Penafiel (Castile y Leon), Spain June 2024 (Tour 9)

This will be the easiest (and laziest) of posts. Just as well because I am about a week behind with the blog.

We have popped in on Penafiel en route to Portugal, where the weather is looking even better (for a day or two anyway). The weather across western Europe is absolutely crazy this year and very hard to predict. Most of France, as we have already described, has been wet for the last 6 months (very much like Brighton). There is currently massive flooding across both Germany (again) and northern Italy (where 3 people recently drowned in flash floods) and, now, the southern part of Castile y Leon in Spain is set to get wet weather. Portugal here we come.

I’ll not be writing anything about Penafiel town here. I covered it in a blog last year. We came this year for just two days (a) to catch up on our chores (cleaning the Van and our laundry) at one of the better campsites in Castile y Leon and (b) to visit La Granja de San Ildefenso (some 60-70 miles away) and (c) because it is en route to the north of Portugal. So, just a few photos of Camping Riberduero before I post the blog about La Granja and it’s Royal Palace.

Oh! There is one other thing I should mention about Penafiel. Last year we discovered a particularly fine wine here – a white Rueda made from the Verdejo grape variety. This year, Vanya found a fizzy version which she claims is far superior to any Cava she has had. Methinks we will be back here.

On to La Granja de San Ildefenso…

Sunbilla (Navarre), Spain June 2024 (Tour 9)

With the weather in France showing no sign of improvement, we crossed into Spain and headed for a small campsite (Camping Ariztigain) just 15 miles or so over the border near Sunbilla. At 36 Euros for the night during low season, the campsite isn’t cheap by Spanish standards but, it proved value for money. The welcome was friendly; the facilities were all we required (bar/restaurant and copious hot water in the showers); Sunbilla is within easy walking distance; and the weather was warm and sunny.

I took a walk into Sunbilla before we took dinner at the restaurant. It’s a small mountain village and there isn’t much to see; especially with the local church, Iglesia de San Juan Batista, being locked up during my visit but I very much enjoyed my walk up the hills at the back of the village.

I didn’t get up above the tree line (I’m not sure these particular foothills of the Pyrenees are sufficiently high for that anyway) but there was plenty to keep me interested on the animal front including, a wild boar, a herd of wild goats, two Pyrenean Mountain dogs, a herd of Shetland ponies (or something similar) and numerous donkeys (including 3 quite adorable foals).

Despite the fact that there is not a great deal to do in this particular area, I would consider using the campsite again as a stopover. The best news is that the fine weather appears to be holding in Spain .

Bazas (Nouvelle Aquitaine), France June 2024 (Tour 9)

Worsening weather (I cannot recall France ever being so wet) forced us further south to the small town of Bazas, some 60 kilometres south east of Bordeaux, in the Gironde Department of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The weather forecast was more promising and we decided to stay in Bazas for a couple of days and then move on to Spain. The campsite we chose, Capfun, has a rather impressive Water Park and; it was almost totally empty of people (this being a weekend out of season). We had to give the Water Park a go before moving on but, more of that later.

Bazas and the surrounding area is famous for it’s white wines and Bazadais Cattle (well, the resulting cooked beef anyway). In addition, the town was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1998 because of it’s Cathedral and it’s association with the Saint-Jacques Compostelle pilgrimage route. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the local white wine although being so close to Bordeaux I am inclined more towards red wines. I’ll not comment as to the Bazadais Cattle except to say that I saw plenty of them during our drive south but not yet had any opportunity to taste the beef. I did, however, get into Bazas and the Cathedral is beautiful.

Axtually, I made a couple of trips into the town; an exploratory trip on my own shortly after we arrived and a second with Vanya and the dogs on the following day which also happened to be market day (and our wedding anniversary). The exploratory trip was on foot by a back route from the campsite across the fields. Nala couldn’t follow that route with her wheels and Vanya wouldn’t want to but it suited me that first day because within 15 muddy minutes of leaving Capfun I arrived in the town’s main square, the Place de la Cathedrale.

In Bazas, most things worth seeing are to be found on or near the fair sized arcaded Place de la Cathedrale and that includes the very majestic Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, the Hotel de Ville (this latter building having a most excellent entrance) and a range of 16th, 17th and 18th century mansions.

