What to Do & Sights to See in Saint-Tropez
People-watching is the main pastime in St Tropez. The great, the rich and the A-listers still tack in by the yachtful, as do any amount of flotsam and jetsam, whose obsession with air-headed extravagance can get on the nerves. But this is vital to keeping St Tropez in the planetary spotlight. The surroundings help, too. The wooded, rocky St Tropez peninsula is spectacular, the views across the sea to the Maures mountains are outstanding. It is, though, only the sheen. It disguises a multilayered life, from villa evenings with moguls through to locals going to the market with baskets to do their daily shopping.
Experience St. Tropez
Start your morning at La Tarte Tropézienne with an espresso and a slice of the patisserie’s namesake cream-filled brioche. As its name suggests, tarte tropézienne has its origins in St. Tropez but was in fact given its name by none other than the then relatively unknown Brigitte Bardot when she was in the city for the film ‘And God Created Woman’, which was largely responsible for bringing her into the public spotlight.
As it’s name doesn’t suggest, a tarte tropézienne is more of a cake than a tart; it was invented by Alexandre Micka, a Polish pastry chef in St. Tropez, and consists of a round brioche with pearl sugar and a sort of pastry cream and buttercream filling, with a delicate flavor of orange blossom water.
Take your petit-déjeuner pastry across the square to the Place des Lices and stroll through the stands of cheese and flowers at the open-air Provencal market, held every Tuesday and Saturday morning. After gathering a basket-full of picnic fixings, head over to the 15th-century stone Portalet Tower and work off those breakfast calories during an easy and picturesque coastal hike along the peninsula’s best beaches, which are otherwise accessed only by boat.
At the most famous beaches along Plage de Pampelonne, you’ll find the swankiest of Saint-Tropez’s beach clubs, whose anything-goes spirit and lavish costume parties are known to draw celebrities. (Check out our guide to St. Tropez Beach Clubs).
Head over to Le Club 55 , which Brigitte Bardot made famous in the 1950s and is still the best place to spot celebrities. Lush, green landscapes frame the wooden pathways to and from entrances and exits. Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere resembles the beach: the dining area has no walls in order to open up the space for natural breezes and all tables and chairs are placed on the sand underneath the rustic sunshade ceiling. Amidst a backdrop of blue table linens, a delicious array of classic French cuisine is on the menu with their famous le paniers de crudités (“fresh vegetable platter”). The wait staff commonly serve orders of la piscine (“rosé over ice”) as a refreshing drink on hot summer days.
For something more low-key, trek down to the tucked-away cove of L’Escalet Beach , where you can spread out on a shore sans tourists. Back in town, pause on the port for a coffee and prime people watching until dinner, then dance the evening away at one of St. Tropez’s legendary nightclubs.
The Sights of St Tropez
Here are the places where you can experience the St Tropez lifestyle:
The Beach Clubs
St. Tropez’s beach is one of the most famous in the world, and certainly the most posh beach party scene on the French Riviera. St. Tropez’s dreamy coastline is filled with so many stunning beaches that choosing which one to visit can be a tricky affair.
Located a 15-minute drive outside of the village of Saint-Tropez, Plage Pampelonne is the stretch of beach that has some public space and a lot of private beach clubs / restaurants. Knowing which beach club is the trendiest this year, getting reservations for the right table, and how to dress for them, is a major preoccupation for many jet-set.
There’s so much to say that we created an entire guide just about St. Tropez’s Beach Clubs, which is updated each season.
If you don’t want to go all the way to Pampellone beach, you can do the 10-minute walk from town to Graniers Beach . It’s a small and often crowded beach, but it’ll do the trick if you want to go for a swim, and it has a rustic beachside restaurant, Les Graniers , in case you get hungry.
A handful of streets lead off from Place des Lices, the main square which houses a street market on Tuesdays and Saturdays: this is where you’ll want to go shopping. Rue Gambetta, Place de la Garonne, Rue Francois Sibilli, Rue Georges Clemenceau and Rue General Allard are lined with designer boutiques such as Dior, Hermès, Céline, Alaìa, Chloè, Rykiel, Dolce&Gabbana, Gucci, Valentino Bulgari, and many more. Not big boutiques, but offering very carefully selected items and a lot of deluxe limited-edition pieces.
Don’t miss these local brands: the basic Kiwi, offering a very colorful collection of everything you need on the beach; and Vilebrequin, a high-end beachwear brand established in 1971 by Fred Prysquel in Saint Tropez, known all over the world for its first and most famous print, turtles. A mix of hippy and BCBG style, the long Lulù and So.To dresses, to be strictly worn with leather tropeziennes sandals or suede-fringed boots. More sophisticated and understated are the beautiful Bla Bla kaftans. If you’re looking for something more subdued, head to Since 1903. Don’t forget to buy a hat before leaving: Victor has some beautiful panama hats.
Check out our guide to what to wear in St Tropez (for women).
Places des Lices: Saint-Tropez’s Town Square
On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, this square opens as a lively market. It has a large area with white sandy ground. Around it is trees aging up to a hundred years. At times there are people who play the traditional ball game in French Riviera, called petanque or Boules. There are also lots of bars, cafés, and restaurants that add to the cheerfulness of the place.
Vieux Port: Saint-Tropez’s Old Port
The yachts and the picturesque harbor are a main attractions in Saint Tropez. Pastel-colored buildings, typical of French Riviera, with main-floor boutiques, tourist shops, cafés, and restaurants, line the promenade. Pick up a watercolor painting from a street vendor and enjoy the views.
St. Tropez’s Towers
As a result of being a coastal town and needing to protect itself from attack, St Tropez became well fortified early on in its history. Four towers were built to protect the coast and the port. Today only three of them remain. Two of these towers date from the 15th Century. The last tower, and the most central one, dates from the 16th Century. It confers a tranquility and charm upon a street which is of considerable architectural interest.
The St. Tropez Citadelle is a historic 17th-century fortress. Surrounding it is an impressive set of ramparts and bastions. The roof terrace gives a scenic view. On its dungeon is the Museé de l’Histoire Maritime Tropeziéne that exhibits the town’s maritime history.
Museé d l’Annonciade
The Museé d l’Annonciade is one of the best art museums in the region. The collection includes work of post-impressionism and modern art periods. The theme of the artwork is about Saint-Tropez. The exhibits highlight the works of Signac, Matisse, Bonnard, and other Tropezienne artists. See our guide to this art museum.
Maison de Papilions
This unusual museum in an old fisherman’s house has a display of over 4000 species of butterfly. The Butterfly House is the original work of a passionate amateur, the painter Dany Lartigue. A particular approach, both metaphysical and scientific to lepidopterology, makes this house-museum a unique place in the world. Entrance is only €2 and it’s open from Saturday to Wednesday from 2pm to 6pm.