COTE D'AZUR, FRANCE

What is your most unforgettable Escape?

I count any chance I can go abroad as memorable, I wouldn’t say one trip has been more unforgettable than the other. But for the purposes of defining escape, I’d pick the road trip I took through the South of France coastline. This multi-stop roadtrip was all about breaking free from any kind of routine and just letting go.

2.What was the purpose of your travel?

I wanted to go somewhere beautiful, warm. Somewhere I had never been. I knew I would be getting married soon, and my fiancé Andrew was busy with work but I had some free time. So my best friend and I decided, let’s do this. 

3.With how many people did you travel?

My best friend Alicia Yates went with me on this trip. 

4.Where did you stay?

We did overnight stays in Paris, in Cassis at a hotel right across the street from Plage du Bestouan, in Saint Tropez at Ermitage Hotel, in Saint Paul de Vence at La Colombe D’or and one night in Nice so we could fly back to NY the next morning.

5.What did you most like about the trip?

It was as much of a learning experience as it was for pleasure. When you go on a trip with a significant other, it’s really easy to just keep between the two of yourselves and be in your own little world. When you go with a friend, you’re more inclined to socialize and be more independent.  One of the best nights came from this idea of just being open and positive- at Ermitage Hotel we ended up making fast friends with the staff.  They invited us to a party where they were celebrating the last night of the season and it ended up being a crazy night complete with French Karaoke. It was really refreshing to make conversation with different people (especially attempting to in a new language) and taking on new roles than what you are used to.

6.Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip?

Floating on my back in the swimming pool at La Colombe D’or and staring up at tall Cypress trees and the Calder Mobile perched by the water’s edge. 

7.Your most surprising find during the trip?

French water shoes. I’d wanted a pair for water activities when I go on beach trips, but hated how bad they all looked. Leave it to the French for the most chic water shoes you could ever find.  I saw this cool French woman wearing them to swim on Cassis’ rocky beach. American beach culture is so much different from the French, especially the women. They wear Goyard bags and have their hair in elegant up-dos even on the beach. I ended up learning a few tricks from them, like using Avene to spray saltwater off your face.  A few months later, I took the shoes with me to Costa Rica and also a small bottle of Avene Thermal Spring Water. 

8. Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip?

I could’ve lived off strawberries and Domaine du Paternal rose. Strawberries in France just taste so real and wild. They’re so good that the morning we were to depart back to NYC, we made sure to get a big carton of strawberries from the farmers market in Nice to bring to the airport. 

For restaurants: Le Bonaparte in Cassis, the two little spots on Rue des Remparts (which Brigitte Bardot described as the most romantic part of town) in Saint-Tropez, the restaurant at La Colombe D’Or where you can sit across from original Matisse paintings and Olive and Artichaut in Nice.  

9.What are the must tries of the city?

Taking as many swims possible in the magical mediterreanean water, hiking to Calanque de Port-Pin in Cassis, Plage des Graniers and sitting outside with a ‘piscine’ sized wine at Le Senequier in Saint Tropez,  a visit to the Maeght foundation in Saint-Paul de Vence.

10.Any hidden gems you could whisper to us?

The whole town of Cassis is a gem itself. There are no uber cool or hip restaurants, which is so refreshing. It’s very classic. On the way to Saint Tropez, there are some really cute hidden beaches  backed by pine forests, like Plage de l’Estagnol and Plage du Pellegrin.  And then there is La Colombe d’or hotel, which is just like a big shiny diamond.

11.Would you go back?

Oui!

 12.Could you list a few of your favorite finds you came back with?

Shearling lined Espadrilles from L’espadrille Tropezienne in Saint Tropez,  vat tax refunded Hermes scarves and Eres underwear, beautiful shaped rocks from each beach that I visited.

13.Any tips that might be useful to know before going there?

For Americans, get a refillable European credit card (the kind with a chip) at the airport and put some money on it. There are tolls/automated machines on the road that don’t accept cash or magnetic strip credit cards. Brush up on French roadsigns and definitely get GPS in your rental car.

14.Next stop you would like to visit?

Jamaica for my birthday this Fall, then beginning 2016 with another visit to Costa Rica. That year Andrew and I hope to do a similar multiple city stop trip, this time in Italy, for our belated honeymoon.