It was a beautiful summer morning, not a single cloud in the sky as we woke up to the sound of the alarm in our hotel room on a nice Saturday in Nice (no pun intended!)
Hmmn, what an absolute delight to wake up in the Provence-Alpes-Cote’ d Azur once again, specifically in this beautiful French Riviera city I love.
I opened the blinds; the swimming pool was calling me. It’s was 27 degrees but of course our air conditioned room meant we slept so well, without a break of sweat. We had a late flight the night before and checked in just before midnight. We had planned to drive up early to Bargemon to meet others for brunch.
After a very typical French buffet breakfast which certainly consisted of the perfectly baked croissants and fresh black coffee, we picked up our rental car, a metallic red 2019 convertible Mercedes Benz with the ‘baddest’ technology I have ever seen in a car and drove up north to Bargemon, a medieval picturesque rural village also located in the Var region of the Provence. I was enchanted.
I had read about this village a little while ago when news had it that the Beckhams had bought a holiday villa there.
Drive up from inland Nice was probably around an hour and 30 minutes with a number of tolls. I caught some excellent views like the views of the blue lakes in Lac de Saint Cassien.
Lynn (Neil’s sister) and Dave (her husband) had booked up a (typical Brit-Francophile) family owned villa for a week, a very generous gesture for 11 of us, friends and family.
The villa was a true definition of French influenced rustic charm, located up on a hill, not too far from the main village. An absolute breath-taking property nestled in the centre of mountains, olive groves, woodlands and hills.
We chilled out, had a villa day, I got to meet Isabella, the Parisian married to Joe the American from California (they live in Paris), and Dave and Tina, the Northern Americans also from California. They were beautiful people and great company.
We had a light lunch or was it brunch after a 10 minute tour of the villa offered by little Anya, Neil’s’ niece and proceeded for a very relaxing villa day with the rest of the group.
After dinner, we decided to have a midnight walk into the village as we could hear the sound of music from a distance and our curiosity wouldn’t let us stay. So we wandered into the main square and there were a couple of pop up bars- I think it was the penultimate day of a local music festival. There had a Caribbean theme/ vibes going on- after swinging our waists from side to side watching the bands play and having some beers, we wandered round the little alley streets, mounted around 12th century walls and cobbled pavements.
A village of fountains, I thought.
Trees older than a 100 years old.
In a measured peaceful silence of the night, with the residual night activities shutting down, we walk down the hill home and at that point I knew I had come to one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the world. An untouched French gem, still again, unseen.
After a lovely morning swim in the warm dawn of a Monday morning followed by a typical French breakfast, we wandered round town and drove up to Fayence for a day trip, where we explored the pretty village, stopped for gelatos and ice creams, bought souvenirs, herbs, lavender and tchotchkes.
Yet again, another magnificent neighboring village, discovered in my wanderlust.
We had also driven round Claviers, Seillans and Callas, beautiful neighboring villages. I was just falling more and more in love with France. As if there was any more space left in my heart for loving the Provence
After the group had split in their different directions to seek personal space and seek personal interests, we agreed our rendezvous would be the car park.
When we had enough of the sun as the afternoon began to bake, we all drove up grocery shopping at U Wines, a huge grocery store where you can find practically anything. So we stocked up on food, fruits, vegetables and wine. Dinner was a lovely ratatouille dish with baked potatoes and a fresh provincial salad.
On Tuesday, after a lovely morning swim, brunch and a well-deserved fabulous reflexology treat from Lynn, we wandered round town, this time, in the day. We visited the fine art galleries, the little arty shops, a local pottery store, museums, the tower, castle, vintage and antique collection stores, and stopped for pre –dinner drinks just as the sun was setting. There were a couple of bars in the Square (Place Philippe-Chauvier). Apparently, the square was named after a Provincial Poet. There is the Notre Dame de Montaigu which you cannot miss, its in the centre of the village and a number of small chapels around the village.
At this point, I had come to appreciate how stunning this village was. The sight of Juliet Balconies, the little chic and rustic restaurants, cute little bakeries and boutiques, the village fountains and the Spring that produces refreshing cold water which we drank from, the popular local butcher, elderly men playing boules in the park, the life at the square was a treat of rurality.
The next day we went horse riding and wine tasting in the vine yards of Domaine de Meauix in neighbouring villages of Bagnois-en-Foet (a little farm of Idefix) and Fayence respectively. On our way back, we drove past the weekly local flea markets. The village had more people in it than I had seen all week.
We had planned to visit Aix en Provence the following day- just Neil and I as the group had individual plans, some of them drove up to the Antibes for a bit of night life and others stayed back at the villa. But we decided that as it was our penultimate day, we would rest in the villa. So we played boules, relaxed at the pool, prepared dinner, packed up and just chilled out; exactly what I needed for my soul.