Lucky me that I have such a slim van! Driving through the narrow, very narrow streets of Bandol, I only touch a parking car once (in fact, a delivery van) and only with my left mirror. Which is flexible enough to fold in and thus generate enough space to continue the search for a parking slot. Once outside of the village again, this issue is solved easily and I set off for a walk on Bandol’s market: fresh fruits, cheese, fish, shoes, clothes, books, carpets and whatever else you have in mind is sold here. The numerous stands block the view to the yacht harbor and the small path among all offered temptations is crowded already in the morning.
After an easy lunch in one of the cafés nearby, I have one further topic on my list: Bandol is famous for it’s wine, especially the red one. Thus, I enter the best wine shop and receive recommendations for three bottles of finest products of Bandol’s vineyards.
Although the beach looks nice enough, I have some campsite in mind for settling down before relaxing in the sea of the Côte d’Azur. 90 minutes later, I arrive at Giens, the peninsula close to Hyères. Unfortunately, the holiday season is not as low as it has been during our first weeks, leading to available spaces only on the not-so-nice campsites around. No, this is not what I wanted, not what I had in mind… Five minutes of frustration goe by until I decide that the Provence will be a better place to go. With a bit of a pitty, I leave the coastline and enter St. Rémy de Provence into my navigation system.
When reaching my destination with 37°C, I am only interested in the local swimming pool of Camping Pegomas: 18m, yes, that will do! Although I struggle a bit with my own impatience (why did I decide to leave Argelès sur Mer where I could have stayed easily for 1 or 2 days longer??), I find a new solution: I will spend two nights here, get to a rest and take care of some camping issues, and then I will go for a new idea that is charming enough to free my mind of any doubts. I need a new attractive destination and here we go: It only takes a phone call sorting out the details and three minutes later is is agreed that I will go seeing some family members living close to Basel by the end of the week.
The next day is a relaxed one: After some swimming exercise at 9.00 a.m. sharp, before other so-called-swimmers of 75+ arrive, I spend hours and hours at the pool and wait for the air to move (which does not) and for the heat to decrease (which does a bit close to sunset). In the late afternoon, I take the bicycle for the short distance to St. Rémy downtown and enjoy the relaxed shopping atmosphere.
The village is not beautiful in the sense of picture postcards, but in the historic center you find all kinds of neat little shops and boutiques and some dozens of art galleries. With some luck, you may even meet the artist himself, busy on the next of his wonderful paintings (with visible influence from Miró, Kandinsky and Dalí) and have a nice chat about art in general and his œuvre in specific. In one of the other galleries, with more talent then money, I immediately spot the most interesting piece of art: a sculpture of a damaged violin, fixed for eternity in transparent acrylic like being frozen in a huge ice cube. I learn that my longing for the sculpture is in good company with other customers such as Nicolas Sarkozy or Madonna.
The evening continues with early dinner in a small restaurant in one of the tiny streets, followed by endless minutes of fractious WiFi on the campsite. Today’s lession is obviously that the Provence is a beautiful place to be – even offline.