Of all the exuberant cities on the Cote d’Azur, St Tropez has the most sinful reputation for fun and frolicking. It is glamorous, gregarious and oh so gorgeous.
They say that anything goes in St Tropez, the playground of rich, famous and beautiful people. It sports some of Europe’s most extravagant restaurants, nightlife, shopping and hotels, but this luxurious lifestyle doesn’t come cheap.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, St Tropez’s port was mainly used for shipping and fishing but select crowds were beginning to flock to the blue shores. By the end of World War II, the port was destroyed before being rebuilt as a major summer retreat that caught the attention of creative Parisian artists, writers, actors and actresses. Many credit Bridgette Bardot with building the city into the celebrity mecca that it is today. By the 1950s, St Tropez had earned a reputation as an eclectic, inspiring destination for the “it” crowd of the day.
If you have a purse the size of Naomi Campbell’s, one of the places to stay is Le Byblos. Built in the style of a colourful Mediterranean village, it attracts many celebrities, royalty and the privileged few from May through to the end of July. On travel itineraries of the rich and famous, will be socialising, partying and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Le Byblos boasts a beautiful mosaic-tiled swimming pool, a century-old olive grove and giant bougainvillea-lined terraces, as well as first class restaurants, a piano bar, shopping and a nightclub.
You may be inclined to think that St Tropez can only offer beautiful people, restaurants and nightclubs, but there are plenty of other reasons to pay a visit. For seafarers, there is yachting, motorboats, water sports, sailboats, skippered catamarans, water-skiing, jet skiing and deep-sea fishing. For sporty people, there is rafting, go-karting, mountain biking, four-wheel driving in the countryside, horse riding, golfing and even a Formula 1 or Formula 3 driving school.
For those in search of culture, there is little left of the medieval Provencal atmosphere of the original town. You may appreciate a cultural visit to some of the region’s chateaux wine cellars for tastings, or take a walking tour of the picturesque countryside of the Provence surrounding St Tropez.
Behind the rows of yachts fronting the terraced cafes of the waterfront of St Tropez are some narrow, picturesque streets full of shops. The hub of the town is the Place aux Herbes, a busy enclave of fish, fruit, vegetable and flower stalls. For a bit of fun, you can take part in one of the local treasure hunts that are put on by the hotel.
One of the wildest party venues is La Voile Rouge, situated on one of St Tropez’s famous beaches. Getting into the club/beach party is not an easy task, unless you are a celebrity-like person. By 4pm, sun posers come in off the beach and head inside for the fashion show on an elevated catwalk that runs down the middle of the restaurant. The clothes come from local designers and anything on a model can be purchased. Some have even been known to declothe right there and then to give you the goods off their lovely backs.
St Tropez is just as you imagine; good looking and fun, if incredibly frivolous and self obsessed. It is not for everyone, but some certainly approve of such views.