The ‘Belles Vendanges’ (or, in English, the Beautiful Harvest) is a work by the Parisien sculptor Lucien Pallez. Most of his known works seem to have been created between the 1870’s and the 1890’s but many have disappeared. All I know about this particular work is that it was donated to the town in 1911.

The most striking building in the square is the Cathedrale of Saint Jean Baptiste. Construction of this majestic building was started during the 13th century and it was sufficiently complete in time for Pope Urban II to urge the First Christian Crusade to the Holy Land from there. The structure was improved over the following years with the current finished product dating back to 1635. It is as good an example of Gothic architecture as I have seen.

Unusually, the town’s war memorial to it’s fallen in WWI is inside the cathedral. This monument stopped me in my tracks. To see so many killed from such a small town and, perhaps more tragic still, to see so many with the same family name – eight men with the surname ‘St Marc’ are listed on this memorial. Think too of the others who were physically and/or mentally wounded but get no mention. I’ll not describe their sacrifice as a waste because a great many of those killed or injured, died doing what they felt was right at the time and I would never demean their actions but, I will say that it was unforgiveable they should have been called upon to make such a sacrifice. Sorry. Rant over. Moving on…

I drove Vanya and the dogs into Bazas fairly early on the Saturday morning to ensure we could get the Van parked up before the crowds arrived. It is never easy finding a parking spot on market days. Farmer’s Markets in France are almost an institution and invariably well attended. Bazas does not have a huge market (how large does it need to be to serve a town of less than 5,000 people) but it has the most incredible fish stall we have ever seen – such a selection of fresh fish! I’ll let some of my photos do the talking…

Unbelievable! We had a great morning sitting in the Place de la Cathedrale watching the world go by over coffee and pastries and listening to a fairly accomplished busker – he had a great voice. We must have walked the market two or three times and, towards the end of the morning, bought some fish, fruit, cheese and wine for supper that evening. Probably the quietest start to a wedding anniversary we have ever had but it must rank among the most pleasant and memorable and the shellfish we ate that evening was outstanding.

I mentioned that the campsite had it’s own Water Park. We did try it out. Well, I went into one of the pools while Vanya went in up to her ankles but not all of the slides were working. No surprise there because we were the only people on the admittedly quiet site (we are out of season) interested in using the facilities. If only it had been warmer.

Oh, and we missed out on the Bardelaise Cattle and Steak au Poivre. Next time.

A last two pictures of Bazas. We’re off to Spain.

Saint Jean de Cole (Nouvelle Aquitaine), France May 2024

Vanya wanted to stay at Camping Le Lieu a second night despite it raining so heavily that the Van required towing out of the quagmire which our pitch had become. No problem, the extra day would allow us to visit a nearby ‘plus beau village de France’ and, in any event we wanted to check out the hardware store in Thiviers (in the hope we could buy a spare buckle/clip for Nala’s wheels – the existing clip is set to split) but; henceforth, I’ll be parking the Van with at least one front wheel on hardcore (at least until we find the hot weather).

We arrived at Saint Jean de Cole in time for a light lunch. There’s a pleasant cafe-bar in the village centre on the Place de Saint Jean and the weather held fine while we enjoyed a roasted cheese, bacon and honey lunch, all washed down with a local red wine. Well, I drank a red wine.

Saint Jean de Cole proved a delight and is fully deserving of it’s plus beau village status. We stayed long enough to walk most of the village (we missed out on just the riverbank walk to the old railway station) and it didn’t rain!

It’s a very pretty and well preserved medieval village with most of the buildings having been made of a washed ochre coloured stone and a great many are half timbered.

The two most prominent buildings in the village are both on the Place Saint Jean. These are the 12th century Chateau de la Marthonie, razed to the ground during the 100 years war but rebuilt (it is open to visitors in the high season) and; most unusual for this part of Europe, a round shaped church (the Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste) which was also built in the late 12th century although the square tower was a 17th century addition. The church, which was closed during our visit, was originally crowned by a dome but the dome kept collapsing and was replaced during the 19th century by a tiled roof. The chateau and the church are both classified historical monuments.

Another 12th century feature of the village is the pretty stone bridge over the River Cole. On the far side of that bridge is a path which follows the route of the old railway line to the villages disused train station. Unless you have the good fortune to visit Saint Jean on the one day of the year that the priory is open to the public, this path also provides the best view of the village’s 15th century priory together with it’s original cloisters (which adjoins the Chateau). We had to make do with that view.

