St Tropez is probably the most famous resort in Europe.
But it was not always so: farming folk sheltered within thick cool walls, raised their poultry and kneaded their loaves, fishermen returned from the deep with their nets full, and wine growers guarded their vaulted cellars. Huddled about its church, protected by its citadel and wooded hills, the village slumbered to the chant of cicadas.
But it was popular with artists long before the international jetset arrived in the 1960s. It was attracting the artistic and dissolute long before Brigitte Bardot appeared in “God Created Woman”. Paul Signac and Georges Seurat came in the late 19th century, and by the forties and fifties it almost became an extension of the Parisian Left Bank with Picasso and Sartre, amongst others, becoming regular visitors.
The cobblestoned La Ponche quarter recalls its past as a fishing village, but now super yachts by far outnumber the fishing boats in the old harbour. The charming little village streets, spreading out from the port, are now filled with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants, real estate agencies, art galleries, yacht brokers and home decoration shops.
The land in this part of the coast is protected, and the views down to the beaches and up to the Maures mountains are spectacular. The peninsular is covered in umbrella pines, and beautiful vineyards. When you drive over the hill past Ramatuelle village, and down into the green valley you can be forgiven for thinking that you have arrived in paradise.
Here are some good reasons for going.
The Beach Bars
There are over 25 beach bars in the St Tropez area, where you can contemplate the waves, drink, dine, show off, or sleep from a comfortable lounge chair and/or mattress. These are “Beach Clubs” with no membership required, where celebrities, oligarchs, presidents, princes, tycoons and models come to relax; most of them were constructed during the ’50s and ’60s and are still going strong.
Pampelonne Beach is the number one beach that has fuelled St Tropez’s reputation since 1955. Nearly 5 kilometres of fine white sand separate the Mediterranean Sea from the acres of scrub covered dunes. It is a site of natural beauty that offers a rural backdrop to the world’s most glamorous beach party scene. No line of high-rises mars the coastline. There’s no seaside promenade, no snack stands, no souvenir stalls. Dunes rise gently behind the beaches, then there are acres of brush, grass and vineyards before reaching the interior.
Though Pampelonne is the longest, most famous and most popular, there are many other St Tropez beaches worth seeking out. Many are within walking distance of the village, and there are details in the house books.
Further afield there are some fine beaches at Gigaro, and beyond La Croix Valmer.
The region surrounding St Tropez is well suited to wine production, thanks to well drained soil and a favourable climate. The variety of landscapes mean that each terroir is subtly different. Dozens of grape varieties can be grown in this part of the world which leads to the production of many distinctive wines.
Historically known for light, drinkable rosé, the area is now making some exciting red wines, with many young vignerons moving towards organic production, so you may see horses ploughing through the vineyards or a herd of grazing sheep replacing weed killers.
When it comes to music, St Tropez is probably more known for drawing the superstar DJs to its clubs than for its live bands and concerts, but this glamorous fishing village has a fair mix of music venues and special events.
There is the Festival “Les Nuits du Château de la Moutte” in July and August each year: it is hard to imagine a more romantic evening than attending one of these outdoor concerts in the grounds of a chateau overlooking the sea. This programme of jazz, opera and classical music under the stars is one of the premier events of the Riviera music calendar. Equally romantic are the flood-lit castle above Grimaud village where “Les Grimaldines” music festival takes place, and the slopes below Ramatuelle village with ” Les Nuits Classiques”.
In 2017 Trio Aria from Italy will also be performing in various locations near St Tropez and possibly in your villa,
The Beautiful Properties to Rent or Buy
L’e Marquis has some of the most beautiful properties to rent in the area, some right on the water, some of them with spectacular views over the sea and countryside: some suitable for large groups, some for small families. All have been inspected by our managers.
The Romantic Restaurants
The Yacht Races
The Boutique Hotels
The Villages and The Markets
“the extraordinary light in the south of France and the Mediterranean, which so lends itself to being painted in watercolour is a constant lure. ” Pink Harrison.
There are over twenty art galleries and workshops hidden in the back streets of the village.
The Musée de L’Annonciade near the harbour is a vivid reminder that the village of St Tropez was at the avant-garde of painting in the 20th century. The collection represents, for the most part, the Pointillist, Fauvist and Nabist periods: Seurat, Signac, Cross, Matisse, Vlamnick, Van Dongen, Derain, Vuillard, Bonnard……
The new Museum of Maritime History opened in July 2013 in the Citadel of Saint Tropez’s keep which affords one of the beautiful views of the coast. Today people from all over the world come to St Tropez. The Museum
Fashion including BCBGMAXAZRIA, Longchamp, Frisson, Peter Polo, Kiwi, Brigitte B and K. Jacques sandals.
Jewellery and gift shops. Furniture, decoration, antiques and linen.
The Day Trips
Aix-en-Provence: 120 kms away, about one hour and 40 minutes by car.
Cannes: 85 kms away, about one hour and 20 minutes by car.
Cassis and les Calanques: 110 kms away , about one hour and 40 minutes by car.
The Gorge du Verdon: 90 kms away, about one hour and 35 minutes by car.
The village of Gordes in the Luberon hills: 190 kms, about two and a half hours by car.