Why the South of France Is All That.

September 8, 2011

{view of the coastline from one of our walks}
I think it's almost universal how people feel about the South of France.  It feels a bit silly talking about how beautiful the area is, the beaches, the light, the landscape, the weather.  You might hear people complain that it is touristy or pricey, but everyone I talk to seem think it's pretty freaking spectacular.  (There's usually a reason places get touristy and pricey in the first place, I suppose....)
{typical mode of transport....or a maserati}

B and I kept saying that the place feels like a cliché (in the best possible way).  Everyone wears white linen pants and espadrilles and shirts with the collars turned up.  Every young woman has the perfect top knot and straight bangs.  There are boats everywhere.  The fanciest European cars pull up next to you at the local market.  Awnings above restaurants in perfect pastel colors.  There are big bright striped sun umbrellas lining the beaches. The weather is never too hot or cold (yay for sundresses at night!).  I find it oddly reassuring when I discover clichés like this are true.  That it hasn't all been dreamed up and (just) force-fed to us in bad Hollywood movies (like this one...which I saw when I was probably about 15 years old and yes, it made me want to come to the South of France).

{secret swimming coves everywhere}
{in our neighborhood....for reals}
This is a lovely quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald in Tender Is the Night, who spent a great deal of time there.  (B and I both read the book on our honeymoon in the area seven years ago!)

...The diffused magic of the hot, sweet south had
withdrawn into them -the soft-pawed night and the
ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below....
a sea as mysteriously coloured as agates and cornelians
of childhood, green as green milk blue as
laundry water, wine dark.

Isn't that nice?  How could you not fall in love with the place?  (And maybe the person you're experiencing it with?)  
{"our spot" for coffee each morning}
My favorite part of our trip this year involved the days I spent with B exploring little towns on the Côte d 'Azur.  Sasha, thankfully, was there to watch the kiddos, so that meant B and I could wake up, throw clothes on and walk down to the town and have coffee.  And talk.  And look around.  And not be responsible for any small humans and not have to be anywhere anytime soon.  In fact, for the two weeks we were there, we probably had plans 1 or 2 days (and those plans were loose).  We never knew what we were going to do.  It was such a beautiful contrast to the way our life is at home.  Sometimes we hopped on a bus or a train and went to another town.  Sometimes we drove.  Sometimes we just walked.  In fact, everyday we walked.  A lot, like for hours.  Our journeys almost always involved finding the next beautiful walking spot.  There are so many paths that wind along the coast, each more impossibly gorgeous than the last.

{there were stairs, lots and lots of stairs}

And so we would walk, we would talk, and then of course, we would eat.  Sometimes we'd pick up sandwiches and tarts and fruit and such, other times we would find a place to sit and eat and drink some rosé and have a proper French lunch.  I liked it all, frankly.

{peeking down to a beach}
{waiting for the train in villefranche}
{relaxing in the sun after lunch}

{the most amazing and exclusive beach club....someday we will be "official" patrons, instead of the other kind ;-) }
{i picked this house...check out that retractable awning!}
Also, how could you not love a place where every single house (no exaggeration) is named?  It was hard finding the house numbers, but the name was always proudly (and beautifully) displayed.

{our house}

It's safe to say B and I are still committed Italophiles, but there is certainly something magical about the South of France.  I'd go back anytime.

p.s.  I worked really hard to write a post without any kid pictures....how'd I do?!  ;-)


  1. thank you for this mini (sigh-filled) vacation at my keyboard. I will never get enough of the south of France. It's just so plain magical.

  2. Cliché or not, it will always be stunning! But what I can't imagine is being able to go on vacation with a nanny. Although I love traveling avec mes enfants, it must be really nice to have a little time without them, too. Maybe I can pick up a niece in England and bring her with!? Never thought of that until now. Hmm....

    PS. I have that same Rikshaw tunic! ;)

  3. getting serious travel bug right now. i already had it actually. just bigger now. you guys look fabulous on the french riviera!

  4. Gorgeous! On a trip to Spain this summer, my husband and I decided we (also both Italophiles) could happily spend every summer on the Mediterranean. Other areas of Spain were nice, but the beach towns in the south were dazzling. You've inspired me to finish posting about our trip on our blog. Thanks!

  5. Oh wow. Just wow.


  6. Loved this so much. I've put it on my list of places to go in the next few years. This is so funny, but I took Tender is the Night on my honeymoon as well (in 2005)...except we were in Mexico so it really wasn't such a great fit but a lovely read anyways. :)

  7. Very nice - glad you guys had a good time and got some couple time, and I love the idea of naming a house!

  8. You did good. Very good.

    "How could you not fall in love with the place? (And maybe the person you're experiencing it with?)"

    ...My favorite part :).

  9. Absolutely amazing post!! I've been pouring over these photos and your words -- just lost in them. The South of France is a cliché & definitely "all that!" xx's

  10. So, what shall your house be named? (Loved the pictures, thank you!)

  11. aaaaah, feel like i just joined you!

  12. Thanks for that post. How lovely. The walks, talks, water and food. That's Josh and my idea of a great vacation. I also love not having plans. It's one of the most relaxing things I can think of.

    I like the idea of naming your house. My friend and professor has a home in San Miguel de Allende and they named it and had Doyald Young make a logo for it. Very romantic.

  13. so pretty!!! even better with a sitter for the little ones, yes? sometimes mom and dad need to like REALLY be on vacation too.

  14. i feel like i just went on vacation. beautiful beautiful.

  15. Fabulous post. You just brought me straight back to me and the hubs vacation last fall in Villefranche... that walk along the ocean with that insane modern house with awnings... those stone paths... ah me to be there again! C'est Magnifique!

  16. Jora, my husband and I are tossing around places to go next year for our 15th anniversary. You are making a very, very good case for the South of France! :) I haven't been back since I was a teenager, but your post & photos bring back so many memories...

  17. Um, yeah. Don't mind me while I just pick my jaw up off the flow. Holy smokes, lady. This looks like the trip of a lifetime. These photos are stunning and I'm been to the south of France. Clearly I did not come anywhere close to your south of France. Well done!

  18. all american, white socks.............

  19. Wow! The south of France is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing the pics. I just feel like I did some traveling tonight. ;)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...