September 20, 2011

St Tropez Day 2 - Warning: The Beached Whales Have Arrived!

Although St Tropez is mostly known as a destination for the jet-setters and celebrities and more famously where Brigitte Bardot was discovered, it has some interesting history. It was a fifteenth-century military stronghold, a small fishing village at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the first town on the French Riviera to be liberated during World War II as part of Operation Dragoon. It wasn't until after the war that it became an international seaside resort.

To partake in a some local color, we visited their market that takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the main town square. The market is a combination swap meet, food hall, farmers market and apparel market, selling both used and new goods.

The selection of both "gourmet" foods and fresh produce was a chef's dream, where you could find vendors selling aged meats, pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables, spices, and a very large selection of ready-to-eat foods. The smells wafting from various stalls were very inviting.

April and I both learned a good lesson at the market: you get what you pay for. Sure those 10 Euros shoes were cute and seemed comfortable, but the quality was more than questionable. This is what my shoes looked like after wearing them twice:

Notice the "white" detail where the heel section meets the bottom? That's the glue that's starting to rip away from the bottom. April's shoes were unwearable after one outing. So for 10 Euros, you can purchase disposable footwear.

In addition to my disposable shoes, I also purchased some lovely French-milled bath soaps, which are a great bargain at 5 soaps for 10 Euros. I have (and will) pay $10 for a bar of good French-milled soap. In hindsight, they would have made lovely Christmas stocking stuffers, so I probably should have purchased more than 5 bars.

My favorite purchase at the market was a beautiful 100% linen tablecloth that should be a good match for my Grandmother's china. It's not the greatest photo, but you get the idea. My Grandmother's china is the Fleur de lis pattern from Spode, which is ivory and brown. It has grown on me over the years and we use it for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

After perusing the market for a couple of hours, we returned to the apartment to get ready for the beach. St Tropez (and it's surrounding towns) have both private and public beaches (some of them are clothing optional). Since our beach chairs, umbrellas and favorite cabana boy didn't fit in the overhead bin of our Boeing 767 jet, we decided to visit one of the beach clubs in Pampelonne Bay, where some of the best beaches are in the area.

Coincidentally, this is also where Ernest Hemingway and his first wife (and mistress) also vacationed each summer during the years they lived in Paris. Seems that I'm following quite a bit in his footsteps this trip!

So we packed up our beach supplies, put on our apparel acquired from Omar the Tent Maker (also known as bathing suit cover ups) and headed to the Tahiti Beach Club.

As luck would have it, no sooner had we arrived, paid an arm and a leg for our beach chairs, towels, umbrellas and bottle of rosé (it is what it is) did the sun decide to leave us and instead, very dark clouds started to roll in. This was not part of the plan!

Since we no longer had any arms and legs to use after paying for our beach goods, we decided to have another bottle of rosé and hope that the clouds were just sticking around for a quick visit. And voila! - our patience was rewarded.

It was a lovely day at the beach. The club next door was playing some pretty good music, the water was deliciously warm and refreshing, the people watching interesting (including some nice boobies for Sean's pleasure) and did I mention the rosé? And although our cabana boy was named Tim (not very French, right?), he wasn't too bad on the eyes either. Sadly, it was time to leave paradise and head back to the apartment for the evening. 

After removing sand from every crevice of my body, we headed into town for some adult beverages and dinner. When we were returning from the beach, we got caught up in some kind of parade traffic and later discovered that St Tropez was hosting the European Fife & Drum festival that weekend.

There were 14 Drum & Fife corps representing various countries at the festival, including a troupe from New York, whose costumes reminded me of the era of the American Revolution.

We had another fantastic dinner at a randomly selected restaurant after wandering around the cobblestone streets. One of my favorite quotes from Sean during the trip was his comment during dinner that he felt like he was "eating dinner in a postcard".

You can view my photos from St Tropez here.

1 comment:

  1. The fife & drum corp from New York was Towpath Volunteers (Macedon, NY). They play revolutionary & civil war era music. They were the first American corp to be invited to participate in this festival.