St Tropez at Last

The waterbus to St Tropez performs a rapid shuttle service, which thankfully we missed when maneuvering in the harbour. So soon we were roaring back out of the mouth and across the bay sitting on the top deck.

It was not what I was expecting, much more quaint, with shabby chic houses stacked steeply up the hill to older fortifications, like a faded quilt. The first thing John noticed was the amount of space in the port. Though they were obviously on with some major building work at its’ center with protective fencing round cranes, busy knocking down a large concrete building and raising lots of dust in the process. They are probably avoiding using the berths nearer the work and we are certainly better off over in Ste Maxime. Our ferry docked in the middle of the main street, which is lined with bars and restaurants on the landward side and super yachts backed to the quay on the seaward. It was busy, both with traffic and pedestrians. Once on land the town rose too steeply to take an all-encompassing photograph. The local artists seemed to have a similar problem. A number of stalls were ranged along the harbour side with easels displaying formulaic paintings of boats and houses, which would have been generic without the words St Tropez blazoned across their lower corners. We walked along the water’s edge till we ran out of pretty bit and then headed back into the town past a black wall plastered with photographs of the rich and famous, who had been clubbing here. There was a big dusky blue mansion bearing the name Chanel, with a huge garden running behind it, flanked by a narrow overgrown ditch. We followed a sign for the beaches down a busy main street lined with restaurants and expensive looking shops, heading back the way we had come on a gentle incline. The slope set John’s knee nagging in earnest, so we cast about to look for a bar. There was no shortage of them it was just that they all either looked a bit frenetic or were decked out with tablecloths for food.

We headed back towards the quay, down a crooked alley so narrow it was completely shaded and reminded us of back streets in Seville and Cadiz. On either side were more posh shops with people weaving in and out of them. It was a relief to pop out the end into the relative calm of the bustling harbour. Not far away was a peaceful looking bar with smart black seats overlooking the big yachts. We soon discovered why it was so peaceful. A Perrier water and a Virgin Mojito (my new tipple of choice) cost TWENTY EUROS, essentially two soft drinks, and small ones at that. For that they did spray us regularly with a fine water mist, cooling the air and killing the dust as we sat and sat, making the most of our twenty Euros. John enjoyed watching the crew of a nearby super yacht slotting stays into a carbon fiber sail and raising it up the mast. I poked my lime and mint leaves and sucked the melted ice, before heading off to find the loo. This turned out to be in the adjacent restaurant and it was all extremely opulent, all black wood, red plush and sparkling chandeliers reflected in big mirrors. I shudder to think what a meal must cost. After that we caught a return ferry and headed back across the bay.

That evening we ate out in a very stylish Italian restaurant on the street recommended by the girl in the office. Yummy ravioli followed by a criminally delicious chocolate fondant. We had arrived relatively early as we had an early start next day and elected to sit indoors, rather than in the canopied porch, as rain was forecast. The waiters were very smart in white shirts and buff trousers, colours that matched the décor. We watched them squire an ancient lady, clearly a regular, with her small brown hand brush of a dog into a quiet seat in the corner also inside. Half way through our main course the heavens opened and the ground under the outside tables began to flood. The waiters calmly set out chairs to lift handbags up from the floor, but made no attempt to move those misguided enough to sit there. Fortunately the weather abated after we had finished our coffees. The lady and her dog set out to head home, with much smiling and waving from the staff. She had to give the dog a firm tug to persuade him to step out onto the wet pavement. We took our cue from her and were back on Lyra before the rest of the storm rolled overhead.


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