Thursday, 23 October 2008

13th October - St Tropez / St Maxime / Grimaud

Another early start today, Monday. Andrew headed out for a few provisions which included a stop at the local boulangerie [Bakers Shop]. One thing we quickly discovered is the days on which the local shops open and close is quite random. As our holiday progressed we soon discovered that the idea of competition from similar shops didn't really exist. One closes; the other one opens!!!! We soon got to know which grocers and baker shop to go to each morning. Well Andrew did!!!

Today, with the village cleared of yesterdays incomers, we decided we'd head out to explore one of the many places we intended to see - St Tropez. Switched on the SatNav in the car and quickly realised that some roads were better than others. Heading out of Collobrieres we took a left turn up an innocent looking road called the D41. Funny, we never took that road again!!! Crazy and mountainous with no crash barriers and steep 100/200/300 foot drops. You get the picture. Here is a view taken at a stop point on the route. It was the third attempt for Andrew to take the shot once his hands had stopped shaking from driving on the scary mountain roads.

Les Massif Maures are the large mountain range throughout the Var district of France. In particular throughout Provence where we were it becomes second nature to expect any day trip to involve a climb over the scary mountain road. The views were amazing but our nerves could have been better.

Back down on terra firma and the road took us to St Tropez. I'd read that it was once THE place of the famous and wealthy stars but nowadays it has fallen out of favour. I think that's a very diplomatic way of putting it. A nice enough harbour front with some expensive shops but the rest was ...... well tacky ........ to say the least. Needless to say we didn't stop too long, opting to continue driving. And yes the trusty SatNav opted for yet another dodgy road en route to a village called Ramatouelle. We turned back and chose a different route quite quickly!!! But our short drive was eventually rewarded as we stopped on a beach called Plage de Pampelonne and had a picnic lunch on the road up towards St Maxime.

Shorts on, paddling at the ready but not before a quick pose for the camera from Amber.

Further up the coast at St Maxime we stopped at the harbour front.

Oh and another photo opportunity on the rocks.

Back on the road and we headed towards a small village called Grimaud. It's a lovely little village with a lot of money spent on it from wealthy people who had bought and renovated some of the homes in the village.

Picture narrow cobbled streets with little houses littered with flower tubs of bourgainvillea, mimosa and oleaner at every corner. Beautifully manicured. Little shops and galleries scattered in the narrow streets.

Our main reason for heading to Grimaud was to visit the ruined chateaux on the hill. We eventually made the climb through the narrow streets and castle steps to reach the top and take in the views.

In addition to the castle ruins there was an ancient moulin [windmill] called Moulin St Roch. Having spotted it from the castle we just needed to find the correct set of steps that would lead us to it!!! Eventually we found them stopping off at an rather interesting public toilet on the way. I say interesting since it was one of these modern contraptions where it locks you in, you do you business then it's like a one stop shop inside with a soap squirter, water from tap then a blast of hot air to finish things off. I hasten to add that's for your HANDS and after you've done the business!!!

You can see the windmill from this viewpoint.

and a few shots of the castle ruins......

........ before arriving at the moulin St Roch.

Back down the village after our hike up the hill and we ventured into a nice little Art Gallery and spotted a rather nice Tristan Ra piece but at 4900 euros we declined the sale!!! The lower village has access to it from a rather unusual looking elevator. Well after the exhausting walk up to the chateau the least we could do was try it out. Went up and down it....... well a few times!!!

Grimaud centre of town is equally as neat and tidy as the back streets. Again tubs of flowers at every opportunity and some unusual metal sculptures. Yet another photo opportunity for Amber.

We stayed at Grimaud and had a lovely meal at Le Restaurant de Chateau. Andrew had a pizza with a fried egg in the middle of it [weird!!!] and Amber opted for a more traditional pizza. I chose a pasta dish with tomato sauce. Yeh I know, in France and we ate pizza!

Darkness was falling and off we headed back to our apartment.

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