Exploring the crags and crannies of Saint-Raphaël

St. Raphaël basilica

Notre Dame de la Victoire Church

Saint-Raphaël is not commonly recognized as ‘French Riviera,’  but it is indeed part of the Côte d’Azur. It is a lovely place for those seeking some room to breathe among the train loads of tourists that seek the summer beaches of France’s Mediterranean coast.

If you arrive in Cannes and discover, like many others, the inflated prices and scam artists that follow densely populated tourist destinations are not for you. St. Raphaël is a 20 minute train ride from Cannes. These train tickets can be purchased with no preset time, so you may leave town on a whim if you wish. Dog tickets are 50% of your ticket price. Train ticket machines have an English option, but those traveling with a pet must purchase their ticket from an actual ticket teller. There are designated English booths for those who don’t have a firm grip on the French language. It is about a 2 minute walk from the Gare de Saint-Raphaël-Valescure train station to the beach.

Along the

Along the Sentier du Littora footpath

Clean public beaches with showers stretch all across the city front . These beaches do not allow dogs, but this rule seems to be disregarded and poorly enforced. St. Raphaël is very well groomed and maintained. Never was there an overflowing trash can, and shady street venders seem to be ran off for the most part.

What makes St. Raphaël special is the Sentier du Littora coastal footpath; a winding trail woven among jagged red coastline rocks. It is connected with homemade bridges and in some places the steps are even cut into stone. This trail can be precarious as times, but the hidden coves and its mysterious (presumably man-made) stone port are well worth the effort. The trail starts at the edge of Port de Plaisance, and it is walled off at Plage de la Péguière although it is said this trail extends for an additional 6 km.

Plage de la Péguière is a sand beach with public showers and a small sandwich shop. It is approximately 5-6 km from the head of the Sentier du Littora trail. It is the perfect place to relax in the sand after exploring the crags and crannies of St. Raphaël’s unique coastal trail.

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Quiet cove along the

Quiet cove along the Sentir du Littora trail

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 For more information on dog travel in France click here

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Sand wine, Raw carpaccio, and Salt mines: The Medieval City of Aigues-Mortes

Aigues-Mortes is located in the beautiful Camargue. This unique Ramsar protected wetland is a delta that feeds into the Mediterranean sea. Driving down the highway there are ancient indigenous Camarguais horses tugging on dry grass to your right and not-so-pink flamingoes standing in a lagoon to your left.

Salt mines of Aigues-Mortes

Salt mines of Aigues-Mortes

Camargue horses

Camargue horses

Aigues-Mortes is a medieval walled city kept in nearly perfect condition. It is one of France’s hidden gems, and it does not have many foreign tourists. Its revenue comes primarily from French families on holiday. This is the ideal location to have a true French experience.

Tower of Constance

Tower of Constance

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The wine famous to the area is Gris de Gris (sand wine). It is a rose wine and, to date, my favorite French wine.

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This trip I paired carpaccio with my favorite sand wine. Carpaccio is traditionally made with thin slices of raw beef served with parmesan shavings covered with olive oil. I found the carpaccio and parmesan combination to be rather delicious and the olive oil certainly makes it go down easy.

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Aigues-Mortes is very pet friendly. Pets are seen throughout the cobblestone streets, and they are welcome inside most cafes, restaurants, and stores. Zala and I stayed at Hotel les Templiers. It is centrally located within the walls of Aigues-Mortes, and the beautiful stone building holds true to Aigues-Mortes medieval style. The owners are laid back and friendly, and they even have a resident bulldog that lounges around.

Street of Aigues-Mortes

Street of Aigues-Mortes

Make sure to take time to explore the fascinating niche of medieval shops. They supply the most authentic collections of medieval costumes I have ever seen.