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WorldTempus on Tour
Worldtempus on Tour - Welcome to Saint-Tropez

Worldtempus on Tour Welcome to Saint-Tropez

A world-famous destination on the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is a picturesque fishing port whose cobblestone streets and sandy beaches are also a playground for the rich and famous. WorldTempus On Tour stopped off in this “village of a thousand faces”

Welcome to Saint-Tropez

A world-famous destination on the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is a picturesque fishing port whose cobblestone streets and sandy beaches are also a playground for the rich and famous. WorldTempus On Tour stopped off in this “village of a thousand faces”. Pink and white flowers hang in clusters from the branches of giant laurel trees. Umbrella pines line the road that leads into the village, offering shade from a scorching sun for the cicadas whose chirping is a soundtrack for summer. It’s a picture-perfect scene… fittingly for a village whose legend owes so much to cinema.

Saint-Tropez, take one!

Saint-Tropez had a history long before film crews arrived, but its popularity as a shooting location transformed this quiet port into an enclave for the beautiful and famous. First among them was none other than Brigitte Bardot. The French actress was just 22 in 1956 when she both shocked and seduced audiences as the sensual and wild Juliette in Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman. Vadim filmed in the port, in the old town (known locally as La Ponche) and on its pocket-sized beach, as well as in nearby Ramatuelle, on the seemingly endless Plage de Pampelonne. The unassuming beach hut where crew were served grilled sardines during breaks in filming would become Club 55, now an institution frequented by celebrities and jetsetters. As for Bardot – who as a child already spent summer soaking up the sun at the family’s holiday home on Rue de la Miséricorde -, in 1958 she bought La Madrague, a villa near Les Canebiers beach, as a summer retreat where she would throw grand parties, attended by all the famous faces of the day. Saint-Tropez’s days as a peaceful fishing village were over.

Do you do you Saint-Tropez?

Saint-Tropez

Saint-Tropez, an artist’s paradise

Long before paparazzi and parties, Saint-Tropez was a haven for artists, who fell in love with the Mediterranean light. In the early 1900s Henri Matisse and Paul Signac immortalised the landscapes around this quaint southern French port. Their work can be admired at the Musée de l’Annonciade, which opened in 1955 in the former chapel of Notre-Dame de l’Annonciade. Art enthusiasts should know that the museum is hosting a temporary exhibition, Signac and Saint-Tropez, until October 9, 2022.

Do you do you Saint-Tropez?

Saint-Tropez

Saint-Tropez, the Paris set

Not only artists were drawn to Saint-Tropez. Countless writers have also fallen for its charm. Guy de Maupassant, who sojourned there in the late 1880s, described the village as a “daughter of the sea”. Later, in the 1920s, it became a getaway for Colette when she tired of Parisian life. She wrote several of her novels and essays at her home there, including Break of Day and Prisons and Paradise. In the 1950s, when the Parisian intelligentsia wasn’t holding court in the cafés of Saint-Germain des Prés, they took up residence in Saint-Tropez, where Boris Vian, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Paul Eluard and Françoise Sagan mingled with the protagonists of the French New Wave, musicians and intellectuals from every horizon.

Do you do you Saint-Tropez?

View of the Lighthouse and Church

Saint-Tropez, all that glitters

So what of Saint-Tropez today? It’s not unusual to spot a famous personality sipping coffee beneath Sénéquier’s red awning, opposite a parade of gleaming superyachts. Tony Parker is rumoured to be a regular visitor, as are Seal, Kate Moss and Elton John. The late Karl Lagerfeld spent every summer there, no doubt won over, as we were, by the gentle living, the Mediterranean light and the village’s picturesque charm. Rosy pink and ochre houses wind their way upwards towards the citadel, from where to enjoy magnificent views of the bay. On Place des Lices, locals play pétanque until late into the evening, when jetsetters come out to play, dancing ‘til dawn in one of the trendy nightspots. Saint-Tropez has not one but many faces: a humble fishing village and a glamorous destination, all in one.