Let’s pretend we’re still in France, because that would be infinitely preferable to being at home with the two of us gimps and a herd of demanding critters wondering why the CE is on crutches and not fulfilling his role as pet entertainment coordinator.
It was another gorgeous 80 degree day in Provence and we decided to drive down the hill from Terre Blanche to Sainte-Maxime and take the ferry over to Saint-Tropez. Just saying the name “Saint-Tropez” conjures sizzle – ever since Bridget Bardot (and Coco Chanel before her) put it on the map, it has become as much an adjective as a noun: somehow, a St. Tropez tan sounds so very much more chic than a Biloxi, Mississippi tan – oui?
The ferry ride was fun for the views and for meeting some of our fellow passengers:
As it happened, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez – the annual regattas – were taking place the week we were there. So many sailboats! So many yachts! The waterfront buildings are all painted in cheerful pastels and the street is lined with cafes. What a fun place!
Except that it wasn’t, for us. We walked past a number of cute restaurants facing the harbor, but our concierge had booked us a lunch reservation at a cafe on the town square – the Place des Lices. The restaurant is called Cafe des Arts, and I share the name with you so that if you ever wake up some morning in Saint Tropez, you know NOT to go to this restaurant.
We walked in, politely mentioned that we had a reservation, but for reasons that remain unknown, the waiter (he was dressed as if he’d just come from the docks – maybe he was an imposter!) took a thorough and instant dislike to us. Was it because we were Americans? Because we did not speak French? We will never know, but after shouting the word “Seis” in my face several times (I finally deduced that he was asking if we were part of a different reservation for a group of six) he walked away from us in a huff and refused to wait on us.
The manager ultimately took pity on us and took our order, but we had clearly been labeled personas non grata. We had been dissed. Marginalized. Burned. We ordered our steak frites, but with trepidation. I examined my salad carefully for any signs that our misanthropic waiter had dressed it with a loogie. We couldn’t wait to finish and slink out of the place – easier said than done, because you really can’t slink anywhere if the nasty waiter refuses to bring you your bill. He actually made a face at me when I indicated we would like to pay. It was an AWKWARD, and – from what I’ve read – not completely uncommon experience in France. Why, I do not know, but there are some French people who really hate Americans. And it was our day to be hated on.
Actually, the question as to why the French hate Americans has been posed frequently on the Internet. On yahoo.com, the “best” answer chosen was this one: “It has nothing to do with Americans. The French hate everything.”
On our drive home from Sainte-Maxime, even the GPS lady with her American accent turned on us. She took us up a cliff-hanger of a road in the Bagnols-en-Foret region that had us both in a flop sweat. Then she lost satellite reception (or was she just messing with us like the waiter?) and sent us on a series of ever-narrower cliff-hanger roads, one of which, the CE said when he finally recovered from the trauma, could only have been a goat path. We were very, very happy to finally see the entrance to our hotel!
It was our twelfth day in France, and the only one of our trip that was even the slightest bit less than perfect. So as long as you avoid the Cafe des Arts in Saint-Tropez, it’s still very much worth the trip!