Beach holidays without beach – a special french lifestyle?
43° 30′ 39.3696” N 7° 2′ 50.8308” E
July 23, 2016
“Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling …”
This sounds very much, like the van that once a week runs up and down the suburban streets back home selling ice cream from a blue van.
These same vans are hardly driving on the Mediterranean?
We have anchored in the archipelago of Iles de Lérins; two-three miles southeast of Cannes. The archipelago has two main islands, and we have cast anchor in a strait between the two islands.
On the one hand we have Île Ste-Marguerite, whose fort in the 17th century held “The Man in the Iron Mask” as a prisoner (filmed with Leonardo DeCaprio in the lead role). On the other hand, we have Île St-Honorat, the monks island, which for centuries have been the home of monks. In the seventh century there were 4000 monks, today there are only a small number of Cistercian monks back.
And the sound … ding-a-ling?
It turns out it originates from an electronic horn on a dinghy that sails around selling ice cream to the hundreds of sailing- and motor-boats at anchor between the two islands. An ice boat – complete with freezer, billboards and price list for ice cream, sandwiches, coffee, beer and soft drinks.
A little later also a pizzaboat with a pizza-banner fluttering behind it comes our way. We hail the boat and ask, if we can get one with pepperoni.
“Naturellement.” We have everything assures the girl running the boat. “Look in this brochure and call us, when you have made up your minds about the pizza.”
When we call, we are told to tell the boat’s name, colour and nationality, and tell that we are “right in front of the wall“.
The pizza is baked in a large catamaran nearby, and the sales brochure entices with more than most domestic pizzerias: Snacks, drinks, desserts, oysters, champagne, wines.
As we gain perspective on life between the islands, it turns out that the commercial fleet includes two pizza boats, three ice boats and a single boat selling seafood. We expect more or less, that the next thing that pops up, will be an African immigrant selling straw hats, sunglasses and sarong’s for protection against the sun.
Laughter, happy crying, bathing rings, snorkels, everywhere children and older people are playing in the water around their boats. Beach-trip without a beach. Playing-ground without a ground.
It’s a different lifestyle, than the one we are used to. Not that we do not anchor in a beautiful bays, enjoying the seaside life and spend the night onboard. Of course we do. But usually we have, on our sailing trips in Denmark and abroad, always been en route from A to B to C to D. A large part of our enjoyment is to wake up in the morning and think, that today we are going to a new place, where we’ve never been before.
Many french boat-owners seems to be sailing rather from A to B, then back to A. And the next day again to B.
They live in Cannes or another city, have a boat in the harbour, which they use to sail out to a beautiful anchorage, where they spend the day splashing around in the turquoise water. When evening falls, they sail back home to their regular bed. The next day they return to the anchorage again.
We guess that 400 boats or more in the daytime was anchored in the narrow strait between the two islands. As the light broke up the next morning we counted, that exactly 53 boats were back having spent the night at the anchorage. The rest went back home.
Interesting lifestyle. Just different than ours.
After a brisk morning swim in four meters of water, we expect a dinghy to show up selling fresh bread. However that developed the commercial infrastructure in the strait is not yet.
We pull up the anchor, hoist the sails and set course for the baker in Antibes.