If you have read my last two last blog posts, I have been pulling out some of my treasured memories to my re-introduction to the Côte d’Azur last December – things that you might just not expect to see on the French Riviera.
We know about Picasso and his links to the Côte d’Azur but this little gem is little known to visitors to the Côte d’Azur. Picasso befriended a fellow Spaniard emigré Eugenio Arias, who eventually, after WW2, opened a barber’s shop in Vallauris, close to where Picasso had one of his homes. Picasso became a regular client and even gave him a car so he could travel to Picasso whenever they had an appointment. A warm friendship developed and they reminisced about Spain – Picasso was even his best man when he married Simona Francoual in 1950. When Picasso died, Arias wrapped him in a Spanish cape and sat beside him all night. When Franco died, Arias returned to Spain and donated all the gifts he has received during his years of friendship with Picasso to the local council. You can now visit the subsequent Buitrago’s Picasso Museum. Better still, you can still visit an art gallery formed from Arias Coiffure in Vallauris itself which, touchingly, at the rear, retains elements of the original barbershop as a tribute to Picasso’s friend.
Around the hillsides of Vallauris, there are thousands of Seville orange trees which originally supplied the nearby Grasse perfume industry. The town is the only one in France that still harvests this spicy, bitter flower in the spring and distills it. I visited Nerolium, an evocative orange growers collective that was formed in 1904 and still sells all the products which are produced from the orange tree – from bitter orange marmalade to a rather delicious mandarin wine.
My final undiscovered gem at this time came on our last evening on the French Riviera. We were driving around one of the many perched villages in the hills of the Côte d’Azur and were struck by an image of a Roman ruin, shining brightly in the late afternoon sunshine. It was, we found out, the Trophy of Augustus, also known as the Trophy of the Alpes to commemorate the conquest of Gaul and his victory over the Ligurians. It’s located in the village of La Turbie, 480 metres above sea level, overlooking Monaco and Monte Carlo and our wonderful guide, Piero, suggested we walk over to his favourite viewing point close by. From here, you can enjoy perhaps the most panoramic of views over the entire French Riviera and on into Italy. Just stunning … and unexpected.
All in all – I just can’t wait to return.
If you want to know more about the French Riviera, click here for the website or follow via social media. Twitter handle: @Visit_Cotedazur and Facebook: Côte d’Azur Tourisme. They are also on Instagram and Pinterest.
Contributor & Photographer: Sue Lowry
Follow A3Traveller on Twitter: @A3Traveller and Sue Lowry on Google +, YouTube, Linkedin, Flickr and Pinterest. I also operate another blog for my company, Magellan PR – http://www.magellanstraits.com. They can be followed on Twitter: @MagellanPR, on Google+, on YouTube, on Pinterest and on Facebook.