Thursday, 28 July 2016

South of France: Part One

View from a luxury villa in Saint MaximeSee that 'Part One' mention?  Mm, yeah that means I'll be sharing a lot of snaps from this month's return to the South of France!  As a general rule, while exploring other cities/climates, I do my best to put down the tech and see the world first hand.  However, the Côte d'Azur really doesn't encourage that - every other second you're faced with new picture-perfect views of sprawling landscapes, glistening pools of water and clusters of tropical plants!  Balancing living in the moment and capturing it for later is an art and one that I'm only now beginning to learn; instead of 'snap, snap and move on', I've been taking the time to capture and then... sit.  I've been sitting, watching and appreciating.  So, scroll on knowing that a lot of love has been poured into each and every one of these moments!
View from my bedroom in Sainte Maxime villa
Villa decor in South of France
Sainte Maxime villa breakfast view
Bowl of pastries for breakfast in FranceFor this month's visit to the South of France, I had the pleasure of staying in a drop dead gorgeous villa at the heart of Sainte-Maxime with family.  Having stayed in the area a few times over the years, it's always a pleasure to return and soak up the summertime vibes of the French Riviera!  After a couple of days spent lounging around by the pool (and eating my weight in madeleines), itineraries were drawn up and a full day of touring lay ahead.  

First up, the Monastery of La Verne, a spectacular site located well and truly off the beaten track (includes 15 minute mandatory walk after parking - wear flats!).  The Carthusian monastery was founded in 1170 and went on to amass over 3000 acres of forest/pastures, partly through donations.  Over time, the monastery has suffered multiple fires and attacks from raiders/neighbouring lords, before being classed as a historical monument in 1921 and going on to have major refurbishments from 1969 to 1982.  Present day, it stands proudly in the depths of the thick forests of Collobriéres, having had a 99 year lease signed in 1983 between the French state and monastic Family of Bethlehem.  The site's tranquility is something worth visiting for alone; nuns can be found praying in modest chapels, lavender grows in masses within the boundaries of small courtyards and the views are spectacular.  Go for the history, leave with a sense of calm.   

Monastery of La Verne
La Verne
83610 Collobriéres 
France     
15 minute walk to Monastery of La Verne
Travel blog review of Monastery of La Verne
Canon EOS 100d flower photography
Travel blogger visit to Monastery of La Verne
Collobriéres is a commune in the Var department in the Côte d'Azur, buried deep in the Maures Mountains.  Though the monastery is a half hour drive away from the sleepy village, the air of calm and tranquility is very much the same.  It's the kind of location that springs to mind when considering where a retired actress or in-demand author would retreat to for some peace and quiet, y'know?  Arriving at lunchtime, the streets were stripped of visitors, as most could be found dining at the popular 'floating restaurants' - those that occupy bridges over the river Réal Collobrier.  Needless to say, we followed suit.  Was it dreamy?  Uhuh!    
Collobrieres tourism french flags
Côte d'Azur Collobrieres village in summer
Travel blogger visit to Collobrieres villageI'm not entirely certain whether the rows of french flags are a permanent fixture in the village, or whether they were strung up to acknowledge recent events; sadly, while in the South of France I had tuned into the news to find dozens upon dozens of people had been killed in the Nice attack.  In a place filled with so much kindness and beauty, it was horrifying to think something so terrible could happen.

Before leaving the small village (less than 2000 inhabitants), a visit to Confiserie Azuréenne was squeezed in, a gated business dedicated to making candied chestnuts (marrons glacés).  The traditional market town is famous for its chestnut trees, to the point of one of its main exports being chestnuts.  Confiserie Azuréenne has a small museum available to check out their creative process of turning them into something sweeter, as well as an outdoors, sheltered ice cream shop. Though, you'll have to let me know how the chestnut ice cream tastes, because never in the history of time have I ever turned down the opportunity to enjoy a caramel scoop!

