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Saturday, September 17, 2011

The crowded and expensive south of France

August was not the best time in the world to visit the French Riveira – the crowds were unbelievable and the prices eye watering.  Six euros for a coffee in St Tropez and two euros for the smallest ice cream in the world in Villefranche.  This was not going to be a lingering visit!
Which tender is ours?  Crowded south of France

Menton was as beautiful as ever (we spent several weeks here in 2004 while working on the classic schooner Aschanti) and it was fun to sail along the coast oogling at the exquisite waterfront villas in the area.  Villefranche was delightful but we skipped Cannes and Antibes (having visited by car previously) to anchor at Isle St Margarite off Cannes.  Our first experience of a seriously crowded anchorage – there were hundreds of boats in the vicinity and dozens of jet skis making swimming a nightmare.
David and daughter Ping in Villefranche

Onward to St Tropez where the skies above were filled with private jets, small planes and buzzing helicopters and the seas with jetskis, small boats, big boats and yachts.  St Tropez was awful – full of people wanting to be seen and others desperate for a glimpse of someone famous.  The quaint fishing village has long gone and the cobbled streets are chock full of tourists.    The waterfront is a decadent mix of ridiculously expensive superyachts, overpriced cafes and bars and botoxed, permatanned designer clad bodies.  St Tropez beach is undeniably beautiful but crowded so, after a walk along the pristine groomed white sand, we moved on to find a quieter spot. 
Showing off in St Tropez

We overnight at Cavalier sur mer and Le Lavandou – both pleasant enough resort towns - and then across to Porquerolles where the bays are beautiful but as crowded as anything we’ve ever seen.  Brenda’s birthday so we celebrate on board with a bottle of French bubbly before going ashore for a delicious meal of moules mariniere and frites. 
Farewell France – the next day we head for the Balearics.

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