Most people have heard of the glamourous town of Saint-Tropez, famous for super yachts and jet setting celebrities. It is possibly one of France’s best known beach resorts, but what is Saint Tropez really like?
Saint Tropez manages to simultaneously epitomise France and not feel typically French at all. French people are very discrete about their finances and talking about money is a subject that is generally avoided. However, Saint Tropez, with it’s designer boutiques, expensive restaurants, superyachts, VIP clubs and helipads, eschews this sensibility. A small town with a cosmopolitan, almost Parisian vibe, it is the ultimate people watching destination. Yacht owners moor their boats opposite the cafes and restaurants, so they can watch people watching them on Quai Jean Jaurès.
Most small French towns shut down on Sunday and you will struggle to find anywhere open. However, St Tropez is not your typical small French town. Even on Easter Sunday you can buy almost anything your heart desires from Hermes handbags to tacky tourist tat (of which I am the biggest fan!). There is no break in service, as many restaurants serve food all day long, a rare, but welcome find in France!
Like many small French towns, Saint Tropez is very pretty with many charming buildings and streets, but the large number of tourists and street artists bring an air of Parisian chic. Everyone looked very stylish here and we actually made an effort for our day out in Saint Tropez! If shopping is your thing, all the best French designers have boutiques here. Hermès , Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Chanel, who have a stunning pop up shop based in a private mansion.
The food available in Saint Tropez is as delicious as anywhere else in France. As an old fishing village, it’s no surprise that there are a plethora of fish and seafood restaurants. There is also a large Italian influence in the Cote d’Azur, given that Italy isn’t too far away, and there is plenty of choice if pizza or pasta is what you are after. Saint Tropez is also the home of the Tarte
Tropézienne, the delicious cream filled brioche and home of the original La Tarte
Tropézienne bakery, which now has branches in many different southern French towns and Paris.
Pampelonne Beach, the iconic beach that symbolises St Tropez, is actually about 6km away from the town itself and much closer to the small town of Ramatuelle, although there are other beaches in and around Saint Tropez. This stretch of beach goes on for 5 km and is a lovely, sandy beach, unlike the rocky beaches in Nice. I visited Pampelonne Beach a few days after our day out in St Tropez. I went for a walk after work and was surprised to find that the beach was almost empty, eerily quiet and all the cafes and restaurants were shut. I have always loved going to the beach and love it even more when there is no one else around. I imagine it will be very different in July and August! It is very easy to get to the beach from Saint Tropez and there are many access points and car parks. I took Boulevard Patch, which is the nearest access point to Club 55, and the car park was right next to the beach.
Driving in Saint Tropez is very slow and difficult and I would avoid it if possible. There is a large car park at Avenue Gén de Gaulle and at about 6 Euros for 2 hours, it is very reasonable. However, we went at the beginning of April and the traffic was already incredibly busy and is only going to get busier towards the summer months. Between April and October it would be better to take the bateaux verts from Port Grimaud, Sainte-Maxime, Les Issambres or Les Marines des Cogolin. The bateaux run regularly and are very reasonably priced. Join the jet set and arrive in Saint Tropez by boat!
It is a fascinating place and unlike anywhere else I have been in France. There is something for everyone here, with the town also being rich in history. For example, in 1944 it was the first town in the local area to be liberated by the Allied troops. Also hard to miss are the Citadel, built in 1602, and the Tour du Portalet (one of three towers still standing) which were both originally built in order to protect the town. I can’t wait to go back and plan to sit for hours people watching. However, next time we probably won’t pay 13 euros for a beer in a bar overlooking the port. We plan to visit again very soon and I will write a more detailed article with recommendations of all the sights worth seeing and the best of the cafes and restaurants that won’t break the bank.
Have you visited Saint Tropez before? What did you think? Let me know if there’s anywhere you would recommend.
Thanks for reading.