Saint-Tropez is located on the French Riviera. It was a military stronghold and an unassuming fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first town on this coast to be liberated during World War II (as part of Operation Dragoon). After the war, it became an internationally known seaside resort, renowned principally because of the influx of artists of the French New Wave in cinema and the Yé-yé movement in music. It later became a resort for the European and American jet set and a goal for tourists in search of a little Provençal authenticity and an occasional celebrity sighting. The inhabitants of Saint-Tropez are called Tropéziens, and the town is familiarly called St-Trop.
The main economic resource of Saint-Tropez is tourism. The city is well known for the Hôtel Byblos and for Les Caves du Roy, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, whose inauguration with Brigitte Bardot and Gunter Sachs in 1967 was an international event.
Tropezian beaches are located along the coast in the Baie de Pampelonne, which lies south of Saint-Tropez and east of Ramatuelle. Pampelonne offers a collection of beaches along its five-kilometer shore. Each beach is around thirty metres wide with its own beach hut and private or public tanning area.
Many of the beaches offer windsurfing, sailing and canoeing equipment for rent, while others offer motorized water sports, such as power boats, jet bikes and water skiing, and scuba diving. Some of the private beaches are naturist beaches.
Toplessness and nudity (curiosities)
In June, 1964, Austrian-American fashion designer Rudi Gernreich introduced a topless swimsuit called the monokini that generated a great deal of controversy in the United States and internationally. During Gernrich's youth, some Austrians advocated nude exercising, which gave him this fashion idea. The Vatican renounced the swimsuit, and L'Osservatore Romano said the "industrial-erotic adventure" of the topless bathing suit "negates moral sense."] In Italy and Spain, the church warned against the topless fashion. At Saint-Tropez, the mayor ordered police to ban toplessness and to watch over the beach via helicopter.
During the 1960s, the monokini influenced the sexual revolution by emphasizing a woman's personal freedom of dress, even if her attire was provocative and exposed more skin than had been the norm during the more conservative 1950s. Quickly renamed a "topless swimsuit",the design was never successful in the United States, although the issue of allowing both genders equal exposure above the waist has been raised as a feminist issue from time to time. In Saint Tropez, Tahiti beach, which had been popularized in the film And God Created Woman featuring Brigitte Bardot, emerged as a clothing-optional destination. The "clothing fights" between the gendarmerie and nudists become the main topic of a famous French comedy film series Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez (The Troops of St. Tropez) featuring Louis de Funès, but in the end the nudist side prevailed. Topless sunbathing is now the norm for both men and women from Pampelonne beaches to yachts in the centre of Saint-Tropez port. The Tahiti beach is now clothing optional, but nudists often head to private nudist beaches, like that in Cap d'Agde.
The port was widely used during the 18th century; in 1789 it was visited by 80 ships.
Saint-Tropez's shipyards built tartans and three-masted ships that could carry 1,000 to 12,200 barrels. The town was the site of various associated trades, including fishing, cork, wine, and wood. The town had a school of hydrography. In 1860 the floret of the merchant marine, named "The Queen of the Angels" (a three-masted ship of 740 barrels capacity), visited the port.
Its role as a commercial port declined, and it is now (2016) primarily a tourist spot and a base for many well-known sail regattas. There is fast boat transportation with Les Bateaux Verts to Sainte-Maxime on the other side of the bay and to Port Grimaud, Marines de Cogolin, Les Issambres and St-Aygulf.
Les Bravades de Saint-Tropez are an annual celebration held in the middle of May where people of the town celebrate their patron saint Torpes of Pisa and their military achievements. One of the oldest traditions of Provence, it has been held for more than 450 years, since the citizens of St Tropez were given special permission to form a militia in order to protect the town from the Barbary pirates. During the three-day celebration, the various militias in costumes of the time fire their muskets into the air at traditional stops, march to the sound of bands and parade St Torpes's bust. The townspeople also attend to a mass wearing traditional Provençal costume.
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. Each year, at the end of September, a regatta is held in the bay of Saint-Tropez (Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez). This is a draw for many yachts, some up to 50 meters in length. Many tourists come to the location for this event, or as a stop on their trip to Cannes, Marseille or Nice.
Transport to and from Saint-Tropez
Saint-Tropez marina. The 800 berths port with two marinas hosts boats, including ferries. In the summer season, there is a ferry service between St-Tropez and Nice, Sainte-Maxime, Cannes, Saint Raphael, or by chartering a private yacht.
There is no airport located in Saint-Tropez, but there is a charter service to and from clubs, town, and Tropezian beaches by helicopter.
The nearest airport is La Môle – Saint-Tropez Airport, located in La Môle, 15 km (9 mi) (8 NM) southwest of Saint-Tropez.
Other main airports are:
Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (~95 km)
Toulon-Hyères Airport (~52 km)
Marseille Provence Airport (French : Aéroport de Marseille Provence) (~158 km)
Rail: There is no rail station in Saint-Tropez. The nearest station is 'Saint-Raphaël-Valescure', located in Saint-Raphaël (39 km (24 mi) from Saint-Tropez), which also offers a boat service to Saint-Tropez. There is also direct bus service to Saint-Tropez, and the rail station is connected with bus station.
Bus: There is a bus station in Saint-Tropez called the French: Gare routière de Saint-Tropez located in Place Blanqui. Var department transport division Varlib, which employs other transport companies to operate routes, operates it.
Taxi: There are taxi services – including from Nice airport to Saint-Tropez – but this is not cheap due to long distances, and image of "wealthy Saint-Tropez".
