Nedo Pinezić: Cote d’Azur and Provence in five days – tourism around us

first_imgAt the very peak of the tourist season, when everyone who cares about themselves needs to comment on Croatian tourism and compare it with tourism in other countries, we decided on a special experiment: we become tourists of a modern profile.On Saturday, August 23, we were still not sure if we were going on a trip. We decided that on Sunday morning. The destination of our trip was France – Provence. The way to travel – the only possible for such a “quick” decision – by car. By noon we were packing for the trip and planning the route and booking accommodation through first destination will be Savona, about 700 km away. We left at 14 p.m. Navigation took us at 20,30 across the hilly Ligurian hinterland to the town of Sassollo, some twenty kilometers from Savona. Accommodation here is cheaper by about thirty Euros, the difference is enough for a good dinner for two. For sleeping, whenever possible, we choose family accommodation, so on this occasion we booked one night in the B&B house “San Giovanni”, which also has a restaurant of the same name. The warm welcome of the hosts was just an overture to an amazing experience.The Muscardin family is originally from Lošinj. Ustrine is named after their company, after the birthplace of Mrs. Rita’s parents. Pleasant conversations imbued with emotions towards the beloved Kvarner culminated in a special gift – we received a book of poetry “La memoria del mare”, illustrated with photographs of the Cres – Lošinj archipelago with a dedication by the author, Mrs. Rita.Comfortably located in a house that radiates a special atmosphere, we rested from the hard road and headed for – breakfast. The price of 60 Euros for a double room includes breakfast in one of the local cafes in the center. Instead of a voucher or electronic card, the hosts gave us a signed and stamped business card. We decided on a cafe with a long tradition – “Jole”. At “Joleta” you can drink great coffee, have breakfast, but also buy local products offered by producers united in an agricultural cooperative. Canned mushrooms, jams, almond and hazelnut products, cheeses and spreads… everything can be bought in the cafe at “Joleta”.By the way, the Ligurian hinterland is irresistibly reminiscent of Gorski kotar, and their narrow winding roads are attractive to cyclists, especially road cyclists. On some sections, bicycle traffic is equal to motor vehicle traffic. Liguria is one of the smallest Italian regions, with a total population of 235 million in 1,6 municipalities. The hinterland is hilly with peaks up to 1.500 m above sea level. The weather conditions are similar to those in Kvarner – unstable with a lot of precipitation. Liguria has its “Gorski kotar”, it has its “Rijeka” (Savona) and “Opatija” – San Remo! This tourist town with 57.000 inhabitants is protected by the Maritime Alps from the effects of cold currents, so it is known for its flower growing and year-round tourism.San remoSan Remo is best known for its music festival, which has been held continuously since 1951. This festival was a model for many Croatian festivals – Opatija, Split, Zagreb… What attracted our attention were the hundreds of greenhouses and hothouses for growing flowers, fruits and vegetables on demanding terrain that descends steeply towards the sea. The developed culture of fruit and vegetable production will follow us all the way. Just like all the present solar panels and excellent infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.You can ride a bike or walk along the Riviera and along local roads. Bicycle paths are specially marked and physically separated from the road for motor vehicle traffic. But bicycles are used on all roads, in fact bicycles are equal to other means of transport. Invigorated by a good meal at the Corsican bar, we continue our journey from San Remo along the coastal state road to Monte Carlo.Monte CarloThis second smallest country in the world founded 8.1. In 1297 it had a population of 32.000 and covered only 2 km2. Tourism is the principal source of income for the principality, where its citizens do not pay taxes, and its GDP per capita is $ 21.000. A perfectly organized city – the state captivates with its distinctive architecture that has brought concentrated construction to the level of aesthetic harmony. Prestigious yachts are moored in the port of Monegasque, on the stern of which newly composed rich people from the east are loudly gesturing and uniformed crews are parading, and all this is being watched closely by thousands of tourists who leave the same amount of euros here – per hour.Parking, city tour, souvenirs, food and drink… in two to three hours each visitor to Monaco leaves the principality a minimum of 50 and more Euros. Everything seems like a well-directed play attended by a large audience. The same scenario awaited us in our next destinations, Nice, Cannes, Saint Tropez… However, it should be said that each port of these most elite destinations has room for small boats of the locals, and a special place deserves traditional boats, gucevi.In general, the domicile population lives