Saint-Tropez is home to one of the most beautiful harbors in the Mediterranean which is at the heart of this picturesque Provencal town. A veritable hotel on the sea, it has become a focal point for business where the jet set, captains of industry, fishermen, and sailors of every hue meet.Nevertheless, they strive to keep a balance between sea traditions, classic sailing and yachting activities through the numerous events taking place around the marina.

THE TOUR OF SAINT-TROPEZ

Once past La Croix de Fer (The iron cross), my arrival at Saint-Tropez heads towards the port without taking any real notice of the alleys that make up the tangent which rejoins the “Place des Lices”. I had already started the wrong foot. On the port, I stand astounded in front of the billet erected in the statue, facing the scrubbed and yachts. The port fall resembles a spy nest into which all those who wish to discover St.-Tropez and who unfortunately never really to discover it. To be honest the village’s charm less in the maze of roads lined with Provencal houses. In order to realize this, go to the end of the port quay, Fréderic Mistral. There the Portalet tower imposes its curves. Look across the Gulf’s waters. Head along the narrow Portalet road and take a look down its neighboring roads (rue du Pults and rue Saint Esprit). Return to the small “Place Garezzio”. There stand the chàteaux Suffren and square  tower, built in 940 by William 1st Count of Provence. On its flank, San Martin’s road opens up at the end to the “Place aux Herbes” and its stair case painted by Charles Camoin in 1905. It leads to the port by taking the list markets porchway.

THE OLD TOWN

Facing the Suffren Castle, the Town Hall square on which stands at the magnificently carved door. A Prince from Zanzibar offered it to a local sailor. From the town hall square, you have two possibilities. La Rue du Commandant Guichard or la rue de la Ponce leads to the Eglise Notre Dame de l’Assomption Square,designated as the antiques and art gallery district, at the end of the road, la rue du Clocher rises gently until it reaches the calm of the Place de l’Omeau. This is where the cemetery once used to be. From here you can take one of the many alleyways. On the left la rue du Petit Saint Jean rejoins la Ponche. On the right an alleyway spreads on to the small square callea Tour Jarlier; the old prison built in the XV century. From la rue de la Ponche, typical as many of the roads, one ends up in the heart of the la Poncho. After having passea through the arches of the old tower (porch way of the Ponche XV century), dominating the place du revelin balcony overlooking the gulf and the fishermen’s houses, la rue des Ramparts. At a certain period, the district was baptized “Saint Germain des Pres” because it was frequently visited by Paris intellectual society( Baris Vian, Sagan, Picasso). Whilst going up the road, the charm continues to manifest itself. In particular at the top end of the Place des Remparts, where the des 4 Vents starts.

The Citadel and the Sailor’s Cemetery

At the top of la rue des Remparts, then known as Aumale Boulevard, the Jarlier Tower keeps a lookout. On the right, la rue de la Citadelle climbs down to the port. On the left the Citadelle’s wood, its hexagonal keep protecting the naval museum, its ramparts, and its peacocks. With a remarkable viewpoint, it was built in the 16th century. At its base, the sailor’s Cemetery bathes in the blue of the sea and the sky. Returning to the old town, take la rue du Petit Bal and turn into la rue des Bouchonniers. At the end, you’ll cross the rue de la Miséricorde. In the house covered by vegetation on the right lived Brigitte Bardot’s parents. Go up about 30 meters. On your left the marvelous and always flowery rue de la Treille. Take this road and turn left into la rue de Portail Neuf. Yellow and green, the glazed tiled dome of the Chapelle de la Miséricorde surges up. The “old lady” was built by the Pénitents Noirs de la Miséricorde. Go through the archway. You are now on la rue Gambetta. Left and straight on the famous Place des Lices. Make the most of this moment and have a drink, you’ve earned it.

THE BRAVADE

Each year on the 16, 17, and 18 of May, Saint-Tropez lives exclusively for the Bravade. Artillery salvos, the blessing of weapons, the taking, and rendering of the pike and flag, processions, grace Thanksgiving are all established, according to an unchanging ritual. Winding through the crowd dressed in red and white Sunday garb, the procession of native Tropezians snakes its way from street to street, dressed in First Empire uniforms carrying sabres, cocked-hat, armed with blunder-busses filled to the muzzle with black gun powder. On “Grande Bravade” day, everyone reunites for the “Musketeers” mass shared between honor and ceremony.

LES VOILES DE SAINT TROPEZ

This manifestation, a reflection of the most illustrious nautical event to take place in the Mediterranean, is the most awaited and most popular St. Tropez “rendez-vous” of the year. Every year, at the beginning of October, the Société Nautique and its president, organize “Les Voiles de St. Tropez” with the backing of the town hall and Esprit Village. This is an extraordinary, convivial sports gathering that includes lots of other activities, a village of tents on the Nouveau Port car park, a sailor’s fair and spectacular regatta in the bay. The October 2017 edition will attract around 300 magnificent boats, mostly traditional sailing boats as well as “new technology” monster. Without a doubt this is one of the biggest and most important regattas in Saint-Tropez. It all started as a friendly bet one day in October when the harbour was empty, giving rise to the Nioulargue which later became “Les Voiles” and is the big meeting of the year. A festival at sea and ashore where competition, emotions and passions rule.

