Friday, 13 April 2012

Saint Tropez

We had lunch in St Tropez today. The van was having it's brakes replaced, a job that took four hours, plus two hours for lunch, as we are in France. This left us with six hours to kill and no van to sit in. Unfortunately it was also raining quite hard, so some sort of sightseeing in the smart car forced it's way onto the agenda. Saint Tropez is about 30 miles away along the coast, and of course it is famous, so off we went.
Luckily it stopped raining by the time we got there. It took over an hour to get there because the road winds around the edge of the sea. This is great for the passenger who can sightsee, but there are so many bends and enough traffic that the driver has to concentrate all the time. I think it is a feature of France that the place is also awash with cyclists. Not the Dutch kind who swarm over Amsterdam, these are the serious looking, lycra clad versions. They go almost as fast as a car and tend to be sociable and talk to their mates, thus taking up so much road that you have to follow them around a few curves before they either notice or there is enough straight road to be able to see your way past them.
So getting to Saint Tropez takes a while. When you get there you need to park, fortunately they have provided some huge parks, one of which is by the harbour so you can be envious of the masses of floating gin palaces and very elegant yachts.
The harbour front is covered by restaurants and shops selling stuff that is priced about five euros more that any other place nearby. Take the trouble to walk back a few streets and you find yourself among a mass of designer boutiques with almost every famous international brand represented.
The place is a sort of Torquay meets Bond street, and it grows on you.
We wondered around the shops, where dressing yourself for a stroll down the block would cost the same as a small car and had lunch as about the cheapest thing to do.
Luckily it was only going to take six hours to fix the van, so our temptation to bankrupt ourselves in order to look cool was curtailed. We made it back with our wallets intact and picked up the van. Now we can drive it without making horrible graunching noises every time I touch the brake pedal.
The history of Saint Tropez is that it was a sleepy little seaside place until Bridgett Bardot made a film there. Since then it has been trendy, and judging by the designer goods on show it is likely to stay that way.
Hardly surprising therefore that there was a painting of Bardot on the wall of the bar where we ate.

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