their usual rhythm of life everywhere, bottles are played in parks in the city center, people work in hotels, restaurants, shops, well-organized beaches, but also in kiosks offering simple food, stalls with cheaper clothes, souvenirs… Everywhere it has everything, for everyone’s taste and for everyone’s pocket.Cote d’Azur / PixabayNicaNice especially surprised us. We were expecting a town like Opatija, and we were greeted by an agglomeration of millions. Nice alone has a population of 350.000, and with the surrounding settlements and cities it exceeds one million inhabitants. We are trying to imagine a city the size of Zagreb that would stretch from Mošćenička Draga to Novi Vinodolski “stretched” deep into the hinterland.Nice is the capital of the Cote d’Azur, a pulsating center with a rich offer of diverse facilities. The airport built by the embankment has three runways with very frequent arrivals and departures, every 5 to ten minutes a plane lands and takes off… DHL, Air France… Nice’s tourist history begins in the late 19th century when it is discovered by the English as a pleasant winter resort . It is an irresistible link with our Opatija, which at the same time is discovered by Austrians for the same motives.The first hotel in Nice was built a little later than our “Kvarner”. “Negresco” was built in 1912 and did not have time for business take-off. World War I destroyed the owner of the Romanian Count Negrescuo. Nevertheless, the hotel has been preserved, renovated and today operates as one of the most elite hotels in Nice. Perhaps the most impressive of all in Nice is the promenade. The “English Promenade”, 5 kilometers long and wider than the roads through the city, allows thousands of walkers, swimmers, cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers uži to enjoy the promenade that provides a lot of content and different scenes. Here, as in all other destinations, it is not a problem to find accommodation of all categories, so two-star hotels are located just a hundred meters from the coastal promenade.Cannes As in any film, the journey took us further to the most prestigious place in the world when it comes to film art. Cannes, a small town near Nice with 67.000 inhabitants, covers an area of ​​19,6 km2. The first holiday villa was built here by an Englishman, Lord Brougham, in 1839. The real rise in the “orbit of popularity” of Cannes was given by the decision of the French government to establish a film festival in that city. It was 1946. Well anticipating the magical power of the film industry, the French developed this small place with a pleasant climate into a synonym for movie stars. This is exactly what the one-hour train tour of Cannes is based on. Of course after Lord Brougham and especially with the arrival of Hollywood stars, hundreds of prestigious villas for famous names were built and after that thousands of apartments and holiday homes for tourists who want to be in a place visited by the world’s Jetset.We booked the second night in a French chain of B&B hotels, some thirty kilometers from Nice in a place with an interesting name – Sophia Antipolis. (This is the “Silicon Valley” of France). We had problems with navigation, so we bought a map of the region at TIC and paid 10 Euros for it. Such cards are given away in Croatia, and in France they also make money on them. Here is another “input” for Croatian tourism analysts.The B&B chain is irresistibly reminiscent of the Etap hotels of the French chain Accor. Simple, neat and clean, at the level of two stars and at a price of 79 Euros for a double room with breakfast. Still, we are looking forward to accommodation in a real Provencal house which we also booked through We get there the next day.L isle sur la SourgeThe road to L isle sur la Sourge led us through a landscape very similar to our climate. A mixture of the Adriatic north and south, olive groves, pine trees, vineyards, lots of stone, yellow and red earth… and incredibly consistent architecture. Probably our architects and spatial planners would suffer from depression if they had to sign projects in Provence. All houses are authentic. Where facades were originally made of stone and today even modern villas are built in the same way, if the facades are rustic made of local material, a mixture of sand and lime then all the houses are made in that style. Facades, shutters and roof coverings are simply “default elements” without the possibility of experimentation.This is where any resemblance to the Croatian coast ends. We notice more and more differences with each kilometer traveled. Incomparably richer natural environment in Croatia and also incomparable cultivation culture in France. Orchards, vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields, greenhouses, farms… Food is really produced here. And it is felt in every bite whether in restaurants or shopping in small specialty stores of fruits and vegetables, meat products, cheeses and wine…Supermarkets are not as widespread as on our coast, so we have an advantage, I think?French accommodation with the ownerWhen we arrived at our destination, the Mas Clement estate, we were thrilled – it’s