Saint-Tropez was well and truly put on the map in the 1950s when French film stars endorsed it with their regular visits, transforming it into one of the most popular destinations in the South of France. Celebrity culture prevails and star spotting continues to be one of the top spectator sports for visitors who return year after year. We’ve chosen some of Saint-Tropez’s best restaurants to get a great view, great company, or at least enjoy a great fine dining experience.
La Table du Marché is a contemporary bistro upstairs and a gourmet bakery with a tearoom and terrace downstairs, owned by celebrity chef Christophe Leroy. Just a stone’s throw from the old port, the venue offers a break from the hustle and bustle of Saint Tropez. Great gourmet bites, pastries and patisseries are available all day from early morning, with good value set menus at €19.50 for two courses (lunch only), and three courses, €29.
La Ponche offers fine dining where “fish soup, red mullet, lobster, cod are all honored in true Provençal fashion”. Besides getting a great gourmet experience, this is an unmissable venue for French film fans to dwell on the heydays of former regular, Brigitte Bardot, during the making of Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman. Literature lovers can linger over the view where Bonjour Tristesse author Francois Sagan was famously photographed, which owner Simone Duckstein says has not changed since before World War II. She should know as her father ran the place as a simple fisherman’s bar back then, from when she has memories of guests such as Pablo Picasso who would sit for hours on the terrace “sipping an anisette”.
There’s never a better opportunity to over indulge in gastronomy than on holiday in St Tropez. The most exquisite cuisine is conjured up by France’s 2013 Chef Of The Year, Arnaud Donckele, at this three star Michelin restaurant. Customers are served in world class style and elegance, as would not only be expected at a Michelin starred restaurant, but at one of the region’s most exclusive hotels, La Résidence de la Pinède. Main courses start at €94 in the Vague d’Or restaurant, with extravagant sandwiches also served on La Terrace starting at €34.
Another well known St Tropez must visit that has been kept in the family over generations is Club 55. On a busy summer’s day the restaurant will serve more than 1000 guests who flock to this famous address. Situated on the beautiful Pampelonne beach, this place is popular all day and all night long, and its owners keep up its inclusive ambiance where “the client is not king because he is a friend”. This is a great place for a post-beach aperitif with appetizers.
L’Auberge des Maures is another highly reputable St Tropez restaurant and a firm favourite locals and visitors. This beautiful old Provençal house is the oldest restaurant in town as renowned for its gourmet greatness as it is for its fabulous terrace in summer and welcoming warmth with an open fire in winter. Graced with regular visits from famous guests such as David Niven, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Brigitte Bardot, and poets Jean Cocteau and Paul Eluard, who celebrated his wedding there in 1950, with Pablo Picasso as a witness. Only open for dinner, expect to find beef, lamb, duck, fish and seafood on set menus of three courses for €49. A la carte menu also available.
Well located on the pictoresque old port, Café Senequier has been proudly greeting its customers since 1887. Attracting the rich and famous as well as passers by, it is the perfect pit stop to take in some of the atmosphere for which St Tropez is so well known, to do some yacht spotting and watch the world go by from the terrace. A selection of pattisseries are served all day, though do not expect too much change from a 50 note for a coffee and cake for two.
Le Sporting is an authentic brasserie situated on St Tropez’s pretty Place des Lices. This is a regular meeting point for locals to hang out for an hour or two over refreshments. Enjoy classic daily specials at a very reasonable €12 for dishes such as Provençale beef stew or shepherd’s pie. This place is particularly great on Tuesdays and Saturdays when the street market provide some atmospheric hustle and bustle to take in from the terrace.
Also on the Place des Lices is Brasserie des Arts which provides an elegant setting with modern interior designed for chilling out with the hip and arty crowd. The terrace packs out in the summer months as guests jostle for space to be seen. Brunch is offered all day on a Sunday, aimed particularly at those who have partied into the early hours, for whom designer sunglasses are an absolute must. Refreshing salads, grilled meat and fish dishes are served throughout the day and evening, though it is also possible to stop off just for a drink and a spot of people watching.
Les Arcades is located within one of St Tropez’s most luxurious hotspots, the Byblos Hotel. Expect extravagant fine dining in an opulent setting created under the instruction of internationally renowned chef, Alain Ducasse. The restaurant offers a menu which promises the finest local ingredients cooked to perfection, with meat, fish and salad choices available to complement the season. The daytime restaurant also allows customers to take late breakfast or lunch while relaxing by the pool.
Le Kikouiou serves up good food in a wonderfully natural country rustic and relaxed setting. Al fresco dining in tune with the season is offered with stunning leafy views over the rolling vineyards of the region. This place is a welcome step back from the beach club bling and some of the more extravagant offerings in town. Great salads are served, alongside a selection of pizzas and grilled meat and fish dishes.