Blog travel diary of the south of franceThe bright and vibrant colours of the French Riviera truly do make a lasting impression, and to the extent of encouraging a three-part South of France travel diary!  So, after yet another couple of days spent flopping around the villa, it was time to rediscover life outside of a bikini.  The beauty of Saint-Raphaël is truly breathtaking and ended up taking a full afternoon and evening to appreciate...
Luxury villa based in saint maxime

White orchid interior design
St Tropez La Tarte Tropezienne dessert
Luxury villa rental in saint maximeBefore going anywhere though, a morning of complete relaxation was on the cards - including a rather indulgent cake-for-breakfast setup!  Although La Tarte Tropézienne is a delicious dessert associated with Saint-Tropez (more of that in Part Three), its popularity sees it stocked at a handful of bakeries in Saint Maxime for approximately 10 euros.  I'm embarrassed to admit the sugared cake was about the size of my face, though at least it fuelled some energetic games of table tennis and pool under the sun!
Photography of blue table tennis table
Fashion blogger in printed blue halterneck maxi dress
Located forty minutes away from Sainte-Maxime, popular Saint-Raphaël sits happily on the map at the eastern end of the Var department.  With 22 miles of Mediterranean coastline, it's not surprising how popular the location has become!  First impressions were good, very good.  Busy beaches and many tourists can be expected during the summertime, though this in no way detracts from the commune's beauty.  The architecture saw me whipping out my camera at every occasion, as did the rows upon rows of boats/yachts lining the Vieux port.
Vieux port at Saint-Raphaël Var
Saint Raphaël ferris wheel
Saint Raphaël church in the sunlight
Saint Raphaël church interior
When the sun began to show signs of setting, dinner called at La Roma, an Italian restaurant located on a corner facing port Vieux.  Arriving at the restaurant's six o'clock opening time worked perfectly as we had our pick of seats - though within just one hour the restaurant was packed full and with a queue of customers lining up outside!  It could have been predicted really as I have absolutely nothing bad to say about La Roma; the staff were really friendly, the decor (including illustrated walls) set a calm and rather romantic scene and the food was ahh-mazing!  And yes, portion sizes were super generous, ahem, as you can tell from my calzone shown below...

La Roma
132 Prom. Commandant Guilbaud
83700 Saint-Raphaël
Sunset photography in Saint-Raphaël
Saint-Raphaël La Roma Italian restaurant
Calzone served at La Roma in Saint-Raphaël
South of France La Roma restaurant in Saint Raphaël
No visit to Saint-Raphaël is complete without having seen the landscape from above.  So before leaving, time was made to hop on the ferris wheel (1 token = 3 spins) to gain an even better perspective on the lively location.  Up, up and up into the sunset.  This is undoubtedly a moment that will stay with me forever; the sight of the sun slowly dropping beneath the horizon far in the distance. Nothing could ever possibly compare to the enormous effect of the sun - and when you really consider that and let it sink in for a moment, it serves as a wonderful reminder of just how small we each are.
Colourful pink building in the south of france
Saint-Raphaël ferris wheel at sunset
Ferris wheel structure by sunset
Saint-Raphaël in summer at sunsetThat day ended on a particularly warm, happy note.  If you ever find yourself in the Côte d'Azur region, be sure to make at least one trip to Saint-Raphaël.  Another element of that day which proved to be a hit was the morning spent playing table tennis and pool - in between snack breaks, of course!  With this at the forefront of our minds, the entire next day was spent doing exactly that - lounging around.

Though just before we hit the point of ultimate relaxation (aka. point of no return and eternal laziness), it was time to dress up once more and head out into Sainte-Maxime.  A walk along the long stretch of golden sand later and a world of restaurants, late-night boutiques and ice cream shops revealed themselves.  I did my utmost not to embellish the blue, floral-printed maxi dress I was wearing with chocolate fondant pudding, before wandering through the boutiques and picking up a few pieces of linen for the remaining summer.  Speaking of which, I adore the thigh-high split on this maxi - it was a fab way of keeping my legs cool underneath the dinner table!

Blue floral printed maxi dress Club L at ASOS
Excuse the last-minute stance - caught emerging up the stairs!
Beautiful red sky over saint maxime south of france
Sainte maxime luxury villa nighttime
South of france saint maxime red sky
Another memorable evening; standing by the pool at around nine/ten o'clock, looking out at the sweeping pink-touched landscape below this impressive sky, surrounded by the smell of burning citronella candles.  Even now, goosebumps creep up my arms at the very memory.  The world truly is a beautiful place.

With love,

Gabrielle x