Provence! From the main road, a massive door opens up a macadam road decorated with cypresses, lavender and a “green wall” to a typical Provencal house about fifty meters away. Accommodation in a double room with bathroom basket 100 Euro per night. Breakfast is included. The house also has a swimming pool. But the general impression is that the owner has a slightly more relaxed sense of tidiness and cleanliness, which was especially evident in and around the pool. Breakfast is a special experience. All guests sit at a common table on the pergola terrace. On the table are three thermoses with hot water, coffee and milk, one half-used butter in the original packaging, a salad bowl and one baguette placed on the table for two seats. There are also two types of marmalade in a 500 gram vase on the table, and the hostess personally, with her hand from the scrapbook (paper bag), shares the “following” – one croissant for each guest.Tea, milk or coffee are drunk from a salad bowl, because “it’s a French breakfast”. The bed in the room consists of floorboards on legs and a beautifully painted front laid on the wall. All room equipment is cheap, deftly “rustic”, which would be called “stucco e pitura fanno una bella figura”. The lady has four double rooms and earns 400 Euros a day in a very casual way. From foreign languages ​​he speaks good morning, thank you, room, pay, goodbye. It is accommodation in the household in the French way. The house was full, mostly French people who are also the most frequent guests. All guests come with good cars, they are middle-aged, nice people. A sleek couple from Germany in a convertible stands out, the lady speaks excellent French and English. I have to admit I was quite confused by the startled condition.Guests to be desired – and the service could be even betterThe situation is similar in restaurants and shops. Rarely does anyone speak a language other than French, the service is correct and no more than that, and the prices are slightly more than correct. Contrary to this impression, the audience is generally well-off, people who like to tour the area they visit and enjoy the local culture and gastronomy. This can be seen in the fleet and well-visited bars.The matter seems to be in order of importance. The most important thing is the atmosphere, and it is completely retro, completely in line with tradition, blended into the environment. This patina can be seen everywhere – on the floor, on houses in shops, restaurants… PVC equipment is a real rarity, natural materials, original antiques and faithful replicas predominate. In this context, accommodation is something that is a “necessity”, and everything else is a real value. Thousands and thousands of people visit specially branded towns like Gordes every day that are authentic in a preserved ambience where even a new hospital is built in the old style. Parking lots, restaurants, souvenir shops… are real “cash machines” that collect thousands of Euros a day from people who come to admire this consistency in preserving authenticity. Despite the large crowds, the flow of traffic was ensured with the help of on-duty police officers and large parking capacities. Pages of the text could be written about each town, and the connection with our Dobrinj, Vrbnik and similar small towns would almost be imposed. However, the mistakes already made, especially in Vrbnik, where the new building did not adapt to the current view, unfortunately permanently eliminate such branding in the future. What is important to note is that in these preserved historic cities live a population who are even allowed to enter the pedestrian zone by car. A city without people would be just a backdrop without action.A city of artists and antiquariesOur “basic” L isle sur la surge, is known as the second most famous center of antiquities in France (after Paris). In a small town the size of Krk, 300 antique shops have been registered. The most famous festival of art and antiques in France is held here in mid-August. On weekends, a large antiques market opens with 40 bars offering all sorts of items from the distant and recent past. The city lives off of it. It has branded itself as a city of artists and antiquarians. In addition, the city is surrounded by canals in which watercourses drive numerous mills, once important drivers of the economy, today a tourist attraction. It is also called “little Venice”. In the summer, the locals enjoy riding on wooden canals along the canals, and kayak-canoeing is a well-developed sport with all the bowling alleys present.Tourist Information CenterAt the local tourist information center, we received useful information about famous destinations, including the lavender museum. All tourist information centers in the rural area are in fact branches of a regional tourist organization, in this case the Var region. There are no more wonderful picturesque brochures in them. The Internet has taken on the role of a “picture book”. TICs or “visitor centers” offer only leaflets and brochures of specific products – hiking, cultural and historical tours, cycling itineraries, wine routes, wine routes, family routes, gastro