What better way to celebrate the start
of the Mediterranean summer than a trip to St Tropez, the sin centre
of the sunny south, where dress is optional and excess is essential
7.00am: Despite the strike the
9.20 BA flight to Nice has been confirmed, but the difference between
the Economy fare and Club is extraordinary - £230 versus £900
return. Is it really worth a £700 premium for a hot sausage, a glass
of fizz and the surety of not having Billy Bunter squidge into his
seat and half of yours?
8.00am: The security man at
Terminal 5 politely but firmly points out that the Camel’s
Companion’s see-thru toiletry bag is about 10 times the size of the
flimsy things you’re supposed to use. He begins to repack
everything into two, which is a bit like trying to squeeze 50 poodles
into a handbag. Finally he gives up and slopes off to the safety of
the X-Ray machine leaving a blitz of bottles strewn across the
counter like the carnage after the first day of Clarin’s summer
9.30am: We finally take off
after being ferried to the plane on buses. There are lots of empty
seats in both cabins. Seems I wasn’t the only one to balk at £900.
Three smiley cabin crew are on board and I do feel someone should
take the lead, address the plane and thank them for being there. The
moment comes and goes and we all stay silent.
12.15pm: Land at Nice 10 minutes
ahead of schedule. A Truche lady is waiting and hands me the keys to
a Mercedes, which isn’t what I was expecting but I’m not
complaining. Perhaps it’s a loyalty reward?
1.15pm: On the A8 about to turn
off for St Tropez when a frantic, panic stricken female calls to say
that we have been given the wrong car and demands that we return to
Nice immediately to change it for a Renault Clio. Not a chance!
1.17pm: She calls again.
1.18pm: She calls again and says
that ‘she’s ‘disappointed’ we have not spent the afternoon
bombing up and down the A8 to get her out of a hole.
1.45pm: We glide through Ste Maxine
and St Tropez to Villa Marie. In a month’s time this journey will
take hours! A puzzled receptionist looks at me, looks at her screen
and in her best Franglais announces that ‘computer says no’. I
produce the confirmation email just as the manager arrives and
assures me that they have rooms and all will be fine.
2.15pm: After a quick change we
make the short drive to Le Club 55, the most staggeringly profitable
restaurant on the planet. In July and August this place consistently
serves 1000 covers a day. The food is expensive and mediocre but it’s
not about eating, it’s all about the people watching. Patrice, the
proprietor / maître’d, gives us a warm welcome. “Is business
good?” I ask. “Yes!” he exclaims, clapping his hands. But
Patrice, there is more chance of England beating Brazil in the World
Cup Final on penalties than there is of Club 55 having a bad summer.
5.00pm: After an hour or so
lazing around ‘55’, basking in the sun we head to town and park
in Le Places des Lices then stroll to the port for a few drinks in
Senequier, the legendary bar. Two girls arrive on a pink sparkly
moped. The entire bar gasps as they remove their helmets to unleash
vast flowing locks of perfect hair which tumbles down their sexy silk
dresses until it strokes their toned thighs. As they totter on
towering heels a tiny dog is yanked from a designer bag on the moped
floor and the pair strut off into the crowd. Is this a television
commercial for a glamorous hair product? No. It’s just another
moment in the ludicrous world of St Tropez.
7.30pm: The manageress of Lily,
the town’s top boutique, recommends a visit to Byblos. Apparently
the fading, over trendy hotel has sorted out its bar and restaurant,
bringing in a tapas style menu, and is worth a visit. Sure enough, a
four piece acoustic band is performing from a plinth over the
swimming pool, the place is buzzing and an impressive basket of
crudités is served with the drinks. As the boys break into Snow
Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ a flabby female grabs her camera and
rushes to the poolside, standing adoringly as every note is stored on
9.00pm: Time to visit the port
again and Joseph Le Quai, owned by St Tropez’s answer to Richard
Caring. Joseph is a little rotund man who has built an empire of bars
and restaurants over the last few years. This evening’s
entertainment is by a smarmy male Latino who wiggles his hips to an
odd fusion of Turkish dance and Shakira. The trademark black sand has
been removed from the floor and replaced by a skanky black carpet.
Still, I’m sure the cleaners are happy.
10.45pm: St Tropez is just
beginning to come to life and the droves are heading for Cave du Roy,
probably the most expensive nightclub in Europe where an entry level
bottle of champagne costs €270, or why not splash out on
Perrier-Jouet ‘Belle Epoque’ for a meagre €690. As for me –
it’s time for bed.
Frank Camel on Twitter