 

VILLAGES

1.Ramatuelle Village

During my stay on the peninsula, I cannot avoid discovering the ancient charm of Ramatuelle. The village dated with a geocentric, geometry lives in the heart of the hills surrounded by acorn trees and pine umbrella trees, with a large number of vineyards containing well sought after wines spreading out below. Ramatuelle, land of Provence and Maure’s countryside authentic, picturesque, stitches its territory over 3557 hectares for a population of 2000. Even if the young elm pulled up its roots in 1983, the beautiful elm square remains the living center of the village. The tomb actor Gérard Philipe still attracts many visitors. Around the church built in the 17th century, tiny streets and alleyways garnished with vaults and porches. Evidence of a new era which still respects the past and cultural willing, the open air theatre, designed by the architect Serge Mège and built in 1985, brings a national influence to the village. Pampelonne beach, savage and the little disorganized, spreads its fine sandy charm over more than four kilometers. The intimacy of its creeks, the beauty of its marine life can be discovered all along the coastal walkway.

2. Gassin Village

One of the most beautiful villages in France. A rocky promontory less than 4 kilometres from the coast, the old village of Gassin with its winding alleys and its old picturesque houses dominates a countryside full of vineyards, stitches of woodlands and the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. from the medieval terraces of the island of Hyeres to the snow-covered slopes of the Alps and includes the Massif des Maures. Ancient oppidum Celto Ligure, the village became a religious haven at the beginning of the XI century (Saint Laurent Chapel). The templiers stamps and a somewhat mysterious destiny meant that it was often considered as the witches village. Today Gassin is more preoccupied with the harmonious development of quality tourism, whilst equally protecting an exceptional lifestyle. It recently received in 1998, the “Welcome  Smile” prize for the most beautiful villages in France. This is how recent projects destined at a tourism clientele came to be and confirms a willingness to modernize and an opening to the future while continuing to preserve Gassin village’s title of “Precious Stone” on the peninsula nestling in a bosky bower. Come and discover it, you’ll keep an unforgettable souvenir.

MUSEUMS

1.The Annonciade Museum

A chapel transformed into a museum. The Notre-Dame de l’Annonciade chapel was erected in 1568. Abandoned during the Revolution, the upper part was reconstructed in 1937 to house the collections from the Museum Tropezen. In 1950, the entire building was put at Georges Grammants disposal, who asked for it to be transformed by Louis Sue, in order to suit its new role as a museum. He inhabited the new Museum, which was inaugurated on the 7th August 1955, which fifty-six objects from his prestigious collection. Evidence of the historic role played by St-Tropez in XX century art and as a result of the passion of one man, the Annonciade museum has chosen to remain a living museum through thematic exhibitions. The museum is consecrating it’s 2017 summer exhibition to Georges Braque.

2.Museum Dany Lartigue

As part of an old house, you will find a selection of all the diurnal species of the butterfly of France listed by Dany Lartigue during several decades.

BEACHES OF SAINT TROPEZ

From the Cap du Pinet to the Gulf of Saint Tropez passing through La Plage des Salins, La Moutte, Les Canoubiers, Les Graniers and La Ponche, the fishermen’s village distinguishes itself by its clean shoreline. La Bouillabaisse, Gulfe Azur, and Pearl Beach are situated at the entrance of the village, Les Graniers just behind the old city and Les Salins at the end of the peninsula complete the Tropezian beaches.

Situated in the Ramatuelle district, Pamplona beach, which has over four kilometers of hot sand, welcomes each year thousands of tourist and holidaysmakers from around the world. e In this mythic exotic place, which has managed to preserve its authenticity and conserve its environment, armies of very distinguished people that nobody has heard of cross paths. The international jet-set mix with Hollywood stars and French show-biz. Locals from Saint-Tropez, Ramatuelle, and Gassin are at home drifting from one highly respected place to another along the coastline. One comes to taste the magic, to unwind, to sample the excellent food and the eccentricity. The party also has its rendez-vous with the sun god. Spontaneous or organized, Pamplona remains faithful and continually shows off its different facets. Facing it, luxurious yachts back in the company of more modest boats; and make up the only rampant on the Mediterranean horizon. Everywhere you can see a show of joy and euphoria supported by palm-trees and bamboo. Everyone finds what they are looking for, your own personal beach amongst thirty or so private establishments which take up a place in this little area of paradise. Each establishment proposes its own specificity, not forgetting those searches open for the non-paying public. The choice is yours.

To start preparing your little bucket and spade, slip into your best swimsuit, pop on your sunglasses go and participate to the marathon beach adventure.

THE WINE TRAIL

In the Mediterranean and in particular on the peninsula, little time is needed before one realizes now omnipresent the vineyards are. On everyone’s lips and in everyone’s glass, the Provencal rosé underlines the joy and pleasantness of living. Very fashionable over the few years, this beverage, representative of the sun, is imposing itself on every table. Today the rosé, is fermenting its reputation after having won the quality label, boasting of aperitif time and trumpeting on all the rooftops its hymn to the French South. A mixture of subtle fragrances with pastel color. In the same way as the olive and the mimosas plant, it is increasingly asserting itself as a legitimate ambassadeur of this region, blessed by the gods as by tourism. During my stay in Saint Tropez in cigadas country, I discover “domaines” and “chateaux”, whilst through marvelous landscapes between vineyards and cork oak tree.

Since I’m in Saint Tropez why not start by getting to know some St. Tropez wine and taste at the Cave Cooperative the new vintage. Then take the beach road towards Pampelonne and call in at the “Chateaux des Marres”. Then the “Chàteaux de Pampelonne” stretching over 52 hectares of vineyards and see the birth of a rosé wine by draining and direct pressing. So for my first wine tasting stop, on the “route des Tamaris”, and well before aperitif time. So keep something in reserve for after. Leave the ochre colored soil and rejoin the tarmac towards Ramatuelle, head to L’Escalet where I stayed. Just before the junction of “La Croix-Valmer/L’Escalet, “Les Celliers de Ramatuelle founded in 1955 by Albert Raphael give you typically and characteristics wines. Once you have befriended with “Vignobles de Ramatuelle” jump back in the car and take the road on your left to L’Escalet. The “Domaine de la Touraque” is signposted. To get there, don’t hesitate in taking tortuous dirt into the countryside. Surrounded by thick vegetations at the end of a chaotic journey being bumped from the car seat to the roof, the buildings will appear on your right. It was in 1806 that Francois Gregoire married Rosalie Olivier whose family were already cultivating the vineyards of this estate. Since this alliance was formed, future generations have continued the agriculture on this lands. The rosé wines are lovely and scented, full-bodied and generous, heady and subtle.

Turn back and take the road to Gigaro which is superb. It leads you through a typically Mediterranean landscape onto Boulevard de Tabarin where there are two vineyards with a sea view, the Domaine de la Bastide Blanche and the Domaine de la Croix. After the road to Gigaro “The Domaine de la Madrague have a Cotes de Provence AOC and Bio.

Since you are only few strokes away from Pampelonne bay, take this opportunity to have lunch on the Migon beach restaurant, where the “chef” suggest small local homemade dishes. Revitalized by this stop-over next to the Big Blue Sea, head towards Ramatuelle by the D61 and head back down towards St. Tropez. At this very moment, you are in the Gassin municipality. On the D61 roadside, the hillsides of the “Domaine de la Rouillère” spread over more than 80 hectares. Once again I’m talking about owners wines coming from the noble vines such as Grenaches, Cinsault, Cabernet, Syrah, MoudSvre, Semillion, Ralle and Ugni blanc.

Continue to the road until you reach “Chateau Minuty” planted on an estate of 70 hectares made up of micashist soil. Witnessse of the past, the castle and the chapel remind us of Napoleon III architecture, Red, rosé and white wines sleep in casks under the watchful eye of the Matton-Farnet family.

RESTAURANTS

1.L’ECALE – An amazing trip between Saint-Tropez and Tokyo. French and Japanese cuisine, black cod miso yuku, crispsy rice, beef gyoza, sushi, sashimi and california rolls, ideal for lunch or dinner on the sand.

2.LE QUAI – An absolute must for Saint-Tropez night life. Sit back and relax on the comfortable sofas as you gaze out across the yatchs and watch the sun set. Le Quai is an enchanting place and not to be missed for Saint-Tropez aperitifs, outstanding dinners and unforgettable evenings with DJ’s, cabaret dancers and lots more. The best show and Franco-Asian cuisine.

3.L’OPERA – The elegant atmosphere of L’Opera is getting a lot of attention. Enjoy the breathtaking views across the facades of the port and the bell tower at lunchtimes, or dinner-shows in the evening. The trendy, ultra-glamourous restaurant sees various artist providing never-before-seen entertainment in Saint-Tropez. Musicians and professional dancers mix in a decor of marble, wood, gold and white for a real taste of luxury.

4.SENEQUIER- The brasserie with its large terrace on the harbor, all dressed in red and serves since 1930. On the other side,the pastry shop, confectionery and chocolate has gourmands since 1887 with famous tart tropézienne and nougats. But be prepared about the price its a bit expensive just like a slice of tart is 16€ , Cappucino 10€, Heineken beer 18€, your 50€ for 2 coffees and 2 cakes.But for some who don’t care about the price at least the view is just in front of the port and will guarantee you the fresh food and great services.

 

On the bank of the deepest gulf on the Cote d’Azur, the small port of Saint Tropez, dominated by its citadel, is a spatown which became popular as a stop over for artist during their summer European sojour. First came painters, following in the footstep of Paul Signac, now this former republic owes its worldwide reown essentially to films stars. It was also the birthplace of one France’s most sailors, the Bailliff of Suffren.

Just like those great painters and writers come and admire this privileged site inhabited of Saint-Tropez you may stop-over as long as you wish.

 

 

 

 

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