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st. tropez and back in a day

Monday I woke up after eight with the bright idea to venture to St Tropez. I figured even if it was after ten in the morning by the time we were ready we could catch the next train to St Raphael to connect to the bus-cheapest way to St Tropez.

We queued up in line at Cannes train station to buy our tickets. The sales clerk offered us seats on the sncf with reserved seats on the way to St Raphael and open ticket to get on any train for the return 19euros per person, since I explained I had no idea what time I wanted to come back.

We boarded the 1130am train since it was the next available and within twenty minutes arrived in St Raphael. Having done this before I knew that directly to the right of the train tracks there is the bus depot connecting to St Tropez. What I forgot about was the fact it was still off season and buses were scares. Which meant the next bus was at 1pm and with traffic which was a normal thing on the one lane road to the beach town, it would be 3 to 330 by the time we arrived. Naturally not giving us much time to see anything or to shop. Eye roll.

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the back of St. Tropez

 

My travel partner suggested the ferry but I brushed it off since I do get sea sick. But I also knew it may get us there much faster. Just before we aimed to walk down to the waterfront to see about a ferry, four tourist from South Africa experiencing the same issues asked to tag along. This was their first time in the area, and we were suddenly the experts. We discovered at the ferry terminal the next ferry was scheduled to leave at 1p and it would get us there in 50 minutes. An hour sooner than the bus. But still not good enough for any of us. One of the men in the group suggested renting a taxi/van and divide the rate into six since we also learned taxis were about 120euros for the ride to St Tropez on a good day. We agreed unanimously and walked into the Tourist office to ask the agent to organize the taxi/van. She obliged, reminding us that she wouldn’t have done so if they were super busy. We nodded.

By 1230 we left Saint Raphael and arrived in St. Tropez at 2 parting ways at the taxi stop to explore the town.

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shops and boutiques along the back roads

 

St. Tropez is well worth a trip if you have the time while in the French Riviera. It is a difficult destination to get to, even though there are multiple options (bus, ferry, driving, taxi and last a tour), but if you plan your day right, you can actually beat the horrendous traffic getting there, and for the return the same thing. The town is mostly for shoppers, with boutique stores lining both sides of the streets, all through the town. The first time I went there I felt a little intimated since I arrived in jean shorts and tank top finding most people completely dressed up, perfect tans, hair and makeup. That was over ten years ago. This visit I realized you can pretty much be dressed as you wish, even among those dressed head to toe in designer wear. We window shopped, as you can imagine, not really willing to walk into designer boutiques with the price tag ranging from upwards of 300euros for most anything. We had lunch, explored the small beach areas in the back of the main strip, discovering they have paved a path from the beach to the backroads, enticing the visitor to explore the small eateries and shops along that part of town.  It was well worth it.

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St Tropez the main strip

 

A little before seven we queued up for the 7p bus to take us back to Saint Raphael, with enough connect time to the train to get us back to Cannes. Where we walked along the promenade, and had dinner past ten, then went back to our hotel.

{What I learned on this day: If a ticket agent at the train station sells you an open return ticket, and hands you a TGV train schedule to follow, you must exchange the open tickets for ones with reservation, otherwise you pay a penalty, which we did on the train. No matter how hard we explained to the conductor we were misinformed. A group taxi is an awesome way to head to St. Tropez. Here’s the catch, it’s only okay to do off-season.  Most of the time the taxi drivers don’t go all the way. They use a freeway, which I had no idea there one tucked away in between the hills, and get you half way there to Saint Maxime  for about 80euros and then ask you to take a ferry from there, even after agreeing to drive you to St. Tropez, so be careful. Negotiate before agreeing to the taxi ride. Plan to catch a very early train to Saint Raphael, if you have a railpass you can save paying extra fairs here and there and even get discounts on the ferry. The bus is only 3euro each way to St. Tropez, but takes the longest. Ferry about 23euros each way and is the fastest 50 minutes.}

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