October 16, 2017
The peaceful little fishing village of Saint-Tropez may have remained nothing more than that had a film crew decided not to settle on the picturesque beaches of Le Pampelonne.
What could have been just another French film, with just another young director, and a virtually unknown lead actress, catapulted the Côte d'Azur village and Brigitte Bardot to international stardom. Sixty-odd years later and the quaint port town continues to evoke glamour and fascination with a healthy dose of hedonism.
There is no shortage of impressive accommodation in Saint-Tropez. Hotel Byblos is perhaps the most well known. Since opening in 1967, the hotel has developed a venerable reputation as a celebrity playground; its underground nightclub, Les Caves du Roy, has been the site of many debaucherous nights, which is handy when you’re only sleeping upstairs. On the more boutique side is the sleek Kube Hotel, which is perched at the entrance to St. Tropez Bay. Decked-out in cubed minimalism, the infinity pool overlooks the yachts in the bay, and the hotel is a great option if you’re travelling with pets, or looking for a local helipad to land the chopper.
Bardot’s ‘little nook of paradise’ offers plenty of allure for the financially flash, but there is nothing quite like the historic cafes which pepper the Old Harbour front. Senequier, located on the main promenade serves some of the best coffee, and is also the ideal place to relax and watch the world go by. Opened in 1887, the cafe is somewhat of an institution, and gained prominence with its speciality nougat. For a more formal cocktail experience head to White 1921, located opposite the famous Place de Lices. The C18th villa has been converted into a minimalist townhouse, complete with its own Champagne Bar.
There is an overwhelming number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the area (which reflects the clientele). La Vague d’Or, run by Alain Ducasse’s protege, Arnaud Donckele, is the highly acclaimed and impressive restaurant worthy of its three Michelin stars. For a more relaxed dining experience, seek out the restaurants dotted on the cobbled streets around Rue Miséricorde, which serves a hearty display of fresh French produce. L’G Envie may lack the sophisticated decor of its neighbours, but the food, by chef Alain Salles, who worked under Joël Robuchon, is delicious in its simplicity.
While your accommodation may well come with an infinity pool, the pristine beach of Le Pampelonne is the main hub of activity. Each of the beach clubs has its own personality and charm, but for the classically inclined there is only one option, Le Club 55. Set up in 1955 as the original beach shack serving up roast beef and ratatouille, the menu has evolved considerably since then. Lunch on the veranda comes highly recommended – just make sure you reserve ahead. Post lunch, take a delightful walk from Pampelonne to Sentier, which takes in some of the most stunning Côte d’Azur scenery.
At the turn of the C. 20th St. Tropez attracted a number of high calibre artists, including the Neo- Impressionist Paul Signac, and Henri Matisse. Their works are housed in a C.16th chapel which has been converted into an art gallery. The Musee De l'Annonciade houses an impressive collection of modern art, by the likes of Pablo Picasso and George Braque, and serves as a refreshing cultural break from the village glitterati.
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