Port-Grimaud is a purpose-built Venetian-style Provencal village, that looks as if it has been there for centuries. Yet it was only in the 1960’s that Alsatian-born architect François Spoerry bought a large piece of swamp by the coast and in four years created one of the most successful property developments in France.
In Port-Grimaud, no two houses are alike. The colours of the stucco vary from cream to ochre, from white to mauve. In front of each home is a private dock, for those who like to keep their yacht within arm’s reach.
Spoerry found inspiration for Port-Grimaud in the fishermen’s quarter of La Ponche in Saint-Tropez, where pastel-coloured houses line the cobble-stoned streets.
Port-Grimaud isn’t just successful with home buyers, but also with tourists who come in droves to wander about the quays and streets, cross the bridges and take a refreshment at one of the many bars and cafés. Market days are especially popular and are highly recommended.
History & Culture in Port Grimaud
Spoerry was a sailor, but above all an architect with keen insight. The swamp bordering the Mediterranean Sea created a lot of nuisance during heavy rains. It would quickly flood and waters spread to nearby Cogolin. Grimaud itself was, as a village, less susceptible, since it lies perched on top of a hill. Its countryside in the lower plains however was equally affected by the floods.
So, when Spoerry approached those in power with his plan to create a Venice-like village with canals, bridges, and quays, with an infrastructure that would combat the flooding of the lands, he received easy permission. First, he designed half of the village, about 1000 houses. As the story goes he quickly sold most of them, while still in the planning process (mainly to Swiss buyers). With those proceeds he continued with the planning for the second part of Port-Grimaud.
Sights & Attractions in Port Grimaud
The Romanesque church (with Vassarely’s stained windows) is a must. Spoerry, who died in 1999, rests in a tomb inside the church.
Things to Do in Port Grimaud
Even with the hordes of tourists, Port-Grimaud is very much worth a visit. What could easily have been a kitsch village is in fact a very charming and appealing place. Take a water taxi tour that will pass by areas of the village not reachable on foot. The market is held on Mondays and Fridays at Place Francois Spoerry, and on Thursdays and Sundays at Place du Marche.
Beaches in Port Grimaud
And after your walk through the village, you can gather your bathing materials and head for the beach of Port-Grimaud, from where you have a lovely view of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. The end of the afternoon holds a special surprise, when the late sun spreads a golden glow over the town of Saint-Tropez at the end of the bay.
In the high season, it’s quite a struggle to find a good spot. However, if you arrive early in the morning, you have a good chance of some privacy. Holiday makers, particularly those on the Côte d’Azur, like to sleep in!