Two weeks ago, we arrived at Lou Messugo in Roquefort-les-Pins on the Côte d’Azur. Following three months where life had stood still and plans were impossible to make, winning a three-night stay at Phoebe and Jeff’s gîte, Lou Messugo, gave us the opportunity to escape, spread our wings and enjoy being tourists in France once again. I didn’t realise how much we needed this, until we got there.
We had, obviously, packed the Bromptons into the car, along with our Covid-19 security pack, or lots of bags containing all our bedding, towels, tea-towels, dish cloths etc that we would need for our week away. I am never one to leave home without an emergency food parcel, but this time I had added lots of extras including pasta and tins of fish, beans and vegetables. This proved to be a good idea from the off, as our first overnight stop in Montpellier, where the streets were full of people and every bar and restaurant terrace packed out in the Saturday evening sunshine, meant we quickly retreated back to our accommodation to make an easy pasta dinner in isolation.
We arrived at Lou Messugo on the Sunday afternoon, parked up, unloaded the bags and didn’t touch the car again until it was time to reluctantly leave on the Wednesday morning. Meeting Phoebe for the first time, despite being social media friends for many years, was lovely, but restrained, due to the current pandemic precautions. I’m sure if we’d met a year ago there would have been cheek kisses and enthusiastic embraces all round, instead of the no-touch, sensible distanced greeting we had on their driveway. It was almost surreal to see for myself the reality of Lou Messugo having read and liked Phoebe’s blog posts and photos for so many years. It more than met my expectations as I’d certainly not appreciated quite how stunning the garden was and the house really is as vibrant and colourful as it looks in the photos. The accommodation is superb, and Phoebe and Jeff have thought of everything, including making sensible changes in light of the current virus situation. I can’t recommend it enough. It is clean, comfortable, quiet and with easy access to everywhere you would want to visit for a coast and mountain holiday on the Côte d’Azur.
The first afternoon we set off on the bikes for a 28km loop that Phoebe had shared on her blog (see here) promising us a taste of the cycling in the area. As we followed the Gorges du Loup, with big smiles on our faces, we couldn’t resist adding on a trip to Tourrettes-sur-Loup, meaning we clocked up an impressive 46km before we’d unpacked the suitcases.
Col de l'Ecre Alt 1120m
This set the pace for the following few days and whether for the daily croissant run to the local boulangerie, conquering a mountain col above the hilltop village of Gourdon, or day trips down to Nice and Antibes, we did it all by bike, cycling 207km in two and half days. It was fun, exciting, challenging and always accompanied by stunning views.
Baie des Anges, Côte d'Azur
The cycling here is full-on for the senses. The colours, from the vibrant wildflowers that caught my eye as I cycled up gorges and hillsides to the terracotta and pastels of the houses and shutters, to the blue of the Mediterranean in the Baie des Anges. The scents, of gorse when in the hills, jasmine when cycling down winding residential streets and the flowering tilleul (linden) trees that line the roads, all enhanced by the warm Mediterranean sunshine. The sights, perched hilltop villages, craggy rocks and mountains, butterflies on wildflowers, spires of dark green Cyprus trees, narrow streets, tall houses with balconies, flowering window boxes and contrasting shutters. We didn’t rush anywhere, as we constantly stopped to check out a view, take a photo or just pinch ourselves that we were there experiencing it all and making memories.
We revisited some old favourites from our Mini Cooper road trips in 2008 and 2010, like the hilltop village of Gourdon and the old town in Nice, but we also discovered Tourrettes-sur-Loup and Antibes that have become new favourites. I was able to begin ticking off some of my 2020 cycling challenges, climbing my first mountain pass, Col de l’Ecre at 1120m, and cycling my first 100km in a day, on the same day as it happened. It was a perfect break in an ideal location, but three days was nowhere near enough to see and do everything this area has to offer. It was difficult to leave, but our legs were nicely warmed up for bigger challenges that were waiting for us on the next part of our holiday.
Thank you, Phoebe, for allowing us to be the first guests in post lockdown.
If you want to check out the accommodation at Lou Messugo you can visit Phoebe’s website and book direct by clicking here.