Subject: French Travelogue 5
Day 8: Jausiers - Entrevaux We were ready to leave Jausiers at 8.00am but the desk was unattended. We had to go and wake up the owner and after settling our account we were on our way. We didn't get very far when we were stopped due to road works. The road was closed indefinitely. We took an alternate route but, you wouldn't read about, road works again. We checked our trusty Michelin map and the only way to get to Entrevaux was to backtrack through Jausiers and up and over the Bonette Pass. This was going to slow up the trip some what and also add extra Km's to the journey but we did not have a choice. Needless to say neither of us were very happy. The road up to Col de Bonette was steep, narrow and very windy. At the summit, 2804m, the vegetation, or the lack of it, was very similar to that of Col d'Izoard. The only difference being that at Bonette the ground was exceptionally stony. The road going down was equally demanding and if anything it seemed to be narrower. Rachel was driving and I was doing the navigating. There was quite a drop on the right hand side, and guess where I was sitting. After a while we came across some buildings that had been abandoned. While we trying to understand some of the French explanation a cyclist came along and offered to translate for us. He explained that the settlement was built for Napoleons alpine soldiers in 1860. He lived in a small village named Etienne, a few miles further down the road. He left stating he will probably beat us down to the village. He must have because we never saw him again. Just past the village we came across a beautiful waterfall and stream and decided to have our picnic lunch. Soon after re-commencing our journey we started to climb again. This time we were heading for the perched village of Roubion. A few Km's further on we could see high up on the mountain and partly hidden by clouds, a village. Rachel turned to me and said We are not damn well going up there, are we? I replied Nuh with a shrug of the shoulders. WRONG. That is exactly where we were heading and the road up to Roubion was a very narrow switch back. All the rocks were a reddish brown. Quite picturesque really. When we could, we stopped the car and took some pictures of Roubion. What a site to see, there was Roubion perilously attached to the mountain side. We eventually made it to the village, parked the car and went for a walk through its narrow, steeply climbing and vaulted passageways. You can really appreciate the authentic charm of this medieval village with its beautiful houses, small squares and fountains.Roubion is twelve century village with incredible views of the forested valleys to the southeast and southwest. We hiked up to the top of the village and photographed the remains of a feudal castle with twelfth century ramparts. The population of Roubion is a little over one hundred. We had to tear ourselves away from hear as time was marching on and we wanted to get to Entrevaux with time to explore plus we needed a room for the night. We were now travelling through the Gorges de Cians. The road had been hacked out of the rich reddish brown rock and there were a lot of overhanging ledges which you had to pass under. I took a lot of video footage through the car window. (Later at home I was very impressed on how it came out) We parked the car and went for a walk along what would have been the old road before the tunnel was built. It was incredible, the colour, the overhanging rock and the fast running stream running alongside. It was photographers dream and needless to say we took many photos. Once out of the gorge it was a short drive to Entrevaux. We arranged for a room at the two star Vauban hotel. The room was large, airy and had excellent wardrobe space. It overlooked the old medieval part of the town and cost 295ff per night. It proved to be comfortable and quiet. A very good choice. Vauban Hotel 4 Place Louis Moreau Entrevaux Phone: 0033 4 93054240 Fax: 0033 4 93054838 Once our luggage was stowed away we went for a wander through the medieval section. You enter the village, first crossing a large stone bridge, high above the fast flowing Vars River, over a drawbridge and finally through the Porte Royal.(Royal Gate) There are apparently three gates with drawbridges which are all in good working order. Features of the medieval town are all around you, - stepped streets and vaulted passageways, fountains and small picturesque squares. High above is the 17th century citadel which dominates the village and surrounding areas. I paid my 10ff, passed through the turnstile and proceeded to wander up the walled path which zig zagged through numerous fortified doorways until you got to the top. The citadel was in a pretty ruinous state but the views were out of this world. The day was hot and not a cloud in the sky. Great for taking some photos. You had to be careful because a lot of the flooring had rotted away and in other places there was gaping holes in the floor. There was evidence everywhere of restoration taking place. Coming down was a lot more difficult, for me anyway, than going up as the path, in places, was very rough and uneven. Well worth the effort though. On the way back to the hotel I met up with Rachel and together we went and had a look at a vintage motor cycle museum. By this stage it was getting fairly late and so we went back to the hotel to book in for dinner. Had 100ff set menu which consisted: - Bacon salad, enough to be a meal on its own, very tasty curried lamb and rice followed by dessert - floating islands on custard. After dinner I took some video of the Citadel and walkway - all lit up. Entrevaux is listed as one of the: Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Day 9: Entrevaux - Nice. Left Entrevaux at 9.00am on a beautiful clear warm morning. Rachel wanted to stock up on fruit and breakfast cereal. We stopped at small charming village named La Toutte. La Toutte was typical of many small villages throughout the south of France, where the main road runs right through the centre and the houses and shops are built right up to the roadside. Invariably the road narrows and extra care must be taken not to hit vehicles or locals.This adds to the charm of these small villages and I managed to shoot quite an amount of video footage through the front car window going through these places. What was not so typical was that part of this village was built on the side of a mountain making it, or part of it, a Perched village. Back in the shop Rachel was having fun time making her purchases. I would doubt that the locals would see many travellers in their local grocery shop and the owner was enjoying practising her English. When Rachel said that her English was very good, the owner