Once the only thing glistening on the docks of St Tropez were fish scales, now you’re more likely to be blinded by diamonds.
It’s the little fishing village that’s grown to be a very big fish indeed. Discovered by artists such as Picasso and Matisse in the mid-20th century, this pretty, sunny town soon became the focus of the wealthy as a holiday destination and these days the rich and famous from all over the world come by plane and yacht to see and be seen.
Wandering the docks of St Tropez you’ll see some of the most expensive boats in the world and some of Europe’s most privileged people hopping on and off them. But it’s not only the rich who can enjoy sailing these waters – there’s a ferry service, Les Bateaux Verts from the Old Port (Vieux Port) to many nearby towns and islands including the interesting and cheaper town of Sainte Maxime and even as far as Cannes. Or you can rent your own boat for a day or so.
A boat can be handy for getting to the best beaches which are a little way out of town. Pampelonne Beach is one of the most famous and deservedly so. Traditionally a nudist beach it is lined with bars and cafes and clubs, and also luxury beach huts for rental for that special holiday. Le Club 55 is one of the places to be seen at the beach but you’ll need a reservation if you want to lounge on one of the white sofas on the sand. There is a beach bar open to all if you decide to just drop in on a whim. You can walk to Pampelonne along Ave de la Résistance (south of place des Lices) to Route de la Belle Isnarde and then Route de Tahiti – Pampelonne is an extension of the Tahiti Beach. Otherwise, catch the bus headed to Ramatuelle which runs about 1km inland and then head down one of the many side roads to the beach.
St Tropez’s town is full of outdoor cafes where you can sit and watch the world stroll by, and excellent restaurants and small exclusive shops tucked away in the narrow hilly streets. On Tuesday and Saturday mornings there’s the Place des Lices Market famed for both its fruit and vegetables and other goods from clothing to homewares. But it’s not only about spending and spas, this place has history and culture also.
The must visit museum is the Musee St Tropez or Annonciade Museum located in the Annonciade Chapel. It has modern art from the 20th century such as Matisse, Derain, Modigliani. La Maison des Papillons is also famed for its collection of 4,500 butterflies pinned to the walls.
Other interesting historical sites include The Citadel, a 16th century fortress which now houses the Naval Museum. It has great views over the port of St Tropez. The Three Towers – The Guillaume Tower (also known as Suffren Tower), Portalet Tower and Jarlier Tower – are even older than the Citadel and have magnificent views. The Chapel of Saint-Anne is famed for saving St Tropez from the plague.
These things won’t cost your a fortune, and there are a surprising amount of things you can do in St. Tropez on a budget. So go ahead, mingle with modern royalty, who knows maybe you’ll meet a Prince.
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