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 Saint Tropez 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.
**St Tropez is the snobbiest part of the Côte d’Azur (more so even than Monaco! ), with big money, big crowds and big traffic jams, yet still glamorous. The in-vogue beach is Nikki, where you have to pay – or even book in advance, but there are plenty of superb cafés and restaurants as well as the outstanding Musée de l’Annonciade (20th century masters such as Rouault and Matisse). Getting there will require your own wheels or a bus as the coastal train give St Trop a wide berth.
A useful train route runs along the Côte d’Azur from Marseilles to Ventimille (Ventemiglia) – avoiding Saint Tropez completely! – and though it’s comfortable it’s not exactly reliable. In addition it sometimes stops very near the sea, such as at Villeneuve-Loubet Plage or Villefranche but sometimes it’s quite a distance away like in Nice where it’ll take a good 20 minutes walk to reach the shore, though the newish tram system is cheap, efficient and a big help to getting around.
Sad to say but we tend to drive along the coast on the excellent A8 autoroute which is generally easy to access (a notable exception is Cannes) or nip onto the spectacular or interesting during the off season. From Antibes to Menton on the A8 takes about 45 minutes.