The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

The Côte d’Azur is of course well-known for its beaches, the "azure coast" sounds so wonderfully inviting, but did you know there’s so much more to this area than just coast?  The arrière pays or back country is really what makes this part of the world so unique.  There’s a clue in the name of the département (county), the Alpes-Maritimes or maritime Alps.  Yes, this is where the Alps meet the coast resulting in proper big mountains right on our doorstep, with all the fun that this entails, from skiing in the winter to hiking and adventure sports in the summer.

highest peak in Alpes Maritimes

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The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur as it’s called in French, is famous (and possibly infamous) for its beaches.  There are an enormous variety in the approximately 125 kilometres of coastline between Menton and St Tropez, from pebbles to fine white sand, from long open stretches to small rocky coves, from urban built-up beaches to wild secluded ones, and just about everything in between. 

Pointe de Laiguille Théoule sur Mer

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Wolves used to be endemic to France but persecution and human encroachment on their habitat drastically reduced their numbers and by 1940 they were declared extinct in France.  However in 1992 a pair of grey wolves was discovered in the Mercantour National Park in the Alpes-Maritimes having crossed over from Italy and the population has been growing steadily since.  There are now thought to be about 300 wolves in France in 20-25 separate packs, spreading further across the country.

wolves at Alpha Parc near Nice France

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With the best of intentions earlier this summer I set out to write about a beach a week, which didn't seem such a hard target, however last week got the better of me and I forgot!  But summer isn't over in the South of France in September, in fact this is one of the best times of year to go to the beach, with the crowds gone but the water still warm, so without further ado, I present to you Paloma Beach.

Paloma beach St Jean Cap Ferrat French Riviera

Named after Paloma Picasso as the famous artist used to frequent this beautiful beach with his family, la plage Paloma is tucked away on the north side of the exclusive St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula.  Rather than an expansive open sea view, it looks across glittering turquoise water towards Beaulieu sur Mer, Eze and Cap d'Ail and with sailing boats and yachts dotted about there's always plenty to see as you while away the day on the beach.

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Continuing on our tour of beaches on the French Riviera, this week's destination isn't really one beach but a whole island of beaches.  Ile Sainte-Marguerite is located just off Cannes, easily reached by a 15 minute ferry ride, and bursting with tiny rocky bays, magnificent umbrella pines, ancient eucalypus forests and one long sandy beach.  The majority of the island is covered in forest, which is a protected domaine and a haven of calm as no there's no traffic, just walking paths.

beach on Ste Marguerite island near Cannes Côte dAzur

Sainte-Marguerite island together with its smaller neighbour St-Honorat are collectively called the îles de Lérins and they both make lovely destinations for day trips not only for their beaches, but to visit forts, monasteries and a former prison....  But that's for another time, today I'm just showing you the beaches...

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