What to do in Saint Tropez, Provence Alpes, Cote d Azur
Saint-Tropez, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Vieux Port (Old Port)
The old harbour of Saint Tropez forces you to stroll. Former fishing port and home of many old fishing boats it is now a home for the most luxurious yachts you could imagine. Even though the waterfront is filled with many large and lavish yachts, the picturesque ambience of this place had not been changed.
Walking along the waterfront is one of the most beautiful experiences you could have in Saint-Tropez. Sitting by in one of the cosy cafés or comfortable lounge bars and enjoying the unique view over this prosperous city is just a great time, a perfect location for a south of France villa holiday.
You can also find many fashion shops along with the port since France is well known as one of the fashion centres within European countries.
La Ponche: The Old Town
The Old Town of Saint-Tropez, known as “La Ponche” borders the Vieux Port harbour basin and is below the citadel.
La Ponche is the historic centre of the fishing village and is the most picturesque area of Saint Tropez. Part of it has been laid out as a pedestrian zone of narrow alleyways and quaint cobblestone lanes abounding with small shops, upscale boutiques, cafés, and restaurants.
Tourists can begin exploring this lively quarter at the Rue de la Citadelle that leads into the centre of the Old Town. Turn left on the Rue du Portail-Neuf until reaching the 18th-century Eglise de Notre-Dame de l’Assomption (26 Rue Gambetta). With its beautiful Italian Baroque bell tower, this church punctuates the Saint-Tropez skyline. Inside visitors can admire the bust of Saint Tropez, the town’s patron saint, and the delicately crafted wood carvings.
Citadelle de Saint-Tropez & Museum of Maritime History
East of Saint-Tropez and rising above Pointe de Cimetière is an early-17th-century fortress.
With moats and counterscarps on a hexagonal plan, it was established after the French Wars of Religion as a key defence between Toulon and Antibes, guarding what was then a frontier.
The fortress was called into action pretty quickly, withstanding an attack by 21 Spanish galleons in 1637. The maze-like interiors are the evocative setting for a Maritime Museum, which has been refurbished in the last few years and has antique globes, model ships, maps, canons and firsthand accounts from 17th-century officers and sailors.
Maison des Papillons (Butterfly Museum)
A visit to the Maison des Papillons (Butterfly Museum) offers a change of pace from the sunbathing, sightseeing, and shopping of Saint-Tropez.
With more than 35,000 items on display, the museum allows visitors to admire a wide range of butterflies-from extinct species to rare species such as the Black Apollo. The collection also features exotic species from Amazonia and the Solomon Islands, known as “the most beautiful butterflies in the world.” The specimens are organized by category and sometimes presented in a setting of their natural environment to give a sense of colour and camouflage.
Entomologists consider this museum’s collection to have exceptional value. The average visitor will also enjoy the variety and beauty of the butterflies on display.
Place des Lices
This pleasant, shady town square (also known as Place Carnot) is in the heart of Saint-Tropez, within a short walk of the Old Port and the Annonciade Museum. Visitors will be delighted by the charming village atmosphere. At this lovely square beneath the plane trees, the older men of Saint-Tropez still gather to play the ancient game of pétanque (the Provençal version of bocce ball). On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, a traditional Provençal market takes advantage of this spacious square. Tourists will enjoy the vibrant scene of colourful stalls filled with fresh local fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Another attraction on the Place des Lices is the Café des Arts, a well-known establishment where the pétanque players and other locals hang out. This café gives a feel for the ordinary, everyday village atmosphere that has not changed even though Saint-Tropez has become a world-class resort town.
Musée de l’Annonciade
One of the top tourist attractions in Saint-Tropez is its art museum, which occupies the former Chapelle Notre-Dame de l’Annonciade (Chapel of the Annunciation), a few steps away from the Saint-Tropez harbour. This chapel, dating from 1510, was once the Church of the White Penitents, a Catholic brotherhood founded during the Middle Ages. With its remarkable assortment of Impressionist paintings, the museum is a reminder of the village’s avant-garde artistic past.
The museum boasts a broad collection of works, from Signac’s Pointillist works to Matisse’s vibrant Fauvist paintings and Bonnard’s evocative Nabis-style pieces. Most of the pieces on display were created by artists who came to live and work in Saint-Tropez in the late 1890s and at the beginning of the 20th century.
Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma
If the name of this attraction sounds oddly specific, it’s because the facade of Saint-Tropez’ police station has starred in numerous films.
It was used many times as an establishing shot by the director Jean Girault for his Gendarme films, starting with the classic comedy Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez with Louis de Funès.
Obviously, this single reference might be a bit tenuous, so the museum also aims to tap into Saint-Tropez’ silver screen allure with interactive exhibits and movie memorabilia.
The film that started it all was And God Created Woman in 1956, starring Brigitte Bardot.
