WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR TIME WHILST STAYING HERE?
Perhaps all you want is to relax by the pool, take your meals on the terrace, and avoid activity planning altogether. Then again, you may want to make the most of your stay as far as seeing the sights and trying out the activities on offer is concerned. Below is a list of things to do, for you to pick and choose among – or ignore, if you so prefer.
Behind the villa, just a few hundred metres up the road, lies a truly majestic example of Provencal landscape. There are paths and roads for you to walk, run or cycle, and you could wander around for hours should you so desire. The environment presents challenges should you wish to use it to keep fit, and is also a splendid place to go for walks with your dog, family, friends and romantic interest. The colline, as we call it, has been described as a truly exhilarating and liberating place, with fantastic views; it is, all in all, the perfect location for a real and marvellous nature experience. Have a look through our gallery to see more photos.
The sandy beaches in La Ciotat, Cassis and St. Cyr-sur-Mer are all within easy reach by car, and you will find stretches where you may install yourselves with your own equipment as well as beaches where you are required to rent mattresses. If you are more adventurous, you may try out the beaches in the Calanques between La Ciotat and Cassis, and along the coast west of Cassis. Around the Calanques, the scenery is beautifully rocky and the beaches are pebbled rather than sandy. You will also find a couple of naturist beaches nearby.
Check out the following website for detailed information about your local beaches; remember to click on Var as well as Bouches du Rhone, as the border between the two departements is “just down the road”.
There are several golf courses within easy reach, but the nearest one is the beautiful Dolce Fregate Golf Club situated on the road to Bandol, if you take the route via St. Cyr-sur-Mer. The club sports a golf academy and two restaurants as well as a shop – and unless there has been a change lately, even a wine “cave” where you may taste and buy their own Fregate wines. Check out their website.
If you are a lover of beautiful nature, a trip to our lovely neighbouring town of Cassis may include going via the spectacular Route des Crêtes. This road offers fantastic views over the Mediterranean, but it is closed on days with strong winds – and people with a real fear of heights may find it a little too spectacular ( I’m writing from experience on this issue).
The Calanques have been mentioned under ‘Beaches’, but deserve a second mentioning. There are several beautiful calanques, or narrow sounds, between La Ciotat and Marseille; some you may reach by foot and some by boat. There are regular boat trips available from the ports of La Ciotat and Cassis. The hills surrounding the various Calanques are also very popular among mountain climbers. As of the 18th April 2012 the Calanques between La Ciotat and Marseille have been declared as a National Park. Check out the Calanques here.
There are lots of alternative routes to take; the mountains of Provence are fantastic and varied. The beautiful nature surrounding Ceyreste provides ample opportunity for walking trips of various length and difficulty. We use the colline behind us daily, and can furthermore absolutely recommend longer trips in the areas around mounts Ste. Baume and Ste. Victoire, as well as the Massif du Garlaban. Common to all of these are incredible views and a sensation of being delightfully removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
FOR THE KIDS
There is a playground in Ceyreste that is very suitable for small children. It is especially nice during the summer season, as it has some large trees providing ample shadow for both children and parents.
The closest attraction for somewhat older kids is Aqualand at St. Cyr-sur-Mer. Going to St. Cyr, whether on the motorway or by D559, you cannot miss Aqualand, as it is situated just off the big roundabout at the entrance to the town. Check out their website.
Another attraction, the theme park OK Corral, situated not far from the Circuit Paul Ricard, offers a variety of shows, amusement park attractions and activities for children of all ages as well as families. Check out their website.
The villa is situated in the Côte de Provence wine appellation, yet squashed between the Cassis and the Bandol appellations. Côte de Provence is best known for its rosé wines, Cassis for its white wines and Bandol for its red wines, yet all of them offer all colours of wine. For a short introduction to our local wines, check out this website.
Most of the sizeable vineyards welcome visitors and offer ‘guided tours’ of the wineries as well as tastings. For something extra we recommend
Chateau de Pibarnon in the Bandol region for its very good red and rosé wines – and for the beauty of the chateau and its surroundings, including the fantastic view. Be sure to take in the view already when approaching the vineyard, as you climb up the hill with old vines on both sides of the road. Check out their website.
Clos Sainte Magdelein in Cassis. This vineyard, like most in Cassis, produces mainly good, fresh white wines – but also some rosé. Situated on a cliff overlooking Cassis, this is also a beautiful place. You may be so lucky as to be taken on a walk on the property; if so, enjoy the view of Cassis! Check out their website.
There are many great restaurants in the area, from the more rustic to gourmet restaurants at a very high level. One of the many great aspects of French culture is the tendency to find mouth-wateringly good food being offered in even the most reasonably-priced, remotely-located restaurants. From traditional French food, via Italian, Spanish, Asian and every conceivable modern mix; we can assure you that you will find food here that you love.
There are several interesting museums in the area that you can check out. Our favourite at the moment is the fascinating MuCEM – Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Mediterranée – in Marseille, which allows a glimpse into the history and culture of the Mediterranean. The museum itself is a fascinating conglomeration of modern architecture and an old fortress, and gives the place a great atmosphere. Similarly, Musée Regards de Provence, also in Marseille, features collections inspired by Provence. For more information on museums located in Marseille, visit their website here.
The Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles, near Aix-en-Provence, gives chilling and thought-provoking insight into the persecution of minorities in Europe less than a century ago, warning also of the dangers of this reoccurring. Aix also has a museum dedicated to the life of the artist Paul Cézanne, set in his studio: Atelier de Cézanne. This museum also regularly features work by other artists who, over the years, have been inspired by the area around Aix as Cézanne was. In the area around Aix you can also find tours to take you to sites he painted, as well as galleries: see here. There are many more museums to discover in Aix, which you can find by visiting their website here.
There are many great places for shopping in the area close to Ceyreste. Chief amongst these, to us, is Aix-en-Provence. The old, narrow streets of Aix are filled with a variety of fun shops; there is also a newer area, close to a good underground parking space, that has some great shops as well. Marseille, being a big city, naturally has many opportunities for shopping. In particular, there is a new shopping centre in the Vieux Port – Les Terrasses du Port – that is a lot of fun.
Ceyreste itself has a collection of shops handy for day-to-day life, such as two bakeries, a pharmacy and a grocery shop. There are furthermore many shopping opportunities in the immediate area around Ceyreste, including La Ciotat, which is home both to a shopping area, and to smaller shops dotted around the city; Aubagne, which also has a large shopping area; and Cassis, which has many interesting shops as well.
A rather fun tradition in Provence is markets, of which we have three main types. The first of these being a travelling market that comes weekly to La Ciotat, and which winds its way through the streets, proffering fun knick-knacks. The second market is one that comes to La Ciotat each summer, stretching along the harbour every night, offering a variety of products of varying quality. Finally, there are several specialised markets that bring with them exciting goods that are often antiques. All of these markets offer a fun and social shopping experience, with a distinctly Mediterranean feel.