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South of France in February or I know where you will be a year from now… | Aberdeen family photographer on the move

Updated: Mar 29

A slightly unusual post for this blog - actually not too dissimilar to a few posts I shared back when I first started the blog - categorised as ‘mom-tographer life’ - but this one will share our adventures during the February mid-term and photos taken along the way.


I fell in love with photography a long - LONG - time ago.

So it wasn’t a career I set out to pursue as such, but rather something that was born out of my love for the art.

Thanks to my friends, who trusted me enough to book me to photograph their wedding many - MANY - moons ago.

As the years went by and my photography business went through a few changes - from being an ‘all in photographer’ (honestly, I offered anything from newborn to couples to events on my website back in 2016!) to family only to the current beautiful and perfect form of branding, family and small wedding photography. As work got busier, I found myself shooting less for pleasure and so this year, one of my resolutions was to try and bring this back.

After all, I still love photography for the art form that it is, I incorporate this passion into all my shoots and I wanted to add my ‘big girl camera’ shots to the family album at the end of the year.


So when we set off on our adventures in France in February, I knew I wanted to take my camera along and fall back in love with shooting for myself.

Spoiler alert: it happened!



Now, this trip wasn’t simply my attempt to escape the daily routines, find change of scenery, catch up with family (though we did all of the above with great success).

A few years ago, we went to Côte d’Azur this time of year and loved what we discovered - the golden hills of mimosa (trees, not cocktails), the lovely, mild temperatures (for February) and oh, the carnivals!

This is what we went back for.


South of France can sound like a very lavish holiday, but it doesn’t have to be. St. Tropez, Monaco, Nice, Cannes - all sound so fabulous and a lot of us know of these places by association with Hollywood and glossy magazines.

I remember my surprise when I discovered that St Tropez was a lovely town, with narrow cobbled streets, fishing boats (alongside super-yachts) - as well as Leonardos and Giseles.


Travel

From Scotland (Edinburgh) you can fly directly to Nice (EasyJet) - but not in the winter months.

So we flew out of Aberdeen, via Amsterdam, with KLM, with a short connection time. Flight times were actually pretty palatable and all in all (we live near Aberdeen), it took around the same amount of time to go Aberdeen-Amsterdam-Nice as to drive down to Edinburgh and fly to Nice direct (noted for future!). Costs were comparable too, but with KLM you have a cabin suitcase included in ticket price - which was a welcome realisation.



Schedule

Before we went, I was keeping an eye on the festival schedules.

I wanted to make sure we made it to Carnival du Nice 2024 (a grand, two week celebration with various events - the opening, flower parades, night parades and a queernaval) and Fete du Citron in Menton 2024 (a citrus-themed string of events - not unlike the one in Nice, but also with some citrus ‘statues’ displayed in the town centre). Anything else would be a bonus, as carnivals are so full of life, joy and take up a lot of energy to enjoy :)

Every year there is a theme and 2024 was King of Pop Culture in Nice and Olympics (of course!) in Menton.

There’s also a mimosa festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule, but our timings just didn’t align to make it along to that event too.

As the festivals were falling over the weekend and we arrived on Monday, I planned a trip to Monaco early in the week, to visit the oceanographic museum and Prince’s palace. The museum is a grand piece of architecture, sitting on a rocky cliff of Monaco, with beautiful marine life (we were particularly enchanted by the huge sea turtles).

From the museum, we wandered over to the Prince’s palace, which is a lovely walk through the Saint-Martin Gardens and past some picturesque narrow streets.

From the palace you can take in the views of the harbour, the bay and the city.

If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you could check out The Exhibition of HSH The Prince of Monaco's Car Collection, but we were wiped after the ocean museum (there’s a very picturesque play park on the rooftop, which are a lot of the boys’ energy, to be fair), so just headed home.

P.S. What a change this trip to Monaco was from 2016, when I was pregnant with our first son and we explored the race tracks, had coffee and cake at Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo and gambled (a few pounds) at the casino!










Costs

I booked festival tickets a couple of months in advance.

In the past, we just turned up and joined the crowds that lined the streets. This is a fun way to enjoy the festival, but can be tricky when you’ve got young children or anyone with mobility concerns. You also need sharp elbows or high platforms to get through or tower above the crowds to get the best view.

This year, for both - Nice and Menton, I booked seats on the tribunes. This meant that we would have a clear view and our feet would get a break.

