"Everything I love, I've got here. The sea, the sun, the hot sand, music, and eating," said Juliette Hardy, played by Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman. St Tropez has held allure for libertines and the luxurious from far and wide since Bardot's performance.
However, if anything, Hardy misses some of the area's most glorious aspects. The rolling cypress-crested hills interposed with farmhouses and fishing shacks, their terracotta roofs resembling the red-hued rocks and sun-kissed soil.
Now, though, St Tropez is all of those things and more: the crisp rosé, splendid cuisine incorporating a variety of influences, the quaint of-old towns and the palatial villas scattered amongst sprawling vineyards. St Tropez has held onto the sleepy aura of its past, the quaint fishing village with rustic boats bobbing in the bay. Yet, it has grown into a remarkable trophy in the French Riviera's cabinet.
To ask "where is the best place to stay in St Tropez", is to ignore the variety of what St Tropez has to offer. It also ignores the predilections of the person asking. Is one looking for a serene mountaintop villa with panoramic views of both the lush Provencal countryside and turquoise seaside, or is one's desire to spend the days frequenting some of Pampelonne's world-famous beach clubs?
St Tropez holidays are an excellent way to indulge your luxury lifestyle. This luxury travel guide will help to separate the ways in which you can spend a St Tropez holiday, whether you are looking to meander the streets of the port, venture to village markets, rub shoulders with celebrities in beach clubs or seek solitude in an out-of-town villa.
Pampelonne beach is St Tropez's longest and best-known beach, where the lavish lean into languid summer days by lounging at beach clubs and swigging ambrosial cocktails and Provencal rosé. The beach is located in the Ramatuelle commune not far from St Tropez. This beach is busy and with good reason. There are a number of excellent clubs and restaurants bordering this brimming stretch of Mediterranean shoreline.
The famous Club 55, a distinguished archetype of the beach-club scene in St Tropez, entices people from everywhere and anywhere. Celebrities are often seen arriving, like apparitions, on the sturdy wooden pier, framed by the iridescent shades of blue behind, before strutting onto the club's golden, sandy doorstep. Club 55's etymology doffs its cap to the period when Brigitte Bardot and her cast traipsed along the golden beaches, unwittingly catalysing this beautiful part of the world's popularity.
To stay near Pampelonne is to be in the thick of the action. In the evenings, after a day on the beach or a prolonged lunch in the shelter of trees at Club 55, Indie Beach begins to liven up. The trendy, yet slightly Bohemian atmosphere is reminiscent of Ibiza; eclectically, but meticulously decorated to give a relaxing space to spend an evening on the sand, a cocktail hanging from your hand.
Villa Hanoï is an easy recommendation for this particular location. This villa somehow modestly fits into its surroundings, which is surprising when you consider its sharp and striking architecture. The building seems to fit, Tetris -like, into the undulating terrain.
Once inside, you would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you were still outside. The large windows afford the interior to give way to the manicured lawns in a seamless transition. The swimming pool bears a Hockney-esque resemblance - the brightness of the pool and the soft-pink loungers set against a chic 1970s Californian-style layout.
Villa Hanoï is ideally positioned a short walk from Nikki Beach Club and five minutes from Pampelonne. Despite its proximity to the fun-filled stretch of beach, the excellent sea views and an intimate connection to the natural surroundings are inescapably serene in this villa. The villa has a chef, a butler and a holiday tailor to tend to your needs, allowing you to relax and engage in the effortless making of memories.
This is for those seeking the quieter pleasures of St Tropez's offerings. Although L'Escalet is busy in the high season, there is plenty of opportunity to seek seclusion in a quiet cove. Cap Taillat is a peaceful peninsula nature reserve a 30-minute walk along winding coastal paths from the relative bustle of Plage de l'Escalet.
