A happy holiday to Provence with Paul W on his GSR750ES, new that year. I was riding my XJ900, which had been to the Nürburgring and crossed the watershed to the Danube the previous summer, 1984.
We stayed our first night in a one-star hotel in Chartres. Next night and a massive 900 km later, we pitched my tent under the cork trees in a camping à la ferme in Grimaud for our first week in the South. Our days out included Port Grimaud and of course Saint Tropez and the beaches.
It looks as though we went entirely local in the heat, ditching the leathers and big boots we’d ridden with from London in favour of shorts and a cut-off shirt for local rides. Paul also had a Lacoste shirt and shorts. I rode pillion, so we had to park just the lighter Suzuki. For our big ride to the Grand Canyon of the Verdon we took the massive safety precaution of denim jackets and jeans; even so, I remember vividly that we both suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
I’d been hitching and Inter-railing round Europe with that tent but camping à la ferme wasn’t Paul’s style, so for the second week we booked in to a five-star camping at Cogolin, which gave us a frame tent, table and chairs, two burner stove and the remains of a tarragon plant; also unlimited access to a water park with a huge slide.
Saint Tropez looks remarkably similar to my more recent visits but the campings have changed completely. The water park and five-star camping were washed away in a flood and are now a garden centre; the camping à la ferme at Grimaud is now luxury chalets.
In 1985 our ears were ringing with Hi-NRG from Heaven disco but our heads were singing the songs from the new musical La Cage aux Folles. We returned to Saint Tropez one evening to seek out the restaurant with a dodgy backroom which you could enter either through the restaurant fronting the Quai Jean Jaures or the back way in from Rue du Cepoun San Martin. It was hot but there wasn’t a stage show...
My last frame is a wistful look back to Saint Tropez, the view as you leave the town. We made just one overnight stop on the long ride north, a one-star hotel in St. Étienne.
Paul passed away in 1989 but, in the words of another musical, I’m still here.
My new scans (Epson 4990) of Kodacolor 100 negatives, which have archived pretty well. Film type CP100 5094, bought in the UK. Pentax LX camera with Pentax 50 mm f1.4 lens, manual focus.