My trip to St Tropez

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by eddievanbitz, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Well, after the best part of a month in the South of France with our RIB (rigid inflatable boat) we have made it home to Cornish Farm and am now back at work :cry:

    We left Cornish Farm with out 32’ Gulf Stream with a 27’ trailer on the back, much to the amusement and interest of everyone on the campsite (we have to drive through our campsite from our house to the road) As it was only the second time that I had towed the boat and the first time on the back of the RV, the smile plastered on my face belied the butterflies in my stomach, especially as James my oldest Son who I have to say is the best driver in the family by far said “Are you sure you’ll have room to get out of the gate? Looks too tight for me!”

    So with those words of encouragement, we were off. We made it through the entrance with space to spare and looked forward to the thousand mile drive ahead of us to Port Grimaud, in the Bay of St Tropez.

    An uneventful drive to Dover, once we had satisfied ourselves that the trailer followed the Gulf Stream faithfully round bends and roundabouts, didn’t wander at speed and due to the weight of the Gulf Stream towed beautifully. So we soon stopped worrying about the extra length.

    We arrived in Dover and parked on the seafront, rolling up quietly behind our chums Jeff and Susy, with their Winnebago and their RIB in the early morning.

    Bright and early we did all the pre holiday excited hugs and kisses, jumped into our vans and headed off to the Port. All the while pretending to ignore the looks, stares and pointing of early morning walkers as 120 feet of motorhome/boat combinations drove slowly past.

    Once safely on the ferry a plan of action was discussed over breakfast. Drive as far as we can first day, with a view to stopping around six for the night on an Aire for a BBQ and a couple of glasses of wine. Allowing for more friends/family to catch us up, that had taken a later ferry crossing.

    A slightly later night than planned, resulted in every one tucked up in bed, with the two motorhomes/boat combos parked next to our friends car and caravan.

    We awoke to the news that Andy and Sarah (in the car and caravan) had been burgled! The thief had taken the barrel out of the caravan door lock, opened the door entered the caravan, taken all the money from Sarah’s purse and Andy’s wallet. Left passports and credit cards, but even more amazingly the thief had found the car keys, opened the car, using the keys (no central locking) riffled the car and then put the keys back into the caravan! If he had taken the passports, credit cards and keys they would have been really stuck. I think that they have two small children maybe triggered a bit of guilt, who knows?

    Our motorhomes hadn’t been touched, I guess the extra size and height and solidity of the RV doors and the enhanced alarm systems that both vans have (the Winnebago used to belong to Van Bitz) had been too much of a gamble form them/him

    As we had one more night planned on Aires, Andy and Sarah were uneasy about spending a night on another Aire without a door lock or an alarm.

    This is quite understandable so we decided that we could all stay put, and Andy drove me to a local caravan store to buy a replacement door lock, and whilst there I talked Andy into buying a caravan alarm.

    I couldn’t believe that he was still sceptical about buying an alarm, after sleeping through a burglary twelve hours earlier.:Doh:
    To think that the thief(s) had broken into his caravan, with him, Sarah (wife) Ellie (6) and Becca (3) rummaged around and they hadn’t heard a thing! Sarah is pregnant so definitely not drinking, they simply slept through it!

    So back onto the motorway and back down to the Aire. On arrival we replaced the ruined lock and fitted a battery operated alarm system on the repaired caravan door (so much for day one of the holiday lol)

    Showered and changed, “Wagons Roll” was the cry from the hand held radios we were using to keep in touch with each other. Then I noticed red stuff pouring out from under the Winnebago? Was the Winnie bleeding? Looked like it! So me on the radio:-

    “Jeff, what are you doing?”
    “Trying to pull the slideout in, but nothing is happening” came the reply.

    So two hours later, having been under the motorhome, we had established that one of the hydraulic hoses had failed, and, instead of pulling the slide out in, it had pumped hydraulic fluid out!

    So we “borrowed” a hose from the rear slide to enable us to pull the front slide out “in” and then, replaced to it’s original place, fluid replaced, mess cleaned up, re- showered and a set of clothes thrown into the bin! I literally was covered in head to toe in hydraulic oil and grit from laying in the stuff. What made matters worse, was the drips! Because of the pressure in the system when the hose failed, coating the underside of the Winniebago was sprayed with the damn stuff which dripped into my eyes, mouth, ears and even up my nose! Lovely! I believe it is called a bus mans holiday !

