20th June 2009, Friday

We set off early to St Tropez. The plan was to get there in time for lunch. In fact, by the time we’d travelled about ½ hour, my objective had changed somewhat. I was planning to get us there alive! I was designated driver for the holiday as I was the only one confident enough to drive a back-to-front car on back-to-front roads. But, I never counted on mountain passes barely wide enough for 2 cars – especially when there were no shoulders and deep ditches on either side. Add to that the French drivers that attach no importance to keeping within the markings indicating which their side of the road was. I was so stressed out, I forgot to breathe. Going around bend after bend, not knowing whether a truck might appear in the middle of the road from the other side, was unnerving me. But luckily, once we reached Grimaud, the road became a little wider, and I was able to breathe normally again.

I had forgotten how much concentration is necessary when driving an unfamiliar car in a foreign country. I really find myself rather exhausted by the end of a day’s driving – more so than if I were driving in the UK. At least in the UK the drivers are patient and considerate most of the time…

Everyone was pleasantly surprised by St Tropez. I didn’t tell them much about it, because I didn’t want to create expectations. But they all expected a town that would be over-commercialised. So when this really quaint little town, with interesting shops was uncovered, everyone fell in love with it. I am glad we made the effort. We ambled around most of the day, soaking up the sun, the interesting people, old men playing petanque and gazing at the yachts in harbour, wondering what it must be like to live that kind of life. Daydreaming a little, I guess.

On route back we took a trip to one of the beaches outside St Tropez. The plan had been to spend some time on the beach, but as it was very hot, none of us were very keen. We had a quick look, surprised at the number of little beach restaurants that looked no more than a glorified shack, but headed back soon after.

The shortest route home was again the narrow mountain pass, but this time we stopped in Grimaud to have a look around. I didn’t realise that I had been there before. I must have been there with Lisa when we went a good number of years ago now. But the reason I know, is because it was marked on my original map. I hadn’t realised that Tim had packed it! Grimaud is very beautiful, well maintained, and almost perfect mountain village built around a very old chateau, which is now in ruins. I was mesmerised by how picturesque, colourful and tidy it was. Not at al what you would expect from a very old town with cobbled and paved streets. We were almost on our way back to the car when Leon and Lorna spotted a little tourist train. We arrived just in time to make its final journey into Port Grimaud. Not something Tim or I would ever do, but my parents were very keen, so we all set off. It was a pretty road into a prettier town. Port Grimaud is a marina town that had been created and built on water. It is privately owned and guarded 24/7. As we only had 15 minutes there before the little train set off again, we really did a whistle stop tour. It is lovely. Every building was painted a slightly different colour, and then the marina is filled with yachts and boats, making it look very pretty indeed.

The evening ended like most others: bread, cheese, wine and bed.