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South of France: Menton, Roquebrune Castle and Sospel

After busy and hectic Monaco, we were on the hunt for a campsite, so we ended up in Sospel – a little town very close to the Italian border.

The campsite (11.60 EURO a night, this is their website, they have more photos http://www.camping-sainte-madeleine.com/) we found very clean, quiet but difficult to locate at 9pm in the dark.

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A viaduct on the way, while trying to find the campsite

Walking around in town after we put up the tent – looking for a bar to have a glass of wine. It was Sunday night, so everything was shut, everything but a small pub filled with local teenagers. The whole atmosphere was pure entertainment – we got a bit drunk on 3 EURO wine socialising with locals, then walked in the completely empty town during night. I thought to myself… what a wonderful world! We found a spot that feels like an awesome, peaceful hiding place, the middle of nowhere where it’s just us and the town people. It was simple and authentic – exactly what we needed after the flashiness of Monaco and Nice.

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Greg on the town centre fountain after our local friends had to go home
He woke us up the next morning (with no hangover whatsoever - must have had expensive quality fine the night before... Not exactly!)
He woke us up the next morning (with no signs of hangover – it must be because of the expensive French wine! Oh wait, no. It was ridiculously cheap.)

The fresh mountain air woke us up very early (and the dog barking) so headed back to town to grab croissant and Pain au chocolate (sounds very French… too French for Greg, he had a bacon toastie, but ssshhh!).

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Leaving Sospel
Leaving Sospel
Heading to Menton
Heading towards Menton

Leaving behind the mountains and complete silence, Menton very much felt like the Riviera again. Magnificent, luxurious buildings along the beach, just like in Nice. Didn’t feel ready for the crowd yet, so we drove right through to reach Roquebrune Chateau, which is between Menton and Monaco. I still felt personally offended because of the day before: we climbed up to Èze just before heading to Monaco. Èze, the tiny hilltop dream village with astonishing views from its gardens. But to our luck, that turned out to be a grey and rainy day, which hurt SO MUCH. So Roquebrune was going to be my restitution. I had to be very grateful indeed, as we got closer and closer to the Castle, the sunlight got warmer and brighter.

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IMG_0657Looks too good to be true right? I’d expect some complaints coming now such as “because of  the nice weather the whole castle was packed with people and couldn’t even enjoy the view properly” or other similar whining… But nope, I did not complain, as the castle was completely empty. I think we might have run into another couple wandering around – but other than that it was us. Spending hours taking photographs, talking, admiring the view and Monaco from the far distance, exploring every inch of the castle. That is what I call awesome quality time.

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Greg takes the ‘exploring the castle’ mission VERY seriously :)

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Sospel, Rooquebrune, Menton

Clouds, wind and our appetites drove us back to Menton in the end, so we had lunch (menu) at a very average restaurant. I went for steak and chips while Greg chose mussels and chips. Both fresh and tasty,  no wow factor though. But it was cheap lunch menu so we were happy with decent enough food.

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Menton

And Greg was incredibly hangry – grumping around, so honestly… I was happy to find ANYTHING to eat. I managed to capture his facial expression of pure suffering once the food has arrived… He was about to die and collapse if he couldn’t have put food into his mouth in 2 seconds. Thankfully it happened within those 2 seconds.

Sospel, Rooquebrune, Menton1Off to the beach to relax a bit, then took a nice walk along the shore. The same sea, only a couple miles to East, but the colour of the water was so different than in Nice!

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IMG_1499We arrived back at the car just on time, as a thunderstorm arrived. It was quite exciting to drive on the motorway along the coast, passing by Monaco, Nice, then heading north to Gorges du Verdon. Leaving behind the Riviera feeling and driving deeper and higher into the mountains.

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