Welcome to my second home!
The new year is here - a time where one begins to look back on the past year. I am so happy that the winter is over and I can now start slowly counting down to spring.
December and January in Sweden usually means more rain than snow, and at the same time cold AF. As always we got to do our Christmas shopping in freezing temperatures, fortunately though we had only a couple of days of proper winter.
Today, however, I do not suffer much from the cold. Right now I’m sitting in front of the fireplace, in a warm robe and dreaming about the trips I took in 2018. Still very happy that I decided to take a trip in October to the French Riviera – I needed that sun and the memories from it still warm me up during the cold days.
It is cold outside, but warm inside. The fire does its part for the body, and the journeys do their part for the head. But what is it that makes me want to revisit the southern parts of France? What is it that attracts?
Saint-Tropez - the jet-setters’ paradise, a holiday resort for movie stars and billionaires where the superyachts are ferry-size and helicopters are as common as the car. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but you understand what I mean. Behind the city's luxurious facade hides a beautiful small fishing village that houses less than 5000 inhabitants in the winter. A town that in winter is like any other village in France.
My parents had vacationed here long before I was ever thought of and their parents before them too. The existence of sunbathing during the days, drinking rosé in the afternoons and, at around 9 o'clock in the evening, heading down to the harbour for dinner. The vibe is everything, and this has made us return again and again.
Big boats have been there for as long as I can remember, but when I was young, we did not see it as a jet-set destination. More like a place where you could go on a party trip if you wished, or with the family if that is more your thing. At that time (before the internet!) one had to rely on what Swedish travel agents had to offer when it was time for a holiday, and the travel catalogues not extending beyond Greece and Spain. This meant that there was only a handful of Swedes vacationing in Saint-Tropez in those days. First, when the high society of Stockholm approved the village as a "worthy" resort sometime in the 90s, wealthy Swedes began to go there.
What makes me go back to the city time after time is the things I always loved. That special ham on the breakfast baguette; to hang in the beach club that mum and dad used to spend time in during the 70s; the day market which is opened twice weekly all year round; eating a tart tropezienne after lunch or just strolling around in the small boutiques in the alleys next to the harbour.
So many memories, so many laughs, and so much love make St-Tropez an exceptional place for me and unlike many other places in the world. A place where I really feel at home.
Our October trip started as it usually does for us when we travel to France: an early wake up followed by a frantic rush to the airport. Check-in, a quick duty-free visit and then finish with relaxing for an hour in the American Express lounge. Three hours later we find ourselves in Nice, a direct flight from Stockholm. We collect the rental car and head for Saint-Tropez.
Normally, we head to Le Muy and then turn towards Saint-Maxime (blue line) with the journey taking about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Nice airport. What distinguishes this trip from previous trips was the fun conversation and an in-car DJ session with French hip-hop like nothing I’d ever heard. This lead us to miss our exit, and we had to go all the way to Le Luc (red line) before being able to turn off. If you look at the map it doesn’t seem so bad. According to Google Maps only 15 minutes is added – I can assure you this is not the case though! Instead of a highway, you get narrow mountain roads where encounters with vehicles any bigger than bicycles becomes quite intense. The extra hour felt well spent though, and the surroundings were so much more beautiful than the main road, and of course, I made sure to perpetuate the journey with the GoPro camera.
Everything can happen
Every time I pass the Saint-Tropez sign and enter the township my brain starts to work overtime, with every building and impression processed, while searching the memory bank for recollections of previous visits.
That "home again" feeling spreads in my mind and knowing that anything can happen in this town makes me feel an excitement that I don’t get anywhere else.
For example, I remember a night a few years ago when a nightclub visit was on the menu.
The evening started with dinner at Canastel, one of our favourite spots, followed by a visit to the city's best place for a pre-party, La Quai.
La Quai is perfect for a party dinner or as the first cocktail stop of the night. This time we sipped on cocktails, champagne and danced. The entertainment for the evening consisted of a world-class saxophonist whose remix of the Lion King's "Circle of life" and Rihanna's "We found love" became the first highlight of the night.
The nightclub/restaurant delivered great music and good vibes as never before and the decision to move on a few hours later felt stupid at the time, but leaving when you have the most fun is like a tradition for us Swedes.
We walked along the harbour and decided to go to VIP Room. The place is the most popular nightclub in Saint-Tropez and makes the queues in Stockholm seem almost attractive. I instantly felt that we should return to La Quai - I had no intentions to stand in the line for hours. I was in a party mode and would instead go to a bar.
Luckily, I have a gorgeous sister, a sister who drew the attention of the doormen's laser pointers as soon as we rounded the corner. It felt like Moses and the sea, when two gigantic guards led us through the sea of people, and into the nightclub.
VIP Room still has “Studio 54 rules”, which means that if you’re not a celebrity or wealthy enough you must be good-looking or stand out in the crowd to enter the famous nightclub. Something tells me that the laser pointers would have missed me if it hadn’t been for the company.
The evening continued with excellent cocktails, lots of champagne, laser shows and house music. 15-liter Dom Perignon bottles, called "Nebuchadnezzar" came down from the ceiling, and 100's of ice flares lit up the nightclub sky while owner Jean Roch made the presentation to the person ordering the $100K bottles. This behaviour may sound strange to some, but this occurs the world over, and if you order bottles whether you are in Gdansk or St-Tropez, the common denominator is the attention this brings.
In the middle of it all, Jean Roch returns to the stage and announces that hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa is partying in the club. After some persuasion with clapping and screaming from the excitable crowd, Wiz rises from his table and takes the stage together with his entourage.
It was the year when the song "Black and Yellow" topped the lists, and several of his songs were amongst my favourites. Wiz performed "Work hard, Play hard", "Roll up", "Young, Wild & free" and "5 O'Clock" while his crew danced on the stage and drank champagne. The vibe was indescribable, the party was crazy and that night was euphoria. This only happens in Saint-Tropez!
Look at the video form the evening below!