Our 24 hour crossing to Saint Tropez Started out very uncomfortable with swell coming from multiple directions. We didn't get the sails up until we were almost there as the wind was either on the nose or non existent. We did however pass a small family of whales which was a very memorable experience. Our anchorage in Saint Tropez was for the most part forgettable and we were stuck there for a couple of days waiting for weather to pass. We probably left a day too early as we had a marina booked in Villafranche-sur-Mer and we were keen to get there. The relatively short passage was by far the worse we have ever done. Mid way there we had 20+ knot winds on our forward quarter, which became 30 knots and 2-3 meter wind blown swell towards the end. We made it into our marina birth with only a couple of minutes spare before a huge storm hit. What a relief.
The next day we caught the ever present Hop-on-hop-off bus into the bustling (but beautiful) city of Nice. Miles of turquoise water and pebble beach (still showing the signs of the previous days storms) stretch along the cities foreshore. There is a marina jammed with super-yachts and a central hill that overlooks the entire city. It's easy to see why Nice is a favorite holiday destination for many.
We also took a short train ride into Monaco. With skid marks still on the road from the recent Grand Prix, the marina/swimming pool area had been taken over by the European Horse jumping championships.
Villafranch was a bucket list item for us as it was where this whole sailing the Mediterranean idea was born. We came here on a cruise ship almost 18 years ago and fell in love with the place. Its a small harbour town nestled in between Nice and Monaco. It is the quintessential French riviera town, but only with a small population and smattering of restaurants and shops. The streets are lined with vibrant Purple Bougainvillea's and the harbour is full of small craft. It's often said about sail cruising that you have to endure many challenging, uncomfortable and even scary times, but now and then the good moments are so good that they out weigh all of the negatives. This was one of them.