Focus on St Tropez
By: Maria Mclean
The city of St Tropez lies in the southeastern corner of France on the Côte d’Azur, or as it is popularly known, the French Riviera. Since the 1950s, St Tropez has cultivated an international reputation as a jet set playground, drawing movie stars, models, and millionaires from around the world. The glamour, however, seems at odds with the story of the beheaded Saint Torpes, whose corpse was placed in a boat with a rooster and a dog, which then, theoretically, landed on the beach that now bears his name.
Nothing so unsavoury docks at St Tropez in modern times, however. The harbour is home to many of the world’s super yachts, bringing a wealthy, transient citizenry to the streets of what was once a sleepy, fishing village. St Tropez and the region as a whole were transformed in the 1950s when, in the aftermath of Brigitte Bardot’s sensual success in the 1956 production of ‘And God Created Woman,’ St Tropez gained an almost overnight reputation in Europe and around the world.
The ideal months to visit this international resort lying between Marseille and Toulon to the west and Nice to the east, are June to September. (Nice provides easy access to St Tropez as it has the largest airport in the Côte d’Azur.) During the dry months of summer the nights are mild and pleasant, with days averaging 25°C (77°F).
Plage de Tahiti, one of the most popular St Tropez beaches, lies 4.5km outside town and draws a wide-ranging crowd running the gamut from the wealthy to families on holiday. (Clothes are considered optional on the beaches to the west of the the city.) Visitors will find plentiful bars and cafes, and the sandy beach offers access to all manner of watersports including waterskiing, wakeboarding, and banana boat rides.
At night, the relaxed, traditional bars on the waterfront around the Old Port are a popular site, as are the movie theatres. By day, the Musee de l’Annonciade is home to an impressive collection of impressionist paintings, while walkers can take to the path along the city’s south coast, the Sentier Litoral, which gives access to contemplative, quiet coves. Predictably, St Tropez offers a wealth of shopping experiences from simple holiday souvenirs to designer wares in fashion boutiques. On Tuesday and Saturday mornings the Place des Lices is home to a colourful market.
For the night life, turn to the waterfront around Quai Jean Jaures. This is a place to see and be seen in glitzy, throbbing bars where the revelry overflows into the streets. If your desire is for an evening of luxurious entertainment with no thought to the price tag, visit Les Caves du Roy in the Hotel Byblos on Avenue Paul Signac. (The hotel is also home to one of the premier St Tropez destination dining spots, the Spoon Byblos.)
Most restaurants in the city feature outdoor terraces for patrons to enjoy the air. It is never difficult to spend large sums of money in a resort, but the restaurants around the Old Port offer set menus to aid in cost control. Expect to get around St Tropez on foot, with taxis available. The SNCF trains and the buses are an option for longer excursions.
For the past five decades, St Tropez has been one of the crown jewels of the French Riviera. While reknowned as a spot for the wealthy and famous, it is not a resort that excludes families (although small children won’t enjoy it as much as teens.) What was once a simple fishing village is now a world-class city and a must-see destination on the French Riviera.
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