The Mimosa trail covers around 130 Kilometres from The villages, going Bormes-les-Mimosas, le Rayol-Canadel, Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Raphaël,Tanneron, Grasse, Pégomas, and Mandelieu-la Napoule. It celebrates the flowering of the lovely Mimosa shrub with its bright yellow flowers which are particularly welcome in the depths of winter and give one the hope that spring is just around the corner.
The Mimosa trail is a spring time happening, from around the 15th of January until the 15th of March. The hillsides along the route, which runs along the line of hills behind Cannes up to St Tropez and beyond, are festooned with the mimosa giving a spectacularly yellow colouring to the whole Provencal landscape.
All of the villages along the trail celebrate the annual coming of these flowers. What many people do not realise is that it is not an indigenous plant to the area. It was brought into France in around 1850 by the British who were attempting to lighten up their winter gardens with this fast growing and hardy shrub.
Acacia dealbata is the Latin name for the particular variety that has made the hills of Provence its home. The Mimosa was originally found in Central and South America, Asia and Australia but was perfectly adapted to the local soil and weather conditions. Many botanists will frown at what they would call the introduction of a hostile plane, complaining that indigenous species will be overcome by it, however, no real record of anything growing in these areas exists, and it seems that the mimosa has given life to a once rather barren landscape. In any event, try telling the French that their beloved mimosa is not French at all and see what response you get.
The Mimosa can be seen all around Provence. The locals walk about with armfuls of the stuff to decorate houses, carts, cafe’s, restaurants, in fact anything with its beautiful aromatic yellow flowers and one of the villages Bormes les Mimosas is even named after it! Each village along the trail have fetes or festivals of decorated floats all bedecked with the mimosa and each village also stages a flower flight, where the locals all pelt each other with flowers. I was once in the village of Valbonne where some people started throwing flowers at me and just before I hit them someone explained the nature of the tradition! The mimosa is also used extensively in the perfume manufacturing process, the centre of which is in nearby Grasse.
It is a delight to stay in one of the villages whilst these events unfold, and each of the 8 villages has private villas to rent, which is the best way to enjoy the whole atmosphere. Hotels are hard to come by, well hotels of note that it, there are the quirky local establishments which can be quite fun but they do not match up to internationally acceptable standards in many cases. A private villa often has gardens, probably featuring the mimosa anyway, and pools, some heated, but offer a great deal more space and flexible than a hotel, particularly if you have an extended family or decide to take in-laws or parents along.
Getting there is easy as long as you have access to a car. Very little in the way of public transport exists along the trail and taxis can work out devilishly expensive and in any event are scarce. The A8 motorway runs right along the coast and you can decide where to turn of it depending on where you have decided to stay. Nice airport is easily reachable from most of these villages with in an hour and offers a number of UK destinations including all 4 London airports and most European hubs as destinations on a daily basis.