Les Voiles de Saint Tropez is an indescribable experience that every lover of the ocean and sailing should experience at least once in their life. Shimmering turquoise waters, a strong wind, and a busy port bustling with an air of excitement. Bagpipes play as a magnificent classic boat passes through the port, announcing the beginning of one of the races for the classic boats. Masts taller than the buildings that surround you hover proudly along the clear blue sky.
Fishing town turned refined holiday destination
Nestled in France’s French Riviera, Saint Tropez has become the holiday destination for the refined holiday tastemakers. This is obvious when you stand at the port and see the gleaming yachts that line the harbour. And as well as the clear luxurious and glamorous atmosphere, it’s also a charming fishing village full of colourful characters. With beautiful streets lined with extravagant boutiques, this once-simple town is also the shopping capital of the Cote D’Azur. All of these facets lend Saint Tropez a unique ambience any time of the year.
Regatta of the year
Sitting by the water, and seeing the sea be taken over by enormous sails pushed solely by the power of the wind and manpower is an emotional experience. The energy of the city ebbs and flows in a way that’s unique to transient events. It’s that same thrill you’d get as a child when a carnival passes by that will only happen once. Everyone surrounding you seems to be glued to the movement of the sea, and the actions of the sailors, not wanting to miss a single moment.
Les Voiles de Saint Tropez has been one of the most highly-anticipated events in the city for the last 27 years. Each year, about 300 yachts come from all corners of the world to meet in the bay of Saint Tropez. The sight is breathtaking, with grand silhouettes lining the coast of the city floating on the sparking waters of the blue Mediterranean sea.
A festive celebration
It is an exceptional fusion of a racing event and a festival. The days that Saint Tropez is transformed to celebrate the spirit of sailing are remarkable. The buzzing energy and passion for the sailboats are just as strong for those on land.
It’s also hands down one of the best events to admire, to film, and photograph. It’s a phenomenal panorama of multiple sails, marvellous tones, and a spectacle of nuances. And a luxurious display of a palette of colours found nowhere else, only Saint Tropez, that shouldn’t be missed.
Experienced sailor or not, you don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the sport to enjoy the grandeur and magnificence of the event. Simply loving the city of Saint Tropez is a reason to visit the city during the regatta season.
The story of the Voiles started on a night of 1981. Two sailors challenged each other. The challenge? Leave the village, go around the now-famous Nioulargo and finish in front of the Club 55. The club is now one of the most popular restaurants on the beach of Pampelonne. Each year, sailboats and yachts took the same itinerary and followed the same route. This was done until 1995, when the Mariette and the Taos Brett IV collided. This incident marked the end of the race known as Nioulargue. In 1999, the regatta was restarted again, but under the name that it’s known as now; Les Voiles de Saint Tropez.
The regatta is unique because all classes of modern and traditional sailboats can join. It’s the only place and time of the year that you’ll see a modern race boat right beside a classic antique sailboat. It is an exceptional opportunity to admire an immense variety of boats and to also discover the different types of sailing.
Year of change
2020 is a revolutionary year for Les Voiles de Saint Tropez. Previously, the regatta was held for a duration of one week. This meant every day of the week was packed with activities, perpetual movement, and non-stop events. This also ended up saturating the town and created massive problems in terms of accommodation capacities as well as crowd-control. The shift of a one-week regatta into two weeks is meant to upgrade the berth capacity in the old port and along the breakwater for the very big boats.
Its aim is also to reduce the crowd and accommodation problems. The traditional Les Voiles de Saint Tropez will be held from September 26 to October 3, 2020 followed by Les Voiles Super Boats from October 4 to 9, 2020.
There are multiple events over the course of the exciting two weeks of Les Voiles. However, we put together the key events we think you should keep in mind when planning your trip.
Week 1 : Les Voiles de Saint Tropez
- September 28: Regatta for the modern sailboats
- September 29 to October 3: Regatta for modern & traditional sailboats
- October 1: Day of Challenges
Week 2 : Les Voiles Super Boats
- October 6-10: Regatta for the large sailboats
Activities for everyone
Being at Les Voiles, is an exhilarating ride as the city animates solely for the duration of the regatta. Organised by the Société Nautique Saint Tropez, we believe the event has gained so much popularity because of its skill of involving the audience. Les Voiles de Saint Tropez is as much an the event for the spectators and lovers of the sport as it is for those who are sailing.
During the week, a ‘race village’ is set up behind the Harbor Master’s office in the Port of Saint Tropez. Quite excitingly, this year the village has been completely re-designed. Always busy and buzzing with people, it stretches 70 metres down and 10 metres across one of the town’s central streets. It has a 20 metre long bar, a Kappa boutique and competitors’ area. Also, it has an outdoor terrace, and daily entertainment.
