Saint-Tropez is a small town on the Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, located 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Nice. The scenic and breathtaking coastline Côte d'Azur (Coast of Blue), stretches from Saint-Tropez in the west to Menton in the east near the border with Italy. A fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century, Saint-Tropez has developed over the years to a sophisticated and glamorous destination, a magnet spot for celebrities and wealthy people who have lavish vacation villas on the coast and fancy yachts docked in the harbor. The town was made fashionable with the movies of the famous actress Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s, that forever changed the small port town into a legendary seaside resort. Since then, the place is much associated with the movie star, who has lived here for many years. "The Troops of St. Tropez" (French: Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez ) is an iconic French comedy film from 1964 starring Louis de Funès, that also contributed to the fame of the French Riviera town. Today, Saint-Tropez has an image of an upscale resort that draws tourists from all over the world with its scenic beaches, amazing marina, high-end restaurants, expensive boutiques, beautiful Old town and luxurious five-star hotels. And on top of that, if you hope to spot a celebrity, this place gives you higher chances, especially if you plan to visit some of the exclusive private clubs and beaches. Saint-Tropez is a popular day-trip destination on the French Riviera unless you are willing to splurge on several day vacations staying at some of the stylish and expensive hotels. The place is not very easy to reach since there's no train station in the town. The nearest train station is in Saint-Raphaël from where you can get a boat to Saint-Tropez that runs daily from April to October ( the journey is about an hour ). There are also ferry services that connect various towns with Saint-Tropez, incl. Nice, Cannes, Sainte Maxime, Les Issambres, Port Grimaud. It's advisable to check in advance the timetable since the ferry doesn't operate throughout the whole year. You can get to Saint-Tropez by car as well but be prepared for heavy traffic jams that normally occur. VarLib also runs daily buses from Toulon to Saint-Tropez via Hyeres and Cogolin and from Hyeres Airport stopping at Le Lavandou to Saint-Tropez. Other options to get to Saint-Tropez include hiring a private boat or a helicopter.
Once you are in the famous town-resort, here is what you can do and see:
Vieux Port (Old Port)
The Vieux Portis the center of the city, probably the first thing you are going to see and be fascinated with.
The spectacular port houses numerous expensive yachts and fishing boats. The area around the port is very lively, filled with beautiful pastel-colored buildings, elegant restaurants and chic cafés.
Sitting in one of the cafés at Saint Tropez harbor while sipping from a cocktail and people-watching can be quite an experience.
La Ponche: The Old Town
The picturesque Old town of Saint-Tropez known as La Ponche is the most authentic part of the town. It is the old fishing district of St Tropez and it still retains its small village charm.
The area borders the Vieux Port harbor and is an ideal place for a relaxing walk through the charming little streets lined with elegant shops and traditional restaurants.
The highlight of the Old town is the 18th-century Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption church with its beautiful Italian Baroque bell tower.
There is also a tiny beach "La Ponche" behind the port that you can visit and take a dip in the sea. Right in town, the beach is very convenient if you want a quick swim but you don't have time to go to Pampelonne beach or other famous beaches outside Saint Tropez.
The 17th-century Citadel is a historical and cultural sight of Saint-Tropez, located on a hill from where you can admire great panoramic views over the bay.
It has a hexagonal shape and guards the entire city from above.
You can also visit Musée d’Histoire Maritime, a museum that focuses on the maritime past of the city and the lives of generations of St.Tropez fishermen and sailors.
Place des Lices
Place des Lices (also known as Place Carnot) is a central square located very close to the Vieux Port. This is a popular spot for locals who gather here to play pétanque (a ball game similar to boules).
Every Tuesday and Saturday morning there is also a market here – Marché de Saint-Tropez.
You can also enjoy dining at some of the restaurants nearby.
Musee de l’Annonciade
For those who love art this is a must-see attraction in Saint-Tropez. Located a few steps from the harbor, the art museum houses a remarkable collection of impressionist paintings. On display are works of Matisse, Signac, Bonnard and many other artists who were living in Saint-Tropez at the end of the 18th century.
Sentier du Littoral
This is a scenic, wild coastal road that begins just outside the old quarter of La Ponche and goes along the peninsula of Saint-Tropez. If you love outdoor activities and walking, you may take this
hiking trail and admire the beautiful nature of the peninsula.
The route incorporates rugged seaside footpaths, steps through the hills, and more gentle beachside trails. The trail leads to the Plage des Salins with its wide shoreline of fine sand and shady pine trees.
Indisputably, Saint-Tropez is famous for its amazing beaches with turquoise water, that attract many celebrities to spend their holiday here. There is a wide range of beaches to suit every taste - from public beaches to private and exclusive beach clubs, from very small to large, from beaches located in the town to beaches spread across the coastline.
Here are some of the most popular beaches you will find in Saint-Tropez and the area around the town:
Plage La Glaye, La Ponche, Plage de la Bouillabaisse, Plage des Graniers and Plage de la Fontanette are in-town beaches located close to the Old town and harbour.
These beaches are popular with sunbathers in search of a less crowded, more low-key atmosphere. Some of them are small and suitable for a short visit and a delightful dip in the sea.
Plage de Pampelonne – the most famous of all St.Tropez beaches and also the longest one (5 km). The beach was made popular by the actress Brigitte Bardot and her movie “And God Created Woman” in 1956.
Pampelonne offers a collection of beaches along its five-kilometer shore. Each beach has its own beach hut and private or public tanning area. Some of the beaches are naturist beaches.
There are also many exclusive beach clubs. The most famous is Club 55, also known to be the classiest and most discreet one, with clientele of world politicians, Russian and Middle Eastern businessmen, Hollywood celebrities and world-famous singers and athletes.
To have any chance of a summer table, book ahead - and don't be surprised with a ridiculously expensive menu.
Another popular beach club is Bagatelle, a high-class French beach club offering refined Mediterranean cuisine, a popular spot for many wealthy people from around the world.
Tahiti Beach - located at the northern end of Pampelonne and distinguished by bright orange parasols.
It has one of the oldest beach clubs in the area (established in 1946), at the Tahiti Beach Hotel, plus it offers lots of food and drink options.
The Tahiti beach is now clothing optional, but nudists often head to private nudist beaches, like that in Cap d'Agde.
Plage des Salins
This is a scenic and large, wide sandy beach with crystal-clear waters, bordered by pine trees.
It is the last beach before Pampelonne. It is about seven kilometers from Saint-Tropez and is accessible by the hiking trail Sentier du Littoral, or if you don't want to walk you can go there by road, along the Route des Salins.
The beach offers a private beach restaurant where you can actually dine with your feet in the sand, waves washing over your toes. The upper level of the restaurant is an upscale fish restaurant with a terrace and downstairs is a more casual experience that emphasizes salads and pasta at reasonable prices.
There is also a free parking lot at the restaurant.
Other beaches you may consider to visit include: Escalet beach, Nikki beach Saint-Tropez, Moorea beach, Plage des Canoubiers and other small and secluded beaches.
Please note that you need a car to get to most of the beaches outside Saint-Tropez. For this, you might rent a car or take a taxi. Taxi services are quite expensive. For example, from the harbor in Saint Tropez to Pampelonne beach the price is 30.00 Euro one way ( the ride is about 7-8 min).
There are also public minibusses, which maintain a shuttle service between town and Pampelonne beaches. You need to check the timetable in advance as the services are irregular.
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