Monday, 27 June 2011

French Riviera

Hi from Clare,                                                     Friday 24th June 2011

We arrived at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat in France on Friday afternoon 17th June. We had a good 27 mile sail from San Remo and with Heather at the helm, we tacked along the coast close to shore giving us a good view of Monaco as we passed.

                 Saint Jean - Cap Ferrat                                        Niven and Rothchild mansions

Andrew and Chris have a distant cousin (Andrea and her husband Graham) who live in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.  What a spectacular part of the world. Lovely homes (many of them very large and expensive) with beautiful gardens and fabulous views of the bays dotted with sparkling power boats. The picturesque village of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is like a well kept secret. It is so quiet and peaceful; it is hard to imagine that a throbbing Monaco is only five miles away.

       Villefranche Harbourfront                                      Graham & Andrea Facey with the Paynes

From where we anchored in the bay at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat we could see the house that Charlie Chaplin and later David Niven owned. It is one of the oldest mansions in the area; in the attached photo it is the pink place on the water's edge. Above it, you can also see the large Rothchild mansion on top of the hill. This is now public estate and open to visitors and has magnificent gardens and spectacular views on both sides of the headland of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and Villefranche.

SECOND TIME AROUND   Andrew and I visited Andrea and Graham in 2005 when we came this way during our first year of in the Med. It was only fitting that we should meet up again on this our last year in the Med. They invited us for Saturday morning coffee, cake and a good long chat. In the evening Graham ferried us by car to the hilltop overlooking Villefranche. We then strolled down to the town where we had dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants.  Sunday was Graham's 60th Birthday and we celebrated with champagne and nibbles on Eye Candy in the evening.

Unfortunately Chris and Heather had to leave us on Monday morning to begin their trek back to Melbourne. By this time I think they had had enough of the movement on the water and decided to have two nights on Terra Firma in Rome before jetting off home. We enjoyed having them stay with us. In the past three weeks we explored together Le Grazie, La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Santa Margherita, Portofino, San Remo and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. We had drinks with and met many other new and interesting people. However, what I will remember the most about the holiday will be our "fight to the death" games of Gin Rummy in the evenings – it was good fun!

                      Monte Carlo Casino                                               Grimaldi Palace

Andrew and I caught the train to Monaco.  We visited here in 2005 and I was totally agog. The obvious wealth is probably the thing that hits you first. We saw beautiful buildings, gorgeous gardens, miles of paving, posh hotels, the Grand Prix route, Grimaldi Palace and Monte Carlo casino. In the attached photo check out the super yachts in the marinas, I think I will have the one with the swimming pool on the top deck!


                       Marina at Monaco                                                  Monaco Harbour

I wanted to tour Grimaldi Palace but it was closed to the public in preparation for Prince's Albert's wedding in July.  I then understood why there were so many South African flags in the area. I also would have enjoyed a look in the Casino but that is closed to the public in the day. Andrea said that at night you can enter the front door for ten euros, but men have to wear a tie and woman must be suitably dresses – so that ruled us out - what's a tie?  

On Tuesday night with Andrea's help we planned where to stop along the French Riviera. She and Graham have cruised the area in their yacht and so knew all the good spots.


             Antibes, old town                                                    They don't come much bigger

So Wednesday morning we headed to Antibes, which we believe is the centre of boating here. It probably is – the local ship chandler wanted twenty six euro fifty ($36.80) for 3 kilograms of camping gas (that is about seven times the price in Australia).  Fortunately we have three bottles, so we will hold on until we get to Spain where hopefully sanity will prevail.  We went to the port and saw many expensive power boats being polished and fussed over by numerous young people with their squeegee and chamois in hand. They were detailing every area and I couldn't help but wonder if they expected this when signing up.

We also watched a huge, and I mean "huge" power boat leaving the dock. It had three bow thrusters which churned mud up from the seabed.  It took about fifteen minutes to slowly maneuver its way out. I could only imagine it would be worth hundreds of millions – but it's OK I'm happy with Eye Candy.

We are now a few miles off Cannes. The coastline from Antibes to Cannes is packed with high rise accommodation and as we came along the coast passenger jets were flying out off Nice airport and roaring over the top of the boat. There are noticeably more boats on the water and the area is quite busy.


              Saint Honorat Monastry                                          Anchorage in the passage

A few miles off the coast are the two small islands of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat. We
are anchored between the two islands in aqua clear water of 24 degrees.  Yesterday we went to the smaller island of Saint-Honorat which has a lovely walking track circumnavigating the island. The track takes about an hour to walk and there are many picnic areas set up under shady trees. The island is open to the public but it is also home to a Monastery. The monks pray and work the land making wine and honey for sale. Mass is celebrated three times a day and the monks, in long cream robes, come down the aisle welcoming the public by clasping both your hands.  There are many sign boards around the island asking that you respect the silence and it is wonderful to hear birds, cicadas, church bells and the sound of wind in the trees.  It is almost unbelievable to find such peace only a few miles off the busy coast.

We will probably move on tomorrow to Saint Tropez. This will give me a chance to find a Wifi café to send photos so you can enjoy some of the sights on our adventure.

Love CANDY xx