Saturday, 11 April 2015

Provence and the Cote D'Azur

Saturday 11th April. Castellane 43.84613 6.51534 and St-Laurent-du-Var 43.68538 7.18530

We've spent the last day and a half in Castellane, rafting and hippy central. I've always thought that rafters, climbers and potholers were hippies with muscles and a work ethic. Anyway, they tolerate us old folk and we bought some nice salad ingredients yesterday at the bio vegetable shop and some out of date sheep's yoghurt which the nice lady didn't want to sell to us. I said we would take our chances as it was only a few days out of date and she reluctantly knocked a few cents of the price and slipped it into our bag. Before we could embark on this epic shopping trip however we had to tidy and clean the van. Well, that's 15minutes we'll never get back again. Five minutes to tidy and ten minutes to clean. Castellane also boasts a laundrette and we took the opportunity to catch up on the washing. It all sounds a bit mundane doesn't it, but the drive from Banon was anything but. First scouting around the Montagne De Lure through tiny ancient villages and then from just south of Digne-les-Bains climbing up over the Col des Leques at just over one thousand metres before dropping down into Castellane. Today was market day and before setting off we bought some asparagus, fresh ravioli and goats cheese so that's tonight's dinner sorted.

We had planned to stop in Antibes tonight after first stopping for a look around in Grasse, the perfume capital of France if not the world. The drive over the lower Alps was again spectacular, part of the Route de Napoleon, and I guess it wouldn't have been too hard for him, sat on a horse as he probably was, but it must have been gruelling for his foot soldiers. The highest point was nearly twelve hundred metres. The road is popular with motorcyclists too and they roared past us on the hairpins and had vanished before we could blink, exciting stuff. Unfortunately all the car parks we came across in Grasse had height barriers so we didn't stop but pushed on a bit further to Antibes where we knew there was an LPG station. Now, I don't have to fill up too often with LPG, I've got two 18kg tanks, but we were down to half a tank so we pulled in to the filling station. I've got all the adaptors for different filler nozzles for different countries but it's always a hassle at LPG pumps. Today was no exception and, once again, someone had to come out of the office to help me fill up. Is it just me? Do other folk have these problems? Anyway, all gassed up and off we went to the Aire de service at Antibes. The car park, and that's all it is, a car park, was outside Marine World which, presumably is why they wanted to charge me €24 for an overnight stay plus €3 for water!!! We politely declined their kind invitation and drove another five minutes to where we are now, another car park with water and it's free.

We didn't want to stay at too many of the places we'd stopped at before but Banon was a "must stop" because of the bistro, Castellane because of the laundrette and here at St Laurent-du-Var because we weren't going to pay €27 for the privilege of stopping in Antibes! Tomorrow we were going to visit Sospel on the old royal road between Nice and Turin but after a bit of research discovered that it was pretty much flattened by the Germans during WW2 and there's not too much left of interest now so tomorrow we'll cross the border into Italy heading for San Remo (we've been there before also). The Cote D'Azur between Cannes and the Italian border has all "those" places - Antibes, Nice, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Monaco, Monte Carlo beloved of novelists and playboys but the traffic is horrendous, there's never anywhere to park and the whole area is pretty Motorhome unfriendly. I guess we should have come here in the fifties but as we were just toddlers then I doubt we would have appreciated it but anyway I doubt that we'll come back this way again.

No pics today, poor 3G


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