25 minutes from Autoroute A8. Nice and Marseille aiports each 80 mins with many international flights. Toulon-Hyeres, 80 mins drive, has flights all year from London Stansted, Brussels and Paris. Nearest train stations are Les Arcs, 50 mins, Toulon and Aix-en-Provence with TGV high-speed trains, 75 mins. London St Pancras International station to Aix-en-Provence TGV station takes about 6 and a half hours. Car hire is available at all these destinations except Les Arcs.
Lac de Ste Croix 25km. St Tropez 45km. Brignoles 20km. Draguignan 30km. Toulon 70km. Aix-en-Provence 75km. Marseille 85km. Cannes 95km. Nice airport 120km. Ferries to the beautiful island of Porquerolles from Toulon and Marseille.
Provence is the land of good food and wine. Fresh vegetables, salad, fruit, cheeses, fish and meat from markets and shops are part of the Provencal healthy way of life – perhaps why so many locals thrive into ripe old age! Restaurants offer tasty food from simple menus to gourmet feasts. Provence is one of France’s largest wine-making areas and vineyards abound producing many excellent quality wines, mainly red and rose, but also some very special whites. Local wine-makers are happy to offer you free tastings at their vineyards, which are often in gorgeous settings.
In summer especially, there is a feast of jazz, classical and rock concerts in Cotignac and neighbouring areas. Venues include churches, town-halls, vineyards and village squares. There are also many local fetes with feasting and dancing, antique/brocante markets, art shows, firework displays and other events. Provencal people know how to have fun!!
Cotignac has long been considered one of the most beautiful and interesting villages in Provence with a history dating back to the Roman occupation. While retaining its original charm, it now has five restaurants, four bars, four bakers and patisseries, two butchers, a fishmonger, old-fashioned hardware shop, post office, ATMs, internet cafe, newsagent, a superb kilim carpet shop, and several boutiques selling stylish clothing and Provencal specialities – fabrics, cosmetics, local honey, olive oil, wine, terracotta pots and decorative objects. A real retail therapy paradise! There are three doctors, a dentist and a pharmacy. The Tuesday morning market is not to be missed.
The village is surrounded by pine-covered hills, olive groves, and vineyards with other attractive villages like Aups, Carces, Entrecasteaux, Lorgues, Salernes,Villecroze and Tourtour just a short drive away. There are many wonderful walks in the area through unspoilt countryside. Cotignac Tourist Office can advise on the best routes.
A medieval village about 9kms from Cotignac. a scenic country drive through endless vineyards and olive rows.The village features a partially restored 11th century Chateau. Entrecasteaux is a very old site of settlement. Five centuries of Roman occupation are very evident throughout this area.
This village has an interesting distant association with Australia. Vice Admiral Antoine Raymond Joseph Bruny, Chevalier d’Entrecasteaux (1737-1793) After an exemplary naval career, he was given by Louis XVI in 1791, the command of the expedition sent in search of La Perouse missing on his expedition of 1785-1788.In the course of his voyage d’Entrecasteaux covered work of great scientific significance, which included the charting of sections of the coastline of Western Australia and Tasmania. Some of his charts are still used today and artifacts of his travels are on display at the
After having a wonderful time in this region of Provence why not have a reminder of the holiday you so much enjoyed. These prints can be purchased from www.millbury.co.uk
Before leaving home, it will be necessary to contact your service provider to make the necessary connection arrangements to suit your chosen mobile phone plan. Note, that in certain locations in France, reception can not be guaranteed. Also consider one of the “phone home” programmes on offer, whereby calls made abroad can be billed to your home account. Whilst in France, virtually all public phones only operate with prepaid phonecards.
Michelin, Fodder’s and many other publications provide excellent overview descriptions of local history, attractions and events. There are numerous web sites which provide updated tourist information, for all regional sectors of France.
