To recap, Provence is short form for the entire region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is a really large region in Southeastern France that extends from the Rhone River in the West to the Italian border in the East. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the South and the French Alps in the North.
The Côte d’Azur (French Riviera in English) is within the PACA region and is found along the Mediterranean coastline of the southeastern corner of France. It extends from Toulon to the France-Italy border where the Italian Riviera begins.
We grabbed waters and checked out of Le Saint Remy in Saint Remy de Provence. Next up: driving southeast to Cassis. We walked the Old Town and docks so that we could see all the pastel buildings along the harbor. Then we grabbed sandwiches and drinks for lunch at L’Atelier Gastronomique and took them to eat near some beautiful trees.
Grimaud is an adorable village perched on a hill near Saint Tropez. We made our way up to the 11th century castle first, then explored the rest of the town.
Saint Tropez and Cannes are two of the more well-known, glamorous destinations on the Riviera, but they initially didn’t make my list. I decided if we had time, we would stop in both towns, but if not that was okay. I’m a fan of the charm and vibes of the cobble-stoned Old Towns and less interested in the glitz and yachts. We did end up having time to stop in Saint Tropez though and it was beautiful. I will admit that the yachts were fun to stop and look at! We walked through both the Old Town and the port.
Our condo was in the small town of Vallauris. We stayed there for the seafront views and proximity to Antibes (a 15 minute drive). We got situated, freshened up, and headed there for dinner on a cobblestone street at La Petite Escale. This was one of my most favorite meals in all of France. Vincent is the chef of this small restaurant and his wife Hannah takes care of everything else. She was the kindest and most attentive person making small talk with each table of diners about their travels and then about her heritage and how their restaurant came to be. I had the most incredible, tender veal, potatoes, veggies and rosé and I’m still thinking about it.
Today was our last full day in the Riviera, and in France for that matter!
We drove the 15 minutes to Antibes again. We walked part of Le Sentier du Littoral along the Mediterranean. It’s a narrow trail that hugs the rocky coastline on Cap d’Antibes, so you have the most amazing views of the sea. It was an awesome way to start our day!
Right when we got to Eze, we grabbed lunch outside at Le Nid d’Aigle because we were starving! Josh had pizza and I had carbonara. Both were delicious! They had the cutest patio, but the view from inside was also incredible. Then we visited the Jardin Exotique. It’s located on the site of a medieval fortress 429 meters above the Mediterranean Sea. Both the garden and the views were beautiful and inspiring, especially for a plant lover! Eze was magical.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
This palace was built by Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild on the shores of the Mediterranean on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It became a museum in 1938 after she died and left the property to the Institut de France.
The gardens included nine landscaped areas and were the highlight for us! They are filled with fountains and ponds, musical water features, century-old olive trees, trees of various species and the Temple of Love.
Saint Paul de Vence
Saint Paul de Vence is mostly a pedestrian town. We walked through the maze of narrow, charming streets. We found where we were going to stay originally, before postponing our trip. The people who live and work here have their homes and shops built within the stony hillsides that are right out of a fairytale. This cute town was filled with shops, restaurants, and art galleries that were some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. It was definitely one of my favorites!
Back in Antibes, we headed to our final dinner of our trip at La Passagere on the terrace. The restaurant is at the Hotel Belles Rives and has a Michelin star. While the view takes your breath away, I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant. You must choose from a few different set menus that offer multiple courses. I chose mine and later my husband told me the cost. I had no idea how he knew. Come to find out, as a rule they only give men the menus with prices! I was both angry and speechless. All menus are comprised of seafood (no meat) and while the presentation and explanation of the pairings was impressive, it was incredibly fancy and incredibly expensive in our opinion. I’m talking more than Eddie V’s and Morton’s but WITHOUT THE STEAK. I couldn’t help but wish for a cheeseburger or filet in place of all of the things I ate that I couldn’t even tell you what they were. Unless you’re dying to have dinner at an incredibly expensive Michelin starred restaurant with unique seafood you’ve never heard of, save yourself the time, money and frustration!
We headed home early the next day while it was still dark outside. Exhausted and ready to see our kids, we knew that this was the trip of a lifetime and we’ll never take it for granted!
And for what it’s worth, I’m not sure where the stereotype that the French are rude or hate Americans came from, but our experience couldn’t have been further from it. We of course smiled and greeted everyone we came into contact with before attempting our minimal French in conversations. In turn, we experienced nothing but kind and patient waitresses, drivers, docents, concierges, and shop owners. Moral of the story: don’t let a language barrier stop you from seeing the world. Kindness and making an effort to use another language will always WIN!
La Petite Escale (Antibes)
La Nid d’Aigle (Eze)
Le Sentier du Littoral (Cap d’Antibes)
If France interests you, I was a podcast guest on Join Us In France and hope you’ll give it a listen on your next commute or laundry day! You can follow the link below, or use a podcast app on your device: just search for the “Join Us In France” podcast. https://joinusinfrance.com/episode/anniversary-in-paris-and-provence/
Curious what I packed for France? Read about it here.
Read my Paris City Guide here!
And find our Provence Road Trip details here!