February 5, 2018

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Day Tripping from St André

February 5, 2018

There is just so much to do in St André I doubt you could ever get bored, but if like me you get itchy feet once in a while there are tons of outstanding places you can visit for a day or two if you felt like it...

 

Cote d'Azur  (Nice is 1 ½ hours drive from St André)

The Cote d'Azur or French Riviera stretches along France 's Mediterranean coast to the Italian border.  Nice is known as the capital of the Cote d'Azur with its fantastical turn of the century architecture, art museums, fantastic shopping and buzzing cultural scene.  It also makes a good base to explore the rest of the Cote d'Azur as it has excellent rail links along the coast to places such as Monaco, Antibes, Cannes and St Tropez.

You could take a day trip down to Nice on the Chemin de Fer mountain railway and, if you wanted to explore the region more fully, base yourself there for a few nights and stay in one of the plentiful hotels with accommodation to suit all price ranges. Nice tourism has a great list of places to stay, but I often use booking.com for choice and ease. Or of course AirBnB if your looking for something more unique.

 

Beach Clubbing in Nice...

 

 

Italy (Italian border is around 2 hours drive from St André)

As we are based in the far South Eastern corner of France, the Italian border is just a short drive away (around 2 hours drive from St André) and the coastline drive from Nice to Monaco then across into Italy is truly breathtaking, if you can I would happily recommend it.  Ventimiglia is the first larger town you find in Italy beyond the border,  head along the Passeggiata Cavallotti to the beach there are lots of little beach clubs and Pizzerias to while away the day spend the day. 

 

Beach clubbing in Ventimiglia.

 

 

Lavender Routes

Lavender is the one aroma associated with Provence and the lavender fields are a spectacular sight. The flower is harvested when in full bloom between 15th July and 15th August and the Fetes de Lavande (lavender festival) is celebrated with a five day Corso de la Lavande (lavender carnival) which starts the first weekend of August.

 

Lubéron (around 2 hours drive from St André)

The Lubéron valley (Peter Mayle country) with Manosque town acting as the perfect stepping stone between the Lubéron and Haute-Provence.  The entire Lubéron region is criss crossed with fantastic walking trails and a 100km long marked cycle route across the Parc Naturel du Lubéron.  Unlike Haute-Provence most of its lower lying land is farmed, forming a rich patchwork of vineyards, lavender fields, olive groves and fruit farms.

 

Manosque is a lovely day trip with lovely bars, squares and shopping. The main L'Occitane en Provence factory is on the outskirts of Manosque and they host tours and have some great factory bargains.
 

 

 

Les Mees (around 1 hours drive from St André)

Les Penitents des Mees  are rows of columnar rocks 2kms long and over 200m high. Legend has it that that rocks represent the Monks of the Lure Mountain who fell in love with a beautiful Mauresque woman who had been taken captive by a lord after a crusade in the 6 th century. Their punishment was to be turned into rock by a hermit called Saint Donat.

 

Grasse (around 1 ½ hours drive from St André)

Grasse was founded by the Romans and has distinct re and orange tiled roofs with magnificent views across the Mediterranean towards Cannes.  For centuries Grasse has been one of France 's leading centres of perfume production and there are 40 parfumeries in operation today.  The Fragonard museum and perfumerie are well worth a visit, as are the Galimard and Molinard sites.

 

Reserve Geologique de Haute-Provence

The Haute-Provence Geological Reserve covers an area of 190,000 hectares around Digne les Bains and is the largest protected area of it's type in Europe.  It's geological wonders include many woodland walks, study sites and abundant fossils from the tropical forests of 300 million years ago many of which can be seen in museums in the area. Mercantour National Park, and Géomuseum of Haute-Provence, are well worth a visit.  The Geomuseum is family oriented, with the exhibits oriented towards children yet serious enough for adults. Information signs in the museum are in French and English.

 

Gorges du Verdon (around 1 ½ hours drive from St André)

The gorgeous 25km of Gorges du Verdon, Europe's largest canyon, is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Provence . The villages of Castellane (at the eastern end) and Moustiers Ste-Marie (at the western end) are the main gateways into this fabulous canyon. This immense and magnificent canyon straddles the departments of Var and the Alpes de Haute Provence .

 

Since 1997 the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon has protected the deep gorges carved by the waters of the River Verdon. It's the high fluorine content of the water that gives it the magnificent green colour. The bottoms of the gorges can be visited on foot or by raft while motorists can enjoy the views from two cliff-sided roads which link Moustiers Ste-Marie and Castellane.
 

Moustiers Ste-Marie (around 1 hours drive from St André)

This beautiful village sits astride a rushing mountain stream that divides it into two halves with a narrow rocky canyon.  The view of this mini-gorge, with small waterfalls down inside and medieval houses above, is beautiful.  The village has numerous stone bridges and narrow medieval streets with shops selling it's local decorative Provencal pottery.

The centre piece of the village is the 12th-century Notre-Dame church , beautifully restored in 1928.  The "crown" of the village is a golden star suspended high across the valley by a 227m long forged-iron chain.  The star hangs above the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel, with the chain fastened into solid rock on each side of the gorge.  The chain and star project was done as a promise by Sir Blacas, a knight who returned from a long captivity during the crusades.

 

Stunning views from Moustiers...

 

 

Gorges du Cian / Dalius (around 1 hours drive from St André)

Just before Entrevaux, you can take a turning up to the spectacular Gorges du Cians and Gorges de Dalius, both of which are carved from burgundy coloured rock. The Gardienne des Gorges (a rock naturally shaped like a woman's head) guards the northern entrance to the Dalius gorges. Bungee jumping is possible here n the summer from an 80m high stone footbridge across the gorges.

Aix-en-Provence (around 2 hours drive from St André)

Aix is surrounded by countryside full of authentic Provencal houses many exhibiting the unmistakable influence of Italian baroque and traditional French style gardens.  The tree-covered cours Mirabeau is considered to be one of Europe 's most beautiful streets.  The name Aix comes from the source discovered when the city was founded in 123b.c. by the Romans and was the capital of Provence in the 15 th century.  Aix was the inspiration to many of the greatest writers and painters: Guigou, Stendhal, Mistral, Zola, and Cézanne.  There is even a special Cezanne tour which one can follow through the streets of Aix stopping at points marked with a C.


Marseilles (around 2 hours drive from St André)

Marseille is a huge port town which has undergone substantial development in recent years, there are many beautiful shops and artisan markets well worth a see. Marseille is the second-largest city in France after Paris and the centre of the third-largest metropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Domaine du Pigeonnier, La Plaine, Route de Meouilles, Saint-Andre-Les-Alpes, France.

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