Given the international interest over the banning of burkinis at Cannes you might be expecting us to either comment on this matter or simply consider it too trivial for discussion. Well we aren’t going to discuss it, not because it’s too trivial but because it raises some very fundamental issues about Islam and France that are too deep to be discussed in a blog. Instead we’re going to be unutterably trivial but keep with the letter B theme.
In the last two years we have visited a number of beaches here (probably not as many as you suspect) but our current favourite is that of the Plage du Debarquement au Dramont east of Frèjus and St Raphael. Let’s give you some reasons why.
- There’s good free car parking as long as you get there early enough.
- It’s got space. It’s not just long but it’s also deep which means that it doesn’t feel cramped.
It’s got facilities. There are loos, a coffee shop, a restaurant, and the possibility of hiring canoes and rather bizarre floating things with bicycles on top of them.
- It’s got shade. If the sun gets too much you can retreat under the trees.
- It’s got fantastic views. You can see as far as the St Tropez peninsula.
- The water is clear and clean.
- It’s a great place for snorkelling, as you get to see lots of fish.
- It’s interesting. The beach takes its name, Plage du Debarquement, because it was one of the main beaches for the Allied landings (Operation Dragoon) on the coast in August 1944 that ended the Nazi occupation of southern France. To commemorate the fact there is an imposing and solemn parade ground, various inscriptions and a well preserved landing craft. It’s an interesting reminder that even a secular state has to have sacred locations.
- If that isn’t enough, when you look offshore you see the extraordinary tower of the Ile d’Or. It’s widely believed that Hergé was inspired by a photograph of it for the Tintin book The Black Island (yes we know he transposed it to Scotland). It’s actually a 19th-century folly but it certainly gives a certain character to the beach.
- There’s a good walk nearby. Cap Dramont to the east is a dramatic headland of volcanic rock which gives rise to some challenging and fascinating scrambles around its edge. It’s also a nature reserve which means it has more than the usual amount of birdlife. We have even seen a Blue Rock Thrush there, which is well, a blue Thrush that hangs around rocks.
- Finally there’s a more than passable restaurant which has good food at modest prices and has a view that most restaurants would trade a Michelin star for.
There was a great deal of excitement last weekend outside the Carlton hotel which is as we have previously commented is around 50 yards away from our church. Everybody was ignoring all the usual Ferraris and Lamborghinis and staring at an exotic blue Bugatti with Saudi plates guarded by two bodyguards who had that don’t-mess-with-me attitude. It turns out that this is the first Bugatti Chiron to be seen publicly. Having a little bit of research on the matter we can tell you that the Chiron is billed not simply as a supercar but as a hypercar and is a replacement for the famed Bugatti Veyron. It’s claimed to have a 1500 horsepower engine, a top speed limited to 261 mph, goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds and apparently at top speed can drain its hundred litre fuel tank in nine seconds. It has an alleged cost of over two and half million pounds (which explains the bodyguards). The word ridiculous comes to mind.
We wouldn’t ever have called them our neighbours – they were at least twenty minutes drive away – but David and Victoria Beckham are selling their six-bedroom house in France. If you’re interested in some details try this link. It’s a snip at £2.4 million.
Compared to the Bugatti Chiron it looks an absolute bargain.