Private car: In the tourist season, traffic problems can be expected on roads to Saint-
Tropez, so the fastest way to travel is by scooter or bike. There is no direct highway to the village. There are three main roads to Saint-Tropez:
Via the A8 (E80) with the sign "Draguignan, Le Muy-Golfe de Saint-Tropez" – RD 25 Sainte-Maxime, 19 km (12 mi) -> on the former RN 98 – 12 km (7 mi).
A57 with the sign "The Cannet des Maures" -> DR 558, 24 km (15 mi) Grimaud until then by the RD 61 – 9 km (6 mi) through the famous intersection of La Foux
Near the sea, the former RN 98 connects to Toulon-La Valette-du-Var, Saint-Raphaël, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, DR 93, called "Beach Road", with destinations to Pampelonne, Ramatuelle and La Croix – Valmer.
Public transport in Saint-Tropez includes mini buses, which maintain a shuttle service between town and Pampelonne beaches.
Other means of transport include scooters, cars, bicycles and taxis. There are also helicopter services, and boat trips.
ADVICE:Because of traffic and short distances, walking is an obvious choice for trips around town and to the Tropezian beaches.
Culture, education and sport
The town has health facilities, a cinema, a library, an outdoor center and a recreation center for youth.
Schools include: École maternelle (kindergarten – preschool) – l'Escouleto, écoles primaires (primary schools – primary education): Louis Blanc and Les Lauriers, collège d'enseignement secondaire (secondary school, high school – secondary education) – Moulin Blanc.
Saint-Tropez plays a major role in the history of modern art. Paul Signac discovers this light-filled place, which inspired painters like Matisse, Pierre Bonnard and Albert Marquet to come to Saint-Tropez. The painting styles of pointillism and Fauvism emerged at Saint-Tropez. Saint-Tropez was also attractive for the next generation of painters: Bernard Buffet, David Hockney, Massimo Campigli, and Donald Sultan lived and worked there. Today, Stefan Szczesny continues this tradition.
Nightlife chosen clubs and amusement spots
Les Caves du Roy
The most prestigious nightclub in France for the past 40 years has lost none of its panache. In truth, recent wholesale renewal, the first since the 1970s, has given it more, brightening the Orient-meets-Med glitz while refining the wildly OTT kitschy excesses. On the other hand, superstar resident DJ Jack-E still looks as hip as a gas boiler. He mixes the music for the grooving of Clooney, Beyoncé and any other A-lister in town. If you get past the doormen (arrive plastered or badly dressed and you don’t have an earthly), entry is free – though drinks start at €28. Think around €300 for a bottle of the cheapest champers. Even a few beers will leave you broke but you will have bopped the night away amid people you are never going to meet down the pub in Peterborough.
Address: Byblos Hotel, St Tropez
Contact: 00 33 494 56 68 00; lescavesduroy.com
Opening times: nightly, midnight-6am in July and August, weekends April-October
The second of St Tropez’s three legendary addresses, the VIP Room starts the night as a restaurant with Med cuisine and mood music. Then it gives way to club-life with bopping amid walls of light. The surroundings are whiter, a little less delirious than in Les Caves du Roy – but the atmosphere is just as electric, the prices as high and the style as decadently sophisticated. Non-regulars have a dickens of a job getting into what Karl Lagerfeld has apparently called “the best club in the world”.
Address: Residence du Nouveau Port, Rue du 11 Novembre 1918, St Tropez
Contact: 00 33 638 838383;
Opening times: nightly, 8pm-6am in summer
The third of St Tropez’s leading triumvirate and, allegedly, the most unbridled of the lot. An observer once summed the place up as “illicit behavior and dirty deeds”. Naturally, that ensures a steady flood of the sophisticated and the beautiful through its doors.
Like the VIP Room, the 40-year-old Papagayo (3) is linked to a portside restaurant, now known as l'Opéra. Mainly white of décor, and inspired by 1940s Hollywood, it has one of the loveliest terraces in St Tropez. Meals are served through till late, when the high-energy kicks in and the likes of P Diddy take to the futuristic dance floor. From then on, anything might happen, and frequently does. Anthony Bandéras was allegedly spotted here last year, shortly after his break-up with Melanie Griffith.
Address: Route Résidence du Port, St Tropez
Contact: 00 33 494 97 95 95; papagayo-st-tropez.com
Opening times: daily, 12 noon-dawn in summer
This old-town restaurant-cum-bar-cum-disco (4) is the spot where decent Mediterranean dining gives way to boisterous, lively, lascivious later evenings. In addition, it remains very gay friendly. Nevertheless, no one is sure for how long. At the time of writing (early 2015), the future of the establishment was in doubt.
Address: 5 Rue Sibille, St Tropez
Contact: 00 33 494 97 16 12
Opening times: nightly, 9pm-3am April - October, weekends all year round.
Bar du Port
Hippest hi-tech spot fronting the Old Port (Vieux Port). Even the toilets are funky. Elsewhere there are mirrors, much white, and wall-lights piloted by a computer. The bar (5) is open for breakfast from early morning. It changes ambience as the day wears on, serving good brasserie fare at lunch and dinner before segueing into DJ-driven nighttime shenanigans.
Address: 7 Quai Suffren, St Tropez
Contact: 00 33 494 97 00 54
Opening times: daily, 7am-4am all year
Café des Arts
On a corner of the central Place des Lices, the boules players’ HQ is a standard, traditional, no-frills café-brasserie– and the entire better for it. There is a fine terrace for equally no-frills lunches and dinners – and an air of conviviality. Banter at the bar makes no distinction between veteran French showbiz types, locals and tourists. If you fancy a game of boules but have forgotten your own, you may borrow a set from le patron.
Address: Place des Lices, St Tropez
Contact: 00 33 494 97 02 25
Opening times: daily, 7.30am-midnight (until 3am, June 15-September 15)