A Travellerspoint blog

Cote D'Azur! Monaco, Mandelieu, Cannes and St Tropez

Playground for the rich and famous


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The drive into Monaco was an impressive one, not just for the gorgeous views but also for the HUGE and luxurious super yachts.

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It was hard to concentrate on the road with so much to ogle at and this, plus the lack of camper parking made for a long and tough drive in but eventually (1.5 hours after arriving!) thanks to guidance from a Brit we found a suitable parking building on the south side of town charging only E11.70 for 3 hours. We were all starving had a picnic lunch in a perfectly manicured garden close by which also had a carousel.

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We walked around the city, gobsmacked at the amount of money here.

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While we didn't go on a super yacht, Mylo did drive his first boat! We took a ride on the water taxi and the skipper was such a sweetheart that he let Mylo steer us along. It was a huge highlight for us all and we doubt that this will be the last time Mylo is at the helm on a boat in Monaco!

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After a fabulous Gelato we got back on the road and decided to stay at Campsite "Magali", just outside of Nice and we all got an early night. We pushed on again the next morning and stopped at "L'argentiere", a lovely campsite very close to Mandelieu where we cycled into and enjoyed a fabulous evening playing on the beach, cycling around a castle and eating at a fancy French restaurant.

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The following day we visited Cannes We caught a bus from the campsite into the centre and strolled around the city with our mouths wide open and playing the tourist role magnificently, loving the buzz and soul of this vibrant city.

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We took the tourist train tour which was brilliant with lots of glitzy movie star trivia accompanied by stunning views. We both thought that Cannes felt so much more real (somehow!) with more substance and soul compared to the glittery, shiny, impermeable shell of Monaco.

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The next day we followed the coastal route toward St Tropez which rewarded us with exquisite views of the jagged rock faces, quiet little bays, crystal clear azure water, colourful villages nestled in the bays, luxurious mansions taking ownership of peninsulas and a glimpse of what life in the south of France could really be like ....

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We stopped at some incredible red rocks that towered over the water with an uncanny dinosaur silhouette. Both boys were fast asleep but Jeremy could not miss the opportunity for a swim so after rock climbing down to the water he took a quick skinny dip. I am gutted to have missed out as apparently it was amazing, with the graduation of the rock visibly continuing under the water like a path.

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We arrived in St Tropez at around 5pm and were lucky to find a park about a 15 minute cycle from the centre. It was SO beautiful, a gorgeous coastline and harbour that was populated with some beautiful sailing ships amongst the mega yachts. We cycled along the long stone jetty just passed the glitzy restaurant and bar area which gave an incredible view of the town from where we had just come. The architecture was incredible, very classic and sophisticated without being too "showy", with pastel colours that blended beautifully with the ocean.

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We cycled to the top of the castle which was closed but we were able to cycle around the perimeter which was brilliant, both boys loved it.

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We stopped at "Sénéquier" for a cocktail but the service was so slow that we ended up leaving and felt a bit relieved at not having to pay the E18 price per cocktail! We instead enjoyed a wine with dinner and a play in the sand beside an illuminated pirate ship!

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We said farewell to the French Riviera and packed up for the next leg.

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Posted by bywaterbyland 18:41 Archived in France Comments (0)

Venice to Volpedo to Sospel

Hello France!


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After the excitement of our day in Venice we decided to get some pizza at the campsite, get the boys ready for bed, and drive a decent leg toward France while they were asleep. We drove until 12:30am and pulled into a free camping spot in "Volpedo" that we found in our "Camperstop Europe" book. This book is absolutely brilliant and is packed full of brilliant places to stay for free or for a very low fee. I only wish we had it at the beginning of our trip as it would have saved a lot of money on campsites and a lot of time trying to find them! There is a HUGE range of accommodation options, from farms, to vineyards, to pubic places, to camper only places. One we figured out how to use it it gave us enormous independence and confidence to travel off the beaten track. Not having to check into a campsite before a certain time makes things a lot easier when you are trying to travel at night and explore by day, which we could not have done this without the book.

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As described in "Camperstop", our site was very isolated without any facilities whatsoever. It felt great to be away from it all and in our own discovered place and we were rewarded with the most incredible sky of stars which we could see out of our roof light before going to sleep. When we woke we all had a stretch outside and marveled at our rural possie and got back on the road, France bound!

