With the weather heading into summery temperatures and unclouded skies, there was a fairly obvious choice for where to go on a Saturday of limited ‘déconfinement’ . This was the famous beach of Pampelonne on the St Tropez peninsula. We’ve only been here one or two times. The main reasons for neglecting it have been that it’s generally very crowded with difficult car parking, and you have to negotiate the normally appalling (but very classy) traffic around St Tropez. This stage of the déconfinement still has a 100km limit on travel, and the fact that everyone’s car number plate reveals their department number, discourages any visitors other than relatively local.
So on a sunny May holiday weekend, it was a strange feeling to drive along the coast road close to the speed limit rather than crawling along at 15 km per hour. The car park was unnaturally empty with the new regulations for the beach clearly displayed.
The beach restaurants which, would normally be open and crowded, were deserted although a few of owners were obviously taking the opportunity to do some maintenance. We set off walking towards the headland of Cap Camarat.
Eventually we left the beach and set off along the meandering and rocky coastal path. And as we have often remarked, even authorised French footpaths can be challenging. This is no exception. It’s difficult to image any British local authority allowing it to exist without handrails, concrete steps and a plethora of warning signs. At one point a section that had slipped away had been crudely repaired. One COVID curiosity was how you maintain social distancing on a path that is barely wide enough for one person.
In the end we decided not to do the long climb up to the lighthouse. We’ve done it before and the day was already getting almost uncomfortably warm. And, after eight weeks of life inside, we didn’t feel we’d built up the tan necessary to resist the sun for too long.
We returned the same way and after a brief swim – the water is still cold by our standards – had a picnic lunch on the beach. A very laid-back Police Municipale officer with a megaphone turned up as we were leaving but the beach is so vast and the number of people so limited, we don’t think he saw anything to distress him.
We do gather though that the police did close down one of the smaller rockier beaches a few kilometres away because social distancing was impossible. Anyway it’s all about to change . The prime minister has announced the lifting of the 100 km limit and has allowed for the opening of all beaches and, under various conditions, restaurants and bars. There is a cautious feeling that the summer tourist season may yet be rescued. We will see.