Without a doubt, Saint Jean de Cole is a charming little village and well worth visiting (I don’t think I mentioned that it has just 300 inhabitants?) and it has a highly recommended and charming restaurant, Les Temps des Mets, which we missed out on this time but will visit during our next visit to the Dordogne.

Oh, and Thiviers, the self proclaimed capital of foix gras just 12 kilometres to the west? We soon found our hardware store but they couldn’t supply the clip we required. We found one later at a Deichmann store in Perigueux.

Saint Jory de Chalais (Nouvelle Aquitaine), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

I cannot tell you much about the village of Saint Jory de Chalais in the Dordogne Department of Nouvelle Aquitaine. It is tiny and the River Cole flows through it and it is kept very, very tidy by it’s 600+ inhabitants but; that’s about it, except for the fact it is on our route to Perigueux (south of which is, supposedly, better weather) and it has a campsite that Vanya wanted us to overnight at.

Camping Le Lieu is a small campsite at the edge of Saint Jory de Chalais which until recently was known as Camping Maisonneuve. The campsite is run now by a most welcoming and friendly couple (Charline and Julien) and if the village doesn’t have enough about it to warrant a longer stay, the campsite does. We stayed two nights despite the continuing poor weather simply because we were made to feel so welcome.

There’s a barn adjoining the owner’s residence which has been transformed into a very sociable cafe/bar where most if not all of those staying at the site congregated in the evenings together with a few villagers. Food is currently limited to snacks and pizzas but the pizzas were fresh and tasty and the bar had no fixed closing time; which is always a plus when the company is good and the local red wine so pleasant.

The campsite has a swimming pool and a fishing lake but with the weather deteriorating so markedly, they were of no particular interest to us. On a warm, sunny day it would be different.

And the village of Saint Jory de Chalais…

As has been mentioned, there is not a great deal to the village. There is a shop and an inn, the Auberge St George’s, but both seemed to operate very limited opening hours. Had we been staying longer, we’d have made enquiries in that regard but; this is the Dordogne and there are plenty of other busier towns and villages in the area to visit, if that is what you want. We needed to visit a hardware store in Thiviers and Charline had recommended we visit the nearby ‘plus beau village de France’ of Saint Jean de Cole. There was all the reason we needed to stay on the second night.

Montsoreau Olympic Flame (Pays de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

We were up early today to witness the Olympic Flame being run through Montsoreau on it’s way to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The owner of Camping L’Isle Verte had provided his regular guests (and us) with Montsoreau T-shirts & caps that we could participate in a one off Flash mob as part of the village celebrations. Sadly, I was out on a walkabouts (wholly unaware of what he intended) and so missed the event but he insisted we keep the ‘outfits’ anyway and so it was that we set off to watch the arrival of the flame and enjoy the party atmosphere bedecked in the local colours.

The village was packed. Locals from all the surrounding villages seemed to want to celebrate the event; the local schools had announced a day off and; complete families lined the south bank of the Loire (because the flame would arrive by boat) and both sides of the Quai Alexandre Dumas (along which the flame would be run to the chateau to be blessed by the Maire). It looked for a while as though we would not be able to see very much of the proceedings but a very considerate gendarme, seeing Nala in her wheels, ushered us to a VIP spot where we would see everything. Bless him. We had the best possible view of the flame arriving by boat and of it being run from where the boat docked on the quay to the chateau. Vanya took some amazing video footage which I will try and include in the Tour 9 Video. For now, you will have to be make do with a couple of my stills.

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Montsoreau and Camping L’Isle Verte proved a real find but to be there when the Olympic Flame was being run through the village was particularly special. The local people were amazing and many went out of their way to make us feel welcome, not just during the celebrations but at all times throughout our stay. We’ll definitely be back. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a few more of our memories…

Enough already! We have to move on.

Montsoreau (Pays de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

This was not my best ever day travelling through France. I’ll not go into detail here but last night (after I had passed out from a surfeit of much needed beer and wine) Vanya wrote to our children about the events of the drive from Neufchatel en Bray and she may reproduce it in this blog later. It will suffice for me to say here that I will never again travel the A18 to Tours and/but we made it to our destination, the small village of Montsoreau in the Pays de La Loire, and our initial impression of the village is most favourable.

We are parked up on the banks of the Loire River, in Camping L’Isle Verte, just 100 metres from the village centre.

