Perched villages of the Cote d’Azur
Before we get on to the perched villages of the Cote d’Azur, I would like to mention that I have noticed some strange french characteristics after many years travelling to France. France is a huge country and I’m not talking about the WHOLE country. The people in northern France are very different and more akin to Northern Europeans in outlook and lifestyle. No, I’m talking about the Eastern section of the Cote d’azur. Here, they are a very singular, insular people and have developed some strange habits! Well, strange to the rest of the world, perfectly normal for them of course.
Many is the time I have queued in a french supermarket in a rural area, only to blush bright red as the elderly gentlemen standing behind me discuss the size of my bottom – quite openly and unashamedly! This is a daily occurrence, sexism laws just do not affect the french who blatantly ignore such dictate from the EU. Oh, and they really do say ooh la la – a lot – again usually with reference to some part of my anatomy! I was reminded of this at the weekend during my visit to St Agnes, victim again of casual sexist remarks. I have concluded it is much better not to learn french and then you will be blissfully ignorant to all the insults.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I know this is a huge generalisation, but xenophobia, misogyny and sexism are rife. I don’t know how french women put up with it. Oh another peculiarity is that cinq a sept really does exist! If you don’t know what this is then Google it! I think this explains the mad rushing about in cars, tooting horns and suffering from road rage
The beauty of the Cote d’azur more than makes up for these annoying french habits as does the food, politeness in general, delicious food and many other things!
There are over 120 perched villages on the Cote d’azur! I’m just visiting a handful that are near my villa. My visitors always enjoy them and I hope you will too. It might give you some ideas for a day out – great to escape the heat of summer, it is always cool in the hills.
PHOTO: ST AGNES
The most popular with tourist is the Medieval village of Eze, perched dramatically above the sea. Meander through the streets visiting tourist junk shops interspersed with some nice art galleries and stop the Chèvre d’Or for lunch. If however, like me you avoid anywhere with tourist buses then visit in the evening when they have all gone home. The village is dramatically lit at night too.
After Eze you can drive towards La Turbie – good place to stock up for a picnic if you are planning an al fresco feast. Take a tiny road on the left going out of the village towards Menton signposted Peille. Keep going until you come to Peille.
This is my least favourite of the perched villages, maybe it is me but I find it slightly creepy and more shabby than chic! Although it makes for a great photo with the 14c remnants of buildings.
You may disagree but if not, just stop and take a few snaps and then retrace your steps a couple of kilometres and take a tiny road on the left to Saint Agnes. The road alone is worth the trip breathtaking views and hairpin bends, quite an adventure! This route is often used for car rallies and the sometimes the tour de France – you will see why!
It looks like something from a fairytale doesn’t it? A sign is proudly displayed at the entrance to the village stating it is one of the most beautiful villages in europe and at 800m the highest Littoral village in europe – quite a claim. It is certainly very pretty and with an interesting history, including the church which dates in part from 1535. At the southern end of the village you can visit a fort built into the cliff that was built as part of the maginot line of defences in the second world war.
Village of St Agnes , a perched village on the Cote d’azur
Another peculiarity of the french is that they will eat anything that moves! Again, this is a leftover trait from times when food was scarce and one that is still practiced today. All of the bits that we generally throw away, and even my dogs would refuse to eat, appear as delicacies on a french menu; brains, guts, tripe are very common. They also have a love of hunting and freedom to hunt anywhere during the hunting season is still widely practiced today,also a tendency to shoot themselves by accident.
little restaurants and art galleries in St Agnes
The food in the isolated villages is generally good and in season. I’ve eaten delicious fresh Trout in the restaurant above but you will also find rabbit and wild boar in season. Well, after a good lunch you can get back into the car and drive down towards Menton. Enough for one day!
To be continued …. Roquebrune Cap Martin and Eze in detail
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are only a personal opinion and any resemblance to anyone is entirely coincidental!