Confiserie Azuréenne 
Boulevard Kœnig
83610 Collobriéres
France
Collobrieres confiserie azureenne ice cream shop
Caramel ice cream held in the air
Ice cream shop in collobrieres
Côte d'Azur driving tour villages
The day ended in a very different way to which it started; from the thick and quiet monastic-owned forests of Collobriéres, to the colourful and borderline-sumptuous village of Port Grimaud.  The village is another commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France, however is visibly more popular thanks to its status of 'seaside town'.  On the map, it's located just 4.3 miles from Saint-Tropez and was created in the 1960s by architect François Spoerry in a Venetian manner, though with ''Fishermans'' style houses resembling those in Saint Tropez.    
Port Grimaud boats and fisherman style houses
Travel blogger visit to Port Grimaud
Port Grimaud colourful architecture fisherman style housesWhile wandering past the various colourful buildings of Port Grimaud, one restaurant close to the waterfront stood out thanks to the infusion of nature into the front's decor.  Oh and the oversized ice cream cone helped too - because who doesn't love giant foods?  Le Relais des Coches proved to be a pleasant, modest stop.  The staff were wonderful, a soft breeze blew through on a boiling hot day and although I was brought the wrong plate of food, it seemed like a great opportunity to try something new.  Long gone are the days of rejecting cheese in my crêpes!
Port Grimaud restaurant le relais des choches
Port Grimaud restaurant review le relais des choches
Boat on the lake at Port Grimaud travel bloggerThere's only one real way to cool down entirely - hit the water!  Or uh hit the boat in the water.  The tour was in French, though in all honesty that suited me just fine.  My grasp of the French language sits somewhere between beginner and intermediate level, the perfect level to tune out the tour guide and tune into the water...
Summer boat ride through Port Grimaud
Travel blogger in the south of france
Balcony view of Sainte Maxime in Côte d'Azur ... and then back to the villa for a good night's sleep!  One thing I'm already missing is the incredible views from the villa to both start and end the day.  By morning, you could see the yachts speeding across the sea in the distance and by night, the skies were covered with smatterings of deep orange and red shades before the stars emerged.  Anyway, more of that in part two - keep your eyes peeled!

With love,

Gabrielle x
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62 comments

  1. I think most of us dream of vacationing on the South of France so I was more than happy to live vicariously through your photos and experience in this post Gabrielle! What a seriously lovely getaway and it looks like the weather was perfect too. Thanks for sharing sweetie!

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  2. What a gorgeous location! It is the ultimate getaway vacation. I haven't been to France in over 5 years, after viewing your beautiful photos I'm longing to go back.

    Keisha xo

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  3. South of France is one of my favorite parts of the world! These photos make me miss it so much! I can't wait to see the rest of your wonderful trip =o)

    https://dreamofadventures.blogspot.com

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  4. How is that view even real? It looks like a postcard, it's so perfect I can see why you're missing it.

    Loving all these snaps from the South of France, I've been to Paris before but that's it!

    www.thesundaymode.com

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  5. Is there any part of France that isn't gorgeous? I've only been to the South of France about 10 years ago and I'd love to go back. Paris is my favourite city in the world but I'd really like to see the countryside and the south because from the looks of these photos it's just as beautiful, if not moreso.

    Jessica - littlehenrylee.net

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  6. OMG beautiful pictures!!! You make me homesick! I'm from Toulouse (south west) and of course I love south of France. You captured so well the easy going lifestyle of the south and the beauty of it!
    xx
    Aurelie | http://www.surface85.com

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  7. Oh my god, this looks unbelievably stunning. You've clearly been doing Summer right! Can't wait for part two!

    Amber | y a c h t s m a a n

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  8. This is such a pretty place. I would love to visit this town. You captured some gorgeous pics!

    xx,
    Tania
    http://inspiremyfancy.blogspot.com/

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  9. France is so beautiful! :)

    Ellen x
    http://thatsellen.blogspot.com

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  10. Wow, Gabrielle!! These photos are beautiful, they really capture the essence of that lovely little town. That hotel is drop-dead gorgeous, the view from that open window is amazing! I feel like I'm right there with you :P

    Euriental

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  11. France is one of my favorite places! It is so romantic, elegant and beautiful! I love all of your pictures, they make me feel that I was there. Thanks for the inspiration!
    xx
    cvetybaby.com

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  12. Wow, these pictures are great :)
    And your hair is absolutely gorgeous!
    Kat xx http://katharinaberghofer.com/

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  13. Great pics and article!!!

