Shores of PACA

Shores of PACA

After a physically and emotionally exhausting trip to Canada, all I needed is a bit of rest and quietness. I have been busy upon my return in France and the following week-end was all indicated for a little getaway. The weather forecast was perfect and we even got temperature warmer than expected : 25 degrees and a superb blue sky. The good thing about traveling at this time of the year is that it’s fairly quiet and most restaurants and hotels are not overbooked.

So we decided to take the highway (A8 & A57) and drive up to Hyères in Var. From Nice it’s a 90 minutes drive and it’s always impressive to see the Alps on the right and the Mediterranean Sea on the left. Beautiful region, lots of variety. And these days the snow-capped peaks are a nice contrast. Lovely.

Our first stop was in Port du Niel on the Presqu’île de Giens. We parked the car and walked a small path on the shore of a little bay. Apparently this is where a scene of the movie « Le Grand Bleu » took place. It gives you an idea of the view we had. We spent a couple hours there, enjoying the waves hitting the rocks beneath our feet. Lots of action there and the smell is addictive. Great spot for thinking and meditation. Most people there have a camera in hands, that’s not a surprise. Grab you widest lens, lens hood a must, and watch your step as the rocks get pretty wet and sliding with the waves. Photo opportunities are awesome in there, the complexity is to grab something different and original. And you’re stuck between the steep rocks and the sea. You’ll have to play with the light as much as possible.

Then we moved to Port d’Hyères where we looked for a room and had dinner. I would recommend Hôtel des Voiliers, which offers reasonably priced (off-season), simple (nothing amazing there) and clean rooms (very clean !). And for a meal there is a lot of choices in the area. We picked La Baleine (The Whale) and we were not disappointed. The design is original: you sit in a brand new and contemporain setup, until you realize you are actually in the whale’s belly! Check it out!

In the morning the day after, we took advantage of the hotel’s breakfast and it was just great. Everything you want they have and the price is great. That made a good meal before hitting the road again, heading home for the end of the day. That brought us to the market in Hyères (they have that on Saturday) and we could buy some good food for cheap: olives, dates and goji berries (thanks to Pierre-François for introducing me to this great little fruit !).

From there we decided to reach the shore and follow it until we get close to home. That, of course, brings us to Saint-Tropez where we enjoyed the sun and a very good moroccan meal (restaurant: Casablanca) on a terrace on a small street away from the crowd.

So we drove along the coast and had a great opportunity to see the « Massif de l’Estérel » under heavy rain, and then sunny with rainbows going from the sea to the peaks of the Massif. Great colors, dramatic look and people everywhere pulling over for a picture. Check out the pictures I got in there and those taken in Cannes. Just before sunset, the sky became orange with a mix of heavy clouds and rain. We had to parked the car and I jumped out quickly to grab the shots. This usually lasts only a couple minutes. It was hard to get something because the sun was facing me and I had to avoid lens flares (tough job with a 35mm lens !), with reflections all over the place (the ground, boat surface, water, etc.).

This was a nice little getaway in our region and requires minimal preparation. As long as you find a room, you can have meals everywhere, the rest is secondary. There are tons of nice spots to photograph. Then again, from a technical view, all you need is a camera, a couple batteries for the week-end and memory cards. A tripod was not necessary, but could help in some circumstances (low light in shadows). One more thing: if you do have binoculars, by all means, bring them! That and a bottle of water and energy bar.

You can see the whole picture set on my website at

Good Light!


© Normand Primeau