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St Tropez

St Tropez

Saint-Tropez, which has witnessed the comings and goings of Celts, Greeks, Phoceans, Romans, Saracens, Genoans, Spaniards and even the Japanese, is as ancient and turbulent as that of France…

In 1892 Saint-Tropez burst upon the scene, or at least made its mark on the modern and contemporary imagination in the way it is thought of today. That year, from the deck of his boat L’Olympia, the painter Paul Signac was to gaze out over the landscapes of the peninsula.  Enthralled by the sheer beauty of the place, he decided to settle there. His villa, La Hune, was soon to become a popular meeting place for his friends Bonnard, Derain, Marquet, Matisse…

The Musée de l’Annonciade, which occupies a former chapel on the edge of the port, is a faithful custodian of those happy artistic years, immortalised in works by Signac, Bonnard, Matisse, and also by Braque, La Fresnaye, Vlaminck, Vuillard…

Painting was to be succeeded by literature when, in 1925, Colette set up home in her house, La Treille Muscade, in the bay of Cannebiers. In 1946, Saint-Germain des Près was to follow in the footsteps of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and discover Saint-Tropez. After that, it was the turn of the cinema. In 1956, it became the location for Roger Vadim’s Et dieu créa la femme with Brigitte Bardot who, thereafter, was never to leave Saint-Tropez, and in 1958 Otto Preminger shot Bonjour Tristesse with Jean Seberg who was also to return there…

Saint-Tropez has become universal, almost too universal, and experimental art cinema was soon followed by more mainstream genres of French film in which all walks of life are all let loose in films set in Saint Tropez …

The hottest beach town in France is also the ultimate see-and-be-seen spot in all of Europe, the naughtiest beach parties in Europe: Expect lots of flesh and Champagne showers, the quiet islands of Porquerolles and Port Cros, which offer a welcome time-out from all that excess.

About halfway between Nice and Marseille on France’s Mediterranean coast, St. Tropez is located on a fat peninsula that was traditionally secluded because its access was cut off by mountains. The village itself is quite small; in fact, it’s almost the same size as the enormous parking lot built on the western edge of town to accommodate high-season visitors. The harbor, one of the best along this coast, was once filled with fishing boats; today it’s crowded with yachts, and the waterfront is the town’s de facto main street. Neighboring Ramatuelle has the peninsula’s best beaches—three long miles of scalloped white sand fronted by the Baie de Pampelonne.

The season begins in mid-April, a lovely time of the year when the mimosas—the feathery yellow flowers emblematic to the South of France—are in bloom. The beach clubs open in May, and the sea is comfortable to swim in by late May or early June. While many old St. Tropez hands consider April and May to be among the most delicious months on the coast, connoisseurs prefer mid-September through October, when the summer crowds are gone and the Med is toasty. Les Voiles de St. Tropez, the late September/early October sailboat regatta that’s the gala end-of-season event, pulls a desperately chic international crowd. June is busy but bearable and July is ever more crowded, but August makes the little fishing port a no-go zone. Why? Bumper-to-bumper traffic, outrageous price hikes, and wannabes who outnumber movie stars and millionaires by an enormous ratio. Tip: If you want a Mediterranean holiday in August, do as the locals do and make for the Îles d’Hyères, the gorgeous islands 50 miles west of St. Tropez. They are peaceful even at the height of the season.

Saint Tropez Tourism

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