The South of France, and the Cote d’Azur, bring images of beaches, crowds and traffic jams.? Go ?out of season? and you can enjoy pleasant temperatures and a lack of crowds especially when you enjoy walking.? Choose times outside of the French school holidays, the bank holiday weekends (of which there are often several in May).
We recently enjoyed a short break in this area.? We drove south for about 4 ? 5 hours via Grenoble, Sisteron and Aix-en-Provence.? We arrived at La Londe before following a small road through vineyards between the coast and the low-lying hills behind.? We stayed just outside the pretty village of Bormes-les-Mimosas in the Var department, well worth a visit.? Lying off the coast are the islands of Porquerolles, Port Cros ( a national park) and Levant.? Boats can take you out to these islands from La Londe. I’m not one for spending hours lying on beaches frying in the sun.? However the chance to soak up some warmth after a winter in the Alps and do some walking was welcome.
The first day we set off on foot from the beach at La Londe.? The footpath remains close to the sea at all times as the land behind is all privately owned. It’s thanks to the ?Conservatoire Littorale? that this path exists (along with others on the coast).? After rounding the first point, the Pointe de l’Argentiere, we came to the beach of Le Pellegrin, a lovely sandy beach and crystal clear water.? Too tempting for Patricia who was soon enjoying the rather bracing 15 deg. Water for a dip. ? Our walk continued via the Pointe du Pellegrin to the beach of Leoube; with the chateau and vineyards of the same name inland.? The path crossed the Cap de Leoube and we soon arrived at the gorgeous beach of L’Estagnol.? Here we came across more people as there’s a car park behind the beach and the L’Estagnol restaurant with local specialities set amongst shady pines.? Time for another swim!
The following day we drove the short distance to La Faviere.? Leaving the car in a shady spot beneath the pines we crossed a beach to pick up the coastal path.? The path takes you out towards the headland, the Cap Benat.? The Cap Benat is a private estate so unless you are a resident the only way to enjoy the coastline is via this path.? The path is quite ?sporting? as it climbs from sea-level to traverse above cliffs hemmed in by signs reminding you that you are not welcome to penetrate inland.? Despite this there are great views along the coast.? Our turning point was the Port du Pradet where we ate our picnic.
The next day we left our car and walked to the beach of L’Estagnol so that we could do a circular walk.? Leaving the beach we followed the coastal path to the beach at Cabasson.? Here we went as close as you can get to the fort of Bregancon which is one of the French President’s retreats.? Guided visits can be booked.? We found a footpath that avoided walking on the road that led back to our car passing eucalyptus and cork oak trees.? For those of you who enjoy a ?degustation? there’s several vineyards to visit including: La Loubie, Bregancon and Malherbe. On our way home we drove north through Bormes-les-Mimosas to the small village of Collobrieres, ?the capital of Les Maures??? A great little break and a chance to explore another area.