When I first had the idea of spending an evening at Saint Raphael, I got this romantic idea of playing on the beach until the sun sets, paddling in the sea past bedtime, and carrying our sleepy boys back to the car with freckley noses and sandy toes.
We hadn’t really ever managed this before – the boys have been a bit young, and it’s easier to get them off to bed before they’re over-tired and easily upset.
But … BUT … this time we actually did it! We had an unplanned evening on the beach, and it was absolutely perfect. It’s what I think of first when I look back at our last holiday, and makes me want to go back to the South of France year after year.
We were staying at Eurocamp Holiday Green Campsite just outside Frejus, and decided to head to Saint-Raphael for our last evening to see the big wheel. The campsite itself was quiet in the evening, so we spent most nights exploring the little towns around Frejus.
Saint Raphael was one we hadn’t made it to before, but I’d seen online that there was a big wheel overlooking the sea, so we drove down to see it in real life.
We walked along the seafront, and there was a proper holiday vibe about Saint Raphael. That might sound daft to say because we were obviously on holiday ourselves, but we’d visited so many quiet little towns that it felt different to be around other holidaymakers enjoying ice creams and drinks in the sun.
There was an ice cream kiosk on the promenade, restaurants and bars on the opposite pavement, as well as the Great Wheel of Saint Raphael and carousel overlooking the sea. I made it my mission to try an Aperol Spritz by the end of the evening – it sounds like such a summery drink. And here we are seven months later, and I still haven’t tasted one!
The walkway was also lined with these huge metal sculptures of a mother with her children, and they made me smile as a mother who constantly has at least one small person climbing over her!
I still haven’t managed to find out any details about these sculptures, so please let me know anything!
We weren’t sure if the big wheel of Saint Raphael would be open in September, but as we walked along the front we saw it moving. Our two boys couldn’t wait to go on, and we had timed it well with the early evening sun casting a lovely light over the water.
We could see for miles along the coast towards Nice, and back towards Saint Tropez and Port Grimaud, where we had spent a lovely day out earlier in the week. You can read about it here.
Our youngest son – then two-and-a-half – was a bit wary of being so high up, and only enjoyed for half the ride. I’m not sure what it was that upset him, but all of a sudden he just wanted to get off! Thankfully, we managed to half comfort and half distract him until we stopped, so it wasn’t too stressful!
After the big wheel, the boys asked if they could go on the carousel. Not wanting to miss out on the random crying action, the eldest started crying for me to get on as soon as it started moving. I spent the whole time watching him going round and round in tears. It’s not all fun and games on a family holiday!
Being our last night in France, we had to have one last ice cream, of course, so we popped into a restaurant to check out the menu … and headed straight back out when they boys decided they didn’t want a sundae. Back to the beachside kiosk it was, for cones and slushes, and my dream of an Aperol Spritz faded into the sunset.
Have you ever seen someone so happy to have a mango ice cream?! As soon as we were off the big wheel, he was back to his usual smiley self.
As we tried to take a selfie with our ice creams, a couple walking past asked us if we wanted them to take our photo. I said yes, because even if they don’t know how to work my camera, it’s worth the risk to have a family photo where our faces aren’t squashed into the frame.
Somehow, within the 30 seconds it took for me to hand over my camera and show them which button to press, our eldest tripped over Stew’s foot and fell on the floor, cutting his knee. So our photo ended up like this…
I don’t know what’s worse … that, or the original selfie! I’m not really selling this as the best evening of our holiday so far, am I?! I promise, it gets better, and there weren’t any more tears!
The tears soon faded when we said we’d stay a bit longer at the beach, and walked down to the sand for a play and a paddle in the sea. We raced along the waterfront, threw stones in, and watched the sun set.
It was a struggle to get the boys away because they were having so much fun, and in the end we sat down to watch them for a bit. I didn’t want to leave either – it was the perfect ending to our holiday.
Of course, the littlest had to take it that one step too far and laid down to make sand angels. I bet the hire car people loved us for that one! I’ll leave you with some photos I took as the sun was setting… and as always, check out our travel page for more of our adventures.