From Provence Hinterland to the Islands of the French Riviera
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From Provence Hinterland to the Islands of the French Riviera

Before it became a fashionable resort, Saint-Tropez, at the foot of the Maures uplands, was a fishing village. And earlier, it was a pirate stronghold. In the Summer, the crowds take it over, following in the well-trodden footsteps of the stars who made it so famous. All along the coast, between the Gien Peninsula and Cannes, vivid porphyry hills clothed with cork oaks and pines plunge almost sheer into the Mediterranean.

There are countless towns, villages and ports to explore on the coast of the French Riviera and in the upland areas of the arrière-pays  or hinterland. Even more enchanting are the sleepy little towns in the hills. The houses cling stubbornly to the steep hills and huddle tightly together as though looking for protection against the fierce gusts of the Mistral. In this world of steep mountain cliffs, olive grooves and vineyards, flower-decked hillsides and rolling plains, these ancient hill towns jut out like jagged crowns on their hilltops, their shady narrow streets, bordered by houses with pink, yellow, grey and white façades and tiled roofs of pink or ochre. As well as a maze of streets, many of them, such as Tourettes-sur-Loup, still have a rectangular square, once a Roman forum.  

Before it became a fashionable resort, Saint-Tropez, at the foot of the Maures uplands, was a fishing village. And earlier, it was a pirate stronghold. In the Summer, the crowds take it over, following in the well-trodden footsteps of the stars who made it so famous. Fortunately, the old houses packed together within the ramparts have left little room for new building, and so it is still possible to see Saint-Tropez as painters and writers like Colette saw it - but only in the Autumn, when the Summer visitors have gone. 

From the Esterel massif, a long chain of  well-known resorts stretches east as far as the Italian border. In some of them luxury villas and hotels are now mixed with resort facilities of a more popular kind - holiday villages and caravan sites; others still aim at attracting the wealthy. Sainte-Maxime, today somewhat overshadowed by the nearby Saint-Tropez, belongs very definitely to the second category and inclines towards opulent holiday homes rather than tents and  mobile homes.  

A different atmosphere reigns at Cavalaire, which gives onto a 10-kilometer-long beach of white sand curving around a pleasant bay sheltered from the wind.  Here, extensive camp sites and thousands of modest villas intersperse the oleanders and pine trees. All along the coast, between the Gien Peninsula and Cannes, vivid porphyry hills clothed with cork oaks and pines plunge almost sheer into the sea. For the moment, the building promoters are still drooling over the possibilities of the Giens Peninsula, near Hyères, but fortunately the lovely offshore islands of Port-Cros, Porquerolles and Ile du Levant now seem to be permanently protected from "development".

Tourettes-sur-Loup, a picturesque village of Provence perched on the hillside.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Tourettes-sur-Loup.jpg?uselang=fr

In the narrow streets of Tourettes-sur-Loup.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Tourettes-sur-Loup-Rue-France-GB2006.JPG?uselang=fr

The port of Saint-Tropez.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/St._Tropez.jpg

Fishing boats in the port of Cavalaire.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Pointu.jpg

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Comments (1)

Great toknow the history off such a wonderful place - St. Tropez, thank you dear friend.

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