On our last morning in Nice, we made our way back to Cours Saleya. Although we had been there the day before, we wanted to see it set up with its famous flower market. The market did not disappoint with its stalls, previously packed with precious antiques, now full of gorgeous, locally-grown blooms of every color and variety.
Next, we stopped in Maison Auer, a nearby candy shop that has been in business since the early 1800s. The shop itself was a beautiful little gem, and it was worth it just to go inside and see its gorgeous displays. Unable to deny my sweet tooth, we bought some candies, including some sweets made according to the shop’s original recipe from the 1820s! It was really neat to experience a historical item by tasting it, but as it turns out, there’s a reason people don’t make candy that way anymore. We’re glad we tried it the old recipe, but one taste was enough for us.
After stocking up on some French wines, we headed out of town and drove about an hour to Cannes. Downtown Cannes is home to a pretty harbor encircled by a promenade and restaurants. We arrived downtown a little after lunchtime and to our surprise, most of the restaurants were closed. As we learned, many restaurants are open only for limited lunchtime hours, then they close and reopen later in the evening for dinner. We were able to have some lunch in one of the brasseries that was still open, then we headed for the beach.
Cannes has a very long, publicly-accessible, sandy beachfront with a beautiful, clear blue water and a magnificent view of the curving coastline. We relaxed on the sand, and P had a nice swim (it was a little too cold for me!) as we enjoyed a few hours on the beach.
We got our fill of sun and sand, then hopped in the car for the two-hour ride to Ramatuelle. Ramatuelle is a town situated just outside of Saint-Tropez and is home to Pampelonne Beach, one of the most acclaimed beaches in the French Riviera. We met our AirBnb host, got settled in, and then walked over to Pampelonne.
When I imagine walking from a coastal home to a beach, I think of walking in my flip flops along wide, sandy paths or pebble roads, with a beach bag slung over one shoulder and a beach chair slung over the other. This was not that. And it was a good thing we weren’t carrying much, because our walk took us along a very narrow path through a dense forest of bamboo and other brush. We felt like jungle explorers!
When we finally reached Plage Pampelonne, we took in the beautiful vista and began walking along the long, wide beachfront. As we strolled, we noticed a person in his birthday suit. A few minutes later, we passed a similarly-clad (or more specifically, unclad) person. Trying to be cool and accepting, neither of us made any indication that anything unusual was going on, until we saw a few more people. P eventually politely remarked, “Babe, um, I think this is a nude beach.” And then we both burst out laughing – not because we were at a nude beach – but because we had both been going along pretending that nothing was the slightest bit surprising or out of the ordinary.
As it turns out, only one small part of the beach (the part where we happened to start walking) is clothing-optional, and we were not overdressed for the remainder of our evening stroll. The beach, sky, and sea were gorgeous and they melted into a rainbow of pastel colors as the sun slowly went down.
As it grew dark, we made our way back to our lodgings, then headed into downtown Saint-Tropez for some dinner. Downtown Saint-Tropez was an interesting place and it struck us as a sort of playground for the ultra-wealthy. We walked along the downtown harbor that was lined with megayachts, each more extravagant than the next. One restaurant that we walked by,”L’Opéra,” featured an outdoor dining area in the middle of which stood a large, fiberglass stage lit with fluorescent-colored lights. On the stage, a single opera singer sang a lovely and dramatic aria while diners enjoyed their meals. Still dressed in our beach clothes, we opted for a simpler dining experience before turning in for the evening.