really took that as a compliment and a lot of light hearted and jovial banter ensued. Nearly all the conversation was in French but Rachel got the jist of it. And I missed all this, waiting at the car - who goes shopping with their wife anyway? LOL Rachel came back with her purchases, included were two pieces of apple pastry. Well there goes the waist line. What the hell, I will worry about that when I get back to New Zealand. Next thing we hear, Madame, Madame - a young shop assistant was rushing down the road with a bag full of bananas and tomatoes, that Rachel had left behind. After thanking her very much we set off through a pretty gorge on our way to Nice. On the way we stopped at a very nice picnic spot to have our apple pie and fruit, followed by a cuppa, from our thermos. We eventually arrived at Nice and proceeded along English Promenade, which runs down by the beach, past where the million dollar plus yachts are moored in the harbour and finally on to the main road heading towards Eze. On the way to Eze we stopped at a scenic lookout which overlooked Villefranche and took some photos. Unfortunately, all the time that we were on the Riviera, a heat haze hung over everything affecting the clarity of the photos. We carried on past Eze and located our hotel, which would be our home for the next three nights. Terrasses d'Eze Country Club 1138 Route de la Turbie Eze. Phone: 0033 4 92415555 Fax: 0033 4 92415510 This was a four star luxury hotel and was the only time that we strayed from our policy of using mainly two star establishments. The cost per night was 1000ff, dinner averaged out at 300ff and breakfast was 70ff. Even the laundry was very expensive, e.g. 60ff for a blouse and 15ff for a handkerchief. The room was luxurious with air-conditioning and a separate lounge area. The bathroom was beautifully tiled and we had our own balcony which looked out to sea. The staff all spoke English and were helpful, polite, and friendly, in a formal sort of way. If you do not mind paying these sort of prices, this hotel could suit you. The hotel was well below road level and to get down, and back up, an ingenious spiral driveway was used. You drive round a central column until you got to the bottom car park. There was a lighting system which kept the cars going one way until cleared. It was very similar to some car parking buildings but this was a very tight spiral. After we had sorted out all the booking arrangements we drove back to Eze, about 1.5 km's, and wandered through the village. There is short sharp walk up a steep road but once you have reached the medieval part the going gets a little easier. Unlike some we have seen and others we will be seeing, Eze is an extremely tourist driven medieval village with thousands visiting each day. Having said though, it is still well worth seeing. We wandered about the narrow and sometimes vaulted alleyways, visiting some of the many shops. I purchased a very nice walnut shield with crossed battle axes and a crusader type sword in the middle. Right in the centre is metal coat of arms. This will look great on the computer room wall. It was getting near dinner time so we went down to the lower village and had a large and extremely tasty Italian pizza - 50ff each. After the meal we took a drive past the hotel to the small village, la Turbie and parked at the Monaco lookout. I cannot put into words to describe what we saw when looking out over Monaco and all the shimmering colourful lights. The night was warm, there was little or no wind and the stars were twinkling like diamonds overhead. Suffice to say that both of us were suitably impressed. We stayed there for some time, it was difficult to drag oneself away from such a marvellous sight. We eventually did and went back to the hotel. Day 10: Nice After our plate of cereal we decided to go and have a look around Nice. Drove along the waterfront (English Promenade) looking for a park. Eventually found one. Walked along the stony beach and then sat down to do some people watching. A lot of people were roller blading and roller skating along the promenade. Went for a walk, and came across a large market selling fruit and vegetables, flowers and plants. As the day was becoming very hot it was quite fun to take things easy and do some more people watching, while sitting in a shady spot. We took quite a few photos of people going about business buying produce etc. After a while we started getting a bit restless and decided to walk further into the city centre. After a short distance we came to a beautiful square with fountains and gardens packed with flowers. We took a lot more photos, but staying out in the sun was becoming increasingly unbearable and Rachel was complaining of feeling very sick. Went back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day resting and reading in the air-conditioned room. Day 11: Nice Today promised to be another hot one. Forecast for the high thirties. I thought it would be nice to go have a look at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice. Rachel did not look too happy about the idea. She later told me that she thought that we would probably get lost, and get lost we did. We drove around Nice for an hour and half before we found the cathedral. The exterior was very impressive. With the minarets it could have almost been a Muslim mosque. It was getting near closing time so we decided to have a look at the interior and save the exterior photographing until later. Although only small, the interior was a blaze of colour. The principal colour is gold and all the metal objects are covered with gold leaf. In the very centre, immediately above the door that gives access to the alter, the walls are covered with frescos and religious paintings. One of these is a beautiful image of Christ with the Holy Mother on one side and John the Baptist on the other. There many icons there, but the one that caught my eye was one called Our Lady of Kazan. All the carved items are nearly all done by hand. This is the first that either of us have been in an Orthodox church and we were both very impressed. Although we were not allowed to photograph the interior, we took many photos of the exterior. There was some restoration work going on. We headed back to the hotel and after a rest we planned to go to Monaco. We drove into Monaco, the traffic was bumper to bumper. After driving around for more than 30 minutes and not finding a park we returned to the hotel, bitterly disappointed. We were both hot tired and grumpy. The only thing left to do was to pack for the trip tomorrow.

More to come........ P.S. This is the first time that I have written a travelogue to a list and if I tend to go into too much detail and make it boring please tell me.

Richard (New Zealand)