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Alternative edens: Off-the-beaten-track marinas to moor at

Alternative edens: Off-the-beaten-track marinas to moor at

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Port Grimaud

Côte d’Azur, France

Dubbed the “Venice of Provence”, this sea-facing port, to the west of Saint-Tropez, is the ideal retreat from the madness of Pampelonne’s beaches, which are only a 20 minute drive or short cruise away. This charming, quintessentially Provençal port, with its traditional fishermen’s houses, has a much more relaxed, family vibe and none of the pomp and show of Saint-Tropez. Built on the marshes of the River Giscle, this “water village” can be accessed only by boat or foot. There are bars, waterfront restaurants and a maze of shopping arcades ready to be explored.

Boat notes:_ _It caters mainly for smaller boats (up to 24m), has excellent nautical support services, and berths cost approximately a third of those at Saint-Tropez. The hot spot to berth in is in front of the big church in the centre of the town, by the shops and markets – it’s impossible to get, though, as it’s used by annual berth holders.

Where to eat: La Table du Mareyeur (The Fishmonger’s Table) is a charming seafood restaurant on the canal, with super friendly staff. Make sure to ask for a table on the terrace.

Hang out: Monroe’s, the Irish pub on the main entrance to Port Grimaud, is the local hangout for a game of pool or some good pub food. Sit in or out and catch the local gossip. A young and casual crowd mix with the crews to make a very international feel.

Who goes: Port Grimaud is the antithesis of Saint-Tropez, with a low-key, family oriented crowd. No high heels before 8pm, if at all.

Hot tip: Don’t miss the Provençal market on Thursday mornings for local wares and gorgeous flowers

Local classic: Saint-Tropez: If you can’t resist the lure of Saint-Tropez, make sure to reserve your berth on the FROW (yachting front row) between the Sénéquier brasserie and Barbarac ice cream shop well in advance. In high season and without connections you need to book at least a month in advance and even then the port confirms your slot only a week before. Yachts can’t enter until after 5pm so you will see a traffic jam of yachts waiting patiently to enter the port. Be sure to dine at Le Petit Joseph for the who’s who of Saint-Tropez and try the new Le Jardin restaurant in the lighthouse. Reserve for dinner and ask for the circular room. This Asian fusion hot spot has 360 degree views over the port and beyond.

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