It was raining cats and dogs as we arrived and any thoughts of a wander around the village vanished as quickly as the rain was running down the back of my neck. After parking up we made directly for the campsite bar; Vanya for a couple of glasses of the Cremant de Loire and me for a couple of pints of the local beer. The blonde beer served in the restaurant was fine, Vanya really liked the wine (an Ackerman ‘Blanc de Noir’) and the food was tasty – a trio of mixed, stuffed mushrooms together with a sizeable puff pastry crammed full of snails in a creamy mushroom sauce.

Eventually, an hour or so before sunset, it stopped raining and we had time for a short tour of the village. In addition to being listed as a ‘plus beau village de France’, Montsoreau is a recognised ‘village fleuri’ and this is evidenced by an abundance of colourful flowers throughout the village. It is a very pretty place with nearly all the buildings, built of white truffeau stone and with grey slate tile roofs, providing an elegant contrast to the climbing roses which adorn so many of them.

For a small village of less than 500 inhabitants the village is surprisingly well served with bars (3) and restaurants (we counted 8 during this brief tour) and there seems to be plenty of things to see and do. For my part, I could sit for ages outside one of the riverfront bars, just enjoying the river, sipping wine and watching the world go by but; there’s considerably more… a 15th century renaissance castle (around which the Dumas book ‘La Dame de Montsoreau’ was written, although the castle is now home to a contemporary art museum); the Church of Saint Pierre de Rest (the floor of which over the centuries has been raised by a couple of metres because it kept getting flooded by the Loire); a modern Cultural Centre showcasing the Loire-Anjou-Touraine National Park; a series of troglodyte dwellings and mushroom caves (I’m advised that one of the mushroom caves even contains a restaurant); vineyards, wine caves and an old mill. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the Sunday Farmer’s Market which once a month is enlarged to include a popular flea market.

Another thing working in Montsoreau’s favour is it’s location. It sits in the heart of the Loire Valley, where there are numerous other interesting and beautiful towns and villages to visit – Angers, Saumur, Chinon and, yes, even Tours. I suspect we’ll be staying here a few days. It should prove a great base from which we can explore the area further…

Banyuls Sur Mer (Occitaine), France October 2023 (Tour 8)

And so to tiny Banyuls sur Mer in the foothills of the Pyrenees on the beautiful Vermillion Coast.

The Vermillion Coast (La Cote Vermeille in French) is a jagged shoreline, crammed with rocky coves and small stony beaches stretching some 50 miles from Argeles sur Mer through Collioure, Port Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbere (on the French side of the Pyrenees) to Port-Bou and then on almost to Cadaques (on the Spanish side). During an earlier tour we stayed at Collioure (one of my favourite places in France) and resolved at that time to return to the area and perhaps drive the narrow coast road across into Spain. That’s how it is that we came to be in Banyuls sur Mer.

Banyuls is a tiny picturesque town situated on the edge of a small bay, L’Anse du Fontaule, in the Gulf of Lion. It was a fishing port. It is now a tourist resort albeit, a fairly quiet one (especially out of season). A palm lined promenade, dotted with diverse sculptures (more about those later), curls south around the edge of the bay towards a small harbour. The beach is not one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a mix of rough almost gritty sand and stone, so typical of beaches in mountainous areas, but it is clean and the water is almost crystal clear

George Orwell is said to have described Banyuls sur Mer as “a bore and a disappointment” but that was a long time ago when he was on his way back from the Spanish Civil War. The fact is, Banyuls doesn’t attract the large crowds that either Collioure or Argeles sur Mer does. It’s a little off the beaten track and doesn’t have the distractions of it’s larger neighbours but that is not to say it is boring and/or a disappointment. This is particularly true if you are into either the local wine (there are countless vineyards and wines to experience) or hiking (Banyuls marks the end of the GR10, an exhilarating 850 kilometre trek along the length of the Pyrenees). In fact, lovers of wine and walking can enjoy both at the same time in Banyuls by walking the ‘Cote Vermeille Wine Route’. That would be neither a bore nor a disappointment to me. I think ‘intoxicating’ is a more appropriate description.

Banyul’s doesn’t have the grand villas that so many French coastal towns are graced with and neither does it have such an abundance of colourful, flower bedecked fishermen’s cottages that certainly Collioure has but; it has plenty of sea front bars and restaurants from which to sit and watch the world go by and; there are even more on the Rue Saint Pierre which runs parallel with what I will call the Corniche (since I don’t know the name of the sea front road).

