Thursday, 3 September 2009

Back from South of France

And so we are back. Back in the swing of the new academic year, commuting to work for grown-ups and, for the children, their new school year (starting Years 1 & 3, how diddy they look in their new uniforms).

But for a moment, let the magic of the holiday last (and let me make the obligatory holiday post).

As you will have gathered from my previous post, this year, in our third dalliance with the south of France, we stayed just outside the small town of Lorgues, about an hour west of Nice. Lorgues is a typically Provencal town with its maze of old streets, ancient fountains, olive trees and vineyards.

The church here is a landmark of Lorgues - the 17thC Collegiale St-Martin, with its 40m tall bell tower (a poor photo, I know, taken from our car).

We loved the gorgeous stone farmhouse (or mas) we had rented for the week - it seemed that the old house and its to-die-for pool rose up out of nowhere in the middle of a forest. The pool was a very welcome as the temperatures hit the mid-30s upwards all week. Being so hot all week and in such a lovely house, we had decided to take it easy this time and not dash around. We had no neighbours that we could see but had been warned about some visitors that may occasionally drop by - the local wild boar!

Lorgues was a good location for experiencing the best of both worlds - inland Provencal life and the lovely south Mediterranean coast. Some may like the location for its access to the glitzy coastal towns of St Tropez and Cannes but, to be honest, they held little attraction for us.

We chose to visit the coastal town of Frejus which is the oldest Roman city in Gaul, founded by Julius Caesar in 49BC. It was at that time apparently a flourishing naval town and had a greater population then than today. There are still a number of Roman remains in the town including an amphitheatre seating around 10,000 which is still used today, a Roman theatre and some arches of the original 40km aqueduct.

To the east of Frejus, where it merges with its neighbouring town of St-Rapheal, lies Notre Dame de la Victoire de Lepante, a huge, florid late-19C church (in this photo) which can also be seen while bobbing in the sea off Frejus-plage (as we did). What struck me immediately was the following question: what fool saw fit to grant planning permission for the horrid 1950s-60s buildings surrounding this beautiful building? Perhaps the former Mayor of Nice, Jacques M├ędecin, who fled France in 1990 before being charged with corruption, only to emerge in South America...

It was lovely pottering about in Frejus - swimming in the sea, watching the children shriek with laughter every time a mini-wave hit them (why do kids find that so funny?), dawdling around the harbour, and making footprints in the sand.

If you do visit Frejus, try to stay on until after dark when the sea front changes changes character and comes alive with street entertainers and a lovely craft market by-fairy-light.

We rounded off the week with my son's 5th birthday (being an August baby he is destined to spend his birthdays abroad...) - a trip to an AquaParc and little family pool-party, complete with a French birthday cake.

We're quite charmed by the southern half of France and having been to Caux-et-Sauzens (near Carcassonne) last year and to Eygalieres (near Avignon) the year before that, we're wondering which part we should visit next. Any ideas welcomed.

No comments: