Welcome to Wednesday! If you’ve missed any of the series so far you can catch up here and why not check out our latest posts on the Auvergne region and Lourmarin area. Today we continue on our series as we are exploring Saint Tropez in the South of France, with the assistance of Celia Ford Drummond, who is The English Celebrant in France.
Exploring Saint Tropez
The St Tropez peninsular has long been a dream destination for many. It comprises four main communes: Gassin, St Tropez, Ramatuelle, and La Croix Valmer.
Because access and land space is so limited, the local Mairie has endeavoured to retain its rustic feel rather than emulate the glossy resort of Cannes.
The fishing village looks very much the same as it did in the 60s, although behind the ancient facades are designer shops of every brand.
In the winter the Vieux Port plays host to lovely wooden craft, while in the summer the sheer size of the modern yachts all but dwarf the famous multicoloured buildings that fringe the waterside.
The sea offers the best approach, the view of the village with its famous “Pepperpot” church steeple and the Citadelle rising up behind.
St Tropez is quite easy to get to; It is served by 3 airports : Nice, Toulon and Marseille. As it no longer has a train line, you’ll need to hire a car or take a bus to the village.
There are ferryboats operating from the nearby ports of Grimaud, St Maxime (every 20 minutes), Les Issambres and St Raphael, so if you’re thinking of visiting the Tuesday and Saturday Provencal markets, the ferry can be the easiest way to arrive. If you tire of wandering the narrow cobbled streets, there are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants offering a variety of delicacies to tempt all, the most famous perhaps being the artists’ cafés surrounding the Place des Lices. Le Sporting is reasonably priced and open from 6am to midnight year round.
Although St Tropez village has a couple of small fishermans’ beaches, if you want to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, head for Pampelonne Plage, an 8 Km strip of sand in Ramatuelle fringed with exclusive yet highly accessible beach clubs and restaurants.
Each of these is available for hiring out for wedding ceremonies and other private events, more usually during Cannes Film Festival. Many have their own shops and entertain their clientele with fashion shows while they eat. And yet, glitzy though they may be, each is reached by a long, winding, narrow lane through vineyards… a more romantic setting I can’t imagine.
Where to go:
Each restaurant has its own special feel – try Moorea Plage for a superb atmosphere and excellent lunch.
Ramatuelle itself is a well-preserved hill village rising up behind Pampelonne beach. Despite its illustrious surrounds, it has managed to maintain its village feel, the centre remaining unspoilt and in particular the Bar / Tabac in the tiny square, its interior and feel dating back to the 50s.
Ramatuelle hosts a classical music festival in July, provision for which is below the village in the Theatre de Verdure. It’s now famous Jazz Festival is held in August and has counted the Best in the jazz world among the guest musicians.
Continuing out through the top of Ramatuelle, the road takes you on a splendid countryside drive past the Moulin de Paillas with stupendous views over the Porquerolles Islands, and from here you have the choice of visiting the hill village of Gassin, or snaking down to the southern part of the peninsular to lovely La Croix Valmer.
Unlike Pampelonne Plage, the beaches of la Croix Valmer face due south towards the islands. As it is more accessible to the rest of the southern Var coast there has been quite a lot of building, but the wonderful Belle Epoque villa Houses and hotels still retain their former grandeur with views over the plain to the sea.
The Sunday market is a major attraction, and the Café Valmer in the centre provides a great spot to people watch while supping the local wine and eating Gilardeau Oysters.
The St Tropez Peninsular boasts a large number of hotels, B&Bs and of course rental villas to suit all budgets.
From the stunning Hotel Villa Belrose in Gassin to the Chateau Messardière on the heights above Pampelonne, the ultra modern Le Kube on the approach to the village to the Pan Dei Palais in the village centre, there are plenty of places to stay.
Come and explore the beauty of St Tropez for yourselves and find out why it is considered to be one of the top Dream Destinations.
Where to stay?
St Tropez : The following site is probably the best guide to the many hotels in St Tropez from budget to super luxury.
The Hostellerie Baou is beautifully situated within walking distance of the village and affords the most stunning views of the bay of Pampelonne.
The Hotel Villa Marie is a luxury spa hotel in traditional Provençal stone, a rustic haven of peace in a quiet setting.
The Hotel Villa Belrose has marvelous views across the Bay of St Tropez.
La Croix Valmer
The Belle Epoque Hotel l’Orangerie has far-reaching views to the sea.