10 Saint-Tropez

November 1st – Ste. Maxime / Saint-Tropez

33 miles due South to the coast.

Brigitte Bardot changed everything.  For centuries Saint-Tropez had been a sleepy little fishing village that nobody paid a lot of attention to, until the day BB decided it was just the spot for Europe’s answer to Marilyn Monroe to do a little topless sunbathing.  That was the day that Saint-Tropez went  from being one thing to being something else altogether, and Bardot has recently moved back to Saint-Tropez from Paris, where she will no doubt continue to pursue the passion of the last two thirds of her life—animal rights.  Take Brigitte Bardot and her influence away from Saint-Tropez, and you don’t have Saint-Tropez.

There are two ways to get to Saint-Tropez:  By road, you can drive in from the North West.  In the summer, at the height of the season, the last 25 miles of that can take up to five hours.  We were the opposite of in-season, but, anyway, we took the second way, the ferry from Saint-Maxime across the bay. It’s a fifteen minute ride that takes you directly into the main harbor, past the yachts, docked in front of the main waterfront, active even now, in November, with noon-time diners sitting in rows at the outdoor bistros.

Above:  Saint Maxime, on the coast, where parking is plentiful and the ferry to Saint-Tropez leaves every fifteen minutes…

Above:  The fifteen minute ferry ride from Saint-Maxime to Saint-Tropez

  Above:  Even in the off-season, the yachts moored in Saint-Tropez are plentiful.

Above:  The famous Saint-Tropez waterfront.  Boats moored feet from happy diners.

Above:  All of these wharf-front bistros would be closing for the winter the next day…

Above:  Each Saturday the farmers and artisans from around France gather at the Saint-Tropez market to sell their wares.  Alice chose Saturday for our first visit to Saint-Tropez because she had been to the market before and knew we would find a trove of fresh and delightful foodstuffs…

Above:  All fresh and inviting, we loaded up on breads and cheeses and some pastries, too.

Above:  The vendors are colorful and animated.  A few of them are pictured above…

Above:  The local fabrics are of particular interest to Alice, and there were a number of vendors at the market that day…

Above:  After the market, we wandered the streets a bit, and even though it was the very end of the season, the visitors were plentiful.

 Above:  As always seems to be the case in France, there are so many inviting places to eat that it’s hard to choose…

November 13th – Another trip to St Tropez… and a stop at a Winery

  

Above:  Alice’s niece, Julie, and her fiancé, Fabrice, were kind enough to make the ten hour trip down to Callas to dog-sit while Alice and I went to Rome for a few days.  Upon our return, and before Julie and Fabrice had to get back home, we make another day-trip to St. Tropez.  No, that’s not me in the middle:  It’s a Fernando Berterostatue.  Botero is something of the local iconographic artist with giant, distinctive statues placed sequentially along the harbor front.  Not my favorite, but certainly distinctive, and, as this one, hard to ignore…

Above:  This imperious and magnificently hirsute traffic maestro stood little more than five feet, but made up in brio what he might have lacked in stature…

Above:  As always, Alice is drawn to the local fabrics…

Above:  Savon (soap) de Marseilles.  Fragrant, creamy, pretty with many different colors; the best in the world, I think…

Above:  Try the saucisson au poivre

Above: Photo-op, maybe?

Above: A typical Saint-Tropez street-scene a couple of blocks in from the harbor.  Note the mountains in the background, to the North, shielding the City from the relentless Mistral winds.  In Toulon, as we’ll see, those protective mountains are even more pronounced and more important as an underpinning to the centuries-long development of the city…

Above:  This couple was straight out of Central Casting, languidly strolling around the romantic byways of Saint-Tropez, stopping now and again for the random smooch.

Above:  A good day in Saint-Tropez with Julie and Fabrice…

Above:  With all its relatively recently-acquired glitz, it’s easy to forget that Saint Tropez was, for hundreds of years, a simple and sleepy fishing village.

Above:  Now, Saint-Tropez is all about the glam Euro-crowd, the high-end shipping, the seeing and being seen, the waterfront bistros…

Above:  And, of course, the yachts from as far away as South Africa and Kingston, Jamaica

Above:  Julie et Fabrice

Above:  On the drive home, north from the coast and through the mountains, we stop at one of the many famous vineyards in the area.  In this case, Château d’Esclans.

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N E X T :   Sud de France

 

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