Car leasing V’s Rentals
If your stay in Europe is more than 17 days, the option to lease rather than rent a vehicle, is well worth considering. Leasing is not too complicated to arrange. Booking procedures must be completed at least 6 weeks prior to your arrival. Renault, Citroen and Peugeot all have representatives outside of France and offer leasing programmes at far more attractive tax free (TVA) rates, than renting.
When comparing airline options for flights into France, consider entry to an airport other than Paris. For example Lauda Air has connections from Vienna to Nice. KLM also provide a service from Amsterdam to Marseille or Toulouse. If your itinerary does not include time spent in Paris, one of these southern city airports will be far more convenient and closer to your final destination.
Wine purchases in France
In almost all regions, local vignerons offer “degustations” tasting of their regional specialties. Look for certain villages ( e.g. Cotignac) that have regional Co.-Operatives for processing all local wine production . Their shops only feature local produce, often including olive oil, honey etc and tastings are usually available. For the broadest range of wines, from all regions of France at competitive prices, the wine section in the major supermaches (supermarkets) are worth investigating.
A simple task, which can save a lot of time and trouble in the event of lost personal effects, is to photocopy 3 sets of all your travel documents. (Inc.: Passport ,Itinerary, Tickets, Credit cards, Travellers cheques, Drivers licence). Keep one set yourself. Leave one set at home with a friend or relative and give one set to a travelling companion.
Split personal luggage packing
If travelling with a companion, consider exchange packing a complete set of clothing into each others suitcase. If any baggage problems occur along the way, this simple arrangement will prove helpful.
Power adapter / Telephone adaptors
If you will be using either an electric shaver of hair dryer, portable radio etc, obtain before you leave home, a European fitting power plug adapter, available from most hardware stores. Also if you plan to take a laptop computer please ensure that you purchase an appropriate telephone adaptor for your modem connection.
Taped music, videos
You may wish to pack a range of your favourite audio tapes for use in the house and car whilst on your travels. Some village video rental outlets provide a limited range of titles in English and VCR hire.
Some rental properties have available for guests use, a variety of various items including playing cards, puzzles, magazines, books, board games etc. A limited selection of English language newspapers are normally available the day after date of publication. The Sunday Times (UK) can be purchased on Mondays and provides extensive reading material, with numerous magazine inserts, for approx 5 euros. French newspapers are often “freely” available scattered on café tables in smaller villages.
Observe opening hours of village shops
When first arriving to stay at a new destination, observe the opening and closing hours of local businesses. Most boulangeries, small grocers, newsagents etc, vary their trading hours at different times of the year and are never standardised throughout France. In small villages, enquire whether the local boulangerie bakes more than once per day. Often all bread supplies are sold out by the middle of the day.
Stalls at local Market days are often the cheapest source of printed postcards. Prepare computer made address labels of friends and family, before leaving home. This way you can keep count of who to send to and it also leaves more space on the card for your message.
ATM’s are available throughout most parts of France. In many cases, with the widespread use of this facility, the need to carry travellers cheques is no longer necessary. All machines have English transaction instructions. You may wish to consult your local bank to ascertain whether reciprocal arrangements exist with certain French Banks. This may help you minimise withdrawal fees.
Driving in France
Be prepared for a somewhat different approach to road safety and etiquette, from what you may be use to in your home country. There are many uniquely French driving habits to be aware of. Try not to be intimidated by the speed of other motorists. Be prepared to be overtaken by every vehicle approaching from behind, so always be alert and where possible, stay out of the outside, overtaking lanes on motorways. Throughout France, you will often have to decide whether to take the Peage (tollway), or stick to the secondary roads (route nationale). Tolls can be very expensive and in most (not all) situations, require you to collect an entry ticket at the commencement of the peage section and payment is made at your exit (sortie) point. These roads are often the best choice, if travelling from point to point, as they are fast (limit 130 kms/hr) and very direct. French police do use radar to check speed and motorcycle patrols are widespread. The maximum permitted alcohol driving limit is .05. (The French drive on the right-hand side of the road)