After renting a car and speeding across Italy, we cruised into France aboard Corsica Ferries, landing in Bastia on the island of Corsica. Charmed again by an old European town we stayed a couple of days longer than planned then took an overnight ferry to Toulon to begin our bike ride along the Mediterranean coast.
The French Highways Department has done this coastal bit right. The landscape is too rugged to expect separate, quiet roads to cycle on, but a wide shoulder on the road that is a sandy colour as opposed to the black surface of the main road, clearly indicates the bike lane to motorists. This is a stunning ride with lots of climbs through a dry landscape with views of the sea followed by descents into Riviera villages. Sanaray-sur-Mer was an unplanned overnight stop but its charm and its wooden boat festival made it irresistible.
After a few days we made another descent into Marseille and bike routes through the city took us right to the old port. Marseille has a reputation of being a pretty rough place and I don’t know it well enough to comment on that one way or the other. However, the newly restored Vieux Port area is stunning with views across the harbour to the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica which towers over the city from the opposite shore.