We appear to be in a part of France that does not like motorhomes because wherever we drive we are seeing height barriers and the dreaded no motorhome signs. This has become a bit of a problem because a lot of the campsites do not open around here until sometime in April and camperstops are not plentiful like they are in lots of the places we have visited already. Our tour guide (Elaine) spends lots of time trying to find suitable places for us to stop.
So today we headed to a camperstop 3.5 kilometres outside St Tropez. We had a quick spray tan each and walked all around the bay along the beach into what we were expecting to be a real glitzy town. Certainly the port was filled with some very large and very expensive looking yachts and other rich men’s playthings.
The restaurants around the port all had day time menus costing three times the price we were used to seeing for a “plat de jour”. Yorkshire Elaine was quite shell shocked when she saw in a shop window a crocheted poncho which had a price tag of 2,796 euros. She then started telling some Germans who were also looking in the window of the boutique that with 5 balls of wool she could make and sell it for 20 euros. To be honest, we were a little bit disappointed because in our opinion, St Tropez did not live up to our expectations. Probably we had imagined we would be in the land of the rich and beautiful with expensive cars and Cartier Watches and instead every fifth vehicle driving through the town was a works vehicle and I certainly didn’t get the chance to see what quality watch they were wearing.
No thirty five euros lunch for us: after a sandwich and soft drink in the large town square we climbed the hill to the castle that overlooked St Tropez.
It is called La Citidelle de Saint Tropez and it was well worth the 3 euros each we paid and the museum that was housed in the top part of the castle was quite fascinating and we learnt a lot about the history of this town.
The way in and on our return to the motorhome we went past a very large cemetery which we looked down on as we went on our way.
Quite fascinating were the enormous marble, family plots all lined up one after another. They certainly like to flaunt their wealth around here, even if it is to show off where you will be buried.
We got on our way reasonably early and again we took the route over the mountain passes to continue on our way. We headed North West in the general direction of Nice and Monaco and stopped when we got to Port Grimaud. We had recommendations to see this place and we are so pleased we stopped and looked.
Port Grimaud began to rise out of the sand dunes around the marshes of the François Spoerry who envisioned a town built in the manner of Venice with channels of water and traditional French fisherman’s houses, each with a personal boat mooring space at the end of the garden. Port Grimaud today is a charming village with an extended development history encompassing attractive Provençal-style houses on a network of canals. The houses are designed to be individually different, painted with soft pastel colours of ochre, pink and turquoise and feature shutters with wrought iron balconies with roofs of terracotta Roman tiles. Known as the ‘Venice of Provence’ and arranged into four little islands, the colourful houses are linked by bridges over the waterways and surrounded by gardens. Despite initial controversy concerning the concept of a marine village constructed with ‘faux Provencal’ architecture, after several decades the buildings have aged well and the result has been very successful. We were told that Joan Collins has a house there but she was nowhere in sight whilst we were there.
Around 15 kilometres further on, we arrived at our destination. We are at Mandelieu- La Napoule which is a coastal town and is 8 kilometres before Cannes as we go on our way to Italy. The old part of the town is La Napoule which was amalgamated with Mandelieu so if you are looking to see where we are on an older map then it may just say La Napoule. We are now on a campsite in the town and we will stop here for a little while and visit Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo and Monaco by train and bus. It does look very nice round here but to be honest, all we have done so far is wander out to find a supermarket to get a few provisions.
14th and 15th March
We woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting the roof of the motorhome. After such a beautiful day yesterday it was hard to believe that the weather could change so much. We have been so lucky with the weather so far on our trip that we have no right to complain. It did take me a little while to find our waterproof jackets and the umbrella from our storage area over the drivers cab. We waited for the rain to stop before setting off to catch the bus to Cannes but as we waited for the bus the rain started again so we walked to the tourist office to get the bus and train timetables and Cannes will have to wait until tomorrow. The rain stopped just after lunch so we took a walk into La Napoule to find the station there and to have a little look around. As we walked along the quite wide river we came across the golf course and part of it was on one side of the river and the other part is on the other side. Golfers carrying their clubs can cross the river by means of a narrow foot bridge slung below the railway bridge and those golfers using a buggy cross on a manned ferry that is for the exclusive use of the golf club members.
La Napoule looks a very exclusive small town and the planting along the sides of the road was pristine. We found the unmanned station and then crossed the road to look at the very neat castle
and walked alongside the harbour filled with many Sunseeker type boats. At that point the rain started again so we made our way back to the motorhome and settled down to watch a couple of films.
The rain continued all night and the wind has picked up a pace. Once again we decided against taking the bus to Nice and spent a pleasant morning chatting with an English couple Ian and Jackie comparing notes on the different places we had both been. They sat in our motorhome and the chat went on longer than I expected so we had a very late lunch.
It is still raining so we have set the table up and Elaine is very busy planning our Italian campaign. There are maps laid out all over the table. Campsite books are being studied and the note book that Elaine keeps all her planning notes in is getting all different coloured stickers stuck into it. General Montgomery, planning his battle campaigns wouldn’t have studied the maps as much as Elaine is, trying to find a good route around the towns and cities we want to see. On top of that we also have to make sure we are booked into somewhere over the Easter period which is coming up soon as we are warned that it is hard to find a campsite spot with all the motorhomes and caravans that will be out over this busy period.
The weather doesn’t look too promising over the next couple of days so we will remain here and do our visiting when the weather improves which hopefully will be by Tuesday. We would like to be crossing the border into Italy on Friday. Meanwhile here are a few facts about our travels so far.
- We are now on day 197 and so far we have clocked up 3522 miles in the motorhome and we have done lots of trips on buses, trams and trains to all different places during our tour.
- Our total spend on motorways that you have to pay to go on is €1.50 and that is because I got on the wretched road by accident.
- We have stopped on campsites, free Aires, supermarket car parks and a couple of times we have stayed at friends and have parked on their driveways and our total spend on camping fees divided by the how many days we have been on the road up, to this coming Friday, comes to €8.20 (approximately £6) per night and that includes all charges for electric when that has been available for us to use.
- Because I fitted the gas cylinders-that we can fill at garages at the Auto-gas points then the gas we use for our heating, cooking, for our hot water and for keeping the refrigerator cold when we are not plugged into electric, has cost us a miserly €95.09 ( about £70.00). Considering it was costing £25 just to get a refill for one of the original Calor Gas cylinders in England then this has saved us a considerable amount of money.
- Although we have watched some films that we brought out with us or picked up on the way; the little TV we have watched, probably only amounts to a few hours during the whole of our trip. We have had the BBC radio application so we have been able to get the news and the all-important Today programme but that is only when we have had wi-fi so sometimes that means we go many days without knowing what is going on in the world. The major benefit about this last point is that we are, on the main, escaping the constant electioneering that is being generated due to the upcoming general election.
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