La Tête de Chien, above MonacoJanuary 26 in France ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C
Privilaged. We feel so privilaged to be able to stay at this amazing spot. Martha is settled in the small car park, at the end of the road, at the top of La Tête de Chien; one of the Maritime Alps on France's South East coast. We are 550m above the wide expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. From within the van we have a view of the undulous coastline to the the west, the promontories and coves covered in a mix of deep green forest and chalk coloured communities, clustered together near the shore, but dotted like splats of paint on the steep slopes as they rise inland.
It was a long, slow and difficult drive to get here. From our resort stopover at La Lavandou we climbed into the hills. The narrow winding road had no kerb, just a drop into a large ditch. Grooves cut when vehicles' wheels went over the edge and their metal axels scraped into the tarmac were disconcertingly frequent. From the hills we dropped down to the ribbon of high density urban development that is the French Riviera. We bypassed St Tropez, then travelled through Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer, Saint Laurent du Var and Nice. We felt cordoned in with concrete, funnelled into too narrow lanes, filters, roundabouts. The seafront boulevard at Nice provided some distraction as we watched well dressed people roller blading, biking, skateboarding, jogging, walking dogs and riding in groups of 4 on hire bikes. It was like something you'd expect to see on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles!
From the metropolis we once again climbed, this time squeezing through little hill villages that felt far too small for our 7m van. Approaching the summit of La Tête de Chien, cars lined the right side of the road, but between them we glimpsed the most amazing views of the riviera layed out below. Our nerves were wracked from the drive as we came to the packed car park marking the end of the line. We stopped outside delivery gates for a small fort and waited around half an hour, when miraculously the perfect space was vacated. Once settled, our nerves began to calm and it sank in how beautiful the view really was. The sun was sinking low and many people were making a beeline for this spot, to look down over half a kilometre to the jagged line of the coast, jutting in and out as the sky began to change colour.
We joined the French, fellow Brits, Italians, Romanians and Monacans, passing by a few abandoned buildings, their rooves just skeletal structures of rusted girders and stone chimneys. Teenagers gathered here and we even saw one responsibly disposing of spent spray paint cans in a wheelie bin. We clambered over bare rock, dirt and shingle and peaked over a stone ledge to see Monaco to the east, nestled into a cove and stretching out into the sea. It was strange to think this little area constituted a whole country!
As the world's most densely populated principality, it would be extremely difficult to find a parking space in Monaco, so we'd decided to walk in. We scouted out the beginning of the route (more on this in our next post), then watched the sun set over the hills and the streetlights below begin to twinkle.
As darkness fell, people departed. A taxi driver and their partner were one of the last to leave, cheekily hailing Will from within the van and asking if he had any wine! After tea, Will carefully made his way over the uneven rocks to see Monaco lit up. It was good timing because he was looking on when the Saturday evening quayside fireworks display began! The myriad of colours reflecting in the calm waters of the harbour. The loud explosions echoed off the hillside and drew Vicky out to watch the grand finale, after which moored boats blasted their horns in tribute! It was a really special experience to be the only ones watching from our quiet hilltop lookout!
To watch a one minute video of what we saw, go to the VnW Travels You Tube channel here:
As if this wasn't enough, an hour later we got to watch the French firework display from within the van, looking down to the Grande Jetée at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat! Saturday night was definitely the right time to stay in this wonderful spot! As wonderful as the stars above were that night, they were eclipsed by the light show below!Read more