We paused in Grasse on the French Riviera on our way across the Var to stay once again at Castellane on the Route Napoleon. The gardens below the promenade surround one of the perfume factory outlets; the flowers in beckoning with enticing scents, perhaps more sophisticated than the fields of purple lavender flowers in the fields around Provence, this being July.
Grasse turned out to be party mood as maybe it always is. A small party were enjoying Champagne outdoors on the shaded promenade whilst we contented ourselves with just ice cream. A band was setting up nearby on the promenade, playing R&B on its sound system. Posters advertised Grasse Festiv'été (their spelling) as lasting throughout all of July and August, so pretty much confirming my initial impression of a town where someone is always having a party.
The southern part of the Route Napoléon climbs up from the Riviera, passing a prison (Maison d'arret de Grasse) with what must be one of the best but most frustrating prison views: it's high up on the cliff overlooking Grasse and down to the coast. Not to mention frustration of hearing the sound of sporty motorbikes zapping past outside the perimeter wall. And what crimes have the inmates committed to be sent there? Just the usual (run out of money at the municipal Casino?) or maybe that's where you are sent if you wear in public a counterfeit perfume or last year's fashion. We didn't stop to find out.
The Route Napoléon is known to sports motorbikers for its long dramatic curves and hills. It was a fantastic ride late on a fine summer afternoon, refreshed from the pause at Grasse and with the certainty of a booked room in a friendly Auberge up Castellane.