The most glamorous town in the area is undoubtedly Saint-Tropez. In early spring the tourists start to flock to this old fishing village to catch a glimpse of a movie star, shop at the beautiful boutiques, sip a pastis at one of the cafés on the port or just people watch and enjoy the towns flamboyant residents.
In summer the place steps up a gear. The 10-km access route is a stop-and-go, and stop again, affair. At the end of the afternoon it could take you two hours to get there, while out of season, or in the early morning, you can zip into town in less than 15 minutes. Those who are familiar with the area will park at Ste Maxime or Port Grimaud and catch a 10-minute water taxi (Bateaux Vertes – green boats) right into the harbour. Every summer images of movies-stars, athletes and models enjoying champagne on yachts and beach parties adorn the pages of celebrity magazines, all with the same caption “…spotted n “St Tropez”.
It is easy to see the attraction of this once tiny fishing village; beautiful beaches, luxury yachts, expensive boutiques, cafes, bars and night clubs, all the trappings of a millionaire lifestyle with French Riviera chic. However, if you venture into the old part of the town, La Ponche, where the narrow streets are lined with colourful fishermen houses. There you can find a surprising quiet after the bustle on the harbour front. The tiny restaurants are beginning to open their doors and set out their tables. You may stumble upon a stubborn dog, intent to watch what’s going on inside.
In la Ponche you will find the church with its pastel-coloured bell tower, the landmark of Saint-Tropez. You may also see a striking bougainvillea, already in bloom in May. After your wanderings in this old part of town, descend to the port for a time of people-watching and above all the scene of mega yachts, tied stern-to to the quay. The crew will be busy cleaning, setting up the gigantic floral arrangements in the cockpit and preparing for the late awakening of the occupants.
History & Culture in Saint-Tropez
Until the beginning of the 20th Century, Saint-Tropez was a sleepy fishing village, unknown to tourists. Then Paul Signac discovered the village, fell under its charm and spread the word. Other painters followed (Matisse, Bonnard) and later writers (Colette, Jean Cocteau) and finally the world of film, beginning with Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman, set in Saint-Tropez.
Today, you can admire the works of Signac, Matisse and others in the charming museum L’Annonciade on the old port. The writers have moved elsewhere and the movie stars keep out of sight, the few that still live in the area. Brigitte Bardot has a house in the next bay, but you won’t chance a glimpse of her in town.
Events in Saint-Tropez
The town has so much to offer, from its daily fish market in the covered alley off the port to the lively open-air market on Place de Lices (Tuesday and Saturday mornings). Plus, annual events such as the Bravades or the magnificent Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, a sailing regatta that takes place each year in late summer.
Sights & Attractions in Saint-Tropez
Sights to see include one of Saint Tropez’s most impressive constructions by far which is La Citadelle. Head up the steep hill to the 16th century citadel, where there’s a museum and beautiful views over the sea. (This is a lovely place for a picnic and enjoying the afternoon breeze.) There’s also the House of Butterflies with thousands of butterflies on display, and the Annonciade museum, one of the longest established modern art galleries in France- you can see works here by Matisse, Bonnard and Signac among others.
Things To-Do in Saint-Tropez
If you fancy some designer shopping, Saint Tropez has some seriously exclusive boutiques- or you can visit the lovely Provençal market in the Place des Lices every Saturday and Tuesday morning for a more low-key spend. Walk up to the Citadel for some of the best sunset views or go for a coastal walk and enjoy the amazing natural heritage of the region. Or just pass the time in a cafe watching the locals play petanque in the square under the plane trees. For a day dripping in Riviera glamour you should really dress up and head to the Saint Tropez Polo Club- or head out on the water with the superyachts by chartering a boat for the day. Finally, water-sports enthusiast will find a second home on Pampelonne Beach- as well as those who like to make themselves comfortable on sun loungers, with a magnum of champagne…
Restaurants in Saint-Tropez
L’Opera is also very popular both for the food and atmosphere. This has probably the most glitzy, bubbly, party atmosphere on the Port and is associated with the real St Tropez experience.
If it’s seafood you are looking for then Le Girelier Restaurant is certainly one of the best around the Port. Or for a good value a true French feeling then Le Bistro Pastis is a wonderful place for a meal, a coffee…or of course, a pastis.
The most famous café from which to observe this theatre is Sénéquier, with its distinctive red director chairs. A drink may cost you 30€ or more, but you’ll have the best seat in town to take in the goings on. The Harley-Davidsons pass back and forth, a Ferrari parks illegally, an old Tropezien zips by on his Vespa with two dogs in a basket, an aspiring model walks back and forth, dangling a tiny Chanel shopping bag from her wrist. It’s everyday life in Saint-Tropez.
The restaurants are too numerous to list here, even without venturing to the beaches and all the Club 55 crowd have to offer. Why not contact Tropez Villas with your requirement and let them advise and make your arrangements?
Nightlife in Saint-Tropez
There are some of the finest clubs on earth in Saint Tropez. When it’s time to get your dancing shoes on, there are three main options, all fairly guaranteed to provide a glimpse of celebrities, if you like that kind of thing. Caves du Roy has been considered the most prestigious club on the French Riviera (and therefore the world) for over 40 years, while the VIP room is another notorious favourite with the jet set. La Bodega de Papagayo is the liveliest and the easiest to gain entry to- although its clientele is still the young, the rich and the beautiful.