Bon Jour France
28 July 2008 | Cannes, France
First mate Ziggy MacKenzie
Bon Jour France
Monday, July 28 - Tuesday, July 29th
Ile de Porquerolles, St Tropez and Cannes
We sailed into France on a perfect day, albeit with little wind. The sea day was a welcome return after so many days doing so much. Back to homework, cleaning and just resting. These days are great for us to re-calibrate our itinerary and make any adjustments. We originally didn't have Italy on our radar, but after so many rave reviews from other sailors, we are attempting to squeeze it in and cutting France a little shorter. But if France turns out anything like our first two days, we may see a battle wage between these countries for visiting time.
We were heading to a set of four islands off the coast of France near Toulon. Up on deck we were playing crib and reading when suddenly Connor spouted, "What the heck is that? It looks like a submarine!" He was right and, after altering our course to get a better look, we were passed by a French sub on her way to Toulon, a large Navy base. Now, you don't see one of those everyday.
We anchored in a crowded, but peaceful bay on the Ile de Porquerolle, the island which inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. We swam, had a lovely salmon dinner followed by banana splits - our welcome to France meal. Early on Tuesday morning, John raised the anchor and departed for St Tropez.
It seems very surreal to say "We are spending the afternoon in St Tropez" aloud. Entering the Med was a big moment for us, but there is something about actually being in these famous towns that doesn't quite seem real. But here we are. We were bracing ourselves for an over-the-top town, filled with the beautiful, the rich, the famous, the wanna be's, the wanna be seens. But St Tropez pleasantly surprised us. Oh, for sure, the mega yachts graced the harbour and marina with the crew bedecked in their matching gear chauffeuring their guests between yacht and waiting Rolls Royce, but once ashore, we found ourselves in a bustling small town with ice cream shops and easels of art lining the boardwalk. The side streets and the roads up the hill were filled with tiny boutiques home to local artisans and gourmet shops and the bigger names of Hermes and the like. We wandered through the morning market and ate a late lunch at a local café. It feels good to speak our limited French after struggling unintelligently in Portugal and attempting a few lines in Spanish.
We returned to the boat around 4, went for a fast dip to cool off and then headed the 25 miles to Cannes. We passed the hours reading and lying about with our only interruption the countless helicopters buzzing overhead - we can only guess they are taking guests from St. Tropez to Monaco for an evening at the casino.
As we entered the harbour of Cannes, we couldn't believe the number of mega yachts, so large we thought they were cruise ships. As some waited for entry into the marina, we ventured further into the harbour and, puzzled, observed the countless small fishing boats and pleasure craft lined up neatly in a row. After surveying the area, we realized it was fireworks night in Cannes. We anchored amongst the boats and were welcomed to Cannes as the symphony played and a brilliant pyrotechnical show burst overhead. If this is how France welcomes their guests, even those of us in the modest 45ft catamarans, we can hardly wait to see what Antibes, Nice and Monaco have to offer.