Sunday, October 14, 2012

Provence & Cote d'Azur: Part II

We woke up in L'Isle sur la Sorgue, deep in the heart of Provence.  Per usual, little r was ready to go long before we were, and well before breakfast would be ready at the hotel.  So, we all took our time getting ready and then headed downstairs for a lovely breakfast at our hotel.  I forgot to mention that Big R actually knows a little French having taken French in high school and college.  I, on the other hand, can't speak a lick of the beautiful language. Big R would feed me phrases and then smile when I would butcher the accent.  Somehow they always figured out what I was asking for or saying.

Our morning was spent strolling the streets of L'Isle sur la Sorgue by daylight, and what a sweet little Provencal town.  We were sure to grab delicious French treats from a bakery and Big R took me shopping for chic clothes in a French boutique.  I think we were all wishing we had more time to spend there.  If you are going to the region, I highly recommend putting this stop on your list. Be sure to stay here at one of the lovely hotels (ours was fantastic), and enjoy dinner and a latte at one of the cafes on the river, and indulge in the boutique shopping and wonderful treats the French have to offer.  Here is our morning in L'Isle sur la Sorgue through pictures...

View from our hotel room in the morning sun
A swan found his own personal haven in this busy town
One of several eccentric boutique throughout town
L'Isle sur la Sorgue is known for its pinwheels
I fell in love with the pastel shutters that were
found on many buildings in Provence
Will he take his thumb out of his mouth long enough to try one of these treats
Yep, he sure did! Yum :)
Cafe de France
Many storefronts were decorated this way
The town came alive on this Saturday morning - before long the
streets were filled with locals
More beautiful storefronts
View of our hotel across the river
After a lovely morning, we piled into our bright yellow Corsa, and set the GPS for the French Riviera.  It was a beautiful day, and we couldn't wait to get to the coast.  Our final destination was Cagnes sur Mer, which sits just west of Nice in the Cote d'Azur.  Since we had all day to get there, we thought it would be fun to visit a town or two along the way.  St. Tropez was high on our list.  We wanted to see what all the glam and glitz was about.  Maybe brush arms with the rich and famous for a couple of hours.  We knew we wouldn't have time to check out any of the posh topless beaches...haha, maybe next time.

The drive to St. Tropez traversed the beautiful mountain countryside that hugs the coast.  We passed by many towns we realized later would have easily been worth a "drive-by" at the very least.  As with everything else on this trip, we had no idea what to expect.  Being a Saturday, all of the parking was beyond full, and the streets were teeming with people.  With some sort of mad luck, we landed a sweet parking spot in the Port lot right in the heart of everything.  Having a small car definitely has its perks :)

The weather was perfect, so we tried to make the best of our short time in St. Tropez.  The harbor was full of multi-million dollar lots, you could easily pick out the posh from the standard tourists, and we were pretty sure they were filming a movie of some sort while we were there.

There is just a little bit of money here...
So many visitors were enjoying the harbor in St. Tropez
We are pretty sure they were filming on this yacht
I really thought St. Tropez was going to be over-the-top and a little too much.  I found it to be quite the opposite.  Clearly it would have been an expensive place to stay.  The many restaurants that lined the harbor charged a premium for meals lined with caviar, there were high end shops that were far outside our price range, and I knew from searching that hotels were definitely on the high end.  That said, the town of St. Tropez was charming.  The money that came into this lovely town was used to keep up its old world charm. The buildings were all nicely restored, the streets were clean, and the old charm was carefully kept in tact.  We loved strolling through the streets of St. Tropez.

I loved the charm of St. Tropez
Streets were randomly quiet and clean - not a usual
sight for the French Riviera

Look how clean these streets were!
View of the harbor
Part of old St. Tropez
View of the harbor from town - beautiful
Our trip to St. Tropez was short, but sweet.  We were so glad we took the time to stop and visit.  Our luck finding the best parking spot ever definitely helped. Having a parking spot right on the water, we really expected the parking cost to be expensive.  A mere 2 EUR later and we were on our way!

My exhaustive search of the perfect place to stay along the French Riviera resulted in what I had hoped was a beautiful B&B right on the water in Cagnes sur Mer.  I was rushing us to get there because I had a surprise massage scheduled for Big R upon our arrival, and I didn't want him to be late.

The trip from St. Tropez to Cagnes should have only taken an hour, but the GPS got a little confused by the address.  After several wrong turns and consistent recalculating, we ended up on a road at the top of a mountain.  I mentioned that our B&B was right on the water, right?  Clearly there was something wrong.  The area we were lost in was pretty amazing, and I was disappointed we didn't have more time to explore it. Big R used his mean computer skills to figure out how to convince the GPS of where we wanted to go, and we were quickly on our way.  Our B&B was quite literally on the water, so much so in fact that we had to drive on the boardwalk to drive into the property.  Needless to say, Big R was skeptical and convinced that the GPS led us astray yet again. But no... we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

The view from the window at our B&B, La Locandiera
View of La Locandiera from the port 
I was so excited! That B&B was absolutely perfect.  Daniela, our wonderful host, got us checked in and comfortable just before whisking Big R away for his luxurious massage.  Meanwhile I tried to entertain my wild little man in an attempt to keep Daniela from asking us to leave.  He was truly a monster on this trip, so it took some special skills to hide his debauchery.

Our comfortable hotel room at La Locandiera
Beautifully restored bathroom
Meals on the terrace were special at La Locandiera
When Big R returned relaxed from his massage, it was time for us to find a place to enjoy dinner.  It had gotten late, and we had hoped little r would fade into his usual mode of sleep snuggled up in the Moby wrap.  The wild little man hadn't slept all day, so this should have been easy. HA!  Our kid had other plans.  Big R was really craving some excellent local seafood.  After much searching for the right dinner location, we found the perfect place.  But we had a far from perfect situation.  Little r was refusing to sleep and the restaurant wasn't the type of place to take a crazed toddler.  So, I sent Big R in for a table and told him to start appetizers while I tried to calm our boy down.  It worked somehow.  He did finally fall asleep and we were able to enjoy an absolutely fabulous seafood meal at this perfect off-the-beaten path restaurant.

We felt very French as we ate our meal well after 9 p.m.  We sauntered back to our home right on the water and quickly fell asleep dreaming about what our next day on the French Riveriera would bring.

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