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Mountains, McDonalds, Saint-Tropez and Gassin, part 15

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 6/9/2015 - www.Littleviews.com ]

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June 9: Reaching Saint-Tropez and ignoring it for Gassin

>> Today we drove from Six-Fours-les-Plages (neither six or four mean a number in French, but "Plages" refers to a beach and this is a beach town) to Saint Tropez and back. The most memorable parts of this trip were found while driving on mountain roads that were just wide enough for two cars (with a perpendicular drop-off on either side), and at McDonalds and Ramatuelle.

Our hair-raising, but visually stunning, mountain ride really needs no more explanation, except to say that the views straight down, were very engaging!

When we arrived in the Saint-Tropez area, Phil wanted to have lunch at McDonalds, while I objected. Phil agreed, but with every attempt to pass it, he made a wrong turn which caused us to circle back. On the fourth attempt, I relented.

Getting away from McDonalds, however, continued to be a problem. We circled its large "shopping center" driveway several times without a clue as to how to escape. Should you ever drive in the area, be aware of the magnetic pull of what we have identified as the "Saint-Tropez Triangle." You must eat there, or you will never escape it. And if you do eat there, you will also never escape it.

Saint Tropez was not "all that," although Phil thought it was nice. I did not like it because most of the roads were sided by walls that hid private property and the "city center" was uncomfortably overcrowded, even on a June weekday. I couldn't wait to leave the area, which we did quicker than the time it took to escape McDonalds' pull.

Should you want to visit Saint-Tropez, but you don't plan on arriving via an ocean-going yacht or by private helicopter, do so on a tour bus and be prepared to walk many blocks under hot sun. That said, you will have no problem finding places to eat or drink, but if you think that this is a great city, you haven't seen much of Southern France.

The Village of Ramatuelle
What we did love is the village of Ramatuelle, which is nearby Saint-Tropez.

For ancient defensive reasons, this medieval village was built near the top of a mountain. Since angrier times, it has been beautified through the addition of multiple restaurants, enough flowers to fill an arboretum, and several shops. Of note is that this mountain village became the first place since we started our trip where I was able to walk around, albeit slowly.

The following photo by Pierre Maire demonstrates Ramatuelle's landscape. All its winding roads and alleys are available for strolling, with a narrow road in the middle of town for a hair-raising drive.

Think of this village as a non-stop garden that includes fabulous views, interesting medieval neighborhoods, and several shops (many of which are closed between noon and 2PM). The following pictures provide a glimpse of the area, but they do not convey how high above sea-level we were, or its very narrow roads:

We started our return late in the day, so missed the Domain du Rayol, which is a massive botanical garden that grows on the side of a mountain, and Hyeres, a town somewhat near where we are staying, that features views that were popular with popular 20th century artists.

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Karen Little - Karen@Littleviews.com

Article series by Karen Little for www.Littleviews.com. Photos by Karen and Phil Little. Series began on May 13, 2015. All rights reserved.

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