Photo Credit Sunshine Riviera Tour
Saint-Tropez is perhaps the best known international hotspot for sailing, made famous by Brigitte Bardot’s alluring appearance in And God Created Woman, which suddenly stamped this until then unassuming port town as a shining star on the world map. Now, even without Bardot, the glamour and sensuality still exist thanks to the beautiful people, unfailing sunshine (300 days plus annually) and the jaw-dropping yachts. World famous regattas are held here, most notably Les Voiles de St. Tropez at the end of September, but all year round boats are an intrinsic part of the landscape and essential to the way of life.
The summer months in St. Tropez are the most lively and glorious. Super-yachts arrive almost daily, returning the jet set crew to their favorite destination. Soak up the sun and romance of the Cote d’Azur at the beachfront for the best people watching, as the elite descends from their luxury cruisers.
Make like an A-lister and check into Muse, a small and slightly newer establishment than most, but at the very highest end of exclusive, with just 15 spacious suites each modeled on the French muse they’re named after. Interiors are cool, contemporary and chic; a Bentley shuttle service is on hand to drive guests to the beach where sun butlers standby to slather guests in luxury sun creams, before returning them bronzed and oiled to the outdoor sunken pool for sunset cocktails.
Perched on the highest hill of Saint-Tropez, Hotel Byblos has become somewhat of an institution and deservedly so, the service is flawless and the vibe elegantly Mediterranean. With luxury boutiques on site, a spa, two restaurants and the Caves du Roy, the coast’s trendiest nightclub, there’s little need to venture far from this quaint collection of burnt orange houses. The bright white villa of La Residence de la Pinede is the gleaming white pearl on the cliff side, with its own private waterfront and three-Michelin star seafood restaurant, Vague d’Or under the imaginative lead of chef Arnaud Donckele whose sea bass and summer truffles leave you weak at the knees.
For another excellent seafood option, Le Girelier is the yachting crowd’s hangout for the relaxed sea-shanty atmosphere, terrace tables and two-Michelin star menu refueled every day with the freshest catch. Then down the street from the town’s church, resides “Emperor of the Truffle” Bruno Clement’s decadent restaurant with set seasonal, full-on truffle feast menus and specially prepared high-end picnic hampers to take on board for a day’s coastline cruise.
Further afield, Auberge de l’Oumede is the best pick for authentic Provencal cuisine. Tucked amongst the vineyards, the restaurant is open for dinner only during the summer months and provides a charming country escape away from the throbbing social scene. The chicest dining experience though is found in the sheltered gardens at House of Dior. Three-Michelin-star Chef Yannick Alleno’s menu is as exquisite as the surroundings, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner on delicate Dior bone china.
Dior’s not the only fashion house with a villa in town, Louis Vuitton’s residence is just as impressive, with interiors that channel the destination’s laid-back nautical glamour and a VIP room made to look like a French apartment with beige upholstered sofas, armchairs and black-and-white photographs on the walls.
For other designer shopfronts stick to the triangle between Place des Lices, Rue Gambetta and Rue Allard where you’ll find everything from clothing, shoes, and bikinis to jewelry and diamond encrusted dog collars. Order a pair of Sandales Tropezienne at Rondini, the family-run cobbler on the rue. G. Clemenceau that has earned itself a reputation as the preferred sandal-maker since it opened in the town in 1927.
The infamous Plage de Pampelonne, which has historically attracted an impossibly dazzling crowd and continues to do so for its hip beach clubs, which burst into life as night falls. Club 55 is the classiest of the bunch and favorite of Kate Moss and Elle Macpherson, whilst the brightly colored Moorea is on the more relaxed end of stylish, drawing the likes of Rod Stewart and Hugh Grant. For ultimate exclusivity though, explore the gilded coastline by yacht charter and nestle into the shimmering azure waters of a deserted cove. Summer sparkles in Saint-Tropez.