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Another long stretch of driving awaited us but we took turns and the daylight views made it much easier. We stopped for a quick lunch just past Genoa and eventually passed into France at around 7pm. We were delighted to be here, the journey over the past few days had been exhausting and it felt like we had reached a real milestone. We stocked up on supplies at a supermarket which was SO much cheaper than Italy, as was fuel at 1.50EUR/L vs 1.80EUR/L!! We found a campsite listed in the book in Sospel and drove from the coast 20km inland up some crazy steep, hairpin turns. We were guided to the camping spot by some locals and were over the moon to find HUGE private, grassy pitches on a free site!

To celebrate being in France we had croissants for breakfast and with the light, could really appreciate our amazing spot.

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We cycled into the local town and spent the day exploring this breathtaking little gem of a town which had a gorgeous arch bridge traversing the river below and with cobbled streets on either side.

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We happened to be in town on the same day as a ferrarri rally which was a thrill for the boys!

We could not resist a selection of pastries which we feasted before returning to the van. Jeremy and Mylo took a detour via a skatepark while I packed up and Felix played in the leaves. We were on the road by 12.30 and headed towards Monaco.

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Posted by bywaterbyland 16:35 Archived in France Comments (0)

Venice!


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Our journey from Fazana to Venice was not without adventure. We'd found Madiela had been very difficult to start on the past two occasions so rather than risk breaking down away from a campsite with all of the facilities we needed, we decided to keep the engine running until we arrived in Venice. This was almost easier said than done as while keeping her running during our lunch stop in a gorgeous coastal Italian city was easy enough, we were so incredibly close to stalling while climbing steep, narrow roads back to the motorway. Thankfully the engine did not stop so we were hugely relieved to arrive at "Camp Venezia" and, without thinking, turned the engine off. After check in we needed to park Madi in a camping spot but sure enough, she didn't start! My heart fell into my shoes as I could not believe we had broken down again and I had no idea how we were going to get home for our friends wedding in just a few weeks time while still needing to cross the whole of France. Thankfully the camping staff knew a mechanic who came by immediately and with all of the luck in the world, it was a very simple fix of a fuse. We were able to park up, eat up, drink up and relax, ready for a day of adventure tomorrow!

Our day for Venice was wet and windy but it was wonderful none the less. We took a boat along the canal which both boys loved, Mylo spent the whole time gazing out the window at the incredible architecture and genuinely seemed in awe of his surroundings.

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We spent the rest of the day exploring by foot and soaking up as much of the Venetian atmosphere as we could and promised to come back another time for a gondola ride - hopefully in the sun!

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Posted by bywaterbyland 15:59 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Pula


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As a place that had been recommended by a few people as a "must see" we decided to spent a full day in Pula. We managed to find a reasonable place to park and set out on our bikes to explore the city, starting with the harbour and stopping for our first traditional Croatian meal at a lovely restaurant "Istrian Kitchen" right beside a playground that we also made use of. We had a meat stew which was incredibly tender after a LOT of marinading in red wine (I think it was for around 24 hours?!) and some truffle pasta which was absolutely gorgeous, especially the gigantium truffle served on top. Happy us!

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With full bellies we cycled up to the castle and around the perimeter with far-reaching views of the city below.

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Our final stop was at the Colosseum right by where we had parked. It was fantastic and the entrance included a tour of a basement exhibition where we were delighted to see a (mock) roman scribing of "FELIX"!

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We were both utterly shattered so pulled into the closest campsite we could, comically named "Bi Village" to which clearly, all are welcome :-) Due to the season being almost over, half of the toilet blocks were closed but eventually we found a pitch close to sanitation and checked in for the night.

Similar to Zaton holiday park, this place was massive with every possible amenity on hand. With Venice as our next stop, the day after arriving we were too pressed for time to look at anything other than the beach, which was gorgeous, and we were disappointed not to be able to stay for longer.

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Posted by bywaterbyland 03:48 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Freedom camping in Rasa


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After leaving Senj we needed to make a late visit to the hosptial as one of Felix's bandages had come off. By the time we were all done we realised it was unrealistic to head to Pula so managed to find, after a few rejected potentials, a safe looking spot for us to park up for free just before the town of Rasa. We positioned ourselves at one end of a carpark outside an apartment block and a pub which seemed quiet but safe. The adventure always seems greater when you are bending the rules slightly so enjoyed the feeling of being a bit naughty but thankfully still managed to get a decent nights sleep.

In the morning we quickly ate our breakie for fear of being kicked out of our spot and were delighted to be able to complete our morning routine without any bother. Upon leaving we had stares and cheers from the locals at the pub (they must have been early starters!) and felt stoked to have saved money on a nights camping!

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Posted by bywaterbyland 03:18 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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