The Incredible 4 – click any image for full size
Hear or read the words “Saint-Tropez”, and the chances are your thoughts will turn to the French Riviera, blue Mediterranean waters, yachts and sun-kissed bodies. While there is a beach at Saint Tropez in Second Life, it’s probably not the kind you’re going to want to spend time visiting for a spot of sunbathing; nor is the boat lying next to it the kind of vessel which adds sleek lines and glittering decks to the scene.
Here, however, is something entirely different. A region with a very coastal feel to it as well it is a life style away from its physical world namesake. While it may have a little beach of its own, this is no Mediterranean playground with gleaming yachts and golden sands promising sun-bronzed looks. Which is not to say it is any the less interesting to visit. Rather the reverse: Siant Tropez has a defined look and feel of its own which make it an interesting curio to visit.
The work of Sugar (Sugar Planer) and Lea (Lea Pienaar), together with Lindus Lyne, the region operates under the name of The Incredible 4, presumably on account of it being divided into four quarters, all of which flow together to give a feeling they are all part of the same stretch of coastline somewhere in the world. There is no set landing point; any visit via map or search will drop you pretty centrally in the region, so where you wander is pretty much up to you.
To the south-east sits Crossroads Bar, operated by Lindus Lynes. It’s the only part of the region sitting under its own parcel-based windlight setting, which casts in under a darkening twilight sky. A home for blues, blue rock, southern rock and rock, the bar offers both indoor and outdoor music venues. One of the latter sits just across the road, while the other is located a little further away, in the south-east corner of the region, which it shares with outdoor cuddle spots reached via an old wooden bridge.
Running across the northern side of the region, and reached via either a winding paved road or a dirt track (I recommend the latter when exploring the region for the first time), is a more urbanised area, albeit own of distinctly two halves. The the east is little town centre well past its prime, but attempting to put a brave face on things. Two gay little shops smile brightly at visitors along one of the streets, while along another houses with a distinctly Mediterranean look offer splashes of colour with their tiled roofs and blooming windows boxes. Even so, it’s hard not escape the feeling this is a place well past its prime – as testified by the row of empty houses to the north, and the uninspired bulk of old apartment houses to the south.
West of this thing become more open, the buildings seemingly fresher. Two large town houses stand here, together with a little row of apparently thriving businesses. A great steam loco sits in a siding, looking like a local attraction designed to entice those passing through to stop and explore, rather than being a working engine. But even here, the signs of time passing cannot be entire ignored. Roads are closed, the beach is looking grubby – something not helped by the carcass of an old fishing boat lying half-sunken nearby.
Through all of this, the main road of the region winds, drawing everything together into a continuous whole. And you follow it around and through the region, the feeling is not so much of simply going in a circle around a square region, but you’re travelling along a stretch of coastline.
And just like a journey through and unknown land, The Incredible 4 offers a slice of the surprising. Follow the road back towards the Crossroads Bar and then turn right onto a woodland path before you get to the bar itself, and you be led to a little slice of Scandinavia. Here, on a rugged corner of coastline sit two houses, screened from the rest of the region by trees and rocky outcrops, the area comes as a rural retreat from the more urban feel of the rest, and coming across it is like arriving at the unexpected while on a long road-trip.
And this is the defining beauty of The Incredible 4 / Saint Tropez. Yes, a large part of the region might sound run-down and a little dreary, but it actually has a genuine beauty of its own. The meandering road, the footpaths and trails all serve to bring the various aspects of the region together as a living whole. It makes for an intriguing exploration, particularly given the various opportunities for back-story narrative which present themselves (just what is the town house in the north-west corner of the region all about?). As such, you might well be pleasantly surprised by a visit, as Caitlyn and I were.
- The Incredible 4 (Saint Tropez, rated Adult)