Saint-Tropez in France has attracted the rich and famous since the late 19th century. Today, the pretty peninsula is renowned for exclusive beach clubs, megabucks yachts and exquisite restaurants as well as olive groves, a cobblestoned old town and rugged coastal hikes. Not enough? Here’s why everyone should visit Saint-Tropez at least once.
Discover Saint-Tropez from the water by hiring a boat for the day through SamBoat – no experience necessary. Alternatively, book a week-long French Riviera sailing holiday with Dream Yacht Charter.
The most celebrated St Tropez beach isn’t actually in St Tropez at all but in nearby Ramatuelle. Still, don’t let a postcode stop you hitting this 5km (3mi) postcard-perfect stretch of white sand, squeezed between the sparkling Mediterranean and scrub-studded dunes. Find a spot to sunbathe, cool off with a dip in the sea and peer at fellow holiday-makers from behind your sunglasses: some of the biggest celebrities in the world have enjoyed a day on these sands.
If you’ve overindulged on creamy tarte tropézienne and local rosé wine, then leave the sun-lounger behind to wander this coastal path. The winding rocky route starts just outside La Ponche and curves around the peninsula, past secluded coves, hillside steps, wide beaches and lavish villas. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a picnic for lunch with a view along the way.
Fine wine is as integral to Saint-Tropez as sunshine. Château Barbeyrolles is one of the best, first made in 1982 in a vineyard in the village of Gassin by the Sumeire family. The first pale rosé to be made in Provence was vinified here in 1985, and Château Barbeyrolles now also makes a red and a white. The vineyard is open every day except Sunday; study the winemaking process and sample the award-winning wines for themselves.
Cap Camarat is one of three wildly beautiful headlands close to St Tropez, with sea views, hiking trails and fascinating wildlife including the native Hermann’s tortoise. The cape is best known for a distinctive lighthouse, the second highest in France, which was built in 1829 and towers over the sea below. If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk here from the centre of St Tropez by taking the coastal path.
Head into the rolling countryside around St Tropez to discover rural life away from the coast. Windmills were built in the region between the 16th and 19th centuries to grind wheat for flour, and a replica overlooking the bay of St Tropez is now open to visit. Peek inside before strolling around the picturesque hilltop town of Ramatuelle nearby.
Hours can whizz by once you’ve found a table at a Vieux Port (Old Port) café. Once the heart of the fishing village, this charming harbour now sees millionaires’ yachts bobbing on the water next to traditional fishing boats. On dry land, the pastel-hued houses that line the seafront are home to higgledy-piggledy souvenir shops thronged with tourists, while the lucky ones linger over wine in the sunshine on the terraces outside every restaurant.
The Old Town, next to the Vieux Port, was once the fishing district and is now the perfect place to potter. The distinctive Italian baroque bell tower of the 18th-century Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption presides over the terracotta rooftops and the jumble of narrow streets below. Wander through shaded squares, pop into independent galleries and dine on homemade bouillabaisse in a traditional restaurant.
Climb above St Tropez to the 17th-century citadel for an insight into the long seafaring and fishing history in the region. Built to defend the town from enemies approaching by sea, the citadel dungeons are now home to a museum dedicated to maritime history. You can hear tales of historical invasions and learn about the adventures of local fishermen who travelled the world from this coastline.
St Tropez is a shopper’s paradise. The town is packed with plush boutiques from big designers, but the independent boutiques are the biggest treat. The streets around Rue Gambetta and Rue Allard are lined with chocolate shops, shoe stores, clothing boutiques, antique emporiums and countless art galleries between the high-end fashion stores. Take a break in the shaded Place des Lices where locals still gather to play pétanque among the shoppers.
Try to visit St Tropez on a Tuesday or Saturday morning to visit the lively open-air market at Place des Lices. Stock up for the picnic of dreams at local food stalls including those piled high with freshly baked bread, pastries, ripe fruit, juicy olives and sausages. After, browse for bargain fashion and well-priced souvenirs to take home from vendors selling unique handicrafts, paintings, antiques, bags and home accessories.
Explore the rest of the French Riviera by chartering a yacht for the day through SamBoat or book a vessel for the week with Dream Yacht Charter – skipper included.
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