Archives for posts with tag: Saint-Tropez

 

Understandably I totally erased from my memory the briefest of moments we spent in St Tropez.

There is something you should definitely know about St Tropez:  St Tropez is shit.

Two miserable hours in what could only he described as a hot Margate – the tackiest of British seaside towns.

Like Margate there were miserable old ladies with dyed, fluffy blond hair cut short over ruddy complexions eating styrene trays of limp French fries.

Crowds of hopeful ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ types sit silently looking over at the multimillion dollar yachts hoping, one assumes, that they will glimpse the filthy rich (with whom we were meant to stay) eating their three-leaf salads served by lithe flunkies.

In between the vulgar, plastic looking yachts and their brasserie bound spectators a torrent of fetid, badly dressed tourists divide the audience from their theatre.  Like an open sewer running through what once was paradise.

We drank coffee behind a defunct HSBC.  It was interesting that none of the ATM’s worked in a place that relies so profoundly on the buck, the yen, the mark and the pound.

Our original plan had included an extended stay in St Tropez but thankfully we did not.

Our final days on the Cote d’Azure were, at times, a little sad. Not only was our nearly month away together drawing to a close but after spending every single waking hour with one other person one becomes slightly worn by that other person..even if one really loves them.

In nearly three weeks we had traversed major cities in three countries and two continents with a little dog, far too much luggage (my fault) and my BIG BIRTHDAY.

Before we left Europe we had one final excursion to Cap d’Antibes.

As St Tropez is shit, Antibes is gorgeous.   We spent hours exploring this authentic little port.  This is what, I assume, St Tropez used to be like before Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot made it famous.  I wonder if this travesty will blight my darling Whitstable, made vile by it’s own success?  For that I feel partly responsible.

We happily wandered the tiny, cobbled streets until dusk then found a divine little restaurant called La Taverne du Safranier and ate St Pierre and Frito Musto.  The crowd: reassuringly posh.

On our drive back to Cannes we saw the tail end of the international firework festival exploding over the sea.  The beaches were crammed with half-naked young people grilling on makeshift bbq and playing unnamed ball games.

The train to the airport the following morning he fell asleep on my shoulder and when he woke up we chatted to a handsome, 18-year-old musician called Clovis.

The flight home was a little uncomfortable but once we landed we were swiftly processed through customs and immigration.

I watched four films on the plane:

Tom Ford’s A Single Man is without doubt one of the most indulgent movies ever made.  Tom should be an art director rather than a film director?   An exercise in style over substance.  The attention to detail (art direction and costume) was painful– though not quite as painful as the total lack of any human emotion throughout the entire movie.

Brokeback Mountain was also about gay men experiencing loss and stifled emotions.  The differance?  Brokeback is a wonderfully human film told with charm and compassion and a Single Man is not.  It’s odd isn’t it that two inarticulate cowboys made me cry buckets whilst an uptight English Professor with excellent taste could not.

Stephen Jones, the milliner, mentioned in an article for Vogue that Ford had lent heavily on Madonna during the making of the film and that is why it is perhaps so profoundly flawed.   There was some nice editing and camera work but it was like a huge fragrance commercial rather than a film about loss and love and yearning.

Irritatingly there is an unreasonable death..the protagonist: this SINGLE MAN could not grieve and make his partner’s death a part of his life…oh no..he had to die.

The boys he encountered remained unkissed and unfucked but in Ford’s world as long as your shirts are well pressed and you are drinking from a Lucy Rie mug…don’t get me started.  Even watching him take a shit..you just KNEW his shit didn’t smell of anything other than vetiver.

There was something chaste, restrained and totally chic about it all..and I use the word chic pejoratively, although I never, ever thought I would.

There were rather weak attempts at some polemic as Firth spars with Julianne Moore about the sanctity of gay love and his students about Aldous Huxley.

Firth’s performance is worth noting.  Unlike many others (I am not being deliberately contrary) who thought his performance ‘amazing’ it was Firth’s disregard, disconnect with/for the character he was playing that amazed me.  What a straight person thinks a gay person is.  The oft applauded and often awarded performance (as well-intentioned as it might have been) of a reserved gay English gentleman is in fact, like the rest of the film, totally heartless.

My guess is he actually had very little respect for Ford as a director who most certainly had no idea how to communicate with a classically trained genius like Firth.

After A Single Man I saw An Education again which is well worth seeing a second time and as it is so damned good.  Funny, well put together, brilliantly acted.

An Education followed by I love You Phillip Morris, which is definitely my kind of movie.  If you can…SEE IT!!!

He reminded me when I finished writing this that we also saw Polanski’s Ghost. What a load of old bollocks.

Disgorged at JFK.

10th street was lovely to come home to and Dan and I sat together as I debriefed him on the preceding three weeks.

Here I am back in New York.  The streets are hot and humid; the parks are jammed with sturdy men in silky shorts with huge smiles.   I am drawn to want to befriend all of them.

