Saint-Tropez Travel Guide

For this travel guide, we will have a visual tour of one of the glamorous towns in French Riviera — Saint-Tropez.

Saint-Tropez, one of French Riviera’s top destinations for the jet-setters. But this town in southern is not only for them.

The highly-fashionable jet-set crowd flocks to this tiny resort town every summer, and have been since the 1950s. Saint-Tropez was once simply a picturesque French fishing village.

Then Coco Chanel and her fashionable friends started coming, and it became the setting of the movie And God Created Woman featuring Brigitte Bardot, the era’s famous sex symbol.

Since then, the previously almost unmapped town in French Riviera became an international tourist hotspot. It is now known as a top destination for the wealthy and famous.

The Hamptons of Europe. Let us acquaint ourselves with this tiny but illustrious town in French Riviera

Basic information about the locality

Let us start this travel guide with a little background of Saint-Tropez.
Saint-Tropez is 100 kilometers west of Nice in southern France. It is in the Var département of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The locals call themselves Tropeziéns.
It has a population of less than 5,000. French is its official language, though many speak English because of its international status in tourism. It has the perfect Mediterranean climate.
Summers can be hot but balanced by its coastal location. It has moderately mild winters. The peak season for tourists is around May to August in the summertime, although it’s beautiful year-round.

The origin of the town’s name

Saint-Tropez got its name from an early Christian martyr, Saint Torpes.

Legend has it that the Roman Emperor Nero ordered his execution. Saint Paul converted Torpes. He then professed his faith to Nero during a pagan ceremony.

Nero asked him to renounce his faith, not wanting to kill him. Nero ordered to decapitate him after he refused to do so.

Torpes’ head was tossed into the Arno, a river in Tuscany, Italy. The body was placed in a rotten boat with a rooster and a dog.

The boat floated to Liguria. A holy woman dreamt of the body’s arrival. It reached the location of the present town, and not far from the sailors’ cemetery.

The body was supposed to nourish the rooster and the dog, but it remained untouched. The locals named their village in his honor.

Saint Torpes became the patron saint of sailors. Two festivals parade his bust to venerate him.

One in mid-May, there is the festival of Les Bravades. It commemorates the time of the creation of the army and its achievements. The others in mid-June to commemorate the victory of the Tropezian militia over the Spaniards in 1673.

Artists in Saint-Tropez

Before the celebrities, the uber-rich, and their super-yachts came artists and the painter fell in love with this French Riviera town first. The pervading brilliance attracted them the most.

The works of the painters put the town on the artistic map. Most illustrate the simple yet charming life typical of Saint-Tropez.

Saint-Tropez, le quai, Paul Signac, 1899, a painting of French Riviera scene
Saint-Tropez, le quai, Paul Signac, 1899

Paul Signac (1863-1935) He was born in Paris. He trained as an architect before becoming an artist. Impressionists’ works like that of Monet inspired him.

He combined his love of painting and sailing. He rented a small cottage and worked on the quaysides.

His move to a larger villa called La Hune includes a very important year of modern arts.

Places des Lices, Saint-Tropez, Henri Matisse, 1904, a painting of French Riviera scene
Places des Lices, Saint-Tropez, Henri Matisse, 1904

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) He is a son of a store-keeper and was born in northern France. He studied law but quit because of illness.

His past time, drawing, became his career. His mentors in his artistic studies made him inquisitive about the nature of colors.

After discovering his own style experimenting with pure colors, he created a distinct art of his own.

La jetée de Saint-Tropez, Pierre Bonnard, 1912, a painting of French Riviera scene
La jetée de Saint-Tropez, Pierre Bonnard, 1912

Pierre Bonnard ( 1867-1947) He was born a wealthy Parisian. He studied law and pursue a career as a barrister before being an artist.

In 1910, he moved to French Riviera where he found the inspiration for his art. He used notes, sketches, and even photographs as reference materials.

He reflected on his subject, and as he said, dreamt of it,

An A-list tourists list

Saint-Tropez, French Riviera

Haute couture designer Coco Chanel visited it in the 1920s. Also did Elsa Shiaparelli.

In the 1950s Brigitte Bardot starred in the film And God Created Woman set in the town. It is the turning point of the town, from a humble fishing village to a playground of stars.

The writer and poet Françoise Sagan also visited in 1955, and her work Bonjour tristesse also brought Saint-Tropez into the spotlight.

Pink Floyd wrote a song entitled San Tropez. Many rappers include it in their song lyrics stating it to be their favorite vacation spot.

