Saint Tropez Pictures
Côte d'Azur, France
Click bottom photo for images and information of St Tropez beaches
Severe Traffic Warning Ahead!
The Saint Tropez cape or peninsula has one main access road from the 'mainland' which will definitely be totally stuffed June-September, meaning two hours or more sitting encased in smoky metal just from the nearby town of Saint Maxime or the last exit of the A8 autoroute, let alone wherever the poor tourist has travelled from beforehand.
So, St Tropez tourist travel options are:
- spend half your day in traffic, both arriving and leaving.
- go early (before 8am) and return late (after 8pm).
- go totally out of season.
- travel by motorcycle or helicopter (not a joke, this is how les riches get to de Trop).
- take a fast ferry from Nice of about 45 minutes or a slow ferry from Cannes (1.5 hours), St Rafael or St Maxime (just across the water and before the worst of the traffic jams, so drive there via the A8 autoroute, park and take the ferry across the bay.
- the nearest airport is Toulon-Hyeres and even Ryanair flies there from Stanstead.
- go somewhere as nice but more accessible, such as any of the Caps between Nice and Monaco.
Le Vieux Port in mid September.
Originally a fishing village, St-Tropez was colonised first by artists and writers, Guy de Maupassant (writer) and Paul Signac (impressionist painter) towards the end of the 19th century.
From then until the mid 20th century it remained a destination for bohemians and artists until film director Roger Vadim filmed Brigitte Bardot there in 1956, 'And God Created Woman'. God had, in fact, created a paradise for the rich, Saint Tropez, and they came, saw and bought it.
Over the last 60 years the death of wealth in St Trop has been trumpeted but greatly exaggerated. The rich are still there but tend to leave the streets to the proletariat these days while they snuggle discreetely in their lavish hillside villas, luxury hotels and ridiculous yachts, with public outings confined to dining at fine restaurants and beach clubs along Pampelonne Bay.
An overview of St Tropez from the Citadel on the hill. On the distant right Saint Maxime is visible, a pleasant town with fair beaches and an excellent place from which to catch a ferry to reach St Trop without being trapped in a car for hours.
One of many pricey restaurants facing the mega-yachts in the Old Port.
Food quality is high in St Tropez, but doesn't have to be very expensive - just get away from the port (the rich folk off the boats don't like to stagger too far) and check out the menus posted outside. If prices are not quoted then you may expect to empty your bank account after the meal in addition to selling your wife into slavery. We're told that Le Sporting brasserie serves the best value food in the town.
As far as night clubs are concerned money alone may not be enough to enter the elite three - Les Caves du Roy, the VIP Room and Papagayo. Beauty, style and celebrity may be required for entry at busy times. Still, hanging around the exterior of these hotspots may be entertaining enough in itself as the supercars and glitterati roll by. The second ranking but still fashionable Bar de Port in Quai Suffren is marginally easier to get into.
hint of real French life as locals play boules under the plane trees in the main square, Place des Lices. Visitors can borrow boules from Café des Arts and give the game a try, or even take on the locals.
The only modestly interesting cultural site in the town is an old chapel converted into Musée de l'Annonciade, a gallery of fine art associated with Provence.
A St Tropez town map showing a massive parking area (in white) on the left, adjacent to the New Port; the Old Port in the centre from where various ferries come and go; the Citadel up on the hill on the right side.
The wonderfully undeveloped centre of the St Tropez peninsula, mainly because the vineyards are protected by layers of long-standing laws and much of the rest of the land is a national park.
An excellent hiking/walking coastal trail (Sentier du Littoral) runs around the St Trop coastline passing endless beaches and is, as you can see, very well signposted. Just follow the yellow markings.
Ramatuelle hilltop town.
And after a hard day lying in the sun, a short drive to the Cap de Saint Tropez's green centre brings thirsty tourists to the two 8thC hilltop villages of Ramatuelle and Gassin.
Gassin is the smaller of the two, the further, the higher and offers the best views.
Note that French law does not permit clients to drink at a restaurant table without food, so a quiet pastis aperitif at one of these tempting tables is not going to happen. Of course you can always patronise a bar, but unfortunately Ramatuelle's main square bar has neither a view nor a welcoming ambience. We'll try Gassin next time!
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