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St Tropez: landscape with boats

Monday, October 01, 2012

Today I take the bus to St Tropez.

(These are boats, not the bus. We'll get to the boats in a minute, but I put in a pic of the boats because the bus was not pretty. Well, it was ok, but not photogenic.)

It's quite a long way, one and a half hours, which is why I've never been there before. St Trop is notoriously hard to get to - there's no railway and it's round a mountain. In summer the traffic gets gridlocked and stays that way for 10 weeks.

So I buy the ticket and get on the bus. Realise I have forgotten to check that the semaine des voiles (end of summer regatta) is over but having spent 2 euro on the bus ticket, I'm not going to get off now. Settle down with iPod. Like anyone who's ever been on a journey by the sea, I've taken care to make sure I've got a window seat on the sea side of the bus. The weather is patchy cloud so I'm hoping for great things today. The views are stunning and there's a haze of woodsmoke in a lot of places, I think maybe from people burning off vine clippings. There are certainly a few vineyards. It is not, however, easy to take pix from a moving bus:

After the first half hour, the road becomes a corniche, hilly, twisty, with interestingly sheer drops at times. The sea is blue, there are forested hills everywhere, it's fairytale.

I'll try taking pix of this on the way back.

Arrive in St Trop, on time. No traffic jams. The only congestion is in my insides because of the lack of fibre for the last couple of days. My gut is giving me error messages and my intestines feel as though there are rats fighting in there. The bus terminus, you'll be interested to hear, is about as attractive as bus terminuses everywhere. I walk up the road a bit and decide to head for where I can see boats.

Boy, are there boats! From a sign I learn that the regatta is this week, starting on Saturday gone and finishing on 7 October. I make that nine days to be honest but I assume if you've got the money to run one of these boats, you can do what you want with your time.

Nice work if you can get it. Walk round the port taking pix of everything, including the harbourmaster's office which is on the picturesque side.

I'm sure I can smell money along here. Lots of it. People are sitting on boats with glasses of wine and aperitifs, people are standing around talking boats, people are hauling on ropes and hopping on and off decks. I read a few names and am particularly impressed with one called 'Pink Panther'. I'm also interested to see that there are boat real estate agents and one boat has a sign on it saying it's for sale: 49K euro. It's a nice looking boat but not out of the ordinary and the other day I was looking at an advert for a studio flat that was only 53K euro. There are boats from all over including the UK (right) and Malta (left).

Come to the far side of the harbour and walk through a little arch

take pix of the boats that are on the open sea

walk around to the viewpoint and take more pix

walk up to the end and take even more pix.

Isn't it gorgeous? Walk back along the row of restos and cafes and sit down with a coffee. It's packed, everyone is out in the sun - I have a feeling St Trop has one of these microclimates and gets more than its share, it's certainly getting plenty now.

Get up and wander round to the streets at the back. Here it's quiet, calm and shady.

It's also full of designer shops. I see Dolce and Gabbana and what looks to be a Dior restaurant. Can this be right? It's like a shopping mall for the kind of people who don't actually have to think about money. Ever.

Choose a quiet resto and order a salad nicoise. This is a salad that always has leaves, either tuna or anchovies or both, hard boiled egg and black olives in. Everything else is variable. This one has cucumber, tomato and green pepper in.

Purists say it must be raw veg only. Other purists says it can contain cooked green beans and even potatoes. Eat this one and wait to be offered the pudding menu. This doesn't arrive so get up feeling a bit disgruntled and frankly empty and go looking for an icecream. Find what I'm looking for and eat it in a harbour cafe. You don't need to know the details. I'm having a day off today

Didn't buy any of the glace fruit in this shop though. I was intrigued. Glace cactus fruit. That's a new one. Glace fruit is a real Provencal thing, there's a town called Apt where it's a huge industry.

I don't know how to track an hour of pottering around taking photos so I've left it off.

Continue to potter and take more pix. A lot of people seem to go barefoot on their boats, so there are piles of knackered footwear on the dock. At the more rustic end of the harbour, there piles of possessions being sorted.=

Oh, I'd love to be part of this. And that's the thing. Unless you have blooming great wodges of cash to spend, or an active interest in sailing, you're not really part of it. St Tropez feels like a gigantic club that anyone can join, but you have to fulfil at least one of these two criteria, preferably both.

You can still see the pretty little town it was until the 60s when it was discovered, if you look at the actual buildings and forget about the designer gear.

Nice place though. On the way back I attempt to take pix of the scenery. Bit wobbly but there you go.

Tomorrow I'm going ON a boat. Can't wait.
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