After a good time on the island of Porquerolles, we left the bay, heading for Saint-Tropez.
We had a westerly wind, so the first part of the sailing trip was right on the back of the boat. For your sail handling, we set our mainsail out as much as possible so that it picks up the wind from the back as much as possible. And we do the same with the jib, but then in the other direction, otherwise the jib catches the wind from the mainsail. The sails are then over the different bows. This is called the ‘Little Melkmaid’, inspired by the Zeeland traditional costume ‘with the 2 side mirrors on the head’. You try to catch as much of the wind as possible with your sails.
When we turned left into the Bay of Saint-Tropez, we immediately saw the recognizable ocher yellow church tower of the city of Saint-Tropez. And we immediately saw that we had arrived in the rich part of the Cote d’Azur! Long luxury yachts floated in the Bay with helictopers on the roof, which have garages at the bottom of the ship where, for example, 3 jet skis can be seen in a row. On a fun slide from the 5th floor of your boat down into the water. We were amazed! Our boat is a small boat compared to this, which they use, for example, to hang behind their boat to go ashore 😉.
Because the harbor here is prohibitively expensive for ‘normal’ boats, we anchored in a quiet little cove just before Saint-Tropez. Nice view from this cove towards the city and the boats:
Saint-Tropez is actually just a small seaside resort with 6,000 inhabitants, originally a fishing village. But because it is so picturesque and loved by artists (Matisse, Picasso) and the beau monde, it has 5,000,000 visitors a year. Particularly helped since the 1920s when Saint-Tropez was a magnet for international fashion stars and later the movie stars of the 1950s (Brigitte Bardot). In winter the town seems almost deserted (restaurants closed, tourists and luxury yachts gone) and the atmosphere of the past is once again breathed.
We enjoyed the city of Saint-Tropez, it has a beautiful old center with small streets, a citadel and nice pastel-colored shops.
There are 3 harbours: the regular harbour, the fishing harbor with small boats and the super marina on the quay where everyone walks by to marvel at the chandeliers and huge flower arrangements on board. And 8 staff who are cleaning the stainless steel railings of the boat all day long, so that the ship always looks great when the owner arrives. It’s nice to see the contrast between the small wooden fishing boats that should have been painted 10 years ago, and the hip million-dollar yachts.
We have visited Barbarac‘s famous ice cream parlor a few times (there are always queues) as they have delicious ice cream. Not cheap, as with everything on the Cote d’Azur, but excellent quality! Creamy Italian ice cream with strong flavours.
And of course: the cake from Saint Tropez! The Tropézienne Tarte originally comes from baker Alexandre Micka. Brigitte Bardot visited Saint Tropez in the 1950s for the film Et Dieu… créa la femme. The baker thought it was the ideal time to try out a new recipe and let Brigitte taste the cake. The cake was loved not only by the movie star, but also by all other residents and still enjoys great popularity. The pastry consists of a soft brioche bun filled with an extra creamy pastry cream.
From our boat in the bay, we regularly saw helicopters of the large yachts take off. We understand that these fly to the popular beach of Pamplonne, which is about 5 kilometers southeast of Saint-Tropez where there are a number of well-known lunch restaurants (Le Club 55) that are popular for the seafood and champagne (by reservation only). We also saw small boats sailing from the coast to the large yachts, bringing trays of cheese and other snacks and many bottles of liquor. But no matter what size your boat is, we all enjoyed and saw the same Saint-Tropez sunset!
Margo and Robert
Our friends from Leusden, Holland, visited us! Margo and Robert have been on the ship before, in Friesland, that was just for 1 day. But Margo wanted to surprise Robert on their holiday in July by visiting us. Because Robert turned 60 in June, she said, her present would be a surprise holiday.
When they arrived at the Cote d’Azur, Robert still didn’t know what the holiday would be. But as soon as Gilles started waving the Dutch flag from our catamaran, he recognized our boat and then we picked them up from the quai at Saint-Tropez.
We had a great time with them, walking through the city, having wonderful dinners and great conversations on board.
They swam everyday and the atmosphere was relaxed. We bought spices at the weekly market in Saint-Tropez to make a curry.
We also had a BBQ onboard together with Marco and Bianca.
This is how Margo and Robert look back on their stay at the catamaran.
We also visited other villages at the Bay of Saint-Tropez. For example, Port Grimaud. French architect François Spoerry wanted to realize a town in the water, protected from the wind from the east and the Mistral from the west. The town was therefore built on lagoons and drained marshes. Port Grimaud is sometimes called the Venice of France. The winding waterways make the harbor extra large.
Saint-Maxime is located exactly opposite Saint-Tropez, there is also a ferry between the 2 towns. We went with our e-bike and e-step for an afternoon in Saint-Maxime. We found it a charming seaside town with beautiful long beaches.
Because there was a strong easterly wind, it was sometimes difficult to find a place for the boat in the Bay of Saint-Tropez. You are not really protected anymore. The places where you would be sheltered, there is a lot of posidonia (sea grass), where you are not allowed to lie or they have forbidden boats to anchor in those bays.
When the east wind picked up a bit, we sailed a little further east with Marco and Bianca from the Bay, because there was a beautiful bay near the town of Anthéor that is well sheltered from the east wind. We also enjoyed spending a few days there.
You had a beautiful view of the red-brown rocky mountains of the Massif de l’Estérel. So a completely different dynamic than Saint-Tropez! And we know that beyond that the bay begins with Cannes and some beautiful islands. That will be our next destination!