And it was a place for Leonardo DiCaprio’s charity gala for wildlife and ocean conservation.

Up ’til now, it never seizes to attract the crème de la crème of the show business and modeling industry.

Places to visit

Iconic Riviera always includes the best places to visit in our travel guide, and here is the list for Saint-Tropez.

Plage Pampelonne and Other Saint Tropez’ Famous beaches

Saint-Tropez beach, French Riviera

There are at least 40 beaches on the coastline. Some of them are places where you can experience to m’as-tu vu (that is, see and be seen, or literally “have you seen me”).

The Pampelonne beach is on top of the list. Much of its bay has private beach clubs, with restaurants, bars, and sun loungers.

There are trendy spots like Tahiti, Club 55 (which catered to the crew of the Bardot movie), or Nikki Beach. Public stretches are also available and you can always enjoy the sea in the shore-front.

Places des Lices— Saint-Tropez ‘ Main Square

On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, this square opens as a lively market. It has a large area with white sandy ground.

Around it is trees aging up to a hundred years. At times there are people who play the traditional ball game in French Riviera, the petanque or Boules.

There are also lots of bars, cafés, and restaurants that add to the cheerfulness of the place. It is where the Café de Lices is where once can rent boules.

Saint-Tropez Vieux (Old) Port

Saint-Tropez Harbor, Fench Riviera

This is where most people both rich and poor, famous and common, locals or tourists gather around. The yachts and the picturesque harbor is its main attraction.

Pastel-colored houses typical of French Riviera line the promenade. The typical scene is the round tower of the church viewed from the harbor. The quays have boutiques, tourist shops, cafés, and restaurants.

Some museums to see

As part of cultural exploration, you can always find the list of the best museums in our travel guide, and the following are the best you can see in Saint-Tropez.

Saint-Tropez’ La Citadelle

Saint-Tropez' Le Citadelle, French Riviera

It is a historic 17th-century fortress. Surrounding it is an impressive set of ramparts and bastions.

The roof terrace gives a scenic view. On its dungeon is the Museé de l’Histoire Maritime Tropeziéne that exhibits the town’s maritime history.

Museé d l’Annonciade

It is one of the best museums in the region. The collection includes work of post-impressionism and modern art periods.

The theme of the artwork is about Saint-Tropez. The exhibits highlight the works of Signac, Matisse, Bonnard, and other Tropezienne artists.

Maison de Papilions

This unusual museum has a display of over 4000 species of butterfly. It is a collection of Dany Lartigue, a painter.

The display can be found in an old fisherman’s house.

Activities to do

People watching and celebrity spotting is somewhat a trend here in Saint-Tropez. As it is said, see and be seen.

You can party and spend like a celebrity. Go and shop like one, too.

Don’t forget to buy a pair of sandales Tropeziennes. Also, you should see the expensive yachts, or charter one.

Always take pictures for Instagram. Like others in southern France, Saint Tropez has amazing vistas.

You can buy fresh local fruits and vegetables, fish and herbs in Place aux Herbs.

Have a taste of Provencal and Mediterranean cuisine and enjoy the wine of a local vineyard. Tarte tropézienne is a must-try.

Have time to see the greatest polo players at the international Saint-Tropez Polo Club. It is held in the first week of July.

How to arrive at Saint-Tropez

Quai in Saint-Tropez, French Riviera

There are no train stations and airports around town. Cars are also not a very good option because of the perpetual traffic jam, and because many of the most charming streets are not accessible by car.

Tourists can either travel by bus or by boat.

By bus

There is a bus station in Saint-Tropez called the Gare routière de Saint–Tropez located in Place Blanqui. It is operated by department transport division Varlib, which employs other companies to operate routes. Bus #7601 serve Saint-Tropez from behind Saint- Raphaël’s train station via Sainte-Maxime to the east (almost hourly, 1.5 hours to Saint- Raphaël, 30 minutes to Sainte-Maxime). Bus #7801 and #7802 run from Toulon’s train station to the wet (6/day, 2 hours)

By boat

Boats make the one-hour trip between Saint-Tropez and Sainte-Maxine run about every hour. There are also ferry services connecting to Nice or Cannes.

Around Town

Public transport includes mini-buses, scooters, cars, bicycles, and taxis. There are also helicopter services and boat trips. Also, walking is an obvious choice due to traffic and because of the short distances of the destinations.

Visit Saint-Tropez on your next vacation

Whether you’re a celebrity or just the usual traveler, the one of a kind experience you can have by visiting Saint-Tropez in southern France is unforgettable.