City Whisper

Glamour toujours

First came Picasso, then Brigitte Bardot, then the Parisian chic and celebrities from all over the world. After two pandemic summers, the international jet set is once again flocking to the port of Saint-Tropez – the village, which is a cosmopolitan city, is more hip than ever before.

June 2022, Reading time: 12 minutes

The view of Saint-Tropez from the beach of the luxury hotel Cheval Blanc. Photos: V. Mati (top), Emmanuel Bertrand (very top)

The most expensive cappuccino in the village is at the Sénéquier. Nevertheless, guests come in droves.

Nine o’clock in the morning, Quai Jean-Jaurès. At Café Sénéquier, the first guests are sitting on bright red folding chairs and squinting into the morning sun. The deep blue sky stands out against the pastel-colored house facades. The sea glistens, a snow-white motor yacht chugs lazily out of the harbor. “Ivana” is written in bold letters on the stern.Saint-Tropez is still quiet; at this time of day, most vacationers are still in bed. However, the small fish market just behind the Sénéquier is already well frequented. Housewives and amateur chefs crowd around the freshly caught lobsters, petite red mullets, sardines from the Mediterranean and giant shrimps from Madagascar. Dorades are scaled, sole filleted, squid cleaned. Traders and customers exchange gossip and recipes, people know each other – only locals and permanent visitors with a vacation home buy at the Pêcheries Tropéziennes. Even at Le Sporting on Place des Lices, people are still among themselves at this time of day. Later, when the newly awakened scene people order the obligatory “petit noir” at the trendy counter of Tropéziens, the regulars have already arrived at the glass of Pastis and shortly after disappeared, in one of these beautiful old houses with apricot-colored facades and cascades of blooming wisteria. Or they have moved on, to the pétanque players who are clacking their balls under shady plane trees.

Brigitte Bardot in a shell and cast in bronze in front of the famous former police station. Photo: Jean-Louis Chaix

In the meantime, the harbor pier has been transformed into a bubbling vanity fair. All the tables at the Sénéquier have long since been taken, and next door at Le Gorille and the Bar du Port there is not a chair to be had. No one wants to miss Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé or Kate Moss stumbling down the gangway of a mega yacht. Or how Leonardo di Caprio drags his Louis Vuitton bags on board. At the height of summer, when “tout le monde” is vacationing in “St. Trop” and the hustle and bustle at the harbor reaches its peak, when the nearly 6,000 inhabitants are fleeing from up to ten times as many day tourists, the celebrity density is at its highest. Saint-Tropez is apparently never too crowded, the hustle and bustle is part of it, and even bitchy stars show themselves relaxed and in a good mood. Is it the warm Mediterranean climate and the beautiful landscape that create this miracle? Artists like Picabia and Braque, Matisse and Seurat loved the brilliant light and bright colors – their works can be seen in the lovely Musée de L’Annonciade, housed in a former chapel right on the harbor. The painters were followed by the writers: Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Vian and Colette squatted for days on end by the harbor, pondering the meaning of life. And then came the 50s and with them Roger Vadim. “Et Dieu créa la femme” (“And God Created Woman”) was the title of his cinematic ode to Brigitte Bardot. It marked the beginning of a new life for Bardot, and a new era for Saint-Tropez. Everyone wanted to go where such a woman rises from turquoise water, everyone naked as God created him, lying in the sun on the beach of Pampelonne. Pampelonne Bay is considered the epicenter of social life during the day – although many things have changed there. The municipality of Ramatuelle, to which the beach officially belongs, has subjected it to an uncompromising environmental protection program: The bathing establishments have been moved to the back, their number reduced; they must be degradable and disappear completely in winter. Some of the institutions that had been established for decades did not receive a new license, but luxury hotels such as the Byblos, the Hôtel de Paris and La Réserve got a piece of the beach. Overall, Pampelonne now presents itself as more uniform, elegant and exclusive – which doesn’t please everyone. 

The legendary Bay of Pampelonne lies between Cap Camarat and Cap Pinet. Photo: Emmanuel Bertrand

Those who anchor in the harbour of Saint-Tropez with their mega-yacht are exposed to the curiosity of the flâneurs, especially in the evenings. Photo: Pastis Hotel

Others are coming to terms. “The new law is troublesome for us, but in return the bay will be protected and very beautiful in winter,” says Patrice de Colmont, who owns what is probably the most famous beach restaurant on the entire coast. He likes to tell how his parents discovered the then almost deserted Pampelonne Bay in 1948, bought a piece of beach including a gnarled olive grove and built a simple wooden hut there. One day Brigitte Bardot, Roger Vadim and the film crew came by. The de Colmonts were just sitting with friends at the long table they had set in the sand in front of their hut. The director thought it was restaurant and asked if they could feed his team. “No problem,” Madame de Colmont replied, cooking for about 80 people a day. “After more and more people wanted to eat with us, my father decided to make it official,” recalls Patrice de Colmont, who runs Club 55 today with his sister. Anyone who wants a table or even just a beach lounger there has to book well in advance, because the seaside establishment at the southern end of the bay is one of the best-known jet-set hangouts. But the cuisine is good, and guests such as Bono, Bill Gates, and Barbara Becker sit at one of the white-and-blue-covered tables under gnarled pine trees until the evening hours. The villas of the super-rich swim in the bay, the VIPs of tomorrow frolic on the beach, and well-tanned teenagers sit on the jetty planning the evening. Shopping? Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Dior, Diane von Fürstenberg … almost all luxury labels are represented with their own stores in Saint-Tropez. There are also star restaurants, expensive hotels, clubs and cocktail bars. But if you look, you will also find another Saint-Tropez: a village with crooked streets, small stores and people who speak with the unmistakable local accent. In addition, a harbor that looks like a Hollywood movie set every evening in the light of the bars and luxury yachts.