It worked perfectly in Nice (and was probably the best way to enjoy the event, as the location of the tributes - in Place Masséna - was a vision in itself!), but in Menton, our lunch overran and we missed out time slot to get into our seats (oooops!).

But! This was actually a lucky misfortune, as kind spectators allowed the boys the get in front of them and have the front ‘seat’ view at the parade and collect ALLLLLL the confetti thrown by the crowds, the floats and parade performers!

Carnival tickets (for the seats in the tribune (whether you use them or not 🤣) were similar for Nice & Menton - adults €28, children 6-12 years old €10, under 5 free.

We took the train to the Carnivals, which was simple and not as expensive as taking a train around Scotland would have been.







Base

We are very fortunate to be able to stay with family when we visit this lovely part of the world.

The town we stay in is Fréjus, which is around an hour’s drive West from Nice, 1hr30mins from Monaco and 50mins East from St. Tropez - an absolutely golden spot for getting around.

Its also got a couple of train stations nearby, so you don’t need to drive to get to all the hot spots!

Frejus is on the coast, so has lovely sandy beaches, a theatre, Roman ruins, plenty of cafes and restaurants and children’s play parks and various outdoor activities.

There’s also a soft play, but chances of you needing it are pretty slim - any time of the year!

Here are a few photos I took on one of our days out around Frejus - we went to Les étangs de Villepey - a beautiful, serene nature reserve just outside the town and across the road from a lovely stretch of sand with a beautiful view over Frejus harbour and towards St. Raphael (an adjacent resort town).

views of Saint-Aygulf from Les étangs de Villepey in Frejus, South of France

wooden walkway in Les étangs de Villepey between Frejus and Saint-Aygulf in South of France

children-running-away-from-camera-along-sandy-beach-near-saint-aygulf-in-south-of-france

two-boys-playing-on-wooden-walkway-in-Les-étangs-de-Villepey-near-Frejus-and-Saint-Aygulf-in-South-of-France

two-grandchildren-standing-with-their-grandfather-on-a-wooden-bridge-in-Les étangs de Villepey near Frejus and Saint-Aygulf in South of France

children. sitting in wooden cabin in Les étangs de Villepey near Frejus and Saint-Aygulf in South of France

boy leaning onto wooden frame on Les étangs de Villepey

Food

When I asked on Instagram what people would like me to share about our trip, there were a few questions about food.

The truth is… food can be tricky on our trips to south of France.

People often eat late(r than we’re used to) and many (most) restaurants stop serving food/close between 3-7pm!

This has meant that when we go for meals, it would be lunch time, so convenience has certainly driven many of our choices.

Just as you could imagine, food here is varied and lovely. Fresh, light, plenty of vegetables and seafood, good meat… you won’t stick (as long as it’s within the opening hours - otherwise, if you can’t find a ‘non stop’ restaurant, the usual fast food joint to the rescue :)

One of the best meals I’ve had in France was at Chateau Eza - up on a cliff, above the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea. This was back when our first son was just a couple of months old - I probably wouldn’t risk that beautiful (and open) setting with the boys :)



I think this covers all the pieces of information I wanted to share about our little mid-term getaway towards the sun and confetti.

Do you have any questions about the February season in South of France (or any other season, really)?

Have I tempted you to look into it? Will I see you there in 2025 - throwing confetti at the parade passing by? ;)



When I am not chasing my boys around the airports, I love photographing families in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and wider Scotland. I work with local families, as well as people who share the passion for travel and often photograph family reunions and families that are holidaying in Scotland.

If you are planning a trip to Scotland - to catch up with loved ones, or to explore - I'd love to create beautiful mementos for you to cherish for many years to come.


If you enjoyed this different type of a blog, you will love my friend Ute's post and discover a creative photography community, where you will find reflections on the exploration of emotions surrounding the concept of home or Heimat through photography. Absolutely fabulous stuff and a brilliant read!

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Brooke Hamilton
Brooke Hamilton
02 de abr.

Such wonderful storytelling in all of these images and so inspiring!

Curtir

Ute Reckhorn
Ute Reckhorn
31 de mar.

This article was so inspiring. I really love how you got back to your initial love for photography. And the resulting pictures show your love and passion for the craft.

Curtir

Oh my! This is brilliant! I love seeing a different part of France than what I am used to - the tourist part of Paris. Your capture of your travels gives me the travel bug! Gorgeous photos!

Curtir

Rosa Clark
Rosa Clark
29 de mar.

I love this blog post! I want to go to the South of France after reading your blog and seeing your pictures.

Curtir
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