Well, I’m back home and recovering from jet lag. The flight was fine, but when I got to JFK, there was an hour wait for a cab or shuttle into town–I had forgotten it was the first night of Rosh Hashana and I guess the crowds were scrambling to get home before sundown.
My farewell to France came at quite a cost–2600 euros worth of damages to the rental car (which I hope will be reimbursed by my credit card). As you can see in the photo, I managed to scar the poor devil in French parking garages, which are way too narrow for the mid-size car I rented. With about 1 inch of leeway on the ramps, I also managed to knock off a side view mirror. I still love France, but I prefer American roadways.
I had been putting off St. Tropez because it was quite a long drive, but since I was up early this am, I figured “now or never.” Ellie and I took the coastal road all the way from Cannes — about 40 miles. I forgot that even coastal roads–in this case the corniche l’Esterel–are also mountainous, since the slopes run down into the sea. But it was a gorgeous drive, with only bicyclists on the road. I didn’t see a car for almost the 2 hours it took me to get to San Raphael. The massif Esterel is a series of red stony promontories made up of volcanic rock. The picture below, which I took from the car, does not really do it justice. But there was no place to pull over to take pictures.
St. Raphael, about midway on my route, looks to be a low-key resort with more McDonalds than Armani. Its twin city, Frejus, is an important Roman site, with (according to Michelin) an important archeological museum. I would have stopped but didn’t find parking and was eager to get on.
From St. Raphael, the traffic was murderous–this on a Monday after the rentrėe–the French return to work and school. Just getting to Ste. Maxime, across the bay from St. tropez took nearly an hour and it looked worse heading on to St. Trop. So I parked in Ste. Maxime and took the ferry, which was a nice break.
Fortuitously arriving in St. Trop at lunchtime, Ellie and I walked away from the port to the main square, the Place des Lices. Lunch was delicious, if not authentically French. Guacamole with cooked vegetables and a huge gamba cooked tempura style. (Gambas are very large shrimp or very small lobsters–delish). Then pork with shiitake mushrooms in a soy glaze. Ellie was very content. Photos below of the restaurant and St. Tropez, which is a pretty little town lined with expensive boutiques.
We took the autoroute home, cutting 2.5 hours off the return trip.
I am taking it easy the last few days of my trip, just relaxing and staying close to home. Last night I had dinner with my neighbor Francoise at another little pizza place in town, that had a live Latino band. Today I drove out to a marchė gourmande, which was heavily publicized. They promised about 60 vendors, only local growers and artisans. In reality there were closer to 30. A lot of them appeared to be bee keepers and there was much honey on sale. But except for the live animals (which were for sale–a live chicken was 20 euros) , there wasn’t anything you wouldn’t find at any market. (See photos). I came back to Magagnosc for lunch of carpaccio with salad and frites. For dessert, I picked some figs off the tree in back.