Often we feel the need to hurry, to take in as much of France as possible, before the vacation villas and ‘supermarches’ entirely change the face of this beautiful country. Yes, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you especially see the changes along the Cote d’Azur.
We enjoyed a leisurely drive along the Route du Bord de Mer cradled between the SNCF railway and the lovely Mediterranean seashore. Palms and pines dotted the shoreline, while the jagged peaks of Mercantour lay ahead in the distance. Indeed, there are still many miles of beauty to enjoy. But what is THAT now ahead of us?
We saw this wave-like enormous apparition for miles before we could actually tell what it was – the Maeva Residence Le Baronnet Marina Baie des Anges. The aparthotel stretches for quite a distance along the beachfront, like a series of whitewashed, resurrected Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá. It was all the more a surprising sight, when we learned that the upper village held medieval charm, lovely frescoes and the Escoffier Museum of Culinary Arts. But such is the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary in the changing landscape.
We drove a little further east to stay the night in Cagnes-sur-Mer, another dual personality town. Le Haut de-Cagnes village is poised on a blue-cypressed hill above the seaside fishing port with beautiful views of the sea. Renoir called it “the place where I want to paint, until the last day of my life,” and that is exactly what he did, living in Les Collettes from 1908 to 1919.
Today, you can visit Musée Renoir & Les Collettes situated in his impressive estate set among ancient olive trees. Two delights, among the many to be enjoyed in the museum, are the bust of Madame Renoir in the entry and the terrace view of Cap d’Antibes from her bedroom. Is it any surprise that the beautiful Provencal countryside has inspired some of the world’s most beautiful works of art?
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