We were invited inside by a cheerful lady who didn’t speak a word of English. Fortunately, the no less hospitable owner (or manager) spoke good English and helped us with the translation: we ordered (and enjoyed) delicious dorada and savory pizza. Both was cooked in an oven (almost) in front of our eyes!
The place is called La Rinascita and it is not marked on the Google maps. So, save the address: 20 Place Notre Dame du Mont.
In the morning, we decided to glance at the famous Old Port of Marseille from another angle and took a ride with the Ferris wheel. The Old Port was the natural harbour of the city since Antiquity; now it is the main popular place in Marseille. The perspective from above was indeed very different: I realized that this was the biggest port I’ve ever seen! (Three turns of the wheel were worth seven Euro).
Another perspective of the city presents you the observation point of Notre Dame de la Garda. You have to be mediocre fit to be able to climb the hill where the cathedral is located.
In Marseille, we had a feeling that all around the city it smells like soup. When we visited one of the markets, our guess was proved: Savon de Marseille was sold everywhere. In fact, this city and its surroundings have more than 600 years old tradition of producing hard soup from vegetable oils.
After Marseille, we wanted to go for a two-hour hike promising beautiful views of the beaches with clear water, easy climbs and fascinating scenery. The starting point was at the Cite Universitaire. Unfortunately, no people were allowed into the national park because of the recent forest fire.
One-and-a-half hours away from Marseille a unique landscape and wildlife habitat, Méjanes en Camargue, is situated. We took a two-kilometer stroll to see the flamingos. Alternatively, you can discover the area by train or by horseback riding (19€ for a one hour horseback ride; for children, 5€ for a 15 minutes ride on a pony).
Before checking in at our hotel in Montpellier, we enjoyed the last sunbeams at the beach. Next to Montpellier there is plenty of sand beaches like for example Plage let petit Travers. There is no entrance fee to the beach, but the parking costs about 5€ a day.
In Montpellier we arrived right in time when the restaurants were opening after the siesta. However, this time we also had a problem: the problem of choice. We couldn’t simply decide which restaurant to choose. After half-an-hour wandering along the narrow pedestrian streets of the old city (which is very cozy by the way), our choice finally fell on the Le Prince de Minorque (1 Rue des Teissiers, 34000 Montpellier, France). The service was very pleasant. However, the recommended skewer was not as tasty as it looked. But the wine and the desserts were delicious.
The city is beautiful, sandstone and light yellow colors prevail what creates cozy and pleasant atmosphere.
The Place Royale du Peyrou is worth a visit at the sunset together with the Saint Clément Aqueduct located behind the square. Called otherwise Arceaux Aqueduct, this construction was built at the end of the 18th century and since then was supplying water to the city. Now it is out of service.
Probably, some of you know the name Carcassonne from the same-name board game. But very few people know that the prototype for this game was a real hilltop town in southern France. This city is famous for its medieval citadel, La Cité, with numerous watchtowers and double-walled fortifications. The entrance fee in the 12th century castle is 9 Euro, but the line was too long, and it was very hot, so we refrained from waiting and decided to explore the in-between open area.
In Toulouse it was extremely hot, therefore our first stop was the best ice-cream shop of our trip, Amorino (http://www.amorino.com/en/, 16 Place du Capitole, 31000 Toulouse, France). I was dreaming about having a flower-like ice cream and finally got it! By the way, taking pictures of this treat is challenging, ice cream is dropping from all over the “rose”… Amorino is situated at the Place du Capitole, one of the most famous places in Toulouse.
We were searching for a restaurant serving cassoulet, the typical Toulousian dish, a slow-cooked casserole containing meat and white beans. Unfortunately, our timing was poor and the best we were able to get was a huge portion of pasta at Pizza Pino (https://www.pizzapino.fr/en/home/). This restaurant is open all day long and if you as us stuck in the city at the time between 14 and 19 o’clock, write down this place.
Toulouse was the last stop of our road trip, from there we flown back to Berlin. The easiest way to reach the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is the airport shuttle (8 Euro) which starts from the Toulouse Matablau station. At this station, you can also lock up your belongings if you have some time to spend in the city. You can also reach the airport with the public bus (2 Euro).
Lastly, here are three tips for those who are planning a similar trip:
- The highways are toll-roads; in total, we paid about 30 Euro.
- Beware the opening times at overwhelming majority of restaurants: they have a pause between 2 and 7 pm and close at about 10:30 pm.
- And don’t forget sun screen if you going to the South of France in summer.
Enjoy your trip and have fun!