Sunday, 19 August 2012

South of France and Corsica - Road Trip!

Corsica - Porto at Sunset with boats - Holiday road trip in Europe

We had booked four nights in a hotel in Corsica and two nights in a hotel in Eze on the Cote d'Azur. The rest was up to divine intervention (or knowing where the sun was shining!)

I couldn't wait to get some holiday heat and sun, and wear the summer clothes which had simply gone into hibernation at the back of my wardrobe. As I sat on the bed thinking of how hot it would be in the South of France and Corsica in peak season, I started to wonder how hard it would be to find hotels during this busy time of year. Time would tell. We've always got the car...!
We set off in the car on our road trip from Dover at a reasonable hour (you'll see this is a rareity in itself if you read my other road trips!) Then we headed South...  

~ Vichy ~

First stop, Vichy in the centre of France, famed for its Nazi occupation in WW2. We came across the Celestins spa water source and figured this must be a volcanic spa town. Yes - it is! We stayed at the Ibis hotel in Vichy - good old reliable Accor hotels!

~ Loire Valley ~

We stopped in the Loire Valley to eat at a really 'local' restaurant! They didn't speak English so it was a great opportunity to practice our French early on in the holiday. Amazing omlettes.

 ~ Avignon ~

Rhone River - Avignon, with bridge reflection

Travelling on to Avignon. This is the view of the Rhone from the ferris wheel just outside the city walls. We stayed in the Etap hotel just outside the walls, a five minute walk from the centre of the town (which is within the city walls).

Palais Des Papes - Avignon, sunset

 The Palais des Papes just before sunset. This is where the seat of the Catholic Church used to be before Rome, in medieval times

On the ferris wheel in Avignon - I forgot how dizzy these can make me! But the view was incredible.

~ Aix-en-Provence ~

Travelling on through Provence, still heading South. Next stop - Aix-en-Provence, the home of Paul Cezanne. You can do the Cezanne trail by looking for the gold 'Cs' on the pavement - eat where he ate, shop where he shopped etc...

~ Nice, Cote d'Azur ~

Grand Hotel Le Florence - Arrival in Nice. After finding a city centre carpark which charged an astronomical 30 Euros for overnight parking, we found this lovely 3 star hotel in Nice city centre. We had to leave the car where it was so as not to risk getting lost again, and parking is the same rip-off  everywhere in the centre. 30 Euros argh! But it was worth it...

Nice at midnight after a delicious carbonara. Ideal photo opportunity in the middle of the tramway on Boulevard de Victor Hugo

Nice Old Town - Restaurant Pinoccio

A corner of  Vieux Nice where we ate lunch in a little brasserie. Upon asking for the menu, the waiter came out and announced 'I am menu.' Brilliant!

~ Eze, Cote d'Azur ~

Bastide aux Camelias - Chambre Carambole. Beautiful hotel near Eze

Really pretty hotel room at 4 star guesthouse Bastide Aux Camelias, just outside Eze village. Goregous rooms with elegant country style. 20 minutes walk to Eze with stunning views.

Amazing Filet Steak at Chateau Eza in Eze

Incredible tastes on one plate. Delicious filet steak lunch at 4 star Chateau Eza Hotel Restaurant. Stunning panoramic 'front-row' views of the Med on the outdoors terrace

The view of the med from Eze Village. The cactus garden at the top of the village and Richard doing in-depth research, and the view of the med and village from the Cactus Garden.

The clay sculptures of various women dotted around the gardens are stunning. They are designed to explore and celebrate femininity in various forms by French artist Jean-Philippe Richard. 

~ Monte Carlo, Cote d'Azur ~

Monaco - Monte Carlo F1 track in the town

We travelled on to Monaco. This is the F1 track at Monte Carlo (on public roads) - there's no race on in this photo but Richard wanted to see this.

'Is this it?' is all he said as we walked by the casino. He'd expected the red and white edging to show that it's the racetrack - and walking down to the sea, we found it.

~ San Remo, Italy ~

Narrow St Remo Street - Italy

 Narrow alleyways in our next journey to San Remo - Italian Riviera. Delicious 'Dolce Vita' treats, one-off shops and olde world buildings.

~ Corsica ~

A holiday within a holiday! - Travelling to Corsica on the night ferry - we saved money on a hotel and saved time travelling in our sleep! We slept on the seating here. We topped and tailed as it was so narrow. Richard's feet stunk!

Corsica scenery, mountains, roads, sunset

Stunning mountain scenery and Richard taking a breather after the 30 minute walk from the 'tete due chien' rock on the roadside, to the 'Chateau Fortress' to see the Les Calanches rock formations. Stunning panoramic views and sunsets. In Corsica we stayed at the La Vaita hotel in Porto, about a ten minute walk from the seafront.

Corsica - Porto at Sunset with boats

Porto at sunset just before our delicious pasta meal at a really busy restaurant on the seafront.

Corsica - vasque near Chisa (rockpool)

Bathing in the eden-like vasques near Chisa in the South East of Corsica. (Vasques are stone basins like rock pools which are part of a stream and waterfalls). It's like a natural waterpark. The warm smooth rocks surrounding the water provide excellent sunbathing opportunities and the cool, clear water is so deep in some places you can jump from rocks high in the air (at your own risk!)

~ Turin ~

After travelling back to the mainland on the ferry and sleeping in a real cabin this time, we stopped in Turin. This is Richard in Turin city centre seeking out landmarks from The Italian Job. Sadly the Fiat factory with the track on the roof was closed to visitors.

~ French Alps ~

Mountain scenery especially stunning on a very clear day driving through the Alps into France.

~ Dijon ~

Dijon tiled roof archtitecture

Stopping at Dijon to buy some renowned Cote D'Or wine and mooch around appreciating the buildings and character of this surprisingly compact city centre.

~ Troyes ~

Beamed Buildings in Troyes - Champagne Region

The beamed buildings of Troyes in the town centre just after sunset

Richard excited to find a hotel in Troyes, and a bed to snooze in (the funky and colourful 'Ibis Styles' hotel - e.g. giant plastic fruit, colourful lighting and a great varied breakfast whilst sitting on egg shaped chairs)

Take a look at my Nice YouTube video!

Text, Images and Videos Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2012
All Rights Reserved


  1. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
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  2. Thank you! Corsica and the journey to it through France is amazing, so beautiful and there is so much to see, do and eat! I am planning on going again as soon as I can!

  3. Great blog and photos !
    We will be on our way to the south of France via Troyes and Vichy in a month, any tips on what not to miss ?

  4. Thank you!

    Yes - lots of things not to miss but it depends how much time you have.. The Champagne cellar tours in Troyes are supposed to be amazing - there are cellars underneath most of the city. In Vichy the one thing I wished I'd done is the spa at the five star 'Les Celestins' hotel as Vichy is renowned for its thermal water with therapeutic properties. Also Vichy has a great WW2 history being a major Nazi co-operation area at the time - if you're into history.

    Don't miss Dijon as its pretty much on your way. It is beautiful and has so many lovely little shops. Beaune is also a fantastic little town just South of Dijon which is famous for its wine and you can get some really excellent vintage bourgogne/burgundy wines there, at great prices too.

    Also if you have time to do the Alps I really recommend a stop in Geneva, Lausanne, or the beautiful little town of St Gervais, depending on whether you want peace and quiet and countryside, or historic and cultural cities. Lake Geneva is really quite something.

    Hope this helps and doesn't add more dilemmas of what to see and do on your trip! Have an amazing time :)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to give us some great ideas. :))
      The arguments over what to see now start in 5 weeks time !

  5. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.

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