First week: June 18-25
A little about ourselves, we are in the peak of our late 50's, love france, travel to Paris in the winter and have traveled to St Tropez in the summer for the last four years. I will be SK and Dh will be JK in the report. I post on another travel board, where I see many of you, but this is my first trip report on TA
Someone on the flight has halitosis so bad I'm actually wishing i had one of those surgical masks
There's bad weather in NYC and we cant land so we do the loopdiloop for an hour and a half. Since we have a three hour layover i figure i can wait here in my 17inch chair or in the crowded uncomfortable terminal chairs, a tough decision as to which is more uncomfortable
We land with enough time to grab a bite to eat , where i get carded for my wine , can i have another?,and get back on another plane only to wait at least another hour or two to take off in the bad weather making an already long flight that much longer
We paid a small fee to upgrade to comfort economy....shouldn't they all be comfortable? Apparently not, but for $150 the two of us are way more comfortable in our four extra inches....would definitely pay extra for these seats.
We rent a beautiful new fiat punto from Sixt and are on our way to the villa in no time. Our fourth trip here and we don't make one wrong turn, we're home!! I really like Sixt, the rental isE670 for 28 days,includes everything except insurance,which my cc covers and will be put to the test later!!
Were really tired, we do a quick grocery shop for the basics. I had the foresight to make a shopping list at home before I'm brain dead from the flight which worked out great! We've learned that the grocery store is packed on Sat afternoon with the new arrivals, it's closed on Sun and Mon morning will also be a mob scene, so we need at least three days worth of provisions. We pick up grilled sausages and french cheeses, a baguette, a watermelon and some wine for dinner, which we eat for the next twelve hours because our internal clocks don't know what time/meal it is. We pretty much sleep from mid afternoon till the next morning when we moan through our first shower, how can a shower feel that good! I know others think you should stay awake the first day, but I find if I just relax, sleep on and off, take a sleeping pill for the night, I wake up the next day with little or no jet lag, so I just calculate 3 days to get to Europe into my trip.
Off to the Sunday come to meeting market, yes, its almost a religious experience for me, I wait all year to come to this one. La Croix Valmer market is huge, with equal stalls of food, clothes, the Ginsu type knife that does everything, although this year it is a pair of scissors, and better prices ! As always there is a terrible marching band that only plays one bad tune while walking through town.
This year the hot item are summer scarfs, in every imaginable color. I just can't imagine wearing a scarf around my neck in this heat but I'm taken in by the beautiful fabrics and colors, and hell they weigh nothing to take home! I buy a few for presents and I can use one very cool LONG one as a table runner.
I end up with two straw bags for 10E each and the coolest $10 watch with an extra arm strap in another colors, orange and blue, and later when I am in Cannes I find them selling the same straps for 2E and I get a black and white to add to my collection.
We head to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch, Cafe Valmer which is not disappointing. I have fresh oysters that taste and smell of the sea and then a fabulous grilled squid and pesto salad, DH has a huge mound of steak tartar and fries, i drink a whole little pitcher of rosé, my first of many on the trip, we're stuffed and oh so happy
Off to the Chateau Moutte which is only open today because its someones 200th birthday but I'm not sure who's.( built for Franz List by his daughter, fully stocked library, he never once visited (Jk) )
The chateau is underwhelming,us and the other five people there agree, we are off to check out the port in St Tropez. The chateau will have live classical concerts later in the summer which we will miss.
It's the week of sail boats and races but the mistral wind has everyone on hold. Its howling wind, the boats are lined up 5 deep in the port, one prettier than the other, hundred and hundreds of sail boats. They're nice but we will enjoy the yachts more when they come back in a few days. We cruise through town, its not too crowded yet, the masses aren't here yet....and we will see that the bad economy has affected this area too.
We go home around six and fall asleep early, pick at our leftovers and read, a nice first day!,
(Jk) Sue already scoring big at the markets despite the exchange rate. Blowing through cash like drunken sailors Speaking of which, I went to the bar at Le Club 55 yesterday and was immediately recognized by the bartender who said welcome back, how is San Francisco?. Kinda scary, but I guess that I am the only guy that comes to their bar and spends about $14 US for a small bottle of tonic, and then tips.
Sue's French is much better and she gets a little frustrated because people now assume she speaks French and rattle stuff off faster than she can digest it. Surprisingly, my French is much better from the few Skype lessons I took and despite never doing my assigned homework.