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The final day of my holiday with the mysterious travelling companion.  We are staying in Cannes then will make our way home tomorrow.   Will update you all on the tone of the past few days when I get some space between the adventure and me.

We arrived in Cannes yesterday afternoon.  Last night I ate salad Nicoise in a small brasserie behind the Majestic that I enjoy whenever I have been here for the film festival.

The last time I was here was when Suzanna and I rented that house in Seillans.  I had driven to Cannes to take Dicky to the station curtailing his time with us.  After a walk around the harbor he decided to stay.  Now, THAT vacation was hard.  Surly children, love affairs and God knows what.  From what I can remember, I seem to have paid for the lions share of that holiday…for eight people!

Cannes, here we are again.  We chanced upon Suites Hotel on the Blvd Camot.   It’s like a hotel from the future!  The bed linen is really crisp and expensive feeling, the room is huge and well laid out and the bathroom and toilet have a pod like quality.  It might be described as flexible accommodation.  There are Japanese type raffia screens that divide the room if so required and even though the colors and fixtures are not to my taste it is incredibly comfortable and ergonomic.  The television moves around on wheels, there are a desk and a daybed.

 

Our room in Canadel at the Hotel de la Plage looked much nicer than it turned out to be.  The bed was uncomfortable, the room was noisy and the breakfast unbelievably expensive and not, as we first thought, included in the price.  Consequently, we paid eighteen Euros for a basket of bread.  The day before I had spent only twenty Euros in the market feeding us both for the entire day.

I have really enjoyed the last week here in France more than our time in London, mostly because everything, apart from Cannes and St Tropez, was new and unusual.   Showing someone around your life can have its drawbacks.

Yesterday, on our way to Cannes from Canadel-sur-mer we spontaneously stopped off at a cliff overlooking a small bay.  We scrambled through the brush over hot red stone to a rocky outcrop and swam in crystal clear waters.  The little dog watched from a shady ledge.  The sea was teaming with tiny, silver fish skimming the surface looking for food.

You know, there were times when I was with JBC, toward the end of our 7 years together, when we would find ourselves in some remote, beautiful place and I would hanker to be with someone I truly loved.  That this maybe beautiful but to make it perfect one must share the moment with a man that I loved.

Dicky

There is something dismal about looking at a wonderful view and not have a lover by your side.  I think, during this past week, we may both have felt that.  To be with someone familiar, hopeful and in love.

We did not stop for lunch after the swim so by 5ish I was exhausted and desperate for water.  At moments like these I feel like I may have become Uncle Monty from Withnail and I.   Monty, the tenacious old queen who pursues Withnail with gay gusto.  Example: the day before yesterday the car had been laden with food to eat and water to drink.  Yesterday, with the companion in charge, the cupboard was bare.  Instead of just buying more food I sort of expected my companion to think ahead and do as I do.  To no avail.   A sticky wicket that one..expecting.

Like leaving your fingers in the car door to prove how selfish someone is when they squish them.

Do you know the film Withnail and I?  It used to be a cult film.  Uncle Monty arrives in the freezing country cottage where Withnail and his friend have escaped from London.   They have no money; unable to light a fire, nothing to eat and both look utterly miserable.  Within seconds of Monty’s arrival the table is groaning with food, the fires are roaring in the hearth and the lighting is perfect.

Unlike Monty, and men like him, I have a limited desire to provide and make perfect day after day.   I foolishly expect him to think ahead when he just can’t.   It is not in his nature.  It’s not his fault.  You see, I have a fantasy that includes being looked after as well as I look after him or others.   It is a fantasy, it is unachievable, and it is my role and my role alone.  I have only myself to blame when even the most simple of expectations remain unfulfilled.   If I want water in the car then I must buy it, if I want delicious food then I must go to the market.

As vacations draw to a close there is the inescapable dread of going home.  We return to very different scenarios.  He climbs back into the bosom of his family with yet another vacation and I will peel off elsewhere to make something happen with that extended family of AA men and women who have become my solace.

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Sanary, La Hotel de la Tour.

The South of France is my kind of South and my kind of France.

After a delayed, bumpy, listless, sanguine (huh), laconic train-ride to Marseille with little to eat other than the ham and cheese I bought at Monoprix we finally arrived on the Riviera at 2 in the morning.

Of course the taxi driver tried to charge us 20 Euros for a 6-euro trip but I refused point-blank to give in to his extortion.

Marseille is the oldest city in France.

The Hotel Tonic, accommodation that Eric very kindly found for us, was directly on the Vieux Port, which, unsurprisingly, was less romantic than I remembered it when we – Richard Green and I – visited here 20 years ago.

At 3am bawdy groups of handsome Arabs sit around the harbor, some wearing dejellaba, gesticulating and smoking.

We walked the dog then fell into two tiny beds and fell fast asleep.

The first part of the first day was incredibly frustrating.

Our plan to rent a car and drive to Nice was scuppered by Hertz et al who said they had no cars.  They told us gravely that there were in fact no cars to hire in the entire region!

