Holidays on foot
I’ve been sunning myself in the South of France but it wasn’t all lounging and drinking rosé. I also partook in one of my other favourite holiday pastimes: running without knowing where the hell I’m going.
Running on holiday is a great way to explore the local area. Take your phone, take some water if you’re going for longer than an hour or if it’s particularly hot, and take some cash in case of emergency. Try to remember where you’re staying. I prefer to stick to an out-and-back run as you’re less likely to get lost and confused that way.
The villa I stayed at is in the hills over looking St Tropez, just outside a village called Le Guarde Freinet.
When you set out along the winding roads surrounding the villa it feels like you’re in a romantic novel. This is where writers come to waft about in sun hats with baguettes and sunflowers stuffed in their bicycle baskets. It’s quite possible that at any moment I might step on an adder and be rescued by a weather-beaten Frenchman and fed rosé in his chateaux.
Unfortunately I am neither wafting about in a sunhat nor looking particularly like the heroine in a romantic novel. I am pounding along in lycra trousers with a big stupid smile on my face, occasionally stopping to take pictures or admire a particularly enormous cricket.
It makes running a whole lot easier when every sense is being bombarded with rural France’s loveliness. There are vineyards and olive trees; there are little streams that tinkle their way over the road; there are wild flowers dotted all along every bank, and umbrella pines casting their hot holiday smell over everything.
It’s hard to imagine that just down the road is that gaudy trollop, St Tropez, playground for Russian billionaires and footballers trying to find ways to earn the word ‘vulgar’ two full columns in the dictionary.
That is, of course, exactly why running on holiday is so lovely. Get in a car and these beautiful winding lanes are just a journey to somewhere. Get in a car and your neighbour is St Tropez. On foot your neighbour is a vineyard and St Tropez feels as far away as London.