Saturday, 4 June 2011

Bandol and Sanary-Sur-Mer

17 May 2011. The Thomson Destiny docks in the French naval port of Toulon and we have booked an excursion out to two different resorts, Bandol and Sanary-Sur-Mer.

It took us a while to get to Bandol. First there was the problem of the two passengers who were somewhat wider than the door of the coach. The driver had to get off and push the two ladies on from behind... I've never seen a man in such an intimate position with a woman look so aghast... Once back in the driver's seat, the courier had to prod him before he could move himself to set off...

Then we immediately joined a traffic queue. A cyclist had been involved in an accident. 15 minutes later we had crawled past the accident enough to join another queue. This time it was a bus with a very flat tyre!

Eventually we reached Bandol about halfway from Toulon to St Tropez. It was a nice looking place, but we didn't see too much of it as all the women on the bus made a beeline for the market along the marina.

It did have some nice stuff on some of the stalls. Mainly because it was French. I suppose the locals were mooching around saying "It's all the same as always isn't it?". Seeing the rolls of bin liners on Preston Market would have excited them no end. And their market did the same for us.

Miss Franny called upon my meagre knowledge of French to buy a shawl styled top for a wedding later in the year. We thought the crockery might have weighed a bit much, quite apart from the risk of opening cases in England to find it was now a 532 piece set...

The bus returned - he had had to drive somewhere else as the road didn't have the space for him to wait. Or perhaps he just needed to settle his nerves before helping the two women back on the bus again. Anyway, it was no easier a time for him. They were late. Not just late but quarter of an hour late. A gendarme had created a space the coach could wait in and the two ladies eventually returned after the courier had almost torn his hair out, making lots of frantic calls back to the ship and the bus company.

They had "had to go to the toilet"... So had most of the rest of us I presumed but we had got back on time. Anyway the driver went through the same palaver as before, which took another good quarter of an hour and sat muttering feverishly about taking up his cousin's offer of fishing for sharks from a rowing boat in the mid Atlantic... He was not a happy homme...

Sanary-Sur-Mer turned out to be one of the most delightful places I've ever had the luck to find myself. I could easily have spent the full day there rather than the mere 45 minutes that we had.

Even that was long enough to walk the length of the Promenade and back, drinking in the sheer delight of the scenery.

The buildings, the boats, moored against the sea wall and floating piers of the marina, the pavement cafes with the bright table umbrellas.

We bought an ice cream and sat on a bench, drinking it all in until the wind got up and one of the table umbrellas detached itself from its weighted foot and knocked over three tables, on a wild flight from its original spot towards us! Luckily it caught on another table and stuck, the pole bent and useless. The cafe owner rushed out in haste somewhere around ten minutes after...

We walked back to the coach the long way to stay near the seafront as long as possible. Our way took us through a small park with a formal garden with an oblong pond into which twenty fountains sprayed an arch of water.

Back at the coach the courier was consoling a weeping driver saying "It's the last time Jacques, the last time," in French over and over.

Large versions of the photos: available in this set at Flickr.

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