Whether you want to enjoy aperitifs in the sun, or watch a show, there’s something for everyone. Aside from the program planned by Société Nautique Saint Tropez, the entire city also transforms to cater to visitors. All the entrepreneurs and local artisans are represented in order to promote local products for Les Voiles. Most of the restaurants and bars also create their own programs whether it be themed sailing evenings, or having performers scheduled.
Like A Local: Enjoy the off-season
You may be hesitant to visit the city given that the event happens in the end of September. ‘High summer’ is definitely over at that point. However, we personally think it’s the best time of the year to visit. Don’t let the idea that summer ends in September stop you from enjoying the warmth of the sun during Les Voiles de Saint Tropez.
Experiencing the city at its best, at your own pace, and without the bustle of summer crowds. Crowds and traffic will have dissipated. Although the port may be busy, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll turn into a small street and have it be silent. It’s the pleasure in finding these small snippets of the city that are yours and yours alone.
Quite importantly, you’ll have the beaches all to yourself, and finally be able to enjoy the sand between your toes. The wind will still blow warm and the sea will still be perfect for swimming. Don’t let anyone tell you summer is over just yet!
If you want more ideas on our favorite things to do in Saint Tropez, check out this article.
Where to Stay: Our insider tips
Finding accommodation during the season of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez is usually quite difficult. Our insider tip to avoid this is by booking well in advance, by late July or early August when there are still lots of options available.
Our other tip is to choose a very centrally-located place to stay. This is so that you don’t have to worry about getting into the city with road blocks or crowds. You could either do this or place where you can enjoy the view of the magnificent sailboats from the comfort of your home or step right on to the beach of Pampelonne. Luckily we have a collection of luxury homes that are perfect for both options.
Enjoy the races from home
If you don’t enjoy crowds, or simply just want to relax at home but still enjoy Les Voiles, this collection will be perfect for you and the family. We’ve made sure that the homes we’ve selected have a view of the race path, or quick access to the beach of Pampelonne.
Your own personal oasis, Villa Gustave is a hidden gem. Surrounded by French gardens, you won’t have any neighbours and can enjoy the peace of the home. Under the shade of the pine trees you’ll find donkeys, horses, chickens, ducks, and even a pig named Peppa! Your own personal haven of tranquility while being only 300 meters on foot to the famous Pampelonne beach is priceless. Just a 2 minute walk to one of the best views of Les Voiles.
Walking into Villa Grant, a feeling of being in another world instantly hits you. A contemporary architectural gem in the middle of a beach town, the term ‘hidden paradise’ has never been so true. The best part about this villa is that you can enjoy the spectacle of Les Voiles while having a meal. The dining room offers a panoramic view of the ocean, and watching the race has never been easier.
No matter where you are in Villa L’Escalet, you’ll always have a perfect view. A home filled with floor to ceiling glass doors, every space is made to be enjoyed basking in the sunlight. The infinity pool mirrors the details of the sky and offers a spectacular view of the route that the grand Wally’s take during the regatta.
As you sit by the garden, of Villa Hanoi you’re delighted by a 180 degree view of the breathtaking sea. The perfect spot to enjoy the race while sipping a cocktail in the pool. Or take a 5 minute walk to the famous Club 55 and watch as the sailboats fight to the last leg of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez. If you want to learn more about this unique cubist architectural home in the heart of Ramatuelle, check out this article.
Step out into the bustling crowd
If you want to be moments away from the thick of the crowds, and the bustling energy of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, then these homes are perfect for you. All located in the hyper center, you’ll never have to worry about finding parking, or getting to and from the Port during the crazy race days. Seek refuge from the excitement of the regatta, and come home to your own personal sanctuary hidden within the bustle of the city.
Nestled in the heart of the city amongst hedges, olive and palm trees is the oasis that is Villa Nathalia. The garden is the ideal place to enjoy fresh local goods picked up from the market in Place des Lices every morning. Go from the side of the sea to see Les Voiles de Saint Tropez and walk home to a jungle in the city.
An architectural gem in the middle of the city of Saint Tropez, Villa Omada boasts a New York style gallery living area. A mere 10 minute walk to the Port of Saint Tropez, you can come and go as you please to enjoy Les Voiles at your own pace.
Bliss for those who love to relax, Villa Eduoard has everything you need for the perfect French holiday. Step straight out into the city center and come home to your own paradise. Enjoy Les Voiles de Saint Tropez and come home to this breathtaking sanctuary.