This morning we woke to winds screaming at 22 26 knots an hour. The marina was lumpy. The ocean was full of whitecaps. We attached a second mooring line to the bow, even though it didn’t really fit right, figuring something holding us to a second concrete block under the water was better than nothing. We guess we aren’t moving Kosmos today, after all.
We decided to go for the four hour hike along the coast that was supposed to be absolutely beautiful. But after walking along the shore for only a few minutes, we both confessed neither of us was feeling up for such a long hike. We went to the Citadel, instead, which is on the hill above St. Tropez.
The Citadel was started in 1602 as ordered by Henry IV. They wanted it to be big and intimidating looking to keep attackers away. The first thing they built was a tower in the center. The exterior fortress walls were completed in the 1620′s to 1630′s. There were lots of canons sticking out of the walls. The intimidation tactic didn’t work because in 1637 the Spanish did attack St. Tropez, but were repelled by the local troops. By 1873 the fortress was obsolete as the invention of bullets changed the face of warfare.
After reading the description, we expected the fortress to be huge and were surprised to find it was quite small. Like most castles, there was a dry moat surrounding the walls. We walked over the bridge and through the ominous entrance gates. As is also common in forts, there was a second set of walls right behind the first set to offer double protection from invading troops. Inside, you could either go into the tower or walk around the grounds surrounding the tower.
We checked out the grounds first. It is mostly grass. There is a well and quite a few canons. The lighthouse used to be here, and there is an old fashioned light in the corner that used to be the beacon. The views of the bay in the distance are nice, though it is hard to see the town and the local shoreline through the thick pine trees that surround St. Tropez. There is an odd display of a person dragging a whale. There is a cottage that looks like it dates to the 20th century. And, finally, there is a small theater that looks like it was built very recently.
From there we went to the tower. You enter through yet another ominous looking gate set into a giant wall that surrounds the tower. We entered into a round courtyard lined with doors. A couple doors were open, leading into small rooms with rough stone walls and no dÃ©cor to speak of. We followed a narrow, windy staircase up to the roof, where there were really nice views of the area, including of the town and the local shoreline.
Once we finished at the Citadel, we wandered around town some more, walking around streets we hadn’t seen yesterday. We found the posh shopping district with all the high end stores. High end stores seem to be the same names everywhere in the world. It seems mom and pops are dead world wide, no matter what the price bracket. This section of town had a little more variety to the architecture, such as a colonial style mansion and a neat looking Spanish style building, but mostly it looked the same as the rest of the town. There were a lot of people out walking their dogs. This seems to be a haven for dog lovers. Still didn’t spot any stars, nor anyone topless. This place doesn’t live up to its reputation at all. There are supposed to be throngs of both!
We can’t remember if we have mentioned this or not, so hopefully it is not a repeat. In many old districts in Europe, there are limited vehicle zones, which means you can only take a car in the zone if you have a permit. The streets are blocked by stanchions. People with permits have a remote control for the stanchions. They pull their car up to the blockade, push the remote control, the stanchions sink into the ground, they pull their car forward, and the stanchions pop back up out of the ground. We think they are fascinating. Well, in St. Tropez, not only are there stanchions blocking the streets, people have put stanchions blocking their personal parking spots so no one else can steal it. We find that amusing.
Eric was feeling like he was getting sick when he awoke, and as the day went on, he was feeling worse. After walking for a while, he decided he needed to go back to Kosmos to lie down. We passed a gelateria and he said “Gelato doesn’t sound very good now”. Christi feared he may be dying for him to say such a thing. When we got back to Kosmos, we saw the wind had died down. From what we could tell, the seas looked calm. Yay! We immediately went back to route planning and picked a marina we could get to before sunset. We quickly got ready to go, Eric went and checked out, and within an hour we were out to sea.
When we got on the water, we were amazed. It was calm and smooth. What happened to the whitecaps from just a few hours ago? We couldn’t believe how quickly it had flattened out. It was amazing. We are used to it taking many hours, even a whole day, to calm down after the wind dies.
There is one hill in particular where all the famous people live where every house has spectacular ocean views. According to the touts around the harbor that kept trying to sell us tours, the best way to get a look at these houses is by boat since they are well gated in the front. Oddly, the touts were never deterred when we tell them we have our own boat. Anyway, we passed by the hill and got a look at the houses. Most are big houses and look no different to us than what you see in the exclusive parts of Los Angeles or in La Jolla. Actually, it does kind of look like La Jolla from our vantage point, except the cliffs aren’t big and dramatic here.
We were tooling along happily, loving the calm seas. Until we rounded another corner and realized we had spoken too soon. We had been in protected waters, and outside the protected zone we were back to the normal short, steep head waves. We knew the flat seas were simply too good to be true. It was OK, though. Being as it was only a short hop, we didn’t have to live with it for too long.
We made it to the Bormes Les Mimosas marina in Le Lavandou just before sunset. We were directed to a juicy side tie spot at the back of the marina. Docking and tying up was a piece of cake. The boat was covered in a new round of sludge from bringing the fenders in/out. Eric went to check in and was told to come back in the morning when an English speaker would be there.
We went out in search of dinner. We quickly figured out the marina complex is huge, and being at the back, it was a long walk to the restaurants and amenities at the front of the complex. The front of the complex has lots of mid-rise condos. We were surprised to note that the marina looked to be half empty. This marina is quite inexpensive compared to all the other marinas we have been to so far in Europe, so we expected it to be packed.
We decided to stay in the marina for dinner, mostly because we thought we were fairly far out of the center of town. We really liked the restaurant we chose. The prices were good, the food was great, and the portions were huge.