After the preceding days of London drama we fell into an immediate funk.  Being forced to stay an extra night in Marseille, getting on each other’s nerves.  When we finally returned to the Hotel Tonic I slumped into the elevator and told him that I wanted to go home.

Tired and demoralized after all that had happened in London, unable to rent a car, sleeping in a miserable room, not hearing from the people we were meant to be staying with in St Tropez..

As it turned out it was really the best thing that could have happened.

Circumstance has a rather wonderful way of shape shifting.

Firstly, the good people of the Hotel Tonic upgraded us from our tiny room to a huge room in the attic with a majestic bathroom.

Once there we set about trying to rent a car on-line and immediately did so.  The car paid for, as was a train from Nice to Paris on Thursday, we could relax for the first time in 48 hours.    I unpacked my suitcase, had a long shower and washed the little dog.

Once settled, we decided to walk up the steep hill to the Notre-Dame de la Garde, the church with the huge golden angel on it overlooking all Marseille.

On our way there we explored the tiny, cobbled streets, leaving the tourists at the port, having my hat blow off my head many times in the refreshing gusts of wind that grew stronger as we climbed the hill.

It occurred to me, once we got there, that my climbing Runyon and praying was obviously a very human spiritual solution.  Climbing clears the mind, exhausts the body and once at the top one is somehow prepared to pray.

There was a beautiful boy leaving the church when we arrived, pulling his shirt off for the decent.   He had fluffy black hair and perfect disk like nipples.   We were both entranced.   Walking on either side of him two older men complimenting his perfect body.  There was something utterly erotic yet innocent about all three of them.

Dogs not allowed in the church I briefly sat on my own and prayed for serenity.

On the way down the hill we chanced upon and made a reservation at the Passarelle on the rue du Plan Fourmiguier, a small yet intriguing looking restaurant tucked behind the Radisson Hotel on the Vieux Port.

I knew immediately that the Passerelle would make us both very happy.  With blue and white awnings over the decked al fresco tables and chairs it all looked reassuringly authentic.  As if to prove my point a very chic woman was cooking in the kitchen and took our reservation.

We discovered, quite by chance, a famous bakery called Four des Navettes on the rue Sainte that has sold scented loaves and hard, rose smelling/tasting bread sticks since 1781.  I bought the hard sticks of byzantine ecclesiastical ‘bread’ and a sugary ‘brioche’ that was, in fact, a huge doughnut.  The bread sticks were disappointing…like eating deodorant.

After a well-deserved nap we dressed for dinner and walked the half-mile back to the Passerelle and ate the most delicious food in the most perfect circumstance.  I started with the salad of jambon Palme, melon, mozzarella, rocket and basil sprinkled with toasted seeds.   After my salad, a tagine of lamb and couscous (I hate the word garnished) but it was indeed garnished with a delicious stewed pear.  He ate grilled Loupe and ratatouille.

Unable to choose between the four deserts we ordered three of them.  Yogurt with honey, chocolate tart and fruit salad.

During the dinner there was a children’s fashion show, ten very sweet infants paraded, hand in hand in the most charming crocodile showing off very pretty, beautifully made dresses.

After eating every last mouthful we sat under the awning chatting for a very long time.  Drinking coffee and smoking aromatic French cigarettes.   The walk back to the hotel, past throngs of happy, drunk holidaymakers was a rather wonderful way to end what promised to be a rather miserable day.

We spent a very long time making love that night.  It was perfect. 

The following morning we woke late, fled to the station collected our car; kangaroo hopped (stick shift) back to the Hotel Tonic where he manhandled the luggage into the tiny Ka and off we went.

Weaving our way East along the coast we discovered La Ciotat a small tourist town where we saw yet another beautiful man with a perfect smile and even more perfect body/nipples than the man on the steps leading from the church.

There were beaches and beaches covered with equally beautiful, tanned men…we gazed out of the car longingly.  Gay men on vacation in the South of France looking at beautiful men.  What could be more normal than that?

Interestingly and appropriately for us La Ciotat was the home to the first publicly projected movie by the Lumiere Brothers.

After a few hours of driving we settled into Sanary Sur Mer, a simple town that transformed at 7pm into a huge craft market and fete.  In the Victorian bandstand a French rock band sang very spirited covers of amongst many, many others Maroon 5, The Band and Santana.

I upset the kebab shop man by buying kebab meat for the dog.  The kebab man was a rude, nasty piece of work and I delighted in feeding the little dog his dinner even though the traveling companion ate half of it before the little thing had a chance.

We ate dinner in a small restaurant near the town center called (I can’t remember sorry).  We started with the Moule Marinere then had the freshly caught grilled Tuna.  He had the Paella, which had rabbit and chicken and huge prawns in it.

Two glasses of Rose for him only cost three euros.  This made him very happy as he is incredibly careful about money.

Walked around the port back to our hotel and fell into a deep and immediate sleep.

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