The Gulf of St Tropez

14-07-18

We spent the majority of the morning trying to locate a local mechanic, gas engineer or motorhome specialist who could confirm the problem with the gas system and order us a new regulator. Knowing that we are on the road for the next four months we needed to get it sorted. This proved much more difficult than we thought and we found ourselves in many awkward phone calls with broken French and poor google translate assistance. We even tried calling some ship chandlers that specialise in sorting issues for yachts in the hope that they’d have some ideas.

We called our motorhome dealer from back home first thing and when they got back to us they were great. After a chat with their engineer we were confident that it was definitely the regulator that had gone and given that we’d only had the van for six weeks, they offered to replace it as a goodwill gesture. They had one in stock and sent it via DPD to us. We were told this would take up to four business days and we had a weekend in between. The prospect of hanging around for another week in the same place felt like a bit of a waste, so our spirits were lifted when the campsite owner in Biot agreed to hold on to our delivery until we came back. We decided to head east along the coast for a bit then pick up the new regulator when it arrived.

We plumped for a campsite called Les Mures in the heart of the gulf of St Tropez. On first impressions it was a complete contrast to our previous place. Way more contemporary, immaculate facilities and beautiful landscaped gardens. It is sat right on a sandy beach with incredible views across the bay.

Following the stress of the van issues we needed a bit of a release and we’ve had an awesome few days exploring our new surroundings. On Friday we used the cycle lane to visit Port Grimaud located 3km along the bay. It’s a charming little port village that can only be accessed by foot or boat so it feels really peaceful. It’s called the little Venice of France because of the many canals weaving their way throughout the town. All the houses are painted in terracottas, creams and dusky pinks, and some feature wrought iron balconies. There are little Venetian-style bridges crossing the waterways, linking the different ‘streets’ and boutiques and restaurants on the waterfront.

We wandered through the little streets and gawped at the amazing boats in the harbour whilst we ate lunch.

On the Saturday we got up and out earlier to visit the market at St Tropez. Based on the beautiful Place des Lices, the market is a mix of fresh produce, crafts and fashion. There is definitely a St Tropez style and this is reflected in the gorgeous sun hats, white linen dresses and straw beach bags on sale. The whole place is immaculately presented and all the people are effortlessly chic.

It feels like a place to be seen, with cafes and restaurants lining the harbour and luxury boutiques rubbing shoulders with art galleries. The small town is packed with tourists in the day, all wanting a slice of St Tropez life and admiring the huge yachts at Vieux Port. It’s a completely different world, with butlers, private chefs, helicopters on the boats and Rolls Royce transfers to exclusive beach clubs.

Behind the gloss and glam there is a lovely core to St Tropez which was a simple fishing village before the likes of Brigette Bardot arrived in the 50’s and set the scene. We wandered up to a beautiful viewpoint and looked down upon the sun drenched, terracotta town and out towards the Mediterranean. In the afternoon we cycled on to Pampelonne beach which is about 4km along the coast from the town.

The road that we turned off onto was stunning, with vineyards on one side and fields of golden corn on the other. It made for a pleasant cycle away from the hustle and bustle.

The beach is 5km long and host to a string of celebrity studded beach clubs and bars – or so we hear. We ended up in the much less exclusive public section which was equally as beautiful. We sunbathed for a couple of hours before finding a bar that was showing England’s final match against Belgium. We were the only two Brits amongst 30 Belgium fans so losing was pretty grim.

We cycled back in the late afternoon sun, savouring the wonderful scenery. The cycle lane that hugs the coast is great because the main road is super busy and hectic. That said, the French are very respectful of cyclists, much more so than in the UK.

We got back with sore bottoms and hungry bellies. We watched the Bastille day fireworks from the van before falling asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

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