When we hear about Saint Tropez in South France, we all think about yachts, expensive cars, celebrities, actors, singers, brands and exclusive hotels. Well, Saint Tropez is all these but it is also more. It is also a picturesque fishing village, preserved perfectly, where everyone could have a great time according to the money he is willing to spend. Let’s see how you can spend a memorable summer morning in this famous village at Cote D’ Azur.
The most common way to arrive in Saint Tropez is by car. Park your car in the enormous Parking Du Nouveau Port (no way you won’t find a spot) and then follow Rue General Allard, which leads directly to the Old Harbour. On your way you come across numerous shops, most of them selling beachwear.
At the end of the road, on your left hand you will see the small but famous Musee De L’ Annonciade, which certainly deserves a visit. The museum was created in 1922 and presents art from 1890 to 1950, including some of the French masters, such as Matisse, Derain and Marquet. The building was a 16th century chapel and it is a great example of how Saint Tropez was an important avant-garde centre in the beginning of the 20th century. Paul Signac discovered this village in 1892, set his workshop here and started inviting other artists to work here. This artistic tradition is still vivid in Saint Tropez, from the street painters at the Old Harbour to the many painters ateliers and exhibitions you find in the streets of the village (for more information about the museum visit the official St Tropez site).
After your visit to the museum, you are now in the heart of the Old Harbour, the heart of the village. Stroll around the docks, admire the works of the numerous street painters and stare at the various famous cafes and restaurants. In the world famous Cafe De Paris, Le Gorille and Senequier you might recognize a celebrity, a politician, or an actor drinking his/her morning coffee. If you are not willing to have a coffee at one of these quite pricy cafes, you could just grab a delicious ice cream cone from Barbarac on Quai Gabriel Peri.
From this point walk along Quai Jean-Jaures with the pretty pastel-painted houses and turn right at Place D’ Hotel De Ville, where the Hotel De Ville with its pink facade is located. Just next to the entrance of the building turn left at the narrow passage, that leads you to the much photographed beach La Glaye. The beach is located between the two towers, Tour Du Portalet and Tour Vieille, which defended the village from sea invaders. Sit down on this scenic small beach and take a break from the buzz and hassle.
After the small break return back to Place D’ Hotel De Ville and follow, on your left, Rue De La Ponche that leads to the beach La Ponche and Port De Peche. From here follow Rue Des Remparts, where the workshop of Valerie Pons is located. Pons is a French painter specialized in Naive art, who in 1991 created a workshop in Saint-Tropez. Her works are unique and certainly deserve a visit. From Rue Des Remparts turn right to Rue De La Citadelle and get lost in the narrow streets of the old fishing neighbourhood, trying to find your way back to the Old Harbour.
(From this point of Rue De La Citadelle, it is easy to reach Citadelle, the old fortress, located on the top of a small hill, which offers spectacular views over the rooftops of the town and beyond)
In the complex of the narrow alleys, you come across Eglise Notre Dame De L’ Assomption with its colourful bell tower that dominates the skyline of the village. Inside the church, you can see the torso of Saint Torpes, the patron saint of the area. He is venerated as an early Christian martyr and the town of Saint-Tropez is named after him. His legend states that he was martyred during the persecutions of Nero. According to the most famous story, he was executed by Nero after Torpes declared himself a Christian. His body was placed in a boat with a cock and a dog, which had been put there in order to nourish themselves on the saint’s body. A woman named Celerina had a dream of the arrival of the saint’s body, and indeed the boat reached the location of Saint Tropez, where Celerina lived. The body was untouched by both the cock and the dog.
From the church walk down towards the harbour and turn left at Rue Francois Sibilli, where the shops of the most famous fashion brands are located (Dior, Dolce Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and many more). This is the perfect place for window shopping and checking on the new trends in fashion. The street ends at Place Des Lices, the biggest square of Saint Tropez, where every Tuesday and Saturday, a big street market takes place (avoid these mornings if you are not interested in the open market because the whole area becomes very crowded). After a stop for coffee at one of the many cafes around the square, start your return to the car.
If during this long morning stroll around Saint Tropez you feel hungry, the choices are many. Here are three of our favourites :
- La Tarte Tropezienne (Traverse Des Lices, Place De Lices) : Come here basically to taste the famous tarte, which is a dessert pastry consisting of a filled brioche. It was created in 1955 by Alexandre Micka, a patisserie owner in Saint Tropez. The pastry was named by actress Brigitte Bardot the first time she tasted it, during the filming of “And God created woman”.
- Basilic Burger (Place Des Ramparts) : Tasty and quality burgers, very good prices and excellent service. The menu has a significant variety of choices.
- L’ Aroma (2 Rue Joseph Quaranta) : Authentic Italian pizza with quality ingredients in many combinations.
The last picture you are going to take with you is that of Gendarmerie Nationale (above painted by Valerie Pons), a characteristic icon of this village, near Nouveau Port.
Saint Tropez is a place where everyone could find a way to have a good time. This village does not exclude anyone and everyone feels welcomed. If you are visiting South France, a morning in Saint Tropez is a highly recommended stop.