The name Saint-Tropez is synonymous with extravagant vacations. For a truly indulgent holiday, book yourself a trip to this coastal town on the French Riviera.
When you think of visiting France, you’ll probably automatically think of its famed capital city – Paris. However, there’s so much more to this beautiful country than its cities. With its beautiful scenery and languid pace of life, the French Riviera has long been the favoured playground of the rich and the famous.
Among the many famed spots along the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is arguably its crown jewel with its Provencal charm melding effortlessly with its luxurious trappings. In April this year, Small Luxury Hotels of the World welcomed the five-star Althoff Hotel Villa Belrose into its collection of small, exclusive, independently-owned hotels around the world.
Robert-Jan van Straaten, general manager at the Althoff Hotel Villa Belrose, gives us 7 reasons why St Tropez is a must-visit.
1. The old village and its harbour has never really changed, and still retains the charm of a Fisherman’s Village.
If you compare the harbour and the village of Saint-Tropez with 50 years ago when Brigitte Bardot walked barefoot over the harbour, you will see that the village has not really changed. Of course, the houses have been redone and some streets have changed slightly. It is also certainly more difficult to walk barefoot over the harbour! But if you take a seat on the terrace of l’Opera and look out at the harbour and the church, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
2. The beaches of Pamplonne.
This is where the history of the half isle of St Tropez started. The Colmont Family of the famous Club 55 arrived in the bay of Pamplonne by boat in 1954 and were suitably impressed by the area’s natural beauty — a 2.5 km stretch of sandy beaches dotted with “Pin Parasol” trees — and bought a little house on the beach. In 1955, the film crew of “et dieu cree la femme” arrived, along with Brigitte Bardot, and they needed someone to cook for them. They asked the Colmont family if this was possible and from there, Club 55 was born. Today, the area has 32 private beaches. After every 2 or 3 private beaches, there is public beach so that everybody can enjoy the beauty of Pamplonne.
3. The view from the terrace of the Althoff Villa Belrose on the Bay of Saint-Tropez.
In 1997, the Villa Belrose opened its doors on a hill just before the village of Saint-Tropez. With time, people discovered that the most beautiful view over the bay is from “our” hill – the hill of Sinopolis. The views are especially stunning at night, when you can see the mountains, the village of St Maxime and St Tropez with their lights, and of course, the rows of amazing yachts!
4. The Village of Gassin
Touted as “the most beautiful village in France”, Gassin is a medieval village that has been beautifully restored and is now a top tourist attraction. While there, be sure to find the “smallest road in the world” as conferred by the Guinness Book of Records!
5. The Var for its beautiful vineyards, rolling countrysides, and medieval villages
The “Côte de Provence” area is renowned for their Rose wines but they also make wonderful red and white wines. There are plenty of interesting family-owned vineyards in the area worth visiting such as the Chateau Minuty or Chateau Barbeyrolle. A highly recommended place of interest is the “les gorges du verdon”, which is a river canyon that many people have compared with the Grand Canyon. It is a little smaller but still very impressive.
6. Port Grimaud, also known as the French Venice.
It’s recommend to visit Port Grimaud by boat, so that you can better appreciate how this village was built on water. This tiny seaside town was created by architect Francois Spoerry in the 1960s and all the little houses you see were also built by him. For a quaint day out, Port Grimaud is definitely a must-visit.
7. Golfing with a view.
You may think all golf courses are more or less the same, but all our golf courses afford you with spectacular views of the region. For example, the golf course in Gassin lets you take in a bird’s eye view of the villages sprawled out below you. Fresh air, fitness, and a view? Yes, please!