Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Saint Tropez - Yeah Baby!

I freely admit to having been a bit 'bah humbug' in the weeks approaching our recent trip to Saint Tropez. I've lived most of my life in Yorkshire and strongly suspected that we (my beloved and I) were about to visit the Rip-Off capital of Europe. As I said, I have lived in Yorkshire for too long not to expect something approaching VFM (Value for Money) in all things - a concept as foreign to Saint Tropez as Yorkshire pudding.

We had been invited to attend a wedding celebration in Saint Tropez with an itinerary of events across the weekend, so we set off on Friday from Leeds Bradford, an airport joyously rejuvenated to make it look even more like a motorway service area than ever and about as comfortable. The plane had a goodly number of wedding guests plus two couples who were not connected to the wedding but were old friends of ours so once we were airborne, I was allowed to nap whilst my beloved 'worked' the plane - something which probably irritated the air hostesses no end but left me happily in snooze mode nearly to Nice. Once safely in our hire car, we sped towards Saint Tropez using the sat nav on the phone rather than the one in the car which wished to address us in German. Of course, my beloved can only follow instructions for so long before going off-piste which he did, ignoring directions as usual but we did, nevertheless, get to our hotel in plenty of time.

The hotel was a fine example of a good idea taken to extremes. Called The Kube, everything was cuboid - right down to the loo seat which did not make for a comfortable ride and therefore did not impress my beloved. The famous Ice Bar wasn't there - presumably melted, unlike my croque monsieur which was the temperature of ice cream in the middle and hot on the outside. But otherwise, it had a couple of very beautiful (though cold) pools and somewhere to lie in the sun so it fitted the bill. Actually it didn't fit a bill that any Yorkshireman expects to pay because just parking the hire car in the hotel car park was 40 euros a day - ouch!

With our friends who were staying in the hotel with us, we made our way into town for the Friday night drinks event with the bride and groom and very nice it was too. And then, we headed off into the centre of Saint Tropez to find somewhere to eat. We can never resist a place named after us so Beaux Arts or BA BA (I know, it's a stretch) as it was signed outside seemed the right choice and we made our way past the bouncers into a very chic restaurant where all the beautiful people seemed to be eating steak or sushi and drinking champagne. We ordered (not champagne which started at 125 euros a bottle) and sat and people watched. Within minutes the music was cranked up to high volume and we were surrounded by people dancing on chairs and in the small spaces between tables. You didn't need a partner, you just danced and yes, my beloved did just that. Brilliant!

Saturday morning and the sun lounger has my name on it. Meanwhile our lovely friends who'd been in the hotel gym by the time we got out of bed had headed off into town to see the sights and eat a delicious seafood lunch (of which more later). We slobbed by the pool until it was time to put our glad rags on for the next part of the wedding celebration - the reception at a beach restaurant. There was a strict timetable for this, but being France, everything ran about an hour and half late. But the wine flowed, the sun set romantically across the bay and there were speeches and dancing till the small hours when we walked, shoeless, back to the hotel to get a few hours shut-eye before the next event.

The following morning we had arranged to see my brother - no, not because he lives in France but because he was on holiday fairly nearby and we hadn't seen each other for over six months. He arrived with the latest Doris, which is how he refers to his girlfriends and we had a lovely catch-up by the pool. He had vastly entertained me the previous day by texting to tell me that he had told the Doris in question that he was five years younger than he actually is. Firmly told not to let the cat out of the bag, this, of course, makes me five years younger too and the intrepid granny has subsequently informed me that on the same basis she would like another 80th birthday party!

Our lovely friends in the hotel were ill. They had been ill all night and since the only thing that they had eaten and we hadn't was the delicious seafood lunch in the harbour yesterday we can only assume it was that. So we set off with our other friends, Sadders and Sue, to the bride and groom's lunch at the beach. This was probably the highlight of the trip - sitting just a few feet from the sand, eating really spectacularly fresh fish and watching the sea lap gently on the shore. Except that this was occasionally interrupted by the middle aged (and older) nudist men strutting their stuff on the beach. It's enough to put me off my prawns!

At the end of the celebrations we made our way back into town to find a quiet bar. Walking down a street towards the front, we bumped into chums, Andy and Claire who have a boat here in the harbour, and before we know it we are whisked away for drinks on their boat. Now I know nothing about boats, but... it sleeps eight plus crew, every inch of it is polished to perfection and if I did like boats, this is the one... but we'd have to sell at least one of the children even to pay the mooring fees, let alone fill it with fuel.

So now we're back in Blighty, catching up on work and washing, applauding our children for not having a party whilst they have been home alone and Saint Tropez feels like a distant dream - until we get our credit card bills!

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