The beautiful French Riviera
The French Riviera. I imagine their slogan to be something similar to the state in which I live. “Beautiful one day, perfect the next”. This whole area, on the southern end of France, is something special.
From the warm breezes that blow from the sea to the seemingly ever-present sunshine, and the sparkling, crystal blue seas of the Mediterranean, it’s a backdrop for perfection. Add to this the immaculate and stunning buildings that line the waterfront at towns such as Cannes and Nice, and it all goes up a notch.
Then there are the people. Always beautiful, well dressed and going somewhere…..it’s a happening town. Or, they fill the beach (or what they call a beach), gathering together in their small communities of friends, making their daily trek down to the ocean for a dip and a chat. Or for those, with the ultra-tanned bodies, some more time in the sun before their version of winter hits their fair shores?
Oh and then there are the yachties, or the super-yachties. Cannes in particular has an amazing marina, packed full of boats that your average person can only look at and go “wow”!
But motorhomes are persona non grata
Cannes of all places provided us with an Aires de Service, allowing us to take care of some of our motorhome’s needs.
That’s where the love ended. The French Riviera does not, and I repeat, does not love motorhomes. It didn’t in 1997 when we were here in a Kombi. It didn’t in 2005 when we were here in a motorhome that we picked up in Paris, and it still didn’t love us this year when we returned once more. Quite simply, motorhomes of any size and any shape don’t work well in the Riviera. It’s a shame, as I would be willing to give it all my love and spend money in it just like any other visiting person. I’m sure if I had a superyacht, they would be happy for me to park it up, or even my private jet.
But sadly motorhomes are persona non grata 🙁 And just in case you forget for a moment, large and frequent signs make sure you don’t forget that you are banned. I understand that space is at a premium, but other towns that have space issues are still able to look after all their visitors. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the Riviera. So much so that we won’t bother to put it on our motorhome itineraries ever again. There are too many other wonderful places to spend our time and tourist dollars.
French Riviera highlights
So, here are my ‘driving through the French Riviera’ highlights:
- The gritty sandy beaches of Cannes give way to stones in Nice. It doesn’t stop anyone from lying on them.
- Superficially, I prefer Cannes over Nice. It’s just a nicer looking town and the marina at Cannes is something special
- The promenade, where I see three men and their suitcase get shoved into a three-wheeler bike by their rider, ready to take them to their destination, is a lovely way to walk along the Mediterranean
- Large cruise ships anchor offshore, sending their passengers in on their tenders
- Nude sunbathers. Now there’s something interesting. Won’t let us park our motorhome but people can get their kit off and sunbathe in public.
The town of Menton and Villefranche-sur-Mer are worthy of a visit if you are in the Riviera. Don’t just visit Cannes and Nice. These towns are gorgeous.
If you have a car, get up into the hills over the Riviera as the views are as stunning as are many of the houses that line the narrow roads. And who would want to miss the racing Porches as they speed up and around the precarious corners?
Actually, that’s another point about the Riviera. Being so close to the Italian border, the pace of the driving and the impatience of the drivers amps up a notch.
We lunch in the best locations
Today’s lunch spot was another incredible location. It’s become quite a challenge to keep finding better locations. Given some of our previous stops, this is getting tricky.
But, today, we found ourselves perched up high on the mountain, overlooking Villefranche-sur-Mer and in the distance Cap-Ferrat. We made an entire tour bus, heading to Eze, green with envy, as we stepped out of our motorhome and ate our freshly made baguettes in front of them. This is where you get the best gourmet food and wine on wheels after all!
Next stop Eze. In 2005, we visited Eze after we found it quite by accident. Today we knew exactly where it was. Eze is another of those towns that if it isn’t already on your list of places to visit, then it’s time to put it on.
Whereas everything on the French Riviera is at sea level, Eze, just a little further east from Cannes and Nice, is positioned high up on a mountain.
The trick to Eze is that it is not what it seems. From down below it looks like any other beautiful French town. Colourful buildings hugging the edge of the cliff, a church behind them of course, and views to die for.
Climb the mountain by foot, however, and soon you will see the real secret to Eze, with caves and cutouts in the mountains, and cobbled streets linking them all.
With shops cut into the mountain, stores selling wooden Pinocchios, and all manner of trinkets, jewellery and souvenirs, it’s a shoppers haven (or heaven). There are also certain viewpoints out the other side of the village where the views of the Mediterranean are sublime.
Farewell (for now) France
Tonight was our final night in France for a little while. We deliberated over whether to head into Italy but thought another France Passion stay would be perfect, and after all, we thought this one was reasonably close by.
It didn’t turn out to be quite as close as we thought. Up on top of a super high mountain, in the middle of nowhere, we wound our way through the hills for about 25km from Monaco to get there. The directions to this location said we had to enter the property from the Italian border side and that’s exactly how it worked. Just as the property came into sight, so too did the sign saying we were about to cross into Italy. So we can add a border stay to our list of France Passion stopovers. There was a very old, defunct border control building here. Can’t say it’s seen any work in quite some time.
Tonight we were very much on our own. If we had Google Earth way up here it would surely show that we are in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. We were very safe tonight in this olive grove.
- The French Riviera is stunning but it gets a thumbs down for being so difficult for motorhomes
- The beautifully manicured lawns and gardens of the equally beautiful buildings that sit high on the hills overlooking the sea
- The winding roads affording views as far as the eye can see over the Mediterranean
- Eze – how they built such wonderful towns in these precarious locations is mind blowing
France Passion review
- Instructions advised that we were to call ahead. We tried this on several occasions but couldn’t get anyone to pick up the phone
- When we arrived at the location there was a phone attached to a small hut at the entrance. We also rang from here as there was a speed dial set up but still no answer
- We decided to stay anyway as it had taken so long to get here, knowing it would look just the same when we left
- Extremely quiet
- Parking space for 5 motorhomes under the olive trees
- No Saturday or Sundays or from 15-31/1
- Quite a distance away from any major town with a long, winding mountain climb
- No facilities except rubbish bins
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.