Côte d'Azur


The town which everybody knows from the film festival in May. I prefer to visit Cannes in the winter time: Very reasonable prices, few tourists and lots of light and sun!

The mimosa trees start to blossom in January. If you go to Cannes, you will find them in the nature protection area "Parc naturel de la Croix des Gardes". It is not allowed to pick a bouquet of the mimosa flowers. They are available on the local markets. In the ancient center of Cannes, called "Le Suquet" there is a daily market with vegetables, fruits and flowers in the halls of "Foreville".

Cannes has a very good bus network. A ticket valid for 7 days coasts 15 Euro and it allows to use all busses in the town and even to the nearby villages like Vallauris, Mougins, Mouans-Sartoux.

Cannes Le Suquet

The ancient city of Cannes was situated on a small hill in the Westers part of the town with its harbour. Like the whole Côte d'Azur, it has been settled since the paleolithic. During antiquity Ligurian tribes established a fort here, an "oppidum". In the middle ages the Earls of the Provence came into power and used the fortification walls to defend themselves against attacks from the Sea and the local populations. The former castle on the top of the Suquet hill is nowadays a museum with a very interesting ethnological collection. Besides the Museum on the parvis of the Church "Notre Dame de l'Esperance" you have a gorgious view over the town and the Sea. In the summer time musical concerts are offered on the parvis. The whole Suquet quarter is a tourist attraction with restaurants and small magasins. The "Marché de Foreville" is a daily food market, to be highly recommended, open from tuesday to Sunday.

Cannes la Croisette

Where did the name of the famous boulevard of the "Croisette" with its luxory hotels and the palace of the film festival come from? The answer is given on the point of the small peninsula facing the isles of Lerins. In former times people went for a pilgrimage to the monastery on the isles of Lerins. The meeting point was signified by a small cross. "Croisette" means "small cross". The is a parking lot and a helicopter landing place besides the oratory. In the winter, when the neighbour hotel "Palmbeach" is closed, residents come to this place to spend their lunch break here, surrounded by the Sea and with a view at the island.  A wonderful place to relax!

Places East of Cannes: Antibes, Villeneuve-Loubet, Nice, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Menton


The beautiful old town Menton is the last stop before the Italien border. Famous for its lemons, Menton celebrates the Fête du citron by the end of february. There is a parade with wagons decorated all over with lemons and oranges illustrating the yearly motto. The motto of the year 2019 is "Fantastic worlds" "Des Mondes Fantastiques" and it takes place from feb. 16th till 3rd of March. The lemons that are used to decorate the wagons come from Spain or Marocco whereas the homegrown premium-qualitiy lemons of Menton are sold for fine cooking.

The Musée de Prehistoire Regionale is worth a visit for the exhibition of several tiny statues of 30 000 year old goddesses, the art of the Ice Age. Menton with its beautiful ocre colored houses and baroque styled churches breathes already the Italian flair.

The Côte d'Azur West of Cannes: Mandelieu, Théoule, le Trayas, Agay, St. Raphael, Fréjus

Taking Cannes as a starting point to travel westward along the coast you pass by Cannes La Bocca, a residential quarter where vacation residences have been constructed along the coast. Actually the railway cuts off La Bocca from the Sea. Some streets have access to the beaches by an underbridge passage. Next you arrive at Mandelieu La Napoule, a place with lots of vacation residences by the Sea. You may take the bus from Cannes La Gare SNCF to get there. There is also a train station in Mandelieu close to the coast and in the center of the village. Take a walk along the Sentier du Chateau along the sea and behind the medivial castle that was remoddeled in the 1920s by the American Artists Henry and Marie Clews. It can be visited. if you are in Mandelieu in February, don't miss the Fête du Mimosa with its parades. Mimosa blossoms with their sweet smell are distributed during the parade and they will for sure open the spring season! In Mandelieu, the walk along the sea in the Southwest direction leads up on a rock with a wonderful view upon the Big Blue. You may continue and get back to the D 6098 and either take the bus or walk to Théoule sur mer. Théoule is situated in a bay at the fringe of the Esterel mountain range. Théoule is a quiet village where senior couples spend their retirement in apartment residences. In the heights of the Esteral resides the villa "Palais Bulles"(33, Boulevard de L'Esteral) of the French fashion designer Pierre Cardin. It is built in the shape of 25" bubbles", designed by the architect Antti Lovag as an organic shape. It is beautiful and can be visited from the outside.

The D 6098 leads along the coast with a gorgious view from the rocks above the Sea. If you are in Théoule, don't miss the walk to the sanctuary Notre Dame de l'Afrique. It is possible to drive up there by car, there is a parking lot close to the sanctuary. The statue of Notre Dame de l'Afrique was inaugurated in 2014. It is made of iron and 12 meters high. The expatriated so called Pieds-Noirs, French settlers in Algeria,  had to emigrate from Algeria in 1962 after the liberation of the former colony. Many of them live in towns along the coast.

The statue is built upon the rocks and there are hike paths along the Esterel mountain. The statue is rather of historical than of arcchitectural interest, but you will find up there a great place to walk, surrounded by the reddish brown colors of the Esterel, green bushes and the big blue Sea and Sky. In the North you even have a view to the Maritime Alpes. Unforgetable!