    The rest of the Journey and the following overnight stop was uneventful, but exciting as any drive South is at the beginning of the holiday, as the temperature creeps up, the landscape changes from green, lush and fertile to yellows, browns and parched, and the smells and sounds change from those that are similar to home, to the fragrance of the Mediterranean and the sound of the cicadas.

    Our chosen destination was Camping Holiday Marina, in Port Grimaud, and they had asked if we could arrive about 2.00pm as they had arranged to open their rear gates to allow us easy access, and they had arranged for a couple of staff to help us onto our pitches and manhandle the boats, which had to be sorted before they could be launched.

    Our pitches were fantastic, we had a chalet on the pitch was well, as one of our sons was due to join us for a week, half gravelled, for the motorhome, patio tiled and full astra turf grassed up to the block paved road! Fantastic!

    Clean, level and everything we could want.
    Camping Holiday Marina www.holiday-marina.com/index.php?lg=en&PHPSESSID=mbefneu5mqfgp5uqbhuke2qr72 really is the best organised an run site that I have ever stayed on.

    It is a mix of a holiday village with luxury mobile homes, some for rent and some privately owned, campsite and marina. A well run bar and restaurant complex offering a good range of drinks and a higher standard than usual menu

    Everything is spotless, nothing is too much trouble, and the owners, who are English really do have their fingers on the pulse. It is a mixture of English and French staff so you can practice your French but explain any problems (if you had any) in English. There is cycle path that goes past right outside the main entrance and you can easily cycle to St Tropez, St Maxime or pop into Port Grimaud.

    Although there is a small shop on site, there is huge commercial centre about five minutes, level ride along the cycle path in the St Tropez direction, so buying fresh fish, meat and dairy is an easy daily operation if you choose.

    The campsite has fantastic WiFi throughout at a very fair twenty Euro a week.

    The campsite had arranged to launch and recover our RIBs at the public slipway and stored our trailers for us for a reasonable additional charge. This was all arranged in advance and worked seamlessly

    On our pitch we had elected to have a one bed roomed chalet as one of our sons, Ashley was to travel down with his girlfriend Laura and stay for ten days. Events overtook us and Ashley and Laura couldn’t make it as her Father is ill. In hindsight we would happily pay the extra next time for the convenience of the chalet. It had a fridge with ice box, micro wave, and gas hob, it gave us loads of storage for all our stuff and a private bathroom with large double shower so no queuing for a shower at a toilet block or having to use the motorhome and the inevitable filling and emptying of water and waste.

    I cannot praise Camping Holiday Marina enough, it was excellent. To some it may be thought of as expensive, but Lyn and I still both work, we get one holiday a year so the cost of a site is less important than the position and the facilities if can offer.

    We took our RIB’s because the site has its own moorings, and it is so good to get up in the morning walk down the road to your boat and take your selves off for the day.

    No traffic jams, no queues, just boating in one of the most beautiful parts of the World in my opinion, and presumably the opinion of the rich and famous judging by the plethora of Super Yachts both in the bay of St Tropez and actually in the harbour.

    It really is a sight to see, and I have to be honest, normally I refuse to gawp at the rich and famous and I refuse to play their games of “look at me and how wonderful I am” but alas, stood looking at lines of £60,000,000 privately owned super yacht, with a Bugatti Veyron’s and custom Rolls Royce’s park outside and helicopters on the deck it is hard not to stare!

    Diving, fishing, snorkelling, reading, picnics on the boat, lunch out in little bays and inlets, a bottle or two involved lol. Sea temperature is about 24 degrees so diving was just in a T shirt, no wet suits was excellent and easy.

    The water us so clear that even snorkelling in deeper waters still offers a fascinating insight into the underwater world.

    Lyn got stung by a jelly fish on her left boob and shoulder, as she splashed around at the back of the boat just trying to cool off, so in effect flushed the jelly fish on her. She was fine though, and the blisters had gone down just leaving a brown mark by the evening. She declined my offer to wee on her as I was convinced that I had seen in a Ray Mears documentary!

