Monday, 18 February 2013

Exploring a corner of the Var

It's a long while since we last had a 'holiday' ... in fact I think it was this time last year, when we headed down to Spain for a week. So we were long overdue a break away, particularly seeing as the weather at home has been rubbish since what seems like forever. We headed along the Med coast, through the Languedoc region to Provence and, more particularly, the Var department which is an area of France that we have never visited before. It is a fantastically varied area, ranging from the upmarket port of Saint Tropez to it's backdrop of the wild, hilly areas of the Massif des Maures and the Massif de l'Estérel.

We had planned on doing lots of mountain biking and running, but unfortunately our plans were somewhat scuppered by the onset of a nasty gastric bug on the Thursday before we left which continued until the Tuesday of our holiday, leaving me weak and totally lacking in energy. Boo! The one run that we did manage to do was very disappointing as my knee flared up again after running nearly 8kms on the relative level. So so frustrating. So we did a fair bit of walking, with the wild coast of the Saint Tropez peninsula being a real highlight. Our first walk was from Plage de l'Escalet to Cap Taillat. The coastal path was challenging in parts but the coastline was just stunning.

The second coastal walk was from la Bonne Terrasse to the Camarat lighthouse.

On another day, we walked a cracking 9km circuit  in the Esterel massif which included Mont Vinaigre. Although the peak is relatively insignificant at 614m, it had a covering of snow on the Northern side. From the peak, we had fantastic views across the Esterel hills to Fréjus to our right and Cannes along the coast to our left

Throughout the area you can see the fascinating cork oak tree, from which the cork bark is harvested every 10 years to make, well, wine corks as much as anything else!

We also explored the Villepey lagoons at Fréjus where we were expecting to see a good variety of birdlife but we were sadly disappointed. Nothing but gulls, coots and the occasional comorant.

There was a lot of military activity in the area, thanks to the military camp near Draguignan to the North. We frequently heard gunshots and shells going off which pleased the pooch no end, as you can imagine. There was also a lot of helicopter activity which we observed close up during our aborted run near the Lac des Escarcets one day!

While we were in Provence, it would have been rude not to stock up on the rosé wine for which the area is renowned. But I'm not sure that 30 bottles will last me the summer. What do you think?!

It was lovely to explore another part of France. We will hopefully have another trip back there later in the year, but next time in Sadie and with the road bikes. After all, that area is where many of the pro teams train and there is an inexhaustible network of quiet roads on which to have fun. But for now, we are back home where we have much to be getting on with after our week away, starting with the chainsawing of some more wood to replenish our pile which is now seriously depleted. Sunshine is forecast until the end of the week. Yippee!