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The view on the port with the church bell tower in the center

Saint-Tropez Travel Guide for a Vacation à La Mode

The view on the port with the church bell tower in the center is favorite scene in Saint-Tropez
The port and the church bell tower is a favorite scene in Saint-Tropez

The highly-fashionable society flocks this tiny resort town in summer. Saint-Tropez was once a fishing village before the 20th century. Coco Chanel visited and became attracted to it. In the 1950s, it was the setting of the movie And God Created Woman. It features Brigitte Bardot, the era’s famous sex symbol. Since then, the almost unmapped town became an international tourism hub. It is now a top destination for the wealthy and famous, Let us acquaint ourselves with this tiny but illustrious town in French Riviera.

Basic information about the locality

The location of Saint-Tropez and the surrounding French Riviera
The location of Saint-Tropez and the surrounding French Riviera

Many refer to this coastal town as St-Trop as popularized by people in the movie industry. Saint-Tropez is 100 kilometers west of Nice, on southeastern 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 are around May to August in the summertime. In the estimate, it hosts six million visitors a year.

The location of the tourist spots in a map of Saint-Tropez
The location of some tourist spots in a map of Saint-Tropez

The origin of the town’s name

A festival parade for Saint Torpes
A festival parade for Saint Torpes

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 their 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 painter fell in love with the 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
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
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
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 of a barrister before being an artist. In 1910, he moved to southern France 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

Haute couture designer Coco Chanel visited it on the 1920s. Also did Elsa Shiaparelli. In the 1950s Brigitte Bardot starred ifn 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

40 public and private beaches in the coastline of Saint-Tropez
40 public and private beaches line the shores of Saint-Tropez such as this one

Plage Pampelonne: There are at least 40 beaches in the coastline. Some of them are places where one 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 one can always enjoy the sea in the shore-front.

A game of Boules in Place de Lices
A game of Boules in Place de Lices

Places des Lices: On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, this square opens as a lively market. It has a large area with white sandy ground. Around it are trees aging up to a hundred year. At times there are people who play the traditional ball game 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.

A view in the Old Port
A view in the Old Port

Vieux (Old) Port: 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 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

The Citadelle
The Citadelle

The Citadelle: 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.

The art gallery in Museé de l'Annonciade
The art gallery in Museé de l’Annonciade

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

The butterfly collection in Maison des Papilons
The butterfly collection in Maison des Papilons

Maison de Papilions: It 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

Bougainville decoratres the facades ogf the houses in a street in Saint-Tropez
Bougainville decorates the facades of the houses in a street in Saint-Tropez
  • People watching and celebrity spotting. As it is said, see and be seen.
  • Party and spend like a celebrity. Shop like one, too.
  • Buy a pair of sandales Tropeziennes.
  • See the expensive yachts, or charter one.
  • Take pictures for Instagram.
  • Buy fresh local fruits and vegetables, fish and herbs in Place aux Herbs.
  • Taste the Provencal and Mediterranean cuisine and enjoy the wine of a local vineyard. Try tarte tropézienne.
  • See the greatest polo players at the international Saint-Tropez Polo Club. It is held in the first week of July.
The promenade with the port on one side and pastel-colored establishments on the other
The promenade is made enjoyable by the view on both sides

How to arrive at the town

There are no train stations and airports around town. Cars are also not a very good option because of the perpetual traffic jam. 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 transports include 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.

Celebrity or just the usual traveler, the one of a kind experience one can have by visiting Saint-Tropez is unforgettable.

Visit the town’s official website here. Also, access the tourism website here.