I’ve mentioned already that this is a famous wine producing area. It’s most renowned product is an unusual red fortified dessert wine known simply as ‘Banyuls’. Banyuls is made with a mix of grapes, never less than 50% Black Grenache (75% for the Grand Cru), which are left on the vine until they shrivel, like raisins. This helps to concentrate and intensify the deep fruit flavours. A particularly interesting feature used in the production of certain Banyuls (e.g. Banyuls Grand Cru Doux Paille) are the glass barrels known as “Dame Jeanne” or even “Bonbonnes”. They serve to ensure the wine is exposed to direct sunlight. When ready for consumption, Banyuls pairs exceptionally well with chocolate, be it a cake, a sauce or simply a strong bar of plain chocolate. The proof is in the pudding (Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself).

Of course, I had to try the local wines and in this regard I called in on one of the more prominent wineries (Cave L’Etoile), visiting first their beach hut bar (where better to sample wines?) and then their production centre and shop on Avenue De Puig Del Mas. And, yes, of course I bought a bottle or two.

I also mentioned previously that the promenade in Banyuls Sur Mer contains a number of sculptures. Three of them are the work of Aristide Maillol, sculptor and painter who was born, lived and died in the town (1861 to 1944). He was a friend of Matisse and Derrain (whom I wrote about in my blog on Collioure) but also Picasso, Dali and, not forgetting, Dina Vierny (muse, model, avid art collector, museum director and member of the French resistance during WW2). Amongst other things, Dina Vierny was instrument in establishing the Maillol Museum in Banyuls.

I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Banyuls sur Mer. We stayed two or three nights and in keeping with the promise we made when last visiting the Cote Vermeille we used one of the days to travel the coast road down into Spain (visiting the pretty little town of Roses). The journey was everything I hoped it would be but that’s the subject of the next blog. I cannot finish this entry without writing something about the food.

We tried a couple of restaurants on the seafront but the one we enjoyed the most was La Table de Jordi. The service was first class, the wine was good (from Collioure) and, for the most part the fish was very good. My only disappointment was with the oysters (skinny, flat ones) but the rest of the food… the sea bass, monkfish, mussels and langoustines were superb.

Roses next.

Saint Remy de Provence (Provence), France September 2023 (Tour 8)

Vanya and I were eager to return to Saint Remy de Provence, capital of the Alpilles. We had each enjoyed our first visit to the town earlier in the year (Tour 7) and were more than happy to be going back. The small town ranks amongst our favourite in France and if ever I were to move from England, it would in all likelihood be to Saint Remy. Once again, because of it’s close proximity to the old town, we opted to stay at Camping Pegomas.

I wrote a fairly comprehensive blog about Saint Remy earlier this year and will endeavour not to repeat here everything that I wrote about the town previously. Certainly, I will steer clear of things ‘to see and do’. You can find out about such things by reading my first blog (use the search engine on this site to find the earlier entry on Saint Remy and… hey, presto). No, we were here this time not to explore but to simply immerse ourselves in the beauty and lifestyle that is Saint Remy. On this occasion we weren’t even inclined to visit ‘must see’ places in the area that we had previously promised to return to. They would have to wait until our next visit. This was going to be about ‘chill time’.

And so it proved. It was enough to simply walk the wholly pedestrianised old town streets and sit outside in the sunshine with a bottle of Alpilles wine and watch the world go by. There follows, a few photos that capture the essence of this visit, starting with the wonderful street scenes…

Of course, Vanya being Vanya, there is always time to mooch around some of the shops…

Strolling through Place Favier we noticed the ‘Lou Planet’ (a creperie we had eaten at previously) was closed but, just seeing the place again awakened taste buds that screamed for a galette. I’m pleased to say there’s no shortage of creperies in Saint Remy de Provence and we very soon found another where we each ordered a galette holding the freshest of scallops.

That was it. Sitting outside in the warm sunshine with a galette and a bottle of chilled wine (a dry white Mas Sainte Berthe produced in the Alpilles) and we were at peace with the world. We sat for quite a while. Well, Vanya insisted upon a cream and chocolate filled crepe for dessert and I was prepared to make do with a little more wine while she finished her repast. Life was and is good.

