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Saint Tropez

Indisputably a dream destination for people around the globe, the St Tropez peninsula with its 40km-long coastline is certainly a lovely place to stay, despite being difficult to get to by car. There are protected natural landscapes, wonderful little creeks all the way along the coastal path, and renowned private beaches, whose prices reflect this status. Private jet or yacht are, naturally, the most convenient means of getting here.



St Tropez harbour



Everything said about St Tropez is true: a magnificent and charming little port, surrounded by terrace cafés, ice cream shops, chic restaurants and fashionable high-end boutiques. People come here to people-watch, and to be watched, in a picture postcard environment. The light, too, is different to anywhere else in the world, complementing the colours of the traditional village houses – ochres, yellows and pinks – which back onto the citadel and encircle the proud and colourful bell-tower of the church. Also, the weather is good almost all year round!



St Tropez

 

Everyone is seduced by ‘St Trop’; it is always in fashion and popular with wealthy foreigners, Parisians and, of course, with celebrities and starlets, not to mention the paparazzi who follow them. Here the partying continues day and night, with numerous stylish nightspots to choose from, with a universally attractive international vibe, but within a Provençal setting which still feels authentic, as evidenced by the fishing cottages and boats in the old harbour of La Ponche.



The old port in St Tropez
Photo by nito / Shutterstock.com



Of course, it is the place to be seen and somewhere where you could bump into any number of celebrities and their entourages. You can also except to encounter very high prices in July and August. As the glamourous yachts moored all along the Suffren quayside testify, luxury and money are king here. However, it is very attractive and everything seems in harmony in this charming town, which has been well-known and in vogue for a long time now. The first to recognise its charms were the painters and writers (Guy de Maupassant who landed here in his yacht Le Bel-Ami, Paul Signac who drew many of his painter friends here too, Henri Matisse, Bonnard…), Colette had a villa here, Paul Poiret, Errol Flynn was very attached to the area, also later Jean Cocteau, then the film stars and the films themselves made this spot famous. It is a definite ‘must’ to visit whilst staying on the Côte d’Azur, especially in low season, it truly is charming.



The old port in St Tropez
Photo by PlusONE / Shutterstock.com



In the 50s and 60s, the world of show business and the literary circles of St Germain-des-Prés made St Tropez known worldwide. For example, stars such as Françoise Sagan, Brigitte Bardot and Eddy Barclay lived here, as well as members of the Nouvelle Vague art movement. The ‘Gendarmes de Saint Tropez’ series of films starring Louis de Funès also heightened its renown of course (the Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma can be visited on the former site of the famous gendarme brigade). This has all contributed to shape St Tropez’s unparalleled identity, a place where multimillionaires from around the world come to moor alongside the statue of Suffren, their uniformed staff busily working around them. A place of permanent spectacle, which can be fully appreciated from the terrace of Sénéquier, once patronised by the likes of Paul Valéry, and Paul Eluard. An experience not to miss here is watching the boules players in the Place des Lices, and enjoying an evening aperitif at a terrace bar in the shade of the plane trees. The almost yesteryear backdrop gives one the feeling of being on a filmset, everything picture perfect, especially on market days – Tuesday and Saturday mornings.



Café Sénéquier in Saint TropezPhoto by Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com



Tourist attractions include the Butterfly House, with its 4500 specimens from around the world, and the Maritime History Museum in the citadel which offers a splendid view over the entire Bay of St Tropez, as far as Ste Maxime and even the Maures and Esterel mountains. Also, do take a walk along the Môle Jean-Réveille jetty for a superb view of the harbour. You will certainly not want to bypass l’Annonciade, a 16th century chapel which houses the St Tropez Museum with its late 19th and 20th century collection of paintings by major artists such as Matisse, Paul Signac, Bonnard, Dunoyer de Segonzac, who were the forefathers of post-impressionism and left their mark in the fauvist, expressionist and pointillist movements and as Les Nabis.



St Tropez


A stroll through the charming old town will allow you to discover narrow medieval alleys and to admire beautiful fountains and wonderful little squares, for example the authentic setting of the Place aux Herbes, so typical of the south of France, with its fish market every morning, selling vegetables and flowers too. You will also find the old quarter of La Ponche, between the citadel and the old fishing port. You may have dreamt of such a place, and here it is in the flesh! Undoubtedly you will want to get yourself a pair of trendy Tropezienne sandals, famous since the 1920s, to go to the beach, preferably Ramatuelle.



Ramatuelle beach



On this subject, St Tropez’s most prized beaches are actually in the commune of Ramatuelle, and notably the vast beach of Pampelonne; along this 5km-long stretch, from Camarat to Tahiti, there are around thirty private beach clubs, and bar-restaurants, with a decidedly ‘jet-set’ ambiance. And the many yachts moored along this shoreline vouch for the reputation of this spot, which attracts no less than 30,000 visitors a day in summer!

There are other quieter beaches, offering magnificent Mediterranean scenery, fine sand and umbrella pine trees, charming creeks, and large beaches such as the Plage de l’Escalet, or for example Plage de Taillat which is accessible by walking less than 30 minutes along the coastal path through a beautiful natural environment.



Cap Taillat

Cap Taillat


In St Tropez itself, the main beaches are Graniers, Cannebiers (where Colette had a property and Brigitte Bardot still does), Salins and Bouillabaisse, this last being quiet and ideal for windsurfing.



St Tropez

Come, and maybe you will find yourself joining in with the refrain: “Do you, do you St Tropez”!