    It was just as well really, as when we got back to the motorhome and looked it up it was vinegar! Lyn has always been a brave girl so was little fazed by the whole thing, and laughed as everyone else leapt out of the water and peered at the sea nervously! Cowards!

    One threatened thunderstorm, which was early in the morning and woke everyone up, but the thirty six degrees of brilliant sunshine afterwards soon dried everything up. So wall to wall excellent weather. The infrastructure on the site is superb so no issues with running Air Conditioning units or anything actually. So we could be cool when we wanted which is always important to me, if I am not on the water.

    Prices varied eating out. As you can imagine there are some restaurants that are simply too exclusive to even get into, especially in St Tropez, but in the main the majority of them are reasonable and you don’t have to spend a fortune there if you do want to eat out.

    If you do then I would recommend ordering a Pitcher or the House red, white or Rose as the wines of the area are superb and excellent value. Lyn who normally hates Red wine was drinking it chilled this holiday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    The drive home was uneventful, having Jim's flashing tyre valve thingies was a God send. The Gulf Stream has six wheels, and the trailer has five. Being able to walk round and check everything visually was excellent. They do work as well. On the return journey Jeff spotted that one of the detectors on his trailer wheel wheel was flashing so a quick wheel change sorted out the problem before it, potentially became a major issue! http://www.tyrepressurealarm.com/

    More and more motorway services now have height barriers for the main forecourt. Our Gulf Stream is petrol with a LGP conversion so we can’t go onto the lorry bit, which does present us with a bit of a problem. Luckily we carry about 190Ltrs of petrol and about 240Ltrs of LPG so we have a good range and don’t need to fill up too many times on the journey.

    Dover to Dunkirk with DFDS was about £250 return for the motorhome and trailer, really good value in our opinion. Distance? Well Taunton to St Tropez via Dover was about 100 miles further than St Tropez via Portsmouth, however the ferry was nearly £900 with Brittany Ferries and we would have had to go around Paris, whereas via Dover meant that we went East of Paris. Total mileage from Taunton to Port Grimaud was just under a 1000 miles each way!

    So back now. Would I go again? absolutely yes :thumb: We went in 2004 and in 2006 and have compared everything to this area ever since.



    Eddie
     

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  2. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    An eventful beginning Eddie!

    Sounds like you had fun though:thumb:

    Are you absolutely certain your friends weren't gassed?:Wink:
     
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  3. gillnphil

    gillnphil Funster

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    Sounds like an eventful trip. We have been all around this area, its a good place to be, didnt even bump into Bardot. Didnt have the problems you had though. We use a scooter to get around when parked up, smug feeling when you can park anywhere.Monaco is a great place but no where to park, so took the train along the coast, sooo easy.
    Regards Phil
     
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  4. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    The last thing that you want in that area is a car:Rofl1: every road is a car park. Bike (or scooter) or better still boat around (in my opinion) and you get free parking/mooring:thumb:

    Eddie
     
  5. Rob and Val

    Rob and Val Funster

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    Wow! Great post, Eddie. It made very interesting reading. Glad you had such a good time. Sorry to hear of your friends' break-in. Please may we ask on which aire it happened? Was it one off a motorway toll road?
     
  6. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    Love the boat by the way Eddie:thumb:
     
  7. fleurette

    fleurette Funster Life Member

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    Glad you all had a good time, must say the bit about the Jelly fish and Lyn's boob brought a smile to our faces,:Smile: does she realize how close she came to staring in a porn movie:RollEyes:

    Welcome Home
     
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  8. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    To be honest, I dont know the name of the Aire, we were on the A26 just outside Troyes.

    We have used Motorway Aires since 1988 and have no issues staying on them whatsoever, so please don't be deterred. In fact the night after the caravan was broken into we stayed on a motorway Aire and twice on the way back up.

    The caravan was targeted I suspect because there was no apparent security, and the door on a small caravan is considerably weaker than most motorhomes. RV doors are even more secure.

    The most amazing thing was that the thief locked their car back up after nicking the change in the centre pocket. Also he didn't take their iPads or their iPhones

    Thousands of people safely overnight on Aires every night, so don't let it put you off.