tours, entire regions regije and everything tailored to individual guests. That’s how we came to the information about the lavender museum.Lavender field, France / PixabayLavender MuseumThe Lavender Museum is actually a well-organized tour of the Le chateau du Bois distillery. An educational tour that is also tailored to individual guests (a tour with mobile synchronized setup interpreters) ends of course in a well-equipped shop with service assistants. Enriched with new knowledge about lavender and lavender, we decided to go on a trip to the Middle Ages.AvignonAvignon, the papal city, still exudes a heavy medieval impression. The Papal Palace, but also the whole old town, seem bare, a bit neglected, at night even gloomy, just “medieval”. However, here we found a restaurant with Wi Fi zone and a waiter who speaks perfect English. To book the last night on the way back, after an unsuccessful “surfing” on the Internet, we decided to use the “jocker call” method. We called the kind hosts Muscardin in Sassoll who found us accommodation in a household not far from their B&B facility.Saint TropezOn the way from France to Italy we decided to stop by Saint Tropez. “Sugar in the end”, Saint Tropez, a town smaller than Rovinj, became a place of prestige when the most famous French actress Brigitte Bardot fell in love with this place as her favorite destination. It didn’t take long for the world’s Jetset yachts to arrive from nearby Monte Carlo and Cannes. Bardot also built her mansion here, and well-to-do stars began to compete to build a house closer to hers… Everything else is a legend.It took us an hour and a half to cross five or six kilometers of the local road to the town. From morning to evening, ride in a column on the stretch that corresponds to the route Malinska – Porat. This was exactly my first association, Porat could have been the second St. Tropez, and Malinska nearby Maxim that no urbicide occurred in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Like St. Tropeza and Porat had their own charm, and the first villas built in the 5s were like those in St. Tropez blended into the environment. In the XNUMXs, mass construction of multi-storey buildings of various styles began, without backyards and gardens, concreting which is diametrically opposed to the situation on the Cote d’Azur. There, no house overhangs the pine trees, and a green environment is something that goes without saying. Anyway, all these columns of cars rush to see this fashionable place and for that they pay XNUMX Euros per hour for parking on the endless parking plateaus. A well-organized excursion fleet of boats transports hundreds of tourists every full hour for a panoramic tour of the villas of celebrities – Sarkozsy, Benetton, Al Fayed, George Michael… and dozens of other celebrities have their Provencal-style villas on the slopes of the shores of St. Tropeza.When this task is completed in an hour and 10 Euros, all that remains is to eat something and buy some souvenir in a picturesque place visited by armored limousines. People play ballots, sell their products at the market, and if you are lucky, you can “comb your hair” in that crowd about some famous person. In the harbor lined yachts in front of which are deployed painters artists, the first “settlers” in the picturesque St. Tropez. Wealthy yacht owners fulfill the wishes of their companions and buy “freshly” created works of art on the waterfront. A good recipe for the coexistence of artists and their rich patrons. Boats of the local population as well as traditional wooden boats are moored next to the yachts. They are followed by a promenade of shops with offers and prices for “ordinary mortals”. Here, too, the “see and be seen” scenario works perfectly, on which local authorities earn decent money.Tourist spendingThe last night in Italy was also a kind of journey into the past. Accommodation in the household with a kind lady in the center of the town has not changed since the first post-war years after World War II. But that’s why we drank coffee from real cups, and everything was served in a pleasant way. On the way home, my wife didn’t have to persuade me for a long time to stop by the outlet village near Venezia, we’re already home.Just before entering Croatia, we add up the “damage”: we covered 2.500 km, spent 1.600 Euros, of which 1/4 on fuel and tolls, 1/4 on accommodation, hranu on food and shopping and ¼ on parking lots, tickets, trips… Italy and in France we left 70 Euros for tolls, 150 Euros in fuel, 100 Euros in Italy for purchases… and we spent the rest more in France.Ah, those tourists who come by car, even from Croatia…, a Frenchman might think, as it is known in Croatia, to hear all kinds of comments. The fact is that they asked us everywhere where we came from and diligently recorded it. Every guest is important. “Oral presentation” is the strongest promotion, and in order to be a good host you have to enjoy the role of a guest. In our case, with each trip we reap a double benefit – we invest in knowledge and enrich our lives. It is tourism.Author: Nedo Pinezić, www.nedopinezic.comlast_img

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