We’re in Camping de la Plage, same spot as yesterday, right up on the beach. If there’s anything more than a ripple on the water, Dave’s a gonner.
The weather is: we’re getting sunburned.
We had a choice this morning:
Option A: Get up, wash the pots, empty the loo, clean out the buckets of sand which have made it into Dave, recover from a mild hangover and drive through the traffic up to the cold Alps. Option B: Get a water taxi over to St Tropez and live it up. Which would you have picked?
The budget’s ignored for a day, St Tropez is tantalisingly close; we can just about see the glint of the sun off the million dollar yachts, we couldn’t miss it. Phil and Jules had already scouted out the boat service so, once we’d asked the campsite to disconnect us from the mains (€4 saved), the five of us (dogs welcome and free on the boat, €12 return for humans) wandered off down the beach to Port Grimaud.
We don’t know as we’ve not been to Venice yet (watch this space) but in our imaginations Port Grimaud resembles a tiny version of it. The terraced houses are all painted different pastal colours, and either front onto the beach or a boat mooring. I glanced in the estate agents and didn’t see anything less than €750,000. The moorings were occupied by gleaming speedboats, cruisers and yachts. As Jeremy Maguire once said: “Show me the munneeee”.
The fleet of ferry boats working the bay somehow manage to take 40 minutes to get from one side to the other, not that we were complaining. The sun streamed down today and the cooling breeze out at sea was refreshing. Since getting back to Dave we’ve discovered that Operation Dragoon, the Allied liberation of southern France, centred on St Tropez. The invasion was second only to the Normandy-based Operation Overlord (D Day) in its scale and complexity, but somehow failed to capture the imagination of the film makers. I’d never heard of it. Hopefully the men landing here back in August 1944 at least had some decent weather to greet them.
St Tropez exceeded my expectations. When I told Ju this she asked what my expectations were. “Hmmm, I dunno” was my reply. I guess I’d expected it to be tacky, packed with tourists, pretentious and prohibitively expensive. In reality it’s just oozing money. The tourists were immaculately dressed (with the odd exception) and the floating mansions were pristine.
Even the restaurants weren’t too pretentious, although the one we had lunch did their best. The place was open-sided and and just as we found and empty table and went to sit down, the m’aitre de woman swooped in and asked us to enter via the little archway off to one side? We all looked at each other, raised an eyebrow, and traipsed after her, through the arch, past occupied tables inside and back to the one we could have just sat down at. It was something straight out of Blazing Saddles. The food was good, and Phil was his usual hilarious self, speaking a combination of English, French, Italian and Spanish to our bemused and confused waiter.
Thinking about it, I’d expected the resort to be lined with five story high houses, cashing in on the premium vistas out to sea. In reality, there must be some kind of ‘you’re not in the club, you’re not comin’ in’ system going on, as there’s only one hotel over 3 or 4 floors, and the millionaire villas just dot the hills, surrounded by dark green trees. The place doesn’t pretend to be exclusive, it is exclusive.
We rounded off our visit with a wander around the narrow streets of the town, stood and watched a yacht being craned into the water and ate out way through an expensive, but incredibly good ice cream. We mucked about doing our Titanic ‘king of the world’ impressions, leaning into the wind on the boat coming back, and are now all sleeping it off, except me, I’m typing this :).
We’ve enjoyed our trip down to the med, but the mountains call. We’re a little nervous of what we’ll find in Italy and beyond, as France is just so easy to motorhome about on a budget. Time to move on though, so Dave’s wheels will roll tomorrow, assuming we can get him unstuck from the sand I’ve buried him in…