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An Evening at Le Pradet

With summer upon us and the days in Provence becoming increasingly warm, we have opted to stay indoors during the mid-day to keep cool and venture out for our travels in the cooler evening hours. The bonus for us is that by the evening time most of the crowds and tourists have left and we get to enjoy the scenery with only a few others.

Last night our choice for an evening outing was to Le Pradet, a small village in the Var that is situated just next to the Mediterranean Sea.  The village has installed a nice walkway along the water that stretches for about one kilometer and they have also put in benches so one can take a rest and just gaze out at the ocean. There are two restaurants in close proximity to the walkway, one it L’essentiel and the other is Le Samana.

Continuing south you will find some hidden away stairs leading down to the rocky beach. Once on the beach you can head left and you will come upon a Sentir Littoral. This is one of the many located here in Provence and it is a nice path that follows the ridge along the water on which you can stroll. Last night we only encountered a hand full of people, but mostly we were the only ones enjoying the lovely view of the sea from this advantage point.

The end of the trail leads you down to the port where there are a few restaurants. We stopped in for an evening snack of crepes abricot and refreshing drinks.

After our “dessert before dinner” snack, we followed the trail back to the walkway with the benches and finished the night off by watching the sun set. A perfect end to a relaxing evening.

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Visions of Contrast in Provence

The beach in Bandol

Bike Rentals on L’Ile de Porquerolles

Grazing sheep in Gemenos

The Port at Sanary-sur-Mer

The hills above La Roquebrussanne

Purple flowers in full bloom in Sanary-sur-Mer

Ile de Porquerolles-The Village, The Church, Fort Ste. Agathe and The Moulin du Bonheur

Since Tuesday was a holiday here in France, what else was there to do but go out and explore some more of Provence!

The week before, we had spotted the Ile de Porquerolles from the village of Giens. I had commented that if the weather would cooperate, I wanted to go visit the island that we had seen from the ruins of the chateau.

Lucky for us, the day was perfect for an outing to the island.

We drove to Tour de Fondue which is where you catch the ferry that takes you to Porquerolles. The cost is 18€ round trip for an adult and it takes about 15 minutes for the crossing. There is no set time for the return ticket you just need to be sure you make it onto the last ferry of the day or you’ll have to spend the night or hitch a ride back to the mainland on some nice person’s boat, if you’re lucky 🙂

Once we landed on the island, I headed straight for the office of tourism. I wanted to be sure I got a map since I intended to make good use of the many hikes you can take around the island. The map costs 3€, but if you treat it right it will last you a good many trips back.

One thing that is very noticeable is that there are bike rental places everywhere. This is a biking community and nearly every trail on which you can walk, you can also bike. We didn’t bring our bikes that day but I have plans to return again for a day of biking. If you want to take your own bike on the ferry instead of renting one on the island you can do so and the cost is 13,50€.

We first took a look around the little village. There are a plethora of restaurants and also little stands to purchase fruits and veggies, ice cream, crepes and sandwiches. You will not go hungry here. Since we had eaten breakfast right before leaving the house, I chose to make my first meal an ice cream cone 🙂 What?? My mom wasn’t around to tell me no!

The buildings in the town are fairly new compared to the other villages we have visited. Beside some homes and businesses built a few decades ago, there is also a good majority of new homes and apartments near town center.

On this particular day, the island was not very busy. There were plenty of spaces in the restaurants and the village was comfortably laid back and calm.

We visited the church in the town square. It was built in 1850. The modest exterior mirrors the interior. Though not as elegant as some, it is decorated with some of the most beautifully sculpted, wooden pictures of art depicting the life of Jesus and the saints.

Above the entrance and exit doors hang some very large paintings and a very simple stain glass window.

Upon exiting the church we headed left and up a small street following signs to the Fort Ste. Agathe, said to have been built around the 16th century.

The trail leads you around a small hill and gives you a terrific view of the port and the open sea.

The hike is not long at all and once you reach the entrance of the fort, you have a magnificent view of the Mediterranean and vineyards. It just so happened that when we arrived at this point, the sun broke free of some clouds and showed us that gorgeous Mediterranean Sea blue that you usually only get to see on a postcard.

After some time gazing out at the view, we headed through the front gate of the fort. There is not much left inside the ramparts that you are able to see. The main door says private and you can’t enter into the interior of the fort. We were able to see the views of the valley and the vineyards and see some of the outside of the fort and old guard house, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t go inside. Upon exiting out the back gate, there is a large sign with information on the fort and its history. The story is told in both English and French.

We then headed left down a dirt road to see the Moulin du Bonheur or Windmill of Happiness, which is the name given to it in sarcasm, since the windmill never brought any happiness to the few families who lived on the island a few centuries before.  Here there is also a sign with information about the history of the windmill that is told in both English and French.  The windmill has been restored and it is in lovely condition. The view from the hilltop overlooking the valley is quite exceptional. You can take the short walk around the windmill, but you cannot go inside.

After some picture taking and view gazing it was off on our next hiking adventure.

Goodness, I think we’ve come to a cliff hanger! More to come…..

 

The Port of Cassis

Tonight, at sunset, Dude and I took a stroll along the small beach and the port at Cassis. This village is one of our favorites to visit in the area and I have written about its charm before. It’s quite close to where I work so we are often there during the week in the evening time and can be seen window shopping and pastry shopping while enjoying the beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

Cassis is one of those towns that tourists flock to during spring and summer vacation. If you happen to visit during the tourist season you will find yourself feeling like herded cattle as you make your way around the walkway of the port. Every restaurant, shop, bars, and ice cream store in this village is full of people and you’re lucky if you can find a place to sit and relax. The main streets are crowded with tables and chairs and wide-eyed vacationers taking in the beauty of this delightful little town.

Normally during the summer months we avoid this place. After all we have the whole rest of the year to enjoy it while it is peaceful. Tonight happened to be one of those amazingly, peaceful nights. Since it is the beginning of spring, vacationers have not started to make their way to Cassis. This was the perfect night to venture there as the weather was calm and the temperature perfect for an evening stroll. There were no crowds, only a few other couples and families enjoying the warm evening.

This is the way I like to enjoy Cassis. The calm water, the warm air and the feeling like this picture perfect place is just for you and you don’t have to share it with anyone. I always comment on how wonderful it is to be able to visit whenever we want to and watch nature show off her magnificent sunset. We are so spoiled just like everyone else who lives here!

Summer Nightly Market in La Ciotat

Dude and I stepped out for the evening and walked over to the Vieux Port to see what all the fuss was about. The Vieux Port was surprising lively. The evening was really hot and windy so it was nice to get out of the house. By the look of the port, a lot of other people had the same idea.  It was great to see families and friends all out strolling along the waterfront and enjoying the warm summer night.

The restaurants were full of people and the Bar Central had a guy singing and playing guitar. He was looking pretty popular since everyone was singing along with him.

The summer market consisted of artisans selling their goods (soaps, toys, clothes, shoes, jewelry, art, etc.) and, of course, delicious food. It was all very nice and there was certainly a lot to choose from.

I stopped and got some Barbe a Papa (cotton candy) and boy was I in heaven. I hadn’t had cotton candy in years!

All in all it was a good night even though we weren’t able to stay to long due to having to walk back home (it’s about an hour’s walk to the port).

The summer nightly market runs from June 24-August 28 and starts at 8:00pm. Chances are I will make it there again several more times. The cotton candy will be calling me soon and I need to do some serious shopping!

Sanary-sur-Mer

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