(france) Hike, aquabike, hold the frites: How to burn off those baguettes with our Villefrance-sur-Mer Detox picks

The South of France isn’t a destination famed for its ‘detox’ options.

Instead, holidays here are generally made up of long, lazy days fuelled by croissants and cafe au lait and spent pottering around the pretty streets until its time to pop the rosé

Judging by the joie-de-vivre of the people we met on a recent trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer this is an excellent way to spend the summer.

But there are ways to minimise le damage if you're keen on keeping up some healthy habits while you're there...

Villefranche-sur-Mer: Beach, breakfast, bar.. no sign of the gym though...

Villefranche-sur-Mer: Beach, breakfast, bar.. no sign of the gym though...

Room with a  view: Villefranche is built on a hillside and our air bnb overlooked the pretty bay

Room with a  view: Villefranche is built on a hillside and our air bnb overlooked the pretty bay

Evening on the Rivieria: Pink skies to match the paintwork

Evening on the Rivieria: Pink skies to match the paintwork

Snapped: Taking the coastal path to beautiful Cap Ferrat 

Snapped: Taking the coastal path to beautiful Cap Ferrat 

FIVE WAYS TO 'DETOX' IN VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

1. GET EXPLORING

Villefranche-sur-Mer (VFSM) is a town built on a hillside, which makes for postcard pretty views from the water and around the bay, and calves of steel after a few days taking in the sights of the Old Town and/or striding between boulangeries.

My FitBit was buzzing with excitement after I got lost on an early morning stroll to the harbour (10,000 steps before 10am = most definitely one extra croissant earned) and so one of the best ways I can recommend to stay fit here is to just get meandering: it's gentle, free, brilliantly effective and also a great way to explore your the surroundings.

D|R tip: Leave the heels at home and pack flats with a good grip. My plastic Birkenstocks were the perfect accessories for this weekend.

D|R tip: Joggers will love the pretty coastline running routes - VFSM to Belleau return is approx 5km.

Pack flats: Villefranche-sur-Mer is heavy on the hills 

Pack flats: Villefranche-sur-Mer is heavy on the hills 

Gripping: These plastic Birkenstocks were the perfect VFSM accessories

Gripping: These plastic Birkenstocks were the perfect VFSM accessories

2. FILL UP ON FIGS

In August one of the first things you'll notice about VFSM after the mega hills and sparkling sea views is the heady scent of the fresh figs bursting from trees everywhere.

As well as making the whole place smell like a Diptyque boutique, figs are full of goodness being high in fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper as well as being a good source of antioxidant vitamins A, E and K.

Pick them straight off the trees, or pick up at the teeny Town Square market, held every Wednesday and Saturday, along with a load of other knobbly and delicious fruit and veg and a bevvy of cheeses guaranteed to stink out the flight home.

Shopping: Market day at the Town Square

Shopping: Market day at the Town Square

Fresh: Figs are everywhere in VFSM in summer

Fresh: Figs are everywhere in VFSM in summer

3. FILL UP AT THE PHARMACIES

French women are hot. That is fact.

Maybe it's in the genes, but the super-charged pharmacies here probably also have something to do with it. Always my first stop on any trip to France, the pharmacies are a treasure trove of spa-level beauty and bathroom products, with better packaging and pricing than at home.

The suntan lotions especially are another level, and staff are always super knowledgeable so this is the perfect opportunity to (finally?) start that grown-up skincare regime.

Hitting the bottle at Deli Bo: La Roche-Posay is a French favourite

Hitting the bottle at Deli Bo: La Roche-Posay is a French favourite

4. AQUABIKE

A spin class in the sea... and could there be anything more motivating than sweating in your bikini in front of a beach load of Cote d'Azur babes? 

Classes from 18euros.

aquabike06.com

Wet wheels: Taking a spin on the Aqua Bike pic: instagram/krista_madden

Wet wheels: Taking a spin on the Aqua Bike

pic: instagram/krista_madden

5. MOULES (hold the frites)

Its proximity to Italy means that VFSM can be a bit of a carb-fest, but there's also a smorgasbord of the freshest seafood at every turn so it's not too difficult to make healthy choices with a little bit of willpower. I loved the Moules menu at Lou Bantry on the water featuring every flavour from classic Provencale to gorgonzola and curry (!) NB reservations recommended.

D|R tip: Like much of France VFSM isn't too hot on veggie options. One thing to look out for is Socca (chickpea-flour flatbread pancakes) which we had as part of a rather eclectic veggie platter at Lou Bantry and also at the airport on the way home.

D|R fact: Mussels are full of protein and the anti-ageing mineral selenium.

Lou Bantry: Seafood with a view

Lou Bantry: Seafood with a view

Time for one last bite: Socca pancakes in Departures at Nice Airport

Time for one last bite: Socca pancakes in Departures at Nice Airport


DETAILS

We stayed at the L'Agrianthe apartments, booked through airbnb, paying £575 for a two-room apartment for four nights in high season.

The nearest airport is Nice (we flew with British Airways) and it's around 30 minutes drive from VFSM (and much cheaper in an uber than a 'taxi stand' taxi).

Air bnb: Beautiful breakfast views from our apartment at L'Agrianthe

Air bnb: Beautiful breakfast views from our apartment at L'Agrianthe


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