Sentier du Littoral: Scenic Seaside Path
Sentier du Littoral’s a coastal path that leads from Saint-Tropez to famous Pampelone Beach. The 7 miles (11 km) long path can be a little wild and adventurous, but is well preserved. While climbing up and down along the road, you will meet a few small beaches.
On the Sentier du Littoral is where famous films featuring Brigit Bardot were filmed, and so you can imagine the famous actress climbing the same path. The start of the coastal path is in the old centre, and the end is at the top of Pampelone Beach. You can expect an adventurous and exciting walk through beautiful nature with stunning sceneries.
Plage de Pampelonne
Pampelone Beach, located on the end of the coastal path, is a beautiful beach in the winter season open to the public. In the summer months, it is beach taken over by private beach bars and restaurants, which spread their chairs and parasols and create a relaxing area. There is anything from snack bars to comfortable dining and lounge bars during this time.
Some of the other beaches you can visit include Plage des Graniers, Plage de la Ponche and Plage de la Bouillabaisse. Plage des Graniers is a narrow beach located on the other side of the cathedral. Good for a nice and relaxing stroll, but it can be really busy in the summer. Plage de la Ponche is the beach closest to the center. Plage de la Bouillabaisse is a beach featuring private bars. The beach is filled with buildings so it is not much of a natural place, but good to stop by for a drink.
Completed in 1618, Chapelle Saint-Anne hides in a conifer grove on Mont Pécoulet, a hill behind Saint-Tropez.
In the 19th century, long-distance sailors would ride up to this spot to seek protection from St. Anne before departing.
The chapel is in a very pretty spot, blessed with vistas of the resort and the azure sea, but also appears in the annals of pop culture.
Mick and Bianca Jagger were married here in 1971, and guests included Paul and Linda McCartney, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr.
Plage de l’Escalet
Safe in a recess between Cap Camarat and Cap Taillat, Plage de l’Escalet is in fact a chain of three beaches with a blend of sand and pebbles, each separated from the next by rounded rocks.
Located off the beaten path, this pristine stretch of the coast only feels wild and isolated beach-front snack bars, on-duty lifeguard, and kayak and paddleboard rentals prove otherwise.
The beach closest to the car park fills up quickly in the summer, but if you’re patient enough to walk around the bay the crowd starts to thin a little.
Travellers looking to escape civilization should skip the widest part of the beach and look for secluded coves and rocky inlets.
On the little knot of streets of Saint-Tropez, you’ll encounter not only refined restaurants, high-end fashion emporia, eye-wateringly expensive real estate agents but also yacht charter companies.
If you have a few thousand Euros burning a hole in your pocket you can hire a crewed or bareboat yacht for a week and live in the lap of luxury, tacking to the local beaches as you please.
There’s the sailing of a different kind during the Voiles de Saint-Tropez, one of the pre-eminent regattas on the French Riviera, unfolding over a week at the end of September.
At the deepest nook of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez is an enchanting urban development that began in the early 60s and the brainchild of architect and urban planner François Spoerry.
Port Grimaud is a tangle of waterways between rows of buildings designed to look like the old fisherman’s houses in the old quarter of Saint-Tropez.
Each of these homes is directly next to the water and has a berth for a boat, usually filled by a sleek-looking yacht as this “Little Venice” is home for some very wealthy individuals.
Minutes into the hinterland of Saint-Tropez is this village perched 200 metres above the sea.
Gassin has a slender, elliptical street -plan as it nestles on a narrow ridge that offered protection during raids by Barbary pirates.
The village is a lot of fun to explore, with two historic churches, passages and winding stairways.
Best of all is the Table d’Orientation on Place du Portail Neuf, where you can meditate over a panorama of the Gulf of Saint Tropez and out to the peaks of the Esterel Massif.
With Les Bateaux Verts ferries you can hop from Saint-Tropez to Port Grimaud, and also across to the charming resort of Sainte-Maxime on the other side of the gulf.
After landing you could have a wander around the harbour and old quarter, which are refreshingly down-to-earth: There are French local shops and a large community that lives here all year round, not just in high season.
Then see what you can find along 10 kilometres of coastline.
Plage de la Nartelle is the pick of the beaches, with golden sands and clear waters but none of the crowds you’ll be accustomed to at Saint-Tropez.
Food and Drink – Eat a Tarte Tropézienne
Just as Brigitte Bardot was putting Saint-Tropez on the map, the resort also gained a trademark dessert pastry.
In fact, Tarte Tropézienne, the creation of Polish-born chef Alexandre Micka is said to have been named by Bardot while she was filming And God Created Woman.
Tarte Tropézienne is compose of brioche, whipped cream and crème pâtissière, and pairs well with local rosé wines.
On the subject of wine, there are three caves in the resort but you’re also within striking distance of a host of châteaux for tours.
Rosé makes up 80% of all wines produced in the Côtes-de-Provence region.