Author: Mrs A
Location: Bagnols-en-Forêt, Provence-Alps-Côte, France
Our wonderful hosts have lived within the community of Bagnols-en-Forêt for about four years now. It’s tucked up on the hinterland behind the sparkling Mediterranean, on land which traditionally has been used to grow olives and grapes, but these days is more profitable being subdivided to house terracotta tiled villas with swimming pools.
Sunday: We joined them for a walk around the neighbourhood with Genie, their little poodle-cross rescue dog, and got a good feel for the area. Many of the houses are on half acre plots with lovely gardens. Just 100 metres from the back of Diane and Colin’s property the forest stretches on for miles with views out to the foothills of the Alps.
Later, we drove on down to the village for a lazy Sunday lunch, enjoying salads and a glass or two of local Rosé.
Colin and I awaiting our lunch
Towards the end of the afternoon a rental car arrived bringing Jenny, David, Chris and Karen to the house, here to enjoy their final four days in Europe before flying back to Australia. Colin cooked us all up a delicious feast and we had a good catch up.
Monday: We awoke to a beautiful morning and so Mr A and I decided to jump on our bikes and see a little more of the area. We rode up into the area behind Colin and Di’s house and explored some of the tracks leading into the forest. It’s great fun riding our little e-bikes and we were grateful for them on the steep uphills back out of the valley.
The area is stunning, and as we rode through the area full of wildflowers we marvelled at how parklike the area was. We reached a clearing along the road and with views that took our breath away – looking south towards the Mediterranean, Saint-Raphael gleaming in the distance, and north up into the beginning of an alpine environment.
We clocked up 20km and returned to get ready to head out with the group. We piled into two cars and headed south towards the coast. Our first stop was the little town of Fréjus.
The town is on the site of an ancient naval base founded by Julius Caesar in about 50 bce and known originally as Forum Julii. Its Roman ruins include a late 1st-century amphitheatre, an aqueduct, and ancient fortifications.
As we arrived in town we saw a parade starting – it turned out it was the saint day for saint François de Paule, the Italian monk who arrived on the day the plague ended in the town – and henceforth was praised for being the town’s saviour.
We ambled through the little streets, checking out the architecture, arriving at the main square and the cathedral.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame et Saint-Étienne (13th century) has a 5th-century baptistery, gradually being excavated.￼ ￼￼
After lunch in the square we drove a short way along the coast to Saint-Raphaël. A €4 ferris wheel ride gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy views along the coast and get our bearings in this resort town.
We explored the streets before ice creams and returning back for the evening. Di and Colin had booked us a unique experience, a private dinner prepared and served at a local farmhouse, La ferme Constantin in nearby Fayance.
It was a fabulous rustic setting, as we enjoyed wine and appetisers outside overlooking the fields, before heading in for food as the sun set.
Our private dining room
It was a great experience, one we will never forget.