    Have a nice day!
    Photographer Gil Zetbase
    http://www.gilzetbase.com/

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  14. Oh very wonderful place sweetie, looks so charming
    Thanks for share so amazing pics with us
    xx

    www.sakuranko.com

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  15. ohhhh wooooow, it looks so lovely and so perfect to enjoy the holidays *_* so cool :) your photos are just amazing ad I want to go there just now, too :D haha
    hope you enjoyed and relaxed <3
    http://lovelyattitude.com

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  16. Looking at your photos is like a Friday night treat, they're all picturesque while you look lovely.

    www.busyandfab.com

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  17. Wooow your photos are so stunning !
    I really can't wait to come back to my country ! Soon !
    xx,
    Margot
    https://troughthepasturesofthesky.com/

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  18. I am living vicariously through your pictures, Gabrielle and wow, if I could wake up to the view from the window like in picture no. 2 from top, I would be the happiest person on earth. And the large ice-cream cone playing a factor in choosing the restaurant totally sounds like something that I would do. LOL!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

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  19. Wow, your blog is amazing! I love it! xx
    Would you like to follow each other? If yes, please follow me on the both of my blogs and let me know in the comments of my newest posts so I can follow you ASAP.
    Have a great day!

    Vildana from Living Like V & Stalia Is BAE

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  20. The second photo is incredible, what a view. I can only imagine how amazing your vacation could be in this beautiful place, Gabrielle. You look amazing in this black dress. Have a nice weekend ahead.
    Nina
    http://www.ninasstyleblog.com

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  21. I'm a really lover of south of FRance and I know very well these places. I think these are a really marvelous places!!! Have a nice day, kisses,
    Eni

    Eniwhere Fashion
    Eniwhere Fashion Facebook

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  22. It seems like you did a great job at balancing both real and virtual life because you took your time to appreciate the stunning views and the actual moment. I've always heard that the South of France was a dreamy place and your pictures just confrim it. You're looking lovely AND fabulous, dear. :)
    xx

    www.stylebydeb.com

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  23. This is beyond picturesque! I love that you're balancing capturing the moment with living in the moment! It's so important to be present but I like having the photos stashed away for later to reminisce. The monastery and water looked so nice!

    -M

    Violet Roots || Instagram || Twitter

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  24. amazing photos
    http://www.queenhorsfall.com/

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  25. I can certainly feel the love behind every shot! These views are stunning. I'm happy to hear you managed to learn the art of sitting back and relaxing when on vacation...I think it happens to all of us that we just get so worked out taking photos and doing snap, snap, snap that we forget to enjoy the moment.

    the south of france is truly gorgeous...all these views are stunning. Picture perfect landscape indeed! That monastery looks so nice...and I bet that water ride was pretty cute.

    you look tres chic and very beautiful in that little black dress!!!!!!!

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  26. Oh my god this is the life! Everything look like from a movie set...

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  27. What a fabulous view from your bedroom and balcony. The monastery looks well worth a visit

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  28. U look so beautiful and stunning Gabrielle...Amazing photos!..and Great Post hun...xoxo, Neha

    http://www.theinstylejournal.com/

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  29. But so gorgeous with the south of France! You captured it perfectly with the blue skies and all the colorful houses! So good! Xx


    http://www.thefashionfolks.com/blog/makeup-trends-fall-2016/

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  30. Haha yes I see the "Part One", glad it means will be more coming up!
    The view is so beautiful, it must be kind of hard to not take some pictures of it.
    Hope I could feel the peaceful feeling by seeing that live.

    You look gorgeous in that simply sweet black dress too!♥


    www.arindaaps.blogspot.co.id

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  31. Wish I could be there now. What a dream location. Great pics Gabrielle!

    LUXESSED

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  32. This place looks so beautiful! And the croissants, yum! :)

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  33. Gorgeous pictures, I have never been in that part of France, looks so relaxing and calm. Travel wish list immediately.
    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful experience.
    Have a lovely weekend Bella.
    Baci.
    Glamoury Armory Blog

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  34. So gorgeous - I love all the painted houses.

    http://lizziedailyblog.blogspot.com

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  35. I thought you were snap chatting haha. Looks like you had loads of fun in that travel diary!

    <3 | X ALY | Latest: Breezy in Pink Dress Style Post

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  36. You know I don't really mind reading your travel posts as the matter of fact I haven't been there yet! I love reading people' travelling posts!

    www.thequinoxfashion.com

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  37. The views are so incredible! I'm definitely looking forward to exploring France more in the future, there are so many dreamy places. Can't wait for the part 2 :)

    http://allure-square.blogspot.com

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  38. BRB, buying a plane ticket to wherever you are right now Gabrielle!
    Haha I'm seriously in love with these pictures- I need to visit ASAP!

    X

    Anjelique

    http://anjelique.com.au | snapchat: anjeliquetv

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  39. This place looks amazing, these pics are gorgeous , so jello!! :)

    www.fashionjazz.co.za

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  40. Found your blog randomly! What's a gorgeous place and stunning visuals!

