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St Tropez shines as bright as the stars that frequent its picturesque shores. The former fishing village received a status upgrade in the 1950s after Bridget Bardot frolicked on its beach in the film ‘…And God Created Woman’. Since that moment, a discerning demographic has been arriving by yacht charters and helicopter transfers. The beautiful resort town has epitomised a timeless glamour that numerous international destinations unsuccessfully try to recreate. Don’t settle for imitations; head to St Tropez for a weekend of indulgent relaxation. A helicopter from Nice Airport to St Tropez only takes 20 minutes and is a great option if you’re strapped for time. This is the place to kick off your shoes by day and put on your party shoes at night as you mingle with VIPs in exclusive restaurants and clubs.
Visit Pampelonne’s Beach Clubs | Pampelonne Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world and certainly the most famous in the Mediterranean. This is the beach that Bardot immortalised, and made popular with the international jet-set and Hollywood legends. The three-mile stretch of pure white powdery sand has changed little since then, and it is still filled with colourful parasols and sun loungers, though the number of beach clubs has increased.
The waters that lap Pampelonne’s shoreline are crystal clear and have watersports available. The elegant Nioulargo Beach Club is located at its heart, with other popular venues surrounding it, such as Club 55 and Nikki Beach. These venues are frequented by celebrities who relax on oversized plush lounge sunbeds and sip champagne while enjoying the internationally-renowned DJs and upbeat atmosphere. The waters that lap Pampelonne’s shoreline are clean and crystal clear; an inviting sight on a hot summer’s day.
Dine in style | When in a coastal resort town like St Tropez, you should sample the fresh seafood, and none is fresher than that of Auberge de Maures. Picasso, Charlie Chaplin and David Niven are just some of the famous faces that have graced the 80-year-old establishment (the oldest restaurant in town). The menu comprises line-caught fish, daube beef stew and other Provencal favourites. Ultra-exclusive dining can be experienced at Résidence de la Pinède on the Plage de la Bouillabaisse, where the 3-Michelin star chef Arnaud Donckele impresses an upmarket clientele with his culinary skills.
Of course, you could always stay on the beach for supper. Tahiti Beach is one of Pampelonne’s finest restaurants, and best of all, it has a helicopter landing spot so you can arrive here directly or head to Nice Airport or any other Riviera destinations after a mouth-watering meal. You can eat either Mediterranean cuisine at the club’s Le Bougainville Restaurant or enjoy Japanese food with a stunning sea view at Tahiti Beach’s second restaurant, Le Sakura.
Find Some Tranquility | Despite St Tropez’s popularity and convivial atmosphere, there are numerous quiet coves and rocky inlets along the shore where visitors can relax and recharge in peace. Plage l’Escalet remains the locality’s best-kept secret with its blend of rocky and sandy shoreline that is ideal for snorkelling in the clear sea. It is close to Pampelonne Beach but miles away in terms of character with a wild and untouched vibe.
Go Shopping | St Tropez must be the world’s most cosmopolitan village. It has a huge selection of big designer brands that line its quaint streets, mostly concentrated in the triangle between the Place des Lices, Rue Gambetta and Rue Allard. Famous names like Gucci and Chanel are complemented by smaller designer boutiques where stylish beach hats are de rigueur. You can’t walk far without stumbling across cutting-edge art galleries, and you may discover a piece by the next hit on the international art scene.
If you want to try a St Tropezian speciality, head to the Rondini family’s store and buy a pair of sandals, which have been made at the back of the premises at 16 Rue Clemenceau since 1927. Don’t forget to pick up some of the famous regional wines before you leave. Sun-soaked vineyards dot the surrounding villages and La Cave de St Tropez is the outlet for the local wine cooperative.
Visit Port Grimaud | Only 7 kilometres west of St Tropez, but with a completely different look, Port Grimaud is known as the ‘French Venice’. The village is located in the Bay of St Tropez and contains no less than 12km of waterways which surround pastel-hued buildings, restaurants and boutiques. The canals are lined with yachts making it hard to believe that this was just swampland in the 1960s. Alsace architect François Spoerry transformed it into the port-side fishing village locals and visitors know and love. Spoerry lived there until his death, when he was buried at the town church, St-François-d’Assise.
Water taxis transport visitors around the canals which are blessed with a series of picturesque squares and bridges. Shuttle boats and private rental boats make the journey between Port Grimaud and St Tropez, although land travel is also possible. The golden beach is one of the finest in the area but this means that it can get quite crowded at weekends.
Fly In and Out | A helicopter from Nice to St Tropez takes just 15 minutes and is a practical and fun alternative to sitting in peak season traffic. It’s the easiest way to arrive and depart with minimal fuss and time-wasting, not to mention the tantalizing views of the Cote d’Azur that greet you. St Tropez is full of contrasts with world-famous beaches, vibrant nightlife, quiet coves, first-class cuisine, which make it ideal for a summer weekend visit.