Once here, you can extend your explorations to Plage du Brouis, which is about a 45-minute walk from l'Escalet car park. This beach is an unspoilt stretch of tranquil coastline. It is a place of innate beauty, where pine forests, seemingly acting as guardians against modernity, oversee and maintain the quietude.
Tucked away in the arms of Cap Taillat and Cap Lardier is Domaine de la Tourraque - a vineyard perched between sea and land, that brushes the bay of Briande. This winery produces superb organic wines in a setting of environmental wonder and wildness. The vines and olive trees give a distinctly French feel, and, at the end of it all, you can sip away on the fruits of their labour in the cool of a leafy terrace.
Slip into the small and quiet village of Ramatuelle and get lost in its labyrinthine streets, which make it feel so much bigger than it is. The attractive town is bolstered by panoramic views. Feast in a tucked-away restaurant for lunch, such as the homely Italian restaurant Comme à la Maison.
With no nearby neighbours, Villa Calliope offers a slow perspective to St Tropez and the surrounding areas. This spectacular villa is set slightly inland with vistas over the flora which disappears beneath the expanse of the Mediterranean. The villa was designed by François Vieillecroze, whose portfolio includes Hôtel de Paris, Ferme des Marres and St Tropez Bastide. The glass facade fills the house with filtering sunlights.
The outdoor pool is heated, which, with the pristinely manicured lawn, creates a moat between the rugged landscape and the sleek comforts of the villa. It is a house not of contrasts, but balance. While the surrounding area is quiet, it can still be a great place to host celebrations; while the terrain is rugged and timeless, the house is elegant and modern. The sea views are best enjoyed from the rooftop terrace.
This villa is family friendly, but also a great place for luxury holidays of any kind. For some pampering and wellness visit Spa de La Réserve, bathing in the soothing atmosphere with the scents of lavender and rosemary on the gentle breeze.
St Tropez town is undoubtedly busy during the summer, but it has held onto its fishing-village charm, the sleepy state of being that existed before it sprang onto the world stage with a whirl of vigour and a gust of Mediterranean sea breeze. St Tropez is quite simply one of the best luxury holiday destinations in the world.
There is a wealth of delightful joys to be uncovered in St Tropez town. To watch the passersby ambling in the summer heat, linen shirts and flowery skirts flowing and rippling with movement and the gentle wind, settle into one of Sénequier's red chairs. This is best enjoyed in the morning, as you witness the spectacle of a vibrant summer town slowly stirring in the cool of the brightening dawn. We recommend an iced coffee and a brioche.
Spend the rest of your morning exploring the market at La Place des Lices, buying, or just admiring, the simplicities of locally grown produce. If it is a Monday or Sunday, days when the market is not on, play boules or pétanque in the shady confines of the square.
For lunch, wend your way towards La Plage des Salins, where a flotilla of blue umbrellas sways on the edge of the lapping sea. This is a great spot for lunch, but you will need to book. By evening, lose yourself in the backstreets, away from the rush, on your way to and back from a delectable dinner of Provencal cuisine.
For a day of exploring, go to Port Grimaud. This was an ambitious project in the 1960s by French architect François Spoerry to create a Venetian-like town on the marshlands, but in the style of a French fishing village. It is a fascinating and quirky place to spend the afternoon navigating the canals by boat.
Luxury France holidays in the south are as much about food, rosé, beaches, and exploring as they are about having a place to call home, to share in the moments with friends and family. Villa Anja is a splendidly sprawling villa with sea views and proximity to the town of St Tropez.
It is a place to both be part of the action and be able to withdraw and enjoy the peace and quiet this part of the world also offers. You can fill the space with the hubbub of laughing and joshing loved ones, whilst still being able to find quiet corners to read a book or have a lazy afternoon nap with a full tummy.
Here at Le Collectionist, we understand the importance of finding the right place to spend your holidays. Not the right place for anyone, but the right place for you. Our villas are an excellent, more homely alternative to St Tropez hotels. Explore our collection to find your perfect fit.