Aussie Invasion Onboard Katherine to support TMax Racing Monaco

170523 1a Arriving Villefranche by dinghy

The Port of Villefranche-sur-Mer

From St Raphael we sailed 33nm further east along the Cote D'Azur to the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Along the way we passed the towns of Cannes and Antibes. As the 70th Cannes Film Festival  was underway the AIS was on overload with the number of boats moored in the harbour and in the bays between Cannes and Antibes. The Cannes Film Festival was founded on September 20 1946 having been delayed launching due to the 2nd World War. It is an invitation only event that premiers films and documentaries of all genres from around the world. With the festival comes the stars and with the stars definitely the big boats. 

170523 7 VillefrancheMaxwells arriving

The Maxwell family arriving Vilefranche-sur-Mer 

170526 6 Monaco Grand Prix Tom qualifying start Formula Renault170526 4 Monaco Grand Prix170526 13 Monaco Grand Prix Formula 2 Pitside170526 22 This could be trouble Paul Danny Andrew

Our anchorage in Villefranche-sur-Mer was very pretty and peaceful. Crystal clear water for the anchorage looking across to a colourful array of buildings that wound their way up the hill from the port. We enjoyed one night on anchor here with the Maxwell family from our home town of Darwin Australia before moving the boat back to the harbour of Le Port Nice and addressing the business of the upcoming weekend - The Monaco Grand Prix. 

Tom Maxwell is in his second year of racing internationally at the age of only 18. Last year saw him move from Karts and Formula Ford in Australia to successfully compete in the British Formula 3 series finishing 7th overall. This year he has been signed on with Tech 1 Racing  to compete in the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship, a ten round series that will see him race all over Europe including at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix. You can read more about Tom on his website

We had obtained a quote to have Katherine in Monaco harbour for the five days of racing but 14000 euro seemed a little over indulgent for the experience. We opted instead to stay in Nice, a very handy harbour with a short train ride into Monaco. Getting to Monaco was the easy part. Negotiating your way around Monaco was another matter. Though I only ventured in for one day Jane, Danny, and Andrew can attest to the fact that everyone who directed them advised that “it was not far” and that no matter which way they went it was barricaded and was indeed VERY far. 

Thursday night all cabins onboard Katherine were occupied with the arrival of Rose and Paul, also of Darwin. The weekend focused on Toms racing and taking the opportunity to see Formula 2 and Formula 1 Live on an incredibly tough street track. Tom did well to bring his car home on both days getting tapped by other cars and having his wing damaged. Day 1 saw him limp home in 25th position and Day 2 he raced hard and held on even though he once again was sporting damage to finish 14th. He now stands equal 12th in the series. Next race in the series Hungary. 

Andrew and Danny can attest to the difficulties of the Monaco Track as they both had the opportunity to “race” it on a scooter. Danny had an injured knee that was suffering from the miles of walking so for medicinal reasons a motorised scooter was hired. Well as always, men become boys when given the opportunity and throw a race track in and there is bound to be competition. Andrew now holds the unofficial records of 16:20mins for the Monaco Track, apparently very respectable given the cars, pedestrian and track entertainment that had to be negotiated.

All agreed that the tv cameras do not capture the steepness of the inclines, declines, curves or the intensity of blinding light as you exit the tunnel. A whole new appreciation for the competitive drivers amongst the fun. 

170527 8 Nice Harbour Jane Danny Paul Rose Lee and Andrew

Jane Danny Rose Paul Lee and Andrew onboard Katherine Le Port Nice.

170531 11 Drive day to Gorge Du Verdon  The road170531 18 Drive day to Gorge Du Verdon Pont de l'Artuby

So with racing completed, Tom back to England and Rose and Paul on route to Australia we decided to hit the road with Danny and Jane and do a loop trip of around 300km from Nice along the Gorge Du Verdon that had been highly recommended to us by many friends. With no expectation or real plan we drove first to the small village of Greolieres for a morning coffee. From there onto the ever  increasingly winding and steep roads with spectacular views of the Gorge Verdon to Port De L’ Artuby a curved bridge spanning the Verdon with a view of the Gorge 250m below. 

With hunger setting in we stopped in the quaint village of Aiguines where having feasted on the Menu De Jour of the most tender veal for Jane and Lee and Danny giving the thumbs up to the oven baked pizza we took in the view of Lac De Ste Croix from the grounds of the church of St Piere founded back in the 11th Century.

Finally we arrived mid afternoon at our destination - Moustiers Ste Marie. Having already been overloaded by beautiful scenery and quaint villages it was impossible to believe that we could all be awed struck on our arrival at this village tucked up in a steep ravine. 

170531 23 Drive day to Gorge Du Verdon  Aiguines looking at Lac St Croix

Looking over the village of Aiguanes towards the Lake St Croix 

170531 28 Drive day along Gorge Du Verdon Moustiers-Ste-Marie 170531 32 Drive day along Gorge Du Verdon Moustiers-Ste-Marie170531 31 Drive day along Gorge Du Verdon Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Although there is evidence of life in Moustiers dating back 30000 years it is according to the local historians that the village was established  in the 5th century when the monks of Lerin Abbey created a monastery in the tuff caves. Today the Chapel Notre - Dame De Beauvoir built in the 12th Century sits some 262 steps above the village and hanging between it and the other side of the ravine is a golden star. Legend has it this star was first hung by a knight on his return from the crusades in honour of St Mary. The Eleventh star was last replaced in 1995 with the aid of a helicopter - it does make one ponder how the the task of setting the original star hanging in-between the ravines was achieved. 

Though we had little time to enjoy Moustiers we did manage to view a few of the shops where the pottery for which the town is famous were on display. Given Danny's knee and the fact we still had to drive back to Nice we could not undertake the climb and must now put this village on a must return to list, with a definite stay overnight in the town of Aiguines.  

We certainly have come to appreciate why people talk so highly of Provence. From the seaside, to the mountainous peaks there are stunning views to be taken in, delicious food and wine to be consumed, history overflowing. We are pleased we have arrived and are leaving before the onset of the tourist season as we can already see the numbers swelling as the weather warms. 

Time to move on but we certainly have loved our time in Provence. 


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© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain