Everybody`s heard of Saint-Tropez, one of the most glamorous places in France, home to a number of international celebrities and millionaires. It was the appearance of Brigitte Bardot in Saint-Tropez who set the trend for being a barely-on-the-map village the ultimate summertime destination for the rich people.
St-Trop, as the French nickname it, has built up a reputation of being a destination for the rich and famous. This once a tiny fishing village certainly has it all: world renowned beach clubs and exclusive nightclubs, the designer boutiques, glitzy art galleries, smart cafes and legendary restaurants that surround the harbour with its luxury mega-yachts. Some might say it is overrated. But despite its fame, there is a lot more to the town than that. The iconic seaside town is full of French charm: picturesque pastel-coloured cottages with painted shutters and flowering balconies, a maze of narrow cobblestone streets filled with boutiques, traditional restaurants shaded by grape vines and the pretty harbour. Welcome to Saint-Tropez.
Saint-Tropez is a coastal town on the French Riviera, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Located in the south-eastern France, this tiny little gem enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers.
HOW TO GET TO SAINT-TROPEZ
While Saint-Tropez may be one of the most well-known resorts on the French Riviera, getting to this little town is not as easy as you could think. Thinking of driving to St Tropez? Even though it is possible, there are a few things to consider before you set off. At peak periods in summer expect traffic jams on the main road. A drive along one of the most scenic coastal routes of Europe can turn into a true adventure.
Another thing to bear in mind whilst driving to this seaside resort, you will be facing the parking. Avoid it at all costs.
St Tropez is a rather small town, so there is no train station. The nearest train station to Saint Tropez is ’Saint-Raphaël-Valescure’ (situated in Saint Raphaël, 39 km from Saint-Tropez). You can take the train down to Saint Raphael and then catch the express boat to Saint Tropez which will take about an hour.
If all of the above sounds like too much hassle, consider other alternative, it wil be worth it.
The best way to get around is the ferry from Nice to St. Tropez (from the end of May to the end of September). After the 2 ½ hour cruise ride with amazing views of the Côte d`Azur you will arrive at the Port of Saint Tropez. Here you will have 5 hours to discover town before you will have to catch the boat back at 4.30 pm. We decided for this option because we wanted to relax and appreciate the beauty of the French towns from the water. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking.
TRAVEL TIP: Reserved your seat on the ferry in an advance as during the peak season it might be sold out very quickly. A reservation can be made online. Don`t worry, you don`t need to pay upfront (you will have to pay in the harbour`s office 24 hrs before your departure).
THINGS TO DO IN SAINT-TROPEZ
Here are some of the best things to do in Saint Tropez:
You will be pleasantly surprised how suited Saint-Tropez is for pedestrians, even with all the exclusive locations. Most sights are within easy reach of the marina.
VIEUX PORT (OLD PORT)
With more luxury yachts than you could imagine, the harbour in St. Tropez is a place of style and elegance. Charming Vieux Port located in the heart of the town is what you came for; elegant outdoor cafes lined by pastel coloured Mediterranean townhouses, stunning large yachts docked in the harbour, artist selling colourful painting along the port. Stylish Café Senequier, distinguished by its bright red façade, is a great place for refreshment, soaking up the sunshine and celebrity spotting.
CITADELLE DE SAINT-TROPEZ
Take a break from the busy streets and marina and visit an old harbour fort. High above the village is located the most impressive tourist attraction in all of Saint Tropez – La Citadelle. The walk up to the citadel from the port is short and sharp but it is worth taking your time even on a hot summer day. Well worth a visit!
Perched high above the town, Citadelle de Saint Tropez offers an almost 360° breath-taking views over the Gulf of Saint Tropez, the colourful rooftops and the luxury yachts in the harbour.
Built over 400 years ago to defend the coast against Spain, the Citadel is also home to a Museum of Maritime History in the space that was formerly the citadel`s dungeons.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The admission fee is very reasonable (€3) and children under the age of 12 years have free entry. A guided visit is possible by prior reservation.
