The town of St Tropez on the Côte d’Azur is one of the original summer holiday destinations in the Mediterranean, and today it is even more famous than it ever has been. So what turned the little Provençal fishing port of Saint-Tropez into the legend that it is today? What was once a sleepy and rather quaint town had already begun to attract famous faces like Coco Channel as early as the 1920s, but it was the Brigitte Bardot film “Et Dieu Créa la Femme” (And God Created Woman) that marked the birth of St Tropez as a summer holiday destination for the international jet-set. The year was 1955 as reflected in the name of the beach restaurant “Club 55” at nearby Pampelonne beach in Ramatuelle, which began life as a humble seafront canteen for the film’s cast and crew!
Love it or hate it, there is no denying that this little town is well and truly on the map! Up there with the big boys, London… Paris… New York… St Tropez! Perhaps the most famous town on the French Riviera, St Tropez is invaded in July and August, with over 100,000 visitors a day pouring into the town from all directions. Traffic is a total nightmare in the high season, it can take two hours just to get from the St Tropez autoroute exit into the town itself. As much of a cliché as it may be, it really is better to come to St Tropez by yacht or by helicopter! The French jokingly refer to St Tropez as “St Trop”… “trop” meaning too much, or excessive. And it is true that when you come to St Tropez, all the displays of excess that you have read about in newspapers and magazines, really are there for all to see. But St Tropez is fun, really good fun! No yacht charter on the Côte d’Azur is complete without at least a day spent here and you really don’t need to be a billionaire to enjoy it, though it certainly helps!
Here’s how to do St Tropez in style!
- Arrive by yacht mid morning, the view of the old town crowned by the Citadel of St Tropez is utterly beautiful! Moor your yacht sternto on perhaps the most famous quay in the world, outside the legendary Sénéquier if you can get the berth, as it’s the one everybody wants!
- Have coffee in one of the cafes on the Old Port followed by some shopping. St Tropez has it all when it comes to shopping, from a genuinely good food market, through to rather tacky gift shops, to the high end designer boutiques of Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Prada and Gucci. Christian Dior and Chanel are particularly special, both boutiques being housed in fabulous turn of the century villas right in the centre of town.
- After some shopping, head to the gorgeous Place des Lices, a fabulous square near the centre of St Tropez, where the locals play pétanque under the shade of the plane trees. There are some great cafes here and it is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of champagne before heading back to the yacht in the old port.
- Around 1pm, St Tropez sees something of a exodus as yachts of all shapes and sizes throughout the port start up their engines. They’re all heading for the same place… the beach clubs at Pampelonne in nearby Ramatuelle. Nearly thirty beach clubs occupy a pristine 4.5km stretch of golden sand that is perhaps the most famous beach in the world, certainly one of the most photographed! Unlike beaches elsewhere on the French Riviera, Pampelonne is not overlooked by ugly apartment buildings but instead by gentle rolling hills dotted with vineyards and spectacular luxury villas. It is to these beach clubs, that the famous.. and the not so famous flock to in summer months. With names like Tahiti, Nikki Beach, Les Palmiers and Bagatelle, each one of these beach clubs has its own unique vibe with great food, water sports and live music. You need to arrive by yacht… that’s just the way it’s done! Plenty of swimming, sunbathing and a long lazy lunch from 3pm to 6pm is the way to do it!
- Back to St Tropez for sundowners on the port! Sénéquier is the place to be. This cafe and its quirky triangular red tables feature in almost every photo taken of St Tropez. In many ways, Sénéquier is St Tropez! People watching is the order of the day as the afternoon morphs into the evening and St Tropez really comes alive. The Bar du Port is also great fun, with excellent music!
- The best place to eat in St Tropez is on the deck of your own yacht in the port. You choose the time, the food and always have the best table in the house! There is a certainly satisfaction that comes from sitting on the deck of a yacht, glass in hand, surveying the amazing food before you as scores of tourists glare at your every move, their eyes looking like they are about to detach from their heads at any moment. Should you not wish to dine aboard, there are some superb restaurants in St Tropez. Highlights include chic fine dining at La Vague d’Or at La Residence de la Pinede and great food with a brilliant atmosphere at Le Quai, a fabulous hybrid restaurant/club on the port that puts on a fabulous dance cabaret show that you really need to see!
- After dinner, head to the VIP Room in the new port or to Les Caves du Roy at the Byblos Hotel. Both of these clubs have great music, great crowds and epitomise the hedonistic vibe of St Tropez. The perfect way to end your day in St Tropez!
More articles on luxury yacht charters on the French Riviera: 10 Days in the South of France, Sardinia and Corsica onboard a Luxury Yacht Charter, A Seven Day Luxury Yacht Charter on the French Riviera & Yacht Charters on the French Riviera