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  41. Oh yes, this brings back memories from last year's holiday :-) Great pics!

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  42. Wow, your photos area AMAZING Gabrielle. I can't wait to see the 2nd part of your travel journal.

    www.mydailywear.co.uk

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  43. this looks so fabulous! Deffo booking a plane ticket there some time soon! x

    G

    www.teawithgi.com

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  44. Stunning photos here Gabrielle, the mixture of colours is breathtaking - I love the blue of the sea too, so pretty! I hope you had a wonderful time while you were away, and you're right, sometimes it's best to soak up the moment rather than rushing the trip. - Tasha

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  45. Stunning and so serene! I'm in love with this area! The water is gorgeous and the pastel buildings are so charming

    Http://Leftbankgirl.blogspot.com

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  46. Gorgeous photographs,I'd really like to visit South France soon.!!
    xoxo
    Fay

    If you'd like come say hi:http://faythisway.blogspot.gr/
    Thank you.

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  47. Omg! What an amazing photos you've got here.. Nice blog!

    www.tessyonyia.com

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  48. Port Grimaud looks like an absolute dream! I'm definitely going to have to visit, what a stunning and charming town!

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  49. Wow!!! It seems like you've had so much fun there... Your posts brought me great memories (I spent my honeymoon in Côte d'Azur)... Your pics are stunning, Gaby. Thanks

    PS: Oh BTW, Happy Birthday (I know that it is around the same date as mine - end of July) All the best to you, may your wishes come true :)

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    1. Oh, thanks so much! My birthday isn't actually until late August, though I'll happily take those lovely well wishes all the same! haha :)

      Gabrielle x

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  50. The water looks so blue. Great pics from your trip! I like the images of the monastery. The structure and crosses had a simple kind of beauty that I admire in architecture.
    LaToya
    www.toyastales.blogspot.com

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  51. OH MY GOSH WOW!!!!! I've never been to the South of France before, but you're seriously giving me major wanderlust with these pictures babe! Just beautiful!!!! Xx

    http://theemasphere.com/

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  52. Gabrielle, you've certainly made me want to be whisked away to the South of France. What an absolute treat, and it sounds like the perfect way to end a summer holiday. <3 Have a wonderful new week. Will catch up on part two now. x/Madison
    FASHION TALES

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  53. I just cannot get enough of your adventures! These pictures are gorgeous. I'm getting heart eyes all over the place... the sea is more blue than the sky!!! you lucky duck- enjoy it! xX

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  54. Your entire trip here sounded like paradise, I'm swooning over all of those beautiful photographs you've captured, your trip looks truly beautiful.

    The French water trip looks wonderful, I haven't practiced my French in quite sometime so I would probably struggle to understand it (even though I'm a a 1/4 French myself) as well as I used too.

    Your villa looked so pretty! I love the pretty greenery and flowers, so picture perfect!

    Beautiful post!

    Laura xo
    www.shehearts.net

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  55. Gorgeous photos! Sounds like you had the perfect vacation. The south of France is firmly on my travel wishlist now.
    Christina ♥ https://caliope-couture.com

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  56. I appreciate that you shared these with us...the beauty of nature is incomparable... beautiful pictures :)

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  57. All of your photos are absolutely beautiful! It looks like the perfect holiday! I always underestimate France and never think to go there :) xx

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  58. Oh gosh! I wish I can jump onto the next plane and fly there just to have a break with you, Gabrielle! As the places you went to look so inviting! I especially love your room, the fact that the bed is just next to the window and with such an awesome view *_^

    Yeah, I know! So much atrocity and heart-breaking incidents happened during your trip there, right? It was almost like one after another! Sad indeed.

    I love the sound of a chestnut or even a caramel ice cream!! Oh boy, you are making me drool now! And that giant ice cream sign *_^

    Looked like it was quite a sunny and hot day though, but am sure it had the most wonderful time!

    Thanks for always sharing your travel stories, feels like I just had one myself just reading your post here! Haha

    Have a beautiful weekend ahead

    Love,
    Jeann | LUMINNEJ
    https://luminnej.blogspot.com

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  59. Ahhh ! Oh my goodness, so jealous of your trip ! I was supposed to be heading over in September but it looks like that won't be happening anymore :( I will just have to live through these gorgeous photos haha ! Amazing <3

    XOXO
    Jess
    Http://jessprainstyle.com

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