    Eddie
     
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  9. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    I used to deliver mobile homes to Port Grimaud many years ago before it became fashionable. There used to be an English owned campsite with a Les Routier restaurant across the road from the entrance. It was long before the days of the EU and I had to clear customs in St Tropez. The customs post was a little wooden hut in the harbour and they always wanted to see the mobile home before stamping the T forms. It was an absolute nightmare getting not only a long load but a wide one into the harbour carpark. Have sat on the carpark in St Tropez for days sometimes waiting for the customs official's to arrive and watched some of the antics of the rich and famous. I once watched an Arab registered private yacht reversed into its berth and once the gangplank was down someone brought the owner a little monkey bike, started it up and he rode down the gangplank straight into a cafe across the road. He was to lazy to walk. Great place for people watching though.
     
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  10. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    We found out by accident that the yachts use channel 88 on VHF for internal communication.

    Better than people watching is listening!

    The demands of the super rich is amazing. One yacht that we Googled as costing $80,000,000 had a owner who wanted to walk off, onto St Tropez harbour and wanted her handbag, so her assistant radioed to her suite to tell her maid that "Valerie" wants her handbag and to get it and to send it down to the Sundeck with a deckhand!

    Or, Valerie could have gone to her cabin and got it:Doh:

    Eddie
     
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  11. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Great posts Eddie, sounds like you all had a ball :jealous smiley: :BigGrin::thumb:
     
  12. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    You know the answer Jim :Wink:

    Eddie
     
  13. BwB

    BwB Funster Life Member

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    Would you recognise her now? (Had and email arrive while reading this thread with some "Then and Now" photos. She still has a lot of power in those eyes!)
     

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  14. busby

    busby Funster

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    Only stayed on a motorway services (aire) once with car and caravan. Car was broken into. Never had a problem on a proper aire.:BigGrin:BUSBY.
     
  15. Nirvanauk

    Nirvanauk Funster

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    Stayed at that campsite for a month last September. Absolutely fabulous. It was out of season then so only about €20 a night. Across the road was an Aires (that's French for car park!) that charged €15 a night so why would you want to??
     
  16. My Dog Likes Fishing

    My Dog Likes Fishing Funster Life Member

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    Really enjoyed the post thanks.

    Great reading about other people's adventures.

    It's given me some ideas and I'm planning a trip there in the future. :thumb:
     
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  17. Carol

    Carol Funster Life Member

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    Great report Eddie, bought back some good memories of our stay there on the same camp site, we used our bikes and water taxi's to get around to miss the road traffic, loved Port Grimoud and St Tropez, just a bit of magic about them.
     
  18. Zajacp

    Zajacp

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    We had the same trip planned for 11july but a close friend was killed down in Newquay which changed our plans, might pop down late sept/oct work permitting.
     
  19. Jamwitt

    Jamwitt Funster Life Member

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    After an eventful start sounds like you had good holiday after all:thumb:
     
  20. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    :BigGrin: Good security and preventative maintenance meant that we were fine:thumb: it was the others:Eeek: :Rofl1:

    I just love the South of France, and the Bay of St Tropez in particular. The food is generally excellent, the beer is served cold, the wines are plentiful, decent quality and cheap, the weather is hot and sunny without being too humid and there is always plenty of shade.

    The English are not disliked there because of the Allied Liberation, which they still celebrate every year with a massive firework display that starts in St Tropez and rolls around the bay, to Port Grimaud and the onto an explosive climax over St Maxime.

    When I say not disliked, we wanted to go into a small harbour for lunch. Our mates radioed the Capitanaire and asked if there was space for two RIBs to moor for two hours so we could have lunch. "Non". Came the reply.

    As we could see loads of space, and we were hungry this was disappointing. I dropped Lyn off on a pontoon with a handheld VHF radio and she ran up the stairs to the Capitanaire's office (they're more like air traffic controllers offices in the SOF) in French she apologised for asking again but we only needed a couple of hours pans the reply came as an interruption

    "Sorry, I thought we were German, yes we have space moor on A22 and A24" :Confused:

    We have a great lunch too:thumb::beer:

    Eddie
     
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