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November 2011
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January 2012

Christmas in Saint-Tropez

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Visitors to the French Riviera often ask: "How is St-Tropez in December?" The frequently heard answer is that Saint-Tropez in December is quiet, flat, boring. That's not the whole story. St-Tropez in December has nothing to do with the vibrant sizzling town of mid-summer. Not all restaurants are open. You can easily find a parking spot at the port or at Place des Lices. The famed Barbarac ice-cream shop is closed. Yet the little town has a lot going for it around Christmas time.

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This December 22nd 2011, St Tropez sports a cool light show projected on the facades of the peach and cream colored houses lining the port. Down rue Georges Clémenceau, shops like Marinette Decoration display a festive spirit with snow-capped trees and shining Santas. And at the Place des Lices, the ice ring fills with a happy bunch. Kids inch their way up the free rock climbing wall at the corner of the place.

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Only the pooch in front of the shoe store looked bored today!

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The Eery Stillness of Malpasset

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When we hiked along the cobbles and rocks of the Reyran river towards the ruins, no one spoke. It wasn't the first time we hiked to the ruins of the Malpasset dam. We walk there at least once a year, often taking a hiking group along.

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Yet when we walked past these giant cement blocks scattered by the river bed, something muted us. Something about the power exerted by nature (in this case, retained water behind a wall) and the way in can explode tons of concrete into smitherings.

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The story of the Malpasset dam bursting in December 1959 is well-known in Frejus, and in all of France. Take a look at our full description here: http://www.azuralive.com/2007/01/le_barrage_de_m.html

We continued our hike up from the river bed onto the main path and stopped at the upper viewpoint.

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The hike to the Malpasset Dam is hike #6 in the hiking guide to the French Riviera "26 Gorgeous Hikes on the Western Côte d'Azur". 

Note that as of December 2011, the cemenet ford on the D37 which leads the parking lot to the Malpasset Dam has collapsed. Work is under way to reinforce that section of the D37 road. We expect it to complete before the Spring 2012. In the meantime, you can park just ahead of the broken ford and continue afoot to the hike's start point.

The 26 Gorgeous Hikes hiking guide is available from Amazon France, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan and a few copies left on Amazon US too:


St Tropez: La Voile Rouge

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As of this Fall, the famous beach bar and restaurant on the St Tropez beach of Pampelonne is no more. Paul Tomaselli opened the Voile Rouge restaurant in the 60's right on the St Tropez beach. It quickly earned a reputation for fun-filled exuberance, but also for good food as Paul's mom was a mighty cook.

In the 21st century, La Voile Rouge wasn't nearly as excentric as its reputation would lead to believe. Folks would hang-out around its open-air tables or lounge on its rented beach mattresses.

Sure, champagne could start flowing, and when a celebrity like Paris Hilton or Bruce Willis dropped by, the place would go hay-wire. But that's St Tropez in the summertime.

La Voile Rouge shut down a couple of weeks ago. Long-lasting legal battles over permits for operating on public domain seaside grounds forced it to close. La Voile Rouge has unrigged, but the legend remains.