30 September 2013

St Tropez

Last but not least, St Tropez. Made famous in the 60s by Brigitte Bardot and other French starlets, St Tropez's actually a small fishing town tucked away on a peninsula between Marseille and Nice. We'd saved this until the last day, hoping it to be the perfect way to end our trip...but it wasn't quite as easy as its fake tan brand counterpart.

A friend of ours, who skippers this rather lovely yacht, recommended we take the boat from Nice port - a leisurely two and a half hour journey that takes you along the coast and back for around 60E each. Shaking off any hope of a lie-in, we were out bright and early to get our tickets but were met instead by a queue of very confused people. The wind had caught up in the night and the captain wasn't taking any chances so all boat bets were off. Disappointed but undeterred, we caught the tram to the train station, then the train to St Raphael (the nearest train station to St Tropez, 90 minutes between where we were starting and where we were going). Off-season timetables meant we had another 90 minutes to kill before the bus to St Tropez left so we sheltered from the blustering wind - the Mistral - with a hot chocolate at one of the hotels on the sea front.

Battling our way onto the bus (no queue etiquette and lots of people with the same idea), we finally made it to St Tropez - almost seven hours after we'd set off. We realised that we had just two hours to kill before we had to get the return bus so headed straight to the harbour to check out the yachts. With it being regatta season on the Cote d'Azur, there was no lack of beautiful yachts moored up.

Semi-accidentally, we ended up having lunch at the most expensive place on the harbour for lunch - Le Girelier. All white tablecloths and silver service waiters, it was understandably and reassuringly expensive. Mum had a courgette tagliatelle with crevettes, lime foam and jasmine rice and I had a steak frites (when in France...) With a large glass of rose each, we got little change from 100E...but we justified it as well-deserved.

From there, we explored a little of the town. Again, very Mediterranean with pale yellow walls, little flowers and cobbled streets, it's easy to see why people have been flocking here for years. We came across some visiting monks having their photo taken in front of the very choppy sea, and climbed up to the old castle ruins for a view across the bay. As our short but sweet time in St Tropez came to an end, we couldn't help but have one last look at the yachts...and fell in love with Shamrock V, a 1930 J-Class racing yacht. We both agreed we would have run away with it had we the chance.

After an extraordinarily slow and tiring journey back, we arrived in Nice 13 hours after we'd left it. With a last few glasses of red to bid adieu to the apartment, Nice had been every bit as nice as we expected...

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