France (17-19 August)

After spending a few hours in Monaco we took the direction towards Marseille. The plan was to Drive at least a couple of hundred km and spend the night somewhere just before Marseille. The views toward the French Riviera were wonderful. Since we did not want to be overwhelmed by the tourists, we decided to skip the most well-known cities in south France like Niece or Cannes. We drove through a part of Niece and this already gave us a glimpse of how difficult it would be to find a parking space.

On our way to the west, the toll-free roads took us to the mountains and we stopped on the road to do some pictures and just enjoy the view.

 

We hoped to reach the beach early enough of. We managed to reach the beach but for the first time, it was not a beach weather. It was cloudy and for the first time during our trip, the water was extremely cold. So we did not hang around for long and decided to start looking for a place to stay overnight. This turned out to be quite a challenge. It seems that the French are very much into camping. There were several camping sites requiring also a fee that did not fit into our budget. Usually, the fee for parking a car on a camping site is around 10 Eur. In addition to that, there is an extra fee of 9 Eur per person, plus a fee if you would want a shower as well. So in total for one night, the fee can go up to over 30 euro.

It was already getting dark when we finally find a road running next to the seaside. It wasn’t exactly a beach, but people still went swimming from there. There were other caravans also parking on this roadside for the night so we decided to stay there as well. Jaanus also made a quick swim and we called the night.

 

Next morning we had a breakfast and we took off towards Marseilles. There was the biggest yacht harbour we have ever seen – it was just enormous. We walked around and decided to visit a nearby old castle called Fort Saint Jean. We were surprised that there was no entrance fee. We enjoyed the views from the castle and walked around before we started to move on. For this evening we definitely wanted to end the day earlier, when its still light outside and some nice sandy beach.

 

We did some additional research and managed to find a nice parking space right by the beach with a free shower, WiFi accessible nearby and everything else we needed for a comfy stay. The beaches in this area of France are totally different from what we encountered in Italy, Croatia, Montenegro or Bulgaria. The beaches are huge and they are sand beaches and it does not get deep quickly when diving into the waves. These beaches reminded us much more of the beaches we have in Estonia.

We cooked dinner at the beach and just enjoyed the opportunity to have such a nice office for the evening to work with our blog. The relaxing environment certainly helps with creativity. And we did not mind the weird looks from the French seeIng us having dinner on the beach. Actually, this town, Agde, seemed to be more a place for French themselves to have a vacation. We did not see many English speaking tourists.

 

Later on, in the evening we also decided to give a look at the night-life of this small town. We had a quick walk through the beach boulevard which included a lot of pubs and bars. It was surprising that many of them were quite empty although there seemed to be a lot of people in town. There were youngsters sitting at the beach and having fun, but no one really seemed to be drunk or partying too hard, although it was Saturday night. On the opposite, we were surprised to see so many young guys by the sea fishing instead of partying … We ourselves are not much of nightclub lovers either, but we sometimes also like to have a drink or two at a bar or lounge. But it seemed that in France there are also many other options for entertainment on Saturday evening – like fishing – maybe they were trying to catch mermaids, who knows 🙂

The following morning, we still wanted to make the most of the wonderful beach and soaked up some sun before hitting the road again. This time our goal was to reach Spain, costa brava. We saw numerous beautiful and historical wine villas en route and we even managed to see also some Flamingos.

Since we had not planned any specific tourist attraction for France, we agreed that we are going to spend some money to eat proper French food in a local restaurant. Certainly, we were again encountered with a challenge to find a restaurant open in the middle of the day, so around a noon time. The same problem we had also in Italy. When we managed to find one restaurant open, we just went for it. JAANUS also quickly checked that the place had quite good reviews in Google maps. When we got seated, it appeared that the owner did not speak any word of English. He brought us the menus, which was “surprise-surprise” handwritten. The prices for a meal were around 12 euros, but we still decided to stay to get the local cousins experience. Since we did not understand the menus, the owner invited us to the kitchen and showed us in the fridge the options what he possibly could cook us. There was some sausage in the fridge, something that seemed to be duck breast and also some beef stew. JAANUS went with the sausage and Kaija with the duck. The meals were ready in less than 15 minutes and it included French fries and the sausage plus sth that seemed to be a duck but tasted a little bit like liver.  As a surprise to us – there was no dressing and no salat. The owner only brought us some mustard, which helped a lot. The meat was actually done really well and it was tasty, but still, the bang for the buck was not in balance.

 

The killer was that if we wanted to pay, the owner already took his tip and did not give us all the change back. We certainly wanted to tip him, despite the situation, but that was just weird. He probably thought the same and if he had left and got to the car, he followed us back and returned the tip. It might have been a language barrier thing and it seemed he wanted to apologize for the service provided… but oh well… this was a rather funny visit to the French cuisine world. We both have been to France several times and actually every time the French cuisine is a little bit disappointing.  Maybe we just have selected the wrong places or we are just too spoiled with great Italian food – but next time I think we will rather choose McDonald’s in France, because it will probably be cheaper and tastier than local food 🙂

On the border town of Spain and France, the La Perthus, we were lucky again with choosing the right direction. There was a huge queue from Spain to France. It seems like that the French also like to visit Spain during weekends or they just go shopping in Spain, because it is probably cheaper. La Perthus was also quite a surprise because at some point the street was only separating the two countries – so one side of the street was France and the other side of the street Spain.

To summarize, we basically had just a quick drive through South France and certainly, we can not say that we did see a lot. Despite that, this region does not especially call for a second visit.

 

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