Welcome to Le Lavandou and a very happy Christmas.
The mayor has decided Christmas should come twice this year, as it did last, so - to a mixture of amusement and bemusement - the seafront will be closed to traffic on Wednesday night (July 31) for a procession of unseasonally seasonal floats, with Papa Noëls spreading bonhomie to all and lots of Mere Noëls wandering about the place too.
With or without such gimmickry, Le Lavandou - currently celebrating 100 years of "independence" from its uppity neighbour, Bormes-les-Mimosas - has become increasingly popular among British visitors.
This growth is largely explained by the three weekly Ryanair flights (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday) from London Stansted, and two Cityjet flights (Friday and Sunday) from London City, into Toulon-Hyères airport, 20 minutes away by road and generally a delight to use.
And now, it is unremarkable to hear American accents as cruise ships choose to make short stops just off Le Lavandou's shores. I imagine they are more impressed if their giant liners also pop into Saint-Tropez, but pleasantly surprised by the much less brash charms of Le Lavandou.
The Europa 2 anchored off the coast on July 18 and is due back on August 8. Club Med 2 was here on July 18, too, and Seabourn Quest will follow up its weekend stay with return on August 28 and September 27. With shopkeepers and restaurateurs moaning even more than usual this year about declining tourist trade, the strong spending power of US visitors is particularly important. "They buy without being concerned about the price," Christine Hagopian, director of tourism, told Var-Matin.
In case people unfamiliar with Le Lavandou should stray into the pages on Salut! prior to visiting the town, here are a few tips:
* Le Petit Train is just one of those chugalong road trains you find in lots of holiday resorts but is worth the €8 ride because it trundles along a beautiful stretch of coastline, on narrow lanes just back from the main road and taking in some striking land as well as seascape. It also serves as a shuttle for sunbathers heading for some of the Le Lavandou commune's 12 beaches
* do not be surprised, if you've flown in and hired a car or driven all the way from the UK, to meet vehicles coming towards you the wrong way round the car park one-way systems. It's a local custom, readily adopted by outsiders
* if you do explore the beaches outside the town itself, Saint-Clair is the prettiest but it also small and, consequently, the most crowded. Le Layet is not recommended unless you propose to take everything off or have booked a table at the excellent Chez Jo where customers eat in clothing (making them what naturists call les textiles) and don't mind seeing the exposed bits of non-textiles wandering over to inspect the menu
* try the big wheel by all means but do not think of it as a competitor for the London Eye. It travels slowly and at a much lower level than capital-city equivalents but gives a pleasant enough low-flying bird's eye view of the port, main beaches and what street signs call the coeur du village
* walk, if feeling energetic, west along the seafront to La Favière or east along the path at the foot of the cliffs to Saint-Clair. Both are easily manageable but invigorating strolls
Elsewhere, there are businesses that deserve to prosper and others that would scarcely be missed if they failed.
Among the first category, check out the Rackham le Rouge jazz restaurant (music most Fridays), Henriette's lingerie shop (so I'm reliably informed), Chez Mimi (basic bar, but dependably good, amiable service and Guinness by the bottle), my friend Georges's fresh fish shop back from the port ... plus many more that I will one day get round to listing.But eat early on Christmas Eve. A lot of the town's restaurants apparently ran out of food on the same occasion last year.