The dark clouds that hung over Nice the day prior released buckets of rain on us as we prepared to depart for our drive from Nice to Avignon. Our route took us along France's southern coast, as far as Fréjus, where we headed west through valleys and fields until we reached the City of the Popes.
Despite the rain storm we drove through, this was one of our favourite sections of road of our entire road trip. You don't have to drive to get this unique experience either - a train rang alongside the main road all the way from Nice to Fréjus.
Just outside of Nice you drive on a road that is literally on a beach. No curb, no sidewalk, just asphalt and sand. Then you hit Cannes which is, even when wet, startlingly luxurious and manicured, but in a pleasant sort of way. Hell, they even paint palme d'ors on their crosswalks.
We thought that perhaps the natural beauty of the French Riviera was over-hyped. But it's really not. There's a reason why so many artists paint it, so many singers wax lyrical about it, and so many of the French head there in droves when the mercury rises. Along this stunning piece of coastline the limestone cliffs surrounding Nice give way to shockingly red hills and rock formations, and big, green, protected nature parks. Added to our we've gotta go back there list from this stretch of driving are La Napoule, with its quaint castle, Theoule Sur Mer and Miramar (outside of which we spotted that house which has to have been featured on the TV show Extreme Homes), and Le Trayas (with it's amazing red rocks!) and St. Raphael.
We stopped outside of Le Dramont for a rainy-day picnic. Which is the same as a sunny-day picnic, except with umbrellas, and slightly soggier bread.
And before heading on the main highway at Fréjus to continue on to Avignon, we stopped at a giant sports superstore, the likes of which Malta certainly does not have, where Mike purchased rollerblades of all things.
Everyone goes to the French Riviera to buy those, right?
BY THE NUMBERS
date: september 3
weather: cloudy, heavy rain
distance travelled: 261 km/162 mi
distance travelled to date: 802 km/498 mi