We are back from 4 amazing days in the South of France - Provence and Côte d'Azur, just the two of us while the children where having a great time with their grand parents on the Atlantic Coast (Oh! we so love French holidays!).
It was one of Simon's dream to climb the mythic Mont Ventoux in Provence. The "Géant de Provence", which rises out of lavender fields to finish in a barren moonscape of sunbaked limestone (The Independant).
We were so lucky with the weather as we had a perfect clear day with no Mistral (The very strong wind in the area).
I met Simon half way through his climb at Chalet Reynard. He stopped for 30 seconds to rehydrate himself while I was enjoying a coffee break in the sun on the deck terrace (No I was not following him on my bike but enjoying a relaxing drive with the music on and cheering him up along the way!). The scenery at the top is so breathtaking with views of the Rhône Vallée and Vaucluse. Next time I would love to take my bike and cycle around the area but no way up to the top of Mont Ventoux. I leave this to hard core cyclists!
This part of France is so beautiful at this time of the year as it not too hot and not yet too busy with tourists. We went to Avignon and drove around the Dentelles de Montmirail to visit the charming villages of Gigondas, Beaumes-de-Venice and Vaison-La-Romaine. Every stop was an excuse to eat an ice cream and have a drink of the local Muscat wine for the apéritif!
We drove to the Côte d'Azur to Saint Tropez and stopped on our way to Marseille to the Domaine du Rayol. It is one of the most extraordinary botanical garden I have ever seen. It is overlooking the mediterranean sea and the garden contains a number of areas dedicated to plants of the Mediterranean basin: mimosa, eucalyptus tree, acacia, palm tree...So many birds were singing. It was like being in Paradise!
Marseille is the European Capital of Culture in 2013. Events are happening in the City and in the Provence region for a year.
We stayed in the newly open Mama Shelter and visited the unfinished building sites of the Docks: The MuCEM designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti and the Villa Méditerrannée. Unfortunately it didn't feel like much was going on the city, as a lot of the new museums were closed - not yet finished to be built.