Posts Tagged ‘La Garde Freinet’


Road Trip: Lake Geneva to the Med

March 24, 2009


Col de la Haute Croix, nr Grenoble, by gaetanku

Col de la Haute Croix, nr Grenoble, by gaetanku

Being so fixated on getting to St-Tropez by noon to have a decent afternoon’s work, I somehow managed to ignore the six-hour road trip south … from Lake Geneva to the Med. It was a glorious journey. Fuelled with two pre-departure coffees and four apples to munch en route, I was up with the larks and speeding direction ‘Annecy-Chamonix-Mont Blanc‘ by 6am. My Twingo practically purred as I drove between mountain peaks in the untouched Vercors National Park; snaked up and over the snow-hugged hairpins of the Col de Haute Croix mountain pass; razzed 130km/h past Sisteron’s rock-perched citadel; gave a nod to the monks frozen in stone at Les Mées; glanced wistfully at the ‘Gorges du Verdon’ exit; lusted after all that lavender I wouldn’t get to see around Manosque; motored passed the Luberon turn-off. Up to Aix-en-Provence where I joined the A8, the drive was rather like a slow-motion, cinematic version of a ‘Best of Northern Provence’ movie in fact.


By contrast the A8 was rammed with cars speeding hell for leather towards Nice. Five minutes short of my St-Tropez exit, warning lights flashed and all three lanes screeched to a death-defying halt. To pass the two long hours it took for fire crews to clean up the accident, I read the Provence chapter of Lonely Planet’s France guide, researched in 2008. Excellent tip by Parisian-turned-Londoner co-author Emilie: To avoid the worst of high season traffic (or in my case a crashed flaming lorry full of courgettes, aubergines and other Provencal veg) peel off at Le Cannet des Maures instead and follow the D558 road across the Massif des Maures to La Garde Freinet and Port Grimaud (from where you can sail Signac-style to St-Tropez). 

Joyous was the final approach to St-Tropez. It being March and low season, traffic was as silky smooth and fluid as that huile d’olive every second shop in Provence sells. I dumped the car in the hotel car park, skipped to Place des Lices, plopped myself down at a sun-facing table at Le Café and ordered a nice cup of tea and slab of Tarte Tropézienne. I had arrived.