La nuit

Pan Dei Palace

The feudal property in the village center once belonged to an Indian princess, and a bit of the exotic remains. Guests in the twelve rooms and suites can look forward to a beautiful pool and a breakfast fit for a king.

La Ponche

Newly renovated traditional hostel where Romy Schneider, Michel Piccoli, and Jean-Paul Sartre stayed. The 21 rooms and suites are decorated in bright natural white tones and with Provençal accents; and the restaurant with fine regional cuisine and terrace with sea view is also popular with locals.


Pop art meets Mediterranean charm and British nonchalance. Pauline and John Larkin offer ten casually chic guest rooms, some with freestanding bathtubs, others with antique wooden beds. Plus: lots of art and a balcony or terrace overlooking the courtyard with pool. Regulars appreciate the friendly staff and delicious cuisine.
Photo: Stephanie Russo

Villa Cosy

This brand-new five-star hotel & spa is just steps from the central Place des Lices, yet it’s surrounded by vines and absolutely quiet. Each of the 13 rooms and suite rooms includes a private terrace overlooking the pool. Snacks from the kitchen are accompanied by wines from the hotel’s own vineyard and international varieties.

La Table

La Petite Plage

You sit with your feet in the sand and a view of the yachts on the harbor in a décor as chic as it is cheerful, full of flowers and colorful pillows. From the kitchen come summer-fresh Mediterranean dishes like airy shrimp fritters, linguine with lobster, or sea bass with mussels and artichokes. Pair with a cool rosé.

Vague d’Or

 Blanc at the entrance to the village. On balmy summer evenings, sit under pine trees on the sea-view terrace and enjoy Arnaud Donckele’s super-tender lobster baked in a salt crust with seaweed, bay leaf, and lemon zest.
Photo: Richard Haughton

Le Café

This historic brasserie on the lovely Place des Lices has a completely new look: the opulent, florally decorated interior features comfortable armchairs and sofas, airy greenery provides shade on the terrace, and everything is lit with candles in the evening. Insiders order the watermelon salad with feta, almonds and mint or the beef tartare “des Lices”.

Le Girelier

Lovers of French (fish) cuisine will get their money’s worth here. Insiders order steamed artichokes with vinaigrette, grilled sea bass or the delicious boulliabaisse, but there are also oysters, caviar and a wonderful crème brûlée. Plus: a clear view of the yachts.

During “Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez”, slender sailing ships can be seen in the bay instead of the large yachts.

La boutique

K. Jacques

K. Jacques’ simply elegant strappy sandals are considered an essential accessory for classic Riviera style. Founded in 1930, the company is still family-owned, with a few models added to the range every year. Individual customization is as much a part of the service as the repair of older pieces.

Galeries Tropeziennes

In the store on the shopping mile Rue Gambetta, which opened in 1903, you can find everything you need for the perfect Saint-Tropez look: raffia bags and espadrilles, beach towel and bikini. In addition, there are glasses and dishes, candles and cosmetics, pajamas and picnic baskets, as well as many other things that are not urgently needed, but still very beautiful.

Maison ST

What’s on the shelves at Laure Beretti’s small perfume atelier is only available here: Fragrance creations crafted in Grasse that capture the spirit of Saint-Tropez and the Côte d’Azur. The bestseller Terre d’azur smells of tiaré blossoms and sun (“notes solaires”) – if you don’t want to wear the perfume on your skin, buy a scented candle.

Les Halles de Saint-Tropez

New, chicly designed food court at the harbor with cheese, meat, fruit and bread stands. The main attraction, however, are the food trucks in front of the door, which sell sushi, falafel, pizza, oysters and crepes to hungry visitors until one o’clock in the morning. And a glass of champagne to boot. 1 quai de l’Epi

A voir

Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma

Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma: Opened in the former police station, the museum shows the history of the local law enforcers and their legacy (uniforms, weapons, offices …), but also the cinematic treatment of their exploits starring Louis de Funès. A special exhibition is dedicated to the particular achievements of the local gendarmerie – interactive, informative and entertaining.

Musée de l’Annonciade

This small museum, founded in 1922, is housed in a 16th-century chapel and testifies to Saint-Tropez’s importance as a center of the avant-garde in the early 20th century. On display are works of art from 1890 to 1950, including many by great French masters such as Matisse, Derain, Signac and Gauguin, who belong to the Pointillist, Nabis and Fauvist movements and often depict the village of Saint-Tropez.

Fondation Linda et Guy Pieters

The Pieters’ foundation resides in a beautiful town palace just off the Places des Lices and is considered one of the best art institutions on the Côte. An exhibition of works by renowned Belgian conceptual artist Koen Vanmechelen is on view until the end of August.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

The Mediterranean regatta takes place every fall (2022: Sept. 24-Oct. 1) and transforms the harbor scene. Instead of luxury yachts, beautiful sailing ships are moored on the quay, and the celebrity village becomes a meeting place for sailors and their fans for a few days.
Photo: Jean-Louis Chaix

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