During our previous visit I was unable to get inside the local church, the Collegiate Church of Saint Martin. The original church built in 1122 was extended and embellished when Pope Jean XXII (that one I mentioned in the Monteux post earlier in this tour) transformed the original place of worship into a collegiate church (I believe a collegiate church is a cathedral without any bishop) although, there’s not a lot left of even that church. Much of it collapsed and had to be rebuilt in the 19th century; hence it’s current largely neo-classical style.

I made it inside the church this time. There’s a particularly impressive organ inside and I understand that organ recitals take place quite often during the summer months at no cost to the public. There was no recital during my visit and I didn’t therefore stay very long. One unusual feature of the church is the altar in a small side chapel which is surrounded by a large block of the local Alpilles rock.

This visit this time was short and sweet and about ‘chilling’. I didn’t therefore revisit the Roman town of Glanum and neither did I resume the Van Gogh trail which I started during Tour 7 but, I leave you with a couple of photos that I took during our last visit. The first is of the Triumphal Arch and the Mausoleum of the Julii (from Glanum) and the second is a reproduction of my favourite Van Gogh painting (Irises) which he painted while in Saint Remy.

I suspect that we will be back in Saint Remy next year but, in the meantime, we are heading further west. We want to buy some wine from down near Collioure before we return to England.

Pietra Ligure (Liguria), Italy September 2023 (Tour 8)

Leaving Lago Le Tamerici we drove north; making for Camping dei Fiori, a campsite in Pietra Ligure which I think is part of the Pian dei Boschi hotel complex. We would stay in Pietra Ligure for just one night as we were due in the small French town of Monteux the following day. Vanya had booked us into Monteux’s Hotel Le Blason De Provence, a highly recommended boutique hotel just outside of Monteux on the road to Carpentras. We were going to spoil ourselves for two or three days but more about that later. First, let me write a little about Pietra Ligure. I really liked the place and will most certainly return.

Pietra Ligure is a popular seaside town, half way between Genoa and San Remo, on the Riviera Ponente (part of the Italian Riviera) and it is named after it’s castle perched up on an imposing limestone cliff known as La Pietra (which translates as the stone or the rock in English). There has been a castle on this rock since the time of the Roman Empire but the current structure dates from the 16th century.

It took just 10 minutes to walk from Camping dei Fiori to the beach and another 5 minutes to reach Pietra Ligure’s historic old town (the largely medieval Borgo Vecchio)… and what a little gem it is!

Hemmed in between the sandy beach and a series of low hills which form a backdrop along much of this coast, the old town is built mostly of a pastel coloured stone and comprises numerous narrow shaded alleys (known as ‘caruggi’ in this part of the world), many of which are topped with arches and lead through or to small squares or courtyards. Interspersed with shops and cafe-bars and almost entirely pedestrianised, the caruggi are brimming with character and lend the town a very local flavour and feeling. I love them.

At the centre of the Borgo Vecchio, on the town’s main square (the Piazza San Nicolo di Bari) is an elegant, cream coloured, Romanesque style church – the Basilica of San Nicolo di Bari. Inside its beautifully carved doors this church is sumptuously decorated with sculptures and stunning artwork. The inside of some churches that I have seen during these tours have been overelaborate, almost gaudy, but this is a jewel of a church and no photos I took can do it justice.

Pietra Ligure is not a large town (just 8,000 residents outside of summer) and it didn’t take long to explore the Borgo Vecchio. I knew too that I would be returning later in the day with Vanya and so, after tearing myself away from the Basilica, I made my way on the beach and then on to the Borgo Nuovo (the new town).

I was most impressed with the beach area. There’s a long sandy blue flag beach, a sizeable pier from which numerous anglers seemed to be enjoying themselves and a wide seafront promenade lined with palm trees. Most important, given Italy’s proclivity towards private beaches (regular readers of this blog will know that I abhor private beaches), Pietra Ligure has determined that a large central part of the beach should be open to the public. Moreover, the town has at least one and possibly two dog friendly beaches complete with dog showers. Respect!

The next day, we were moving on into France. Sadly, we didn’t have time before leaving to return just a few kilometres back down the coast to visit two of Italy’s most beautiful villages – the Borghi piu Belli d’Italia of Borgio Verezzi (with it’s Valdemino Caves) and Finalborgo (with it’s annual medieval festival) but, we’ll be back.

On to Monteux…