French Riviera Secrets


St Tropez

Few places on the French Riviera have been more hyped up than St Tropez. Its name forever linked to Brigitte Bardot, who first came here in 1956, it was already popular among some famous writers, actors and artists, such as Guy de Maupassant, Errol Flynn and Matisse. From the 1950's onwards, it has become increasingly popular with the jet set.  Chances are you will come across some celebrities, either in one of the many cafés, or on one of the luxurious yachts moored off inside or just outside the harbour.
In fact, there probably isn't a celebrity who has not been spotted here at some stage: George Clooney, Kate Moss, Jack Nicholson, Elisabeth Hurley, .... the list goes on and on.

St Tropez village - aerial view St Tropez village - aerial view

It is definitely beautiful: its sea front location, its idyllic setting in the Provençal hills, overlooking a scenic bay, its historic and picturesque town centre, the surrounding beaches... 

So, what is the catch you may ask? Well, there isn't any, really. It's just that it gets a bit crowded in summer, to the extent that it is nearly impossible to get around at all, certainly by car.  But hey, that is only two months a year.
If you can, visit in April or May (avoiding one of the many bank holidays of course), or from September onwards.

You can drive to St.-Tropez along the coast all the way from Cannes, following the Corniche d'Or road through the Esterel, allowing for beautiful views on the red coloured mountains and the sea, on to St. Raphael, Fréjus and Sainte-Maxime.
The nearest airport is Toulon, about 1 hour's drive away (outside the summer season).

St Tropez harbour St Tropez harbour
The Baie des Canebiers, close to the town centre of St.-Tropez The Baie des Canebiers, close to the town centre of St.-Tropez

The old town centre is pretty and nice to wander around in, with its colourful harbour, narrow streets, its many shops (including lots of designer shops) and its Italian baroque style church. 
Place des Lices, lined by big plane trees is the scene of frequent Provençal markets.

St. Tropez - Pampelonne beach St. Tropez - Pampelonne beach

The best beaches are just south of the town, near the village of Pampelonne. You will also find plenty of beach-front restaurants here.

Outside the main tourist season (and with temperatures better suited to exercise) there are plenty of scenic walks to be done, for example the coastal walk from old town, along the beaches near Pampelonne, via Cap Camarat, CapTaillat and Cap Lardier to Gigaro.

 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Memorial and street name honouring French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

All in all a pretty little town, in a beautiful setting, loved by the rich and famous, by politicians and artists, overrun by tourists in the summer, and still maintaining its own identity as an historic Provençal town.

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