There is a very good bus line network between villages and towns of the coast. You will find further information in the office de tourisme or on line. Théoule sur mer is served by the palm bus lines. Westward of Théoule there are some small and rather quiet villages like Le Trayas, Agay, Anthéor, Boulouris-sur-mer. These are wonderful places to relax. (I am not talking about the high season months July and August when the whole Côte d'azur is like a beahive.)

Next place is St. Raphael. I have only changed trains there and not really visited the town, except for the ancient center which is close to the main train station. In St. Raphael and the neighbour town Fréjus you will get the authentic feeling of mass tourism:) Fréjus has very long sandy beaches and a Neo-Byzantine cathedral in the ancient center of the town. Fréjus is reigned by the extreme right wing party of Marine le Pen, the further Front National, now given the new name "Rassemblement nationale." (Toulon is also ruled by this populist party. Just to let you know what kind of spirit you will find there.) The coast is a wonderful place to travel but most towns are ruled by very conservative parties. Even the melting pot Marseille has a UMP governing major.




The Côte d'Azur between Toulon and Saint-Tropez

St. Maxime is situated at the North Side of the Golfe de Saint Tropez. The D 559 leads all along the coast from Cassis to Menton. (The number changes in Theóule to D 6098 but it is the same road.) during off-season times it is easy to find a parking place along the road and at the same time close to the beach. St. Maxime has no railway station, just as St. Tropez, Cavalaire, Le Lavandoo and the towns up to Hyères. Travelling by train from Germany is easy to towns with TGV stations, but the part which I will describe now must either be visited by car or with a bus connection to the next bigger town with a TGV station. (i.e. Toulon, St. Raphael, Cannes, Nice, Menton)

St Maxime is a beatiful town with an ancient center, a small harbour and cafés and restaurants along the Sea. There are all kinds of markets taking place along the seafront. It is possible to spend a whole day outside at the beach even in the winter. If you walk westward along the sea about 2 or 3 kilometres out of St. Maxime, there is a small beach "Les Tamaris" with very clean sanitary facilities and a parking place. Some years ago I spent a vacation in this area and I liked to go by car to this beach, taking a sunchair with me, read a book or watch the few visitors that walked by or passed an hour at the beach for a picnic.

But even in december the D 559 was crowded and a stop-and-go in the late afternoon. Faster to take the bicycle!

At the North side of the Golfe de St. Tropez Port Grimaud was constructed in the 1960es after the model of Venice. A beautiful place for a short visit. I talked to a lady who had rented a small apartment in Port Grimaud. She told me that life is very quiet there off season. Most of the houses are secondary residences and not inhabited most of the time. Incredible luxory! If you clmib the stairs of the church in Port Grimaud you have a 360° view. a place to meet international visitors since all busses stop here and averyone wants a photo from up there. Next must-go is the ancient village of Grimaud upon the hill with its beautifully remoddeled romanesque church from the 13th century, considered as the first church of this area.

Concerning St. Tropez you don't need further information I guess since everyonde knows the place. It is nice to visit, but regarding the monster luxory sailing yachts I wonder how one person can afford this in an honorful way from a lifetimes income? !

Close to Saint Tropez there is the Marin of Cogolin where the price to rent a place for a small ship is very reasonable. I met a German couple who lives there on a small boat all year long, enjoying the sun and good climate. They told me that they have sold their house in Germany to go down South and live an easy live. Amazing!

Following the D 559 westward from St. Tropez you will pass by La Croix Valmer. Look for the beautiful Plage de Gigaro. which is accessible for handicaped persons. 


The next stop is la Domaine Rayol Canadel, a beautiful botanical parc with trees from several continents. Of course with many varieties of the mimosa tree that was imported from Australia in the 19th century.

Continuing to the West you soon reach Cavalaire-sur-mer. It is a tourist place along the beach. The most wonderful thing are the mimosa trees all along the D 559. They blossom from mid January until the beginning of March, depending on the weather.

The next stop is la Domaine Rayol Canadel, a beautiful botanical parc with trees from several continents. Of course with many varieties of the mimosa tree that was imported from Australia in the 19th century.

Continuing to the West you soon reach Cavalaire-sur-mer. It is a tourist place along the beach. The most wonderful thing are the mimosa trees all along the D 559. They blossom from mid January until the beginning of March, depending on the weather.

It is practical to stop in Cavalaire and  buy food in the supermarket close to the beach and go on towards le Lavandoo which is very popular to German and Dutch campers in the summer. What I liked most about le Lavandoo in the winter were the free parking lots and benches along the coast. Nice for a short stop to relax. The Fort Brégancon in the Bay of the peninsula of Cap Bénat accomodates the manor of the French presidents. It cannot be visited, but the beach of Brégancon is nice for a stop and a walk along the beach. Teh beautiful ancient town of Bormes-les-Mimosas is situated on the hills Northwest of Le Lavandoo. It is worth to go up there and visit. The last stop of this trip is Hyères with lots of palm trees along the city streets. I can't tell you too much about it. I visited Hyères during the state of emergency in the winter and I got annoyed about the body controls at the Christmas market. Toulon is the last town of this part of the trip. It is a industrial town with a nice ancient center. You will need an extra day to visit Toulon and its environment if you wish to go there. I went there by bus from Sanary-sur-mer.