Summer means the South of France - Al Fresco Holidays
For some, the long summer break reminds them of childhood days caravanning in Cornwall, others remember endless days on Brighton beach or two weeks of Costa sunshine.
But for me, it’s all about the South of France.
My formative years, summer holiday wise, were a procession of six-week holidays sunning myself on the beaches of Provence, the Carmargue and lots of little towns and villages dotted like currents on a Sally Lun, across the breadth of the Cote D’Azur.
My art-teacher parents would load up our Red VW Beetle, attach a trailer packed with our tent, bottles of Camping Gaz and assorted deckchairs and we’d be off before the haze of the last day of school had chance to clear.
In front of us, six weeks of un-interrupted French sun and a chance to put my pigeon French to the test among a populace so far removed from Parisian French that they sounded more Spanish than Norman.
We’d occasionally dip our toe into the dining experience on offer in renowned tourist towns like Cannes or Monte Carlo but our interest wasn’t kindled by the bright lights of these big cities.
We were here to see the real South of France. The beaches where you’d find very few Englishmen but bus-loads of French, German, Dutch and North-Africans bartering over leather cowboy hats, holding hastily-arranged international tournaments of La Boule, sitting there trying to work out how to say ‘you’re pretty cool for a foreigner’ without offending any of the united nations of the beach.
I grew up enjoying a freedom of multi-national expression gifted to very few under-10s and, to this day, feel spoiled rotten by the incredible things I saw, did and experienced in that incredible part of the Mediterranean.
I saw entire towns that were built upside down like La Grande Motte in the Carmargue. Seriously, as if it wasn’t incredible enough as a near-as-damn-it Tattoine lookalike – rescued from what used to be mile after mile of swampland – they then decided to build the place upside down. Google it, for evidence.
I soaked in more culture than any 10-year-old is entitled to, without even realising I was absorbing daily history lessons. Strolling through the streets of medieval walled towns like Aigues Mortes I just enjoyed hearing stories about the knights that used to occupy its ramparts. I’d play on those same turreted walls with my younger brother, oblivious to the fact that we were re-enacting the Crusades and becoming living, breathing history sponges.
La Grande Motte and Aigues Mortes are still exactly the same today as they were when I was a wannabe white knight too.
This, the real South of France, is an enchanting place, offering so much more than the obvious attraction of Monte Carlo, Monaco and Cannes.
Try one of the Al Fresco Holidays South of France experiences and see it for yourself.
And step off that well beaten track, beyond the bright lights, big city, for the real experience.