A few weeks ago my friend Giulia asked me if I'd like to go with her to Saint-Tropez for a weekend. Saint-Tropez! One of the places where I couldn't imagine ever going to, it was like it was completely out of my league! I instantly said yes. It was only then the reason for the weekend at the French Riviera became clear: Giulia, a massive Elvis fan, wanted to go and see an Elvis tribute act - at a Harley-Davidson festival!
We set off before lunch on Friday (after a late night drinking to celebrate our weekend...) with Giulia driving as I don't have a license. The drive took us down to Liguria and then along the coast into France. We started spotting the bikers not long after crossing the border, and followed them all the way to our destination. We were staying in the town of Sainte-Maxime, around 14km from Saint-Tropez, in the newly-restructured Hotel Matisse. After checking in the first stop was the boulangerie on the street corner for a couple of beers!
In the evening we headed to the Euro Festival, which was between Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Tropez. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, with a bikers' festival being something completely outside of my little world! After arriving we discovered who was playing on the main stage - the one and only Bonnie Tyler! The beach area around the stage was rammed, but the atmosphere was relaxed - as it was for the whole weekend. We then headed over to the tent where Ben Portsmouth was playing. We saw him both evenings, and I was very impressed. I'm no more of an Elvis fan than your average Brit, though possibly due to the fact that I've studied music in my life and continue to have a love of all kinds of music, I have a massive amount of respect for the man and what he did. Seeing Ben perform was quite a surreal experience I must admit - especially the completely drunk middle-aged women trying to molest him on the Friday night!
After that late night we went to have breakfast just before they stopped serving! At our hotel breakfast wasn't included, and at 12 euro there was no discussion - we'd find somewhere nearby to eat. And we struck gold! Nearby Cafè Maxime does a cracking typically French breakfast. Ok, coming from Italy the coffee wasn't that great, but the croissants and baguettes were delicious.
In the afternoon we went to Saint-Tropez itself. Like Saint-Maxime it had completely been taken over by Harley-Davidsons! The town was much smaller than I expected, and again maybe my experiences in Italy altered my perception of how glamerous the town was - or wasn't. Yes, there are a lot of fancy bars and restaurants along the water, and designer shops in the town centre, but nothing I thought that you can get in certain places in Italy. The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the biker with his little dog tucked into his shirt - and this awesome biker dog also had a pair of sunglasses! Too cool.
One of my highlights of the whole trip was the uber-afternoon snack we had at the festival before returning to the hotel - chips and a couple of beers. We were on the beach, on the French Riviera, the weather was gorgeous. What else do you want from life?
Apart from the Elvis tribute again on Saturday we saw a few other bands I was impressed with. There was the Zucchero tribute on the main stage, who actually made me feel homesick for Italy. There were obviously loads of Italians everywhere, in various stages of drunkeness... After Ben and the band a crazy anglo-Irish band called Bogus Brothers played the tent, and the crowd loved them. The singer stage-dived and climbed one of the speaker stacks - in a kilt with nothing on underneath!!
Sunday morning and it was another lovely breakfast at Cafè Maxime before heading home. It's a four and a half journey to Milan, and we set off after filling up on croissants and baguettes again. I was completely exhausted, but very pleased at a weekend very much out of the ordinary!