It was a bit of a nothing morning, with poor timing cancelling one trip to a soap factory in Marseille, followed by a detour to another soap factory, only for it to suffer a similar fate of being closed for lunch.
This was followed by a prolonged attempt to buy parts to service Gunter – hopefully the filters he chose fit! I regret not stocking up on them before we left… I’ll make sure to buy a few for when we’re back in UK in Summer. Edit: They fit just fine, and it took longer to clean my hands afterwards than doing the actual service.
We cancelled the side-trip to Cassis, as it was cold, grey and windy. I am sure it’s a beautiful little beach, however, beaches are always the prettiest when the sun is out.
Instead, we pushed on towards the Cote d’Azur!
We came in via the hills to the north-west of St. Tropez, which was a nice scenic drive – we even let a dozen or so more people behind us take the time to appreciate the scenery, though they didn’t seem appreciative.
Our visit was ill thought out. I wanted to see some of the glitz and glamour of this part of France, however, by the time we actually arrived there, we realised that it’s just a small town, with a lot of expensive shops – it was the first time I’d seen a Ferrari/Rolls Royce/Bentley since leaving London, too.
The weather had improved a little by the time we’d arrived, however, it wasn’t really enticing us to want to leave the car. The beaches also weren’t the kind of beaches that we’d enjoy walking along. I’m not sure if it was just because we’re poor, or because we are in a motorhome, or just because it was late in the afternoon on a cool and overcast day, but I didn’t see the attraction of this town – at least not from the 30-minutes that we spent circulating in traffic.
However, I did read about a special dessert from St. Tropez – La Tarte Tropezienne. We found a small shop that seemed to specialised in these, so pulled over into one of the many parking areas that were forbidden for motorhomes to use while Risa ran in to buy two. It didn’t quite taste like the description, “An orange-blossom-flavoured double sponge cake filled with thick cream”. It was certainly a double sponge cake filled with thick cream, however, the part that interested us, the “orange-blossom-flavoured” was missing. It ended up being a slightly dry sponge, filled with some delicious cream. Fortunately there was only one slice available…
Finding a free park around here was a challenge, as just about every car park has fitted barriers on the entrance, blocking anything higher than 2m from entering. The campsites were prohibitively expensive, so we made our way out of town to eat and sleep. It wasn’t too far out of town that we spotted a small lake with a motorhome parked next to it. It was a large outdoor car park for a small restaurant, so we took our chances, and parked up by the lake, which provided spectacular views to accompany our simple dinner.
The morning started so nicely, with the grey clouds clearing to provide some nice views of that small mountain across from the lake. By the time we’d eaten breakfast, and gotten ready for the day, those tiny patches of blue had completely disappeared. The winds were picking up, and the occasional burst of horizontal rain came our way. I tried to get a French SIM card, to allow me to get online (and to update this blog), however, the only place that I found that actually sold a pre-paid card was rather expensive – €10 for the SIM card, and then a further €35 for 4GB of data…
We were looking forward to eating lots of duck confit while in France, but it seems that between us being here last (in Chamonix) and now, there has been a bird-flu of sorts, and a huge culling of ducks – meaning a shortage in stock, and increased prices…
As we drove towards Cannes, the views were spectacular, some of the prettiest coastline we’ve seen on our trip to date – however, the rain was now torrential, and there was no way we were getting out to take photos.
This rain only got heavier as we entered Cannes, with the roads starting to flood, and umbrella salesmen making great business. Again, we didn’t want to get wet, so we settled for driving up and down the main street, taking in the sites the lazy way. Not that we had much of a choice anyway, trying to find a legal park for a motorhome was pretty challenging.
The Carlton Hotel looked like opulence, and the Museum where they hold the film festival was all closed off in preparation of the film festival, in two weeks time. Normally you’re able to pose on the red carpet – except in May.
It was just a short drive into the hills from Cannes, but it seemed to have taken an eternity. The rain abated occasionally, but the roads were now starting to pool into giant puddles, with manhole covers occasionally bubbling up above the roads.
Grasse is famous for one thing – perfume. We joined a free tour at one of the few perfume houses that are open to pubic – Perfumerie Galimard. It was a short wait for an English speaking tour, but at most 30-minutes. Our guide stepped us through the process of making perfume – including evaporation of essential oils, as well as using fats to absorb the more delicate oils from roses/jasmine. We also learnt about the life of a ‘perfumer’, mixing the different essences together to create a blend. My nose is rubbish, so it’s not something I’d ever be capable of – apparently this is a genetic trait, as well as a combination of a science/chemistry degree.
It was also a little eye-opening to learn that 60% of the world’s perfume is produced here in this small town in France! And it all started from scented leather gloves.
The tour was amazing, the perfumes that they had for sale just weren’t for us. We tried a few, and then the sales lady kind of gave up as we co-incidentally lost interest.
We decided to skip Nice, as there wasn’t that much that interested us in the guidebook – at least not enough that we’d go through the effort of parking. Instead, we camped for the night in a random car park that allows up to 48hrs parking, in the hills just outside of Nice.