For a long while, we’ve wanted to visit L’Esterel, in the neighboring department of the Var, westward along the Côte d’Azur. From the Promenade on most days one can see the outline of one of the massif’s biggest peaks jutting out in the distance, and it’s always called to us. We rented a car and took off to explore it for four days.
It’s difficult to do it justice in photos. Plus, we had some cloudy skies. Nevertheless, we spent every dry, sunny (and windy) moment on a path high above the Mediterranean, alone except for the rare cyclist zooming by, enjoying the colorful contrasts of red rock and blue sea, the rustling of eucalyptus and cork oak tree leaves in the breeze, and the singing of ecstatic birds.
Just outside the Esterel park, pushing northwards, are a dozen or so villages, worthy of the hour-long drive through lush hills of olive trees and pine forest. In the towns, plane trees shade the sidewalks where fountains faintly gurgle, locals read their newspapers at café tables and neighbors hobnob. A relaxing desultory air hands over it all and I get deliciously sleepy.
Seillans, Fayence, Bagnol-en-Forêt are not forgotten and dying towns. They’ve become bolt holes for second-home owners who want to preserve the landscape and traditional character of the area, while also having access to natural wine and great olive oil.
Notably, we did not see any tourists. So the timing looks good for a further exploration of the area in early July. No airports involved, zero crowds and open air markets for food to keep things safe, and that sleepiness can be indulged in a nap locally.