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G + 7 : Mistral Reaches further than Toulon

Yesterday's Sun Set from the Lérins Island gave no Hint of the choppy Night ahead

It is handover day – Team One left this morning at 09.00 am to catch a flight back to Newark. Team Two will arrive around lunch time. We did not make it to Frèjus yesterday, once Rome’s largest naval base in the Western Mediterranean. The winds were too strong, the sea too choppy. We had to take shelter behind the Lérins islands near Cannes. All the marinas were already full. Everybody had the same idea. The Lérins Islands were a good anchor choice. This morning we moved to the Rade de Théoule, west of Cannes.

Passing the Fortress La Guérite on the Saint-Marguerite Island on the way to Cannes

Within a week we made it from Savona to Cannes. It was an interesting experience. Whilst we crossed a border and moved from Italy to France, there are so many clues that this was once a single geographic entity. The medieval towers of Noli and the Chateau de Napoule which I can see from our anchor place, look identical.

The Medieval Chateau de la Napoule was refurbished by an American Banker Family who had made their Fortune on Wallstreet in the late 19th Century

The towns of Imperia and San Remo are not much different from Villefranche-sur-Mer and Antibes. Still a century ago, the Provençal and Ligurian languages were interchangeable and related dialects but have now been replaced by French and Italian. The long-term consequences of Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship are also visible. Tourism on the French Riviera recovered much faster than on the Italian side.

La Trophée des Alpe or Trophée d'August in La Turbie

The one thing that struck me was the Trophée d'August in La Turbie, just above Monaco. The monument celebrates the victory of Augustus' troops over the tribes living from the Ligurian coast to the Lake of Geneva. It was built on the Via Julia Augusta’s highest elevation and half way between Rome and Lyon.

The Tropaeum Allium was built in 6 BC, it is 35 m high and the square base is also 35 m

It was not just a symbol of victory; it was also a monument which tied Gaul to Italy. It was built to symbolize the perpetual unity of the Roman Empire. As we know, the Roman Empire did not last. But culture, architecture, religion and the Roman languages keep Latin people together even though they now live in several nations.

The Monument was built in white Marble quarried locally

Today we will have to stay put in the Rade de Théoul. The wind will freshen up in the afternoon and prevents us again from sailing to Fréjus. We are going to be a day behind and will have to adjust schedule.

The Wind this afternoon prevents us from saiing west

Assumed in my Mistral blog in April that the Mistral peters out at Toulon and only rarely blows beyond Saint-Tropez. Little did I know. Ever so often the wind turns 90 degrees left and blows east right between the Ligurian coast and Corsica. Since our boat has a flatter bottom and less draft than a sailboat, we need to manage the wind situation carefully.

The Rade de Théoule as seen from the Chateau de la Napoule

Luckily, the Rade de Théoule is a lovely bay. We can sit the wind out comfortably here. If conditions permit, we could even visit Saint-Honorat, the smaller of the two Lérins Islands and see the Monastère de Lérins which started the monastic tradition in Europe and where Saint-Patrick, Ireland’s patron-saint studied. We have to play it by the ear today. The winds will decide.

The Lérins Abbey with its defensive Tower and Cannes at the back

Last but not least, we made an amazing discovery yesterday. We got off our van in Grasse just next to the Statue of Admiral de Grasse. He commanded the French Fleet which prevented the Royal Navy from resupplying and rescuing Cornwallis' English Army in Virginia in 1781. The English surrender was by and large the end of the American War of Independence. The United States were born - with a little help from the French. Whilst I knew of Admiral de Grasse, it never occurred to me that he actually was from Grasse.

Grass gave the world perfume, but also helped America gaining

its independence. The world is small indeed.

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