I seriously need to reconsider my definition of what big is. When a yacht is wider than the length of ours (48′), then I think that’s big. And I thought the boats in St Tropez were big. In Antibe they have helicopters landing on them in the port. But apparently they can only still cater for a maximum of 12 guests to comply with the charter rules. I enquired about getting some laundry done and knew I had the wrong number when they wanted to quote me a price per fitted sheet & pillow slip and “would I need the crew uniforms washed separately?” Seriously, I am on another planet. Notwithstanding that, the local fishermen still sell their catch from the old town wharf. We loved Antibe. Lots of interesting, winding, flowery streets. Anything you ever need to get done to your yacht, you can get done here. And it’s amazing who you run into. Had a convivial dinner with David Beck after Fitzy came across him cruising past the super yachts.
Antibe was a good base from which to explore the surrounding area. Cannes is only half an hour away. Here they fence off their beaches, whereas in Antibe they just park the super-yachts behind them. We hired a car for a couple of days so we could go inland. Headed up to the village of Mougins, a quaint hill-top town full of galleries, where Picasso lived from the early sixties until his death. Stopped for lunch at Valbonne then headed to Grasse and visited the International Museum of Perfume and one of the perfumeries, where they take you through the whole production process. I resisted the temptation to have a personalised scent made for Fitzy.
But the highlight of this excursion was the Gorges Du Verdon, sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Europe. From Castellane you can drive along one side, stay overnight in the gorgeous town of Moustiers Saint-Marie, then tootle off the next day along the southern bank. Awesome views. In the first gorge shot you’ll see some people near the top right of the image; they’re waiting for their friend climbing up from the bottom! We also managed to find a fabulous lunch spot along the way.
Apparently France has a drinking problem. They’ve gone from an average per capita guzzle of 160 litres per year down to around 30. But around these parts they are very much in the pink with the favourite tipple being a Provence rose. We’ve been sampling the local product and can report that it is very good. There’s even an Absinthe bar in Antibe, although I expect this is mainly for the tourists. Whilst in St Paul de Vence I came across a wine cave that’s been in use as a cellar since the 14 century. Could have picked up a 1986 Chateau Petrus for 2,200 euro!
We are now in Monaco. If guess if you’re selling real estate based on drone footage then it probably makes sense that the local real estate guy drives a Bentley. A two bedroom, 80 sqm apartment costs about 6.5 million euro here! At least you can get fed & watered for a reasonable price in this town. I’ve never seen so many Ferraris, Rollers, or other sleek, Italian designed sports cars in one place. Outside the Monte Carlo Casino and the Hotel de Paris it’s a crack up. It’s a bit like going to the zoo. Swarms of tourists lie in wait trying to catch a glimpse of someone famous. You can have a 7 euro coke at the Cafe de Paris. Near the fountain tourists pose like actresses having their moment in the sun. It’s all a bit of fun. The Oceanographic museum established by the current Prince’s grandfather is certainly worth a look. The building itself is magnificent. There is an aquarium downstairs and upstairs houses many exhibits recounting the explorations of Prince Albert I.
Nice is just half an hour away on the train. I even managed to spy some Australian Murray River salt amongst some “exotic spices” at the market in Cours Saleya. We stopped off at Villefranche-sur-Mer along the way, yet another picturesque medieval hill town. It’s no wonder that artists such as Monet, Renoir, Picasso and Cocteau have all set their easels up in various places along this stretch. Artists today still try to capture their interpretation of the scene. We hired a car again in Monaco, visiting Eze and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin along the coast and Dolceaqua inland in Italy. The Ferrari was going to cost 2,640 euro a day, so we opted for the French Holden. Some of the streets in these towns are so narrow and winding they are almost cave-like and fascinating. But there are only so many quaint medieval hill towns one can visit! Backyards are non-existent in these towns so the locals create whatever gardens they can. In Monaco they get around the space problem with poo-parks for their dogs. And in the hot weather there’s always a fountain to cool pooches feet. I’ve added a few captions so click on the “i” at the top left of the image for more info. Au revoir!