(SK) I have been taking lessons on line with Skype and I think it's fabulous. It's just so easy. I have taken classes in the past and they are either at an inconvienient time or location, three hours in the evening is just to much for me and I've had a few really bad teachers. I had initially found Pierre through Verbal Planet, he is kind and patient, young and enthusiastic and reasonably priced, here is his website if you're interested:
My fight with the iphone continues to be a losing battle. While I can call anyone anywhere for a price, an affordable data plan eludes me. I bought 20 MB of data at home for $25. Turned on data roaming for 5 minutes and was up to 5.4 MB right away. Bought a French SIM card for the Ipad for $55 that said I can use it for 2 hours a day for a month. That is if I can get a signal from SFR the cell phone company. Sue puts a chair in the kitchen and hangs the ipad out the window to play Words with Friends at night. (Jk)
UpdateSK) The simcard is a huge success. Money well spent. Most days i have at least one out of three bars INSIDE the apartment! The card was 10E and I bought 1Gb package for 35E, we use it everyday, all day and at the end of the month we have only used half of it, so now we know what to buy for next time. The plan from ATT is a waste of money, we just turn it on for emergencies and we are out of time in a week!! What does work great for the iphone is the international texting plan, we got 50 texts for $10,you can get more but since my billing cycle ended in the middle of our vacation I was able to get 100 texts for the month, incoming texts from the states or france are free, you only pay for outgoing, we use this instead of having to call each other.
We have two days by our pool which is already warm because it was such a warm may....woohoo, and one beach day. The yachts are here but not too many yet. Club 55 is totally full including the restaurant,the wedding party of 35 must have cost a small fortune, the parking lot is overflowing with Maserati's, Ferrari's, Bentley's and Rolls Royce's, a sight i never tire of drooling over. It turns out that this is the only beach club that will be pretty full this summer, the rest are at best half full.
We have totally adopted the free beach next to the the most expensive beach in the area, club 55. We are five feet from all the action, we use their restrooms, jim cruises the bar every hour or two to see who is hanging out out there. It is the beach where the paparazzi set up there enormous cameras to take photos of stars arriving and departing on the dock, so we just wait till we see them excited and then start trying to figure out who's there.The chauffeurs park in front of our beach while their clients are lunching, hanging out in black suits in the heat, looking quite uncomfortable....sometimes they have to play soccer or cricket with the children of their clients keeping them and me very entertained.
We have also met so many people on our free beach, the people are way more friendly , lots of Germans the first week. We meet a 21year old magician from Hungry, i ask if he can make my husband disappear, like he's never heard that line before! A nice young couple with two children who we will meet up with for drinks later, and last but not least, i have befriended ALL the Chinese women who do massages, how u ask, not really sure except i do get my hand and arm massaged each time i am at the beach and i do tip them which i think they are not use to. I had carpel tunnel surgery four weeks ago and the massage helps.... anyway they now take their breaks on my beach towel and chat with me, they have a really odd french accent, hard to understand!
We go to back to Cafe Valmer on the chefs night off and its truly terrible...note to self, most chefs are off on Monday's here, so in the future we will eat at home that evening!!
Grain de Sel: 33 49 45 44 686 Rue du 11 Novembre 6, Cogolin 83310 a great restaurant in cogolin. We start with a salad of mixed greens and big shavings of parmigiana, the dressing made with mint,dill,garlic and anchovies, OMG, who would put that together and think it could be good...I'm still dreaming of it and must get back to enjoy it again
Main courses were cod fish with potatoes and olive oil, a specialty down here. The waitress says the plate is hot be careful...the plate is so hot I'm surprised it doesn't explode, a law suit ready to happen in the states!
We have the most unusual and delicious dessert, an ice cream souffle, vanilla with orange essence,another please!!!!
The outdoor markets are over run with lace this year, cheep lace, now on everyone vacationing here too, including me! It surprises me that the things in the outdoor markets changes so much, including them getting much bigger sizes, which they didn't have four years ago. JK thinks i shop too much, he might be right.
La Croix Valmer has a music festival every year the first weekend we are here. Last year we bought tickets for an orchestra performance, which we though was to be jazz, it was just OK. This year we ask which night will the jazz , the girl at the tourist office isn't sure, but maybe tonight because they have a lot of horns (?) OK, we bite and get tickets. The town has a new open amphitheater, a beautiful setting, we arrive early for good seats...not a problem as we are the first there...hey, that looks like an orchestra set up...wtf...a yes, an orchestra without any string instruments...we leave early again!
Today we go back to see the marching bands, usually terrible but quite entertaining, and to have our first but not last of the trip's big huge cold seafood platter with he best raw oysters in he world, jury is still out on the sea snails, kinda chewy! ( the marching band is from the Czech Republic, late teens early 20's, drinking beer between every song, they entertain us with American tunes while marching, including, of all things....Anchors Away, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Hooray for Hollywood (Jk)
We have dinner at ours friends parents home, lovely dinner of fish and fresh pasta, a new favorite bubbly rose champagne from Chateau Pampallone, 8E a bottle, and a huge hangover the next day!