1st April – 30th September: 10 am – 6.30 pm daily (last entry at 6pm),
1st October – 31st March: 10 am -5.30 pm (last entry at 5 pm)
closed: 1st January, 1st May, 17th May, 11th November, 25th December
Address: Citadelle de Saint-Tropez
LA PONCHE (THE OLD TOWN)
The Old Town of Saint-Tropez, known as “La Ponche” is the historic centre of this seaside resort town. The most picturesque area of Saint Tropez sits between the waterfront promenade and the Place des Lices. Luxury is a big part of Saint Tropez, and that`s why glamour and glitz comes with a high price-tag. A pedestrian zone of narrow alleyways, now lined with spectacularly over-priced cafes, restaurants, small shops and designer boutiques, is more famous for all the trappings of a millionaire lifestyle than historical significance. A haven for the rich and famous is surely a place with bohemian vibes. It is a gorgeous spot to spend an afternoon exploring La Ponche, but if you prefer a typical the South-of-France shopping experience, head to Place des Lices, the Place aux Herbes or the Halle aux Poissons (the daily fish market which sells fish to locals and the town`s finest restaurants).
While exploring the Old Town, don`t miss one of the most recognisable sights in this Provençal town – Eglise de Notre-Dame de l`Assomption with its beautiful Italian Baroque bell tower. Inside the 18th century Italian baroque-style church you can admire the bust of Saint Tropez, the town`s patron saint.
PLACE DES LICES
Place des Lices, also known as Place Carnot, can be found within a short walk of the Old Port and the Annonciade Museum. This lovely square turns into a traditional Provençal market on Tuesdays and Saturday mornings. The place where you can enjoy village atmosphere that has not changed even though Saint Tropez has become one of the most exclusive locations in the world. The vibrant scene of colourful stalls filled with fresh fruit & vegetables, Provençal deliciousness, flowers, an antiques and art is possibly one of the most chic farmers markets.
TIP: Make sure to visit St. Tropez on at least one of the market days, but if you miss it, there is still plenty of shopping on its medieval streets.
MUSÉE DE LA GENDARMERIE
The most photographed building in St Trop showcasing the town`s historic connection to film was transformed into museum in 2016. Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez movie series starring Louis de Funès made St. Tropez world famous resort. All fans of Louis de Funes`s work should definitely visit The Gendarmerie. Some storylines from “Gendarme from Saint-Tropez” have been shot there. The museum also presents a thematic exposition devoted to this movie.
MUSEUMS IN SAINT-TROPEZ
Visit Maison des Papillons (the Butterfly Museum) with thousands of butterflies on display or if you are into modern art visit the Annonciade Museum – one of the longest established modern art galleries in France.
BEACHES IN SAINT-TROPEZ
Nestling on the shore of the Mediterranean St Tropez with its cool, relax French way of life has become a beach lover`s paradise. With almost three-thousand sunny hours a year is not difficult to understand why this popular jet set destination is one of the sunniest places of France. Although St. Tropez is popular for its beaches, the beaches are mostly away from the centre and require transportation. The Plage de Pampelonne, one of the most famous beaches on earth, is actually around 6 km to the south of the town. A 4.5 kilometre stretch of golden sand beneath the protected green hills of Ramatuelle is the iconic spot where the swanky Club 55 and Nikki Beach are situated. There are 23 beach clubs where you can hire sun beds and parasols, and more importantly, wine and dine with the rich and famous.
GOOD TO KNOW:
As of 2019, the environmental rules to protect the beach were introduced to Pampelonne, one of the world`s most famous beaches. 80 % of the new Pampelonne will remain public and free of charge with 20 % reserved for beach clubs which constructions will be removed in the winter months. A zero concrete policy should allow the sandy area to recover during the winter season.
Besides its private beach clubs along the Pampelonne, several public beaches are free (except for fees to rent lounge chairs and beach umbrellas).
If you are interested in more authentic local culture than glamour (or just don`t have enough time as us), visit one of the beaches near the town. A few beaches are located nearby to the west of the town, within reasonable walking distance.
Bouillabaisse Beach is near the centre of the town, within easy walking distance of the port. This smaller, less crowded sandy beach has more low-key atmosphere, but we didn`t mind. This beach has free public showers, as well as a seaside restaurant.
TRAVEL TIP: You are going to visit St. Tropez in October, don`t miss the chance of witnessing the racing regatta. During Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez the bay is full of colourful sails and you can enjoy stunning views.
Today, Saint-Tropez rules the Riviera. Sure, luxury is a big part of the town, but this charming Provencal place with azure blue sea still has its quiet charm in its tiny alleys and shady squares. It is “the” place with a powerful history and Tropéziens are immensely proud of it. It is a place not-to-be miss when in Cote d`Azur .
Wish we had more time in St Tropez but unfortunately we only had a half day to get a taste of this glamorous little town. But we will be back!
Have you been to Saint Tropez? What would you add to the list? If you liked our post, please share it!
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