Do You Know The Way From St. Tropez?

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?

Paintings and posters of Bridget Bardot are ubiquitous in St. Tropez store windows

The ferry ride was fun for the views and for meeting some of our fellow passengers:

We took a Bateaux Vert boat just like this one from Sainte-Maxime to Saint Tropez

This little guy rode over with us - does he look French to you?

This one sat in front of us - now she is definitely French!

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!

The CE is hoping you'll think the boat in the background is his.

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.

If only we'd eaten here! Looks like fun, doesn't it?

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, the “best” answer chosen was this one: “It has nothing to do with Americans. The French hate everything.”

I was too traumatized by the lunch experience to go into the very fancy Chanel boutique .

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!

We did enjoy the views of Sainte-Maxime and Saint- Tropez, but they look an awful lot like home, where the waiters are friendly and the roads are wider than goat paths.

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!

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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7 Responses to Do You Know The Way From St. Tropez?

  1. Chicken Emperor says:

    St.Tropez was a necessary part of the trip because this was the only place we were able to experience the nasty, rude French waiter we have all heard about.. I had been disappointed up until then to have only experienced the polite, knowledgeable, very interested in food type. I knew these guys were out there, but where? So unlike the Chicken Lady, I was quite pleased to be denied my steak frites. And when any question to the guy provoked an instant view of his rear end as he spun around violently to leave our presence, I knew I had my man.

    In spite of frequent requests he refused to allow Marilyn to take my picture with him, even though I hugged him tightly and whispered that in the U.S.A. we said “cheese” at such moments. Inquiries about the little lady at home were brushed off. But I did not give up and asked if I might wax his car (or more likely, little scooter) after the meal. I did not know that the finger gesture was spoken in more than one language. I finally gave up when I gave the international gesture for “no food with tentacles, please” and he did not seem to understand. So after inviting him and his family to stay with us should they ever visit SB we left for our boat, with the prospect of ever returning to St. Tropez becoming increasing unlikely. Still, I will always have fond memories of this French gentlemen in the food delivery business, even though his scowls repeatedly indicated to me that his name was not “Garcon” or “Pierre”, although it should have been.

  2. Katherine says:

    So… let me get this straight… the not-good day in France you’ve been dangling in our faces to keep us from activating a jealousy-induced self-guillotine execution… was… a not-so great lunch on St. Tropez? Followed by a scenic road trip?

    Now I see why you threw in the ghastly post-operation-stitches-in-full-view photo to soften us up.

    • polloplayer says:

      Well, you do know that we don’t want the wrath of the French Tourism Board to fall upon us – if I described how truly terrible it had been, they might not let us come back for more abuse!

      • Katherine says:

        I suspect it’s a well-choreographed dance where they require 5% of the French to be so rude to Americans that the Americans actually seek it out to have stories to tell their friends at home.

  3. Ang says:

    Time to order some American Fries! Oui Oui!!!!!!! Next time, bring a goat on the boat and tie him up outside the restaurant. BLEHHHH BLEHHHH BLEHHHH.

  4. jess says:

    Well it’s about time. I was beginning to think you were making all this up. Being in France and having nothing but good restaurant experiences? Shyeah right. But, now I believe you again.

    I sent you an e-mail, hope you got it.

  5. polloamigo says:

    Touche, mon Imperiour de poullet. Or somesing like zat! Perhaps M. Garcon Pierre has not ingested enough American cinema to know how fearsome ze Americans can be if crossed.

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