La Favière, Le LavandouJanuary 25 in France ⋅ ☀️ 8 °C
It has been a long day's drive and we are thankful for the spot we've found at the motorhome parking in La Favière, a suburb of Le Lavandou, between Toulon and St Tropez. With palm fronds and pine branches touching Martha's roof and just a low wall dividing vans from the multi million euro harbour, we are right in the middle of resort life here, except it is January and the resort has all but shut down for the winter. It does have the advantage that this €20 a night spot is currently free to stay at, which suits us well! It also suits the 20 odd other vans that we have joined. We feel lucky to have found a spot!
With 3 weeks to go before our ferry back to the UK, we decided we needed to get a wiggle on if we were to see France's Mediterranean coast and border with Spain. On our journey south we avoided the chilly Alps, where driving conditions may well be dangerous, so we now needed to travel East towards Monaco. From our windblown camp at Carro, the road travelled along a route cut into the light coloured rock, topped by green bushy Stone Pines. There were blooms of white and yellow ground flowers and we noticed eucalyptus trees, with their light coloured bark and wavey leaves.
It was a day of contrasts as we moved from forested hills to the high rise ribbon developments along the flat coastline. The road systems tended to hem us in, with central reservations, often planted with palms, even on inner city roads. Marseille gave an impression of colour and creativity with its pastel hued apartment blocks and artistically grafittid tunnels, all set against a backdop of inland cliffs. Toulon seemed more focussed on action than appearance, with cruise ships in its harbour, bland road tunnels and more industrial looking high rises, with sheets, rugs and towels flung over inset balconies to dry in the strong sun. We rejoiced as we read a balmy 12°C on the dash thermometer! We even spotted some prickly pear cacti, giving an associative feel of warm winter days spent in Italy and Spain.
Arriving in La Lavandou the streets were narrow; thank goodness it was low season and they weren't lined with cars. La Favière was a typical resort development, its sienna hued apartment blocks standing empty. We backed into the one suitable spot in the motorhome aire and wondered how many vans stayed here long term, as there seemed to be quite a community feel. The urban driving had stressed us both, so Vicky took time to breathe while Will went for a five minute wander. After a cuppa we both explored the almost empty streets. We couldn't believe the change in temperature; having woken to icy blasts, we were now in lightweight coats enjoying the still air and some warmth!
A group of around 40 club members played petanque on pitches planted with bare Plane trees, whose leafy shade is no doubt appreciated each summer. A sandy crescent of beach was backed by a wooden board walk and a few restaurants were open, but the majority of businesses were closed for the winter.
The night was infinitely more restful than the previous windblown one and we felt refreshed when setting off the following morning. The motorhome service point was on the roadside at a junction and Vicky parked carefully, so as not to block passing cars or the pedestrian crossing. Soon, a French van pulled in behind us, making it exceptionally difficult for any cars to pass. A relaxed looking guy in his 60s with a thick woolen jumper and grey hair tied in a ponytail emerged and started chatting to Will. He had the air of a retired art teacher who enjoyed sitting round a campfire playing guitar! Drivers honked as they squeezed past his van but he was unconcerned, telling Will how he usually spends 6 months in the van in France and 6 months in India. When a particularly disgruntled carload shouted at him, he commented that he'd prefer to be in India, as you didn't get that sort if behaviour there! As we were packing away our watering can we heard a bang. A car had hit his van! It didn't seem to have damaged it and he maintained his calm demeanour as he helped the driver stick the wing mirror back into its casing! We would have been pulling our hair out in his situation, but he seemed so comfortable in his own skin and distant from the everyday concerns that might upset others. Meeting people who leave an impression is one of the things we love about travel!Read more