Plebs in St. Tropez :-)

This morning we woke up early to find the Journey at anchor at the millionaires’ playground, St. Tropez, or Saint-Trop as the French nickname it.  As usual, the weather was warm and sunny.  We had not been to St-Trop before so we were looking forward to exploring this gorgeous piece of coastline.

Once we’d disembarked the liberty boat, we took our time exploring a local market.  I liked the produce stalls the best; the French really are exceptional with their locally-grown vegetables such as onions, garlic, tomatoes and many different fragrant herbs.  There were also stalls with mouth-watering looking cured meats and sausages.  The smell coming off them was very appetising.

We also browsed craft stalls as well as stalls selling the usual holiday ‘tat’, like t-shirts and baseball caps.

After wandering around the market a bit we decided to get some postcards and sit with a cold beer (!) and write them out.  We bought the cards and the stamps and walked along the sea-front looking for a suitable watering hole.  There is only one main road in and out of St. Tropez so there was quite a lot of traffic, and every other car seemed to be a flash, expensive one.  We saw Ferraris, Porsches, Maseratis, Lambourghinis and a Rolls Royce.  Everyone around us seemed to be dressed in designer clothes and shoes and dripping with jewellery.

There were many charming pavement cafés and restaurants, all doing a roaring trade, so we found one with a sea view and ordered a cold beer each, at five Euros (nearly a fiver!) a glass.  We sat down with our beers, people-watched, and wrote out our postcards.  When we’d nearly finished our beers, the waiter came over and, instead of asking us if we’d like another one or there was anything else he could get for us, he presented us with the bill!

His meaning was abundantly clear – please leave, plebs, you are not spending enough!  No problem mate, we know when we’re not wanted.  🙂

After leaving the café a little bit piqued, we walked along the sea-front and our attention was caught by a French gendarme stopping the traffic occasionally and strutting up and down, full of his own importance.  However, as we watched him more closely it seemed evident all was not as it should have been – he was shadowing passers-by, copying their movements, touching their hair then moving away when they turned around, and generally acting the fool, much to the amusement of people passing by.  He also blew on his whistle which actually did have the result of stopping the traffic, before he blasted to “get set, go” as if starting a race.  It really was quite funny and obviously a farce, put on as a tourist attraction.  I later discovered there had been a comedy farce film called Le Gendarme de St Tropez so obviously this is what he was taking off.  🙂

After walking along the beach I got the unmistakeable smell of fresh fish, so I was instantly hungry.  We decided to go in search of a restaurant to get some lunch.  I already knew what I was going to have; moules marinières.  Yum yum.

We found a nice little café tucked away, ordered another beer each and I enjoyed my fresh mussels with crusty bread, while Trevor had some lasagne and chips (!)  I absolutely cannot resist a good dish of moules marinières; in fact I’m a dab hand at making my own.  The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS (serves 1):
1kg of live mussels, well scrubbed and rinsed in cold water.  The mussels should be live; discard any that do not close when sharply tapped.
1 shallot or small white onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
125ml of dry white wine (Muscadet is ideal)
Pinch of chopped fresh coriander
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
Dollop of soured cream

Finely chop the shallot or onion and add, with the crushed garlic, to a pan in which you’ve heated 1sp of olive oil.  Cook the onion until soft, then add the coriander, white wine, salt and pepper.  Allow the liquid to come to the boil, then add in the mussels.  Put the lid on the pan tightly and allow the mussels to cook in the liquid and their own steam – you only need to cook them long enough for them to open.  Discard any mussels that don’t open.  Add the sour cream and mix well.   Serve with fresh crusty bread and a very cold glass of dry white wine!  Delicious.

After lunch we decided to go back to the ship for a spot of sunbathing or just relaxing, as it was such a hot day.

Back on board we spent a relaxing couple of hours up on deck before getting ready for dinner.  Tonight they were putting on a barbecue and deck party under the stars, as well as showing the Manchester United v Barcelona match for the many British people on board.

The food was spectacularly arranged, the centrepiece being a huge ice sculpture in the shape of a seahorse.  There was sizzling steak, pork, sausages, as well as a magnificent array of seafood, cold meats, vegetables and salads.  We were really spoilt for choice.

We loaded our plates then managed to get a seat in the prime position for viewing the footie on a TV screen they had erected on the deck especially.  Waiters came often to fill our wine glasses with the free house white, and at the other end of the deck a live band played.  The clear skies deepened to an indigo blue, then black as the stars came out and shone brilliantly.  It was a lovely night.

At around 11.00pm the Journey weighed anchor and sailed off into the night.  Tomorrow we were due to arrive in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

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