Dispatches from the Road: Cote d’ Azur Part III, St. Tropez

City Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Extras, Food & Wine, France, Lost Girls, Shopping & Style, Train — By on July 31, 2009 at 6:00 am

Today we have guest blogger Kelly M. Newsome back to share the third of a series of posts about traveling through Europe. A self-described “recovering business attorney,” Kelly took a career break to explore Asia, Australia, and, now Europe. She’s also a yoga teacher, freelance nonprofit consultant, community service devotee, and author of “Giving Back While You’re Gone,” an article on international volunteering from her new series, The Nonprofit Notes. You can read about this trip, and check out her volunteer activities and kids’ yoga classes on her blog. Today she tells us where to find the perfect pudding sandwich (we didn’t even know we were looking for it until reading her delicious description!).

“Note to self: “Self is no longer in New York City. Self is not riding subway.
Self doesn’t know where it’s going. Remove iPod and pay attention already.”

Newsome on St. TropezThe plan was this: catch 6:54 a.m. train to Nice, depart Nice at 7:32, arrive in St. Raphael at 8:22, hop on the one St. Raphael morning ferry at 9:30, and be selecting leather sandals by 11 at St. Tropez’s famous Place de Lices market (only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, mind you), before it closed at 1 p.m. But you know what happened. You know I missed my train stop at St. Raphael.

This was a mistake of epic proportions, not only because of the potential for missing the all-important morning ferry, but because I soon came to realize that the next train stop at which I could exit for a turnaround was about 100 km away in Toulon. Toulon. It was almost painful. I couldn’t turn back now. I shouldn’t have to, I’d been on time! I’d even picked up brochures from the tourist office on St. Tropez and started reading them while en route…though apparently reading them so intently that I overlooked the connection to said destination.

Now, either because I’m a traveler or because I’m lucky (or maybe a bit of both), I didn’t waste any time devising a new plan. Two hours via bus-from-Toulon later, I was in the middle of St. Tropez, in the middle of a market that was absolutely bursting at the seams. Overwhelming and in-your-face, this get-together doesn’t let up for a second until the tables are taken down. After a few, well-negotiated dresses and some extremely highly-priced spicy olives, I took my traditional stroll through the town.

After having an overpriced espresso and spending some time watching 60-year old men play petanque (a popular game played with silver balls), I focused on getting some of that famous sun. The one complaint I have about St. Tropez, however, is that the more well-known beaches are much further than you might think. Without a car (or a well contemplated bus route), plan on hours of walking time. I didn’t have hours. I had a one-time only ferry to catch home.

Accordingly, I’d planned on, and ended up successfully, snagging a chair at a gorgeous private beach nearby. We’re talking perfect, gold sand and clear water, the temperature of which, I’m convinced, must have been adjusted beforehand by God specifically for my own body. Of course, chilled rosé was also involved.

Other than beaches and markets, I really couldn’t be bothered with additional sights and goings-on. That is, with one exception: I did manage to extend my focus to a local pastry, aptly named the “tarte Tropezienne,” a thick layer of vanilla crème sandwiched between two soft, cakey breads, and topped with sugar crystals. Now, if you’re not from the US, then this adored crème probably doesn’t taste like Jell-O French vanilla pudding to you. To me it did, but, well, like the best freaking Jell-O French vanilla pudding on the planet.

So, summary of why we should all love St. Tropez: First, legendary beaches. Second, a ‘helluva day market. And, last but not least, pudding sandwiches, people. I’m not sayin’ it’s the most popular reason why everyone seems to love fabulous, enigmatic St. Tropez, just that one day, it could be.”

For more on Kelly’s tour through the French Riviera, including what she calls the “sleepers” Carnoles, Villefranche sur Mer, Beausoleil sur Mer and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, visit http://kellysgoneagain.com.

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  • Lalchand Khatri says:

    Yes this is very beautiful place. but when i visited china i enjoyed my journey on many places without worry
    because i hired china car service with professional driver.

  • Global Butterfly says:

    Oooh, a new place to add to my list! I had heard the market was incredible there. Did you get any sandals??? Great writing, going over to check out your blog now!

  • Georges ABOLIN says:

    rien de mieux que la côte d'azur !
    éviter quand même juillet-août…