One More Toy

I instantly felt fabulous walking the beach of Pampelonne, around the bend from St. Tropez. I could envision gazillionaires sipping Belver Bears Belvedere in a beach club. Those same gazillionaires would come in via yacht from St. Tropez and be escorted by shuttle boats from their floating mansions to the beach club.

Instead, we walked up barefoot carrying a change of clothes in a plastic bag from the Radisson Blu and went from club to club asking – in French, proudly – how much it costs to rent a beach chair. Mind you it was 3pm on a Monday in May -22 Euros per chair in the second row and 26 Euros in the first row – towels not included. We lived large and took the first row – even though no one else was there.

It quickly occurred to me that however serene and secluded, this wasn’t the type of beach you come to unprepared. I wished the onesie from Target I was wearing could suddenly turn into Chanel. But as the beach bar tender reminded us – we weren’t from there. If we were, we wouldn’t be asking the price in the first place.

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When we headed back to St. Tropez, the glitz on one side almost blinded me while the beauty on the other took my breath away. The main street is lined with yachts whose owners have paid good money to reserve space in one of the world’s most sought-after parking spots. Owners and five of their closest, best-looking, friends, stand on the back porch as their yacht pulls in. Tourists wait, point, whisper and take pictures as if watching zoo animals. We were feet away yet no one interacted with them. They were just there to look pretty.

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At the end of the main street though is where the land ends, meeting the golf of St. Tropez. There, surrounded by only water and the Citadel, I felt hints of the unassuming fishing village it was once and the charming people that occupied it.

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A town where servers, dressed as fishermen, let you pick the table, even if it is the only one not already made up for dinner. Once you’re seated , you eat moules frites and sip on rose while watching the sun fade, casting a magnificent light over the old town and its harbor.

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But once that meal is over, you’re reminded that this is now the place that draws billionaires, the place where one fellow calls his hundred million dollar yacht, “One More Toy.”

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Cannes before the Storm

There was something eery but also almost A-lister-y to be in the city of the Cannes Film Festival the week before the big event. Have you ever shown up to a party early and the hosts are trying to convince you it’s going to be a great time? I never have – shown up to anything early for that matter – but I imagine it feels loser-ish and elitist all at the same time.

We were there for the fussing, hyping and anticipation of the service industry, who were readying for the difficult requests that would come in just 10 days, such as Angelina Jolie asking for a cold glass of ice water. Given Europe serves just about any beverage at room temperature, that requires quite a bit of preparation.

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But of course this being us, it was completely unplanned. I happened to have a meeting in Nice on a Tuesday and Monday was a UK Bank Holiday so we naturally took advantage of the weekend.

We flew from London to Nice, rented a car and drove the 25 minutes to Cannes. We had imagined we would stay one night and continue on the Côte d’Azur but the Radisson Blu, where we stayed on accumulated points, welcomed our arrival, which must have been a nice distraction and somewhere to put their nervous energy. We were upgraded to ocean view and given free access to the spa, which rivaled the one at Canyon Ranch, a hard feat: http://www.canyonranch.com/miamibeach. The rock-star treatment and “Le 360 & Panoramic Rooftop Terrace,” were enough to convince us to stay three nights.

We didn’t have to look far for a beach as the one across the street was gorgeous.

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And while I couldn’t wait to check out the glitz and glam of St. Tropez, the yachts in Cannes weren’t bad either.

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Bonus: what happens when you’re all dressed up at a 5-star restaurant the week before the Cannes Film Festival? The owner stops by to ask whether she can tag a photo of you on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

“Please arrange royalties with my agent. Merci!”