Yesterday, Eric went to check in as soon as the marina opened. The lady asked us if we intended to leave Le Lavandou at all. Yes, we told her, we wanted to go to Paris for a few days, possibly as long as a week. She told us we would have to go to the marina on the other side of town. Apparently, the waves can be violent and crash over the sea walls and cause damage to the boats near the wall. She had no “safe” parking spot for us, so we either had to stay with the boat in case we needed to move her or we needed to move marinas.
We had noticed yesterday that the two floating docks nearest the sea wall all along the length of the marina were completely empty, however, the boats farther back were packed in pretty tightly. We hadn’t thought much of it, other than an awful lot of slips were empty. We kept looking at the enormous sea wall protecting the marina and were amazed that the waves could possibly get big enough to jump the walls, let alone big enough to do damage to the boats in tied up on the second dock back.
Eric still wasn’t feeling the greatest and we had company coming, so we decided to take a down day. Eric washed the boat and scrubbed all the black spots with a cleaning wax. She’s shiny again. Christi did laundry and basic chores.
Jaime (Kosmos crewmate who went from Vanuatu to Australia, see posts starting from Vanuatu)arrived around 1900. We were delighted to see him. We know we sound like whiners, but we still hadn’t totally escaped the funk that had surrounded us after Stromboli, and seeing another good friend did a lot to lift our spirits, just as it had when we saw Andrea and Francesca. We feel bad because we changed our rendezvous spot with Jaime multiple times. He was basically driving around the south of France searching for us. But he did find us and it was great to see him. We went out to dinner at a different restaurant in the marina where we had a swanky meal.
Today we decided to take a day trip to the nearby island of Porquerrolles. Since we had to move the boat to the other marina anyway, we figured we might as well make the most of it. It was a short two hour ride to the island. We went into the marina and med moored in an area that looked like it was for visiting boats. The marina office was closed, so we went for a walk.
The town center is a large dirt square surrounded by buildings on three sides and a church on the fourth. From what we gathered, the commercial center of town very small, extending just a couple of blocks beyond the center square. The buildings all have that Mediterranean look, blocky structures with tiled roofs. There were tons of flowering bushes and all seemed to be bursting with color. It is a quaint little place. We had lunch in one of the many restaurants in the center of town.
We have noticed that in France pretty much every restaurant seems to offer what we Americans call a Prix Fixe Menu, with a choice of appetizer, main and dessert. The “menu” is much cheaper than ordering the same things ala carte and is usually good value for the money. In Monaco, several places also had a “menu”. This is a nice change from Italy, where everything comes ala carte. Also, in France, mains usually are accompanied by side dishes, such as potatoes. In Italy, side dishes with a meal are non-existent. If you order fish as your main, you get a piece of fish and nothing else on the plate. France also has a bigger variety of meats to choose from than we saw in Italy. In Italy, it was mostly beef and fish. In France, most menus offer chicken, duck and pate, as well. We are finding that most places in France serve healthy sized portions, contrary to France’s reputation for tiny portions. Also worth noting is that wine is often cheaper than soda. But what may be most interesting is that in France, we have seen lots of restaurants offering kid’s menus, which is rare everywhere in the world. But the kid’s menu isn’t chicken nuggets and hot dogs, it is usually a choice of salmon or white fish fillets. We’ve never seen salmon on the kids menu in America.
Anyway, after lunch we went for a walk down a dirt path through a forest like setting that eventually took us to a beach. The trees are mostly eucalyptus and pines. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the water was calm and a pretty azure blue. Jaime went for a swim. Eric put his feet in and ran back out. We are spoiled by the tropical waters and anything less than bathtub warm is just too cold.
After Jamie’s swim, we walked the other direction, which took us through a small residential neighborhood which eventually gave way to farm land. The housing was the same Mediterranean style as the buildings in the town center, with the houses ranging in size from tiny little bungalows to big homes. All were different from one another and well maintained. We turned back when we got to the farms, but we did notice the crops were olives, some other type of fruit tree, and another leafy plant that we didn’t recognize. The island reminds us a lot of Santa Barbara, California. The housing style is similar, as is the climate and foliage. Both are seaside communities with a laid back, weekend vacation feel to them.
At this point we decided to head back. We wanted to make it to the Port Le Lavandou marina well before dark. We pulled out of Porquerrolles. About half way to Le Lavandou, we saw a Gendarme (military police) boat approach us. We watched as a dinghy was deployed with several soldiers aboard. The dinghy pulled up alongside us and the soldiers boarded us. We were overwhelmed by dÃ©jÃ vu from when we were boarded by the gendarme in French Polynesia. The soldiers asked us the same questions as they had in French Polynesia. Like last time, they were totally cool guys, laughing and joking with us. Like last time, they did a quick inspection of the boat. And like last time, we think we were boarded because the soldiers were fascinated by the boat and simply wanted a close up look at her.
We pulled into the Port Lavandou marina in the heart of La Lavandou about an hour before sunset. We pulled up to the hospitality dock and Eric went to check in. They had no spot for us until tomorrow, but told us we were welcome to spend the night on the hospitality dock. That was nice!
From where we stood in the marina, we could clearly see the Bormes Les Mimosas marina on the south side of the bay. We needed to walk over there to retrieve Jaime’s car. Just beyond the marina there is a sandy, inviting beach and a boardwalk that parallels the beach. On the north side of the boardwalk, near the marina, is the town. Farther down the boardwalk, we found ourselves in a cluster of hotels. In the first shot you can see the beach and where the hotels start.
Beyond the hotels, the beach stopped, suddenly turning into a hilly park, which we had seen from Kosmos. The park is nice. This shot was taken from where Kosmos was berthed at the back of the marina. You can see the park and one of hotels opposite, and you can also get a sense of how long of a walk it was from the shore, up the little hill to the park, around to the front of the park, over to the front of the marina, and all the way to the back of the marina complex, where Jamie’s car was. Not that we are complaining. It was a pleasant walk, especially pretty as the sun had just set and twilight was slowly settling in.
We picked a restaurant at random and are pleased to report that they had great scallops. It was a nice dinner.