43° 8'.04 N 05° 45'.3 E, Bandol, France
We swept into Bandol on the eve of a gust, asking to stay one night until it passed, it transpired we stayed five. Mischievous Mistral.
Bandol is known as the "ville tranquil" for good reason. The gentle seaside resort sits in a sheltered bay, cradled by hills and protected by the wind. The sheltered situation of Bandol provides excellent conditions for grape growing and there have been vineyards here since 600 BC. Rose' wine, a marvellous accompaniment to fish and seafood, is a local speciality.
The seafront is a delightful promenade which buzzes at this time of year, every evening in August there is a street market and the town square has a DJ playing, bringing the holidaying families together for a giggle and a dance, everyone and all ages are welcome. The first night we stumbled across this we walked straight into a hundred or so doing the Macarena.
It has long been a quiet retreat for artists and writers and famously accommodated Katherine Mansfield at the turn of the 19th century. These days it's popular with french families from Paris or Lyon who descend to their summer houses for the long summer vacation, wiling away the hours in beautiful villas surrounded by pines and mimosa.
We ate largely from the farmers markets but ventured out on our final night, landing in a little burger bar Le Chill Out. I had a spiffy chicken satay burger. Four burly hunks with steel drums showed up half way though our meal and offered dinner entertainment in the form of street gymnastics and dancing. The august summer spirit in Bandol is alive and kicking.