St. Tropez, France, conjures up images of celebrities, mega-yachts, and Dom Perignon-fueled excess. Missing from this mental picture are the many ways the rest of us can enjoy St. Tropez and the area’s undeniable beauty. For each boisterous beach club serving rosé-soaked lunches and DJ-spun soundtracks, you can find a rugged St. Tropez beach beckoning you to enjoy a languid Mediterranean swim. If you’d prefer not to strut in Hermes sandals alongside opulent boutiques, you could throw on your hiking boots and hike a coastal trail instead.
The city itself is lovely, with narrow lanes lined by pale yellow buildings that wend up from the impossibly blue sea to a verdant hilltop park. In summer, St. Tropez is pleasantly full of non-extravagant French travelers — although there are a few flashy foreigners as well. For the best of St. Tropez, we recommend mixing up the glam and glitter with a little bit of summertime chill.
What to do in St. Tropez
Visit the St. Tropez beaches
St. Tropez didn’t become a hub for well-healed people for no reason. The town and its surroundings are packed with stunning beaches. A few steps from the town center is Les Graniers, a sandy cove that feels a world away from the self-conscious bustle. If you want to walk for an hour, or drive for ten minutes, La Plage des Salins is a long, thin beach backed by wooded hills. Just outside city limits, the closest stretch of sand is Tahiti Beach, and it’s the perfect place to spend a few hours. Beyond that is Pampelonne Beach, the site of some well-known beach clubs.
Take a hike along the St. Tropez coast
The hiking here is all about being close to the sea. The main path is called the Sentier du Littoral, which just means the Coastal Trail. You can follow the trail southward from Les Garniers, passing by stately manors that overlook the water. While the trail ostensibly ends each time it reaches a new beach along the coast, you can just continue to walk along the sand until it starts up again. There are no trail markers here, but it’s pretty straightforward: just follow the coast. For a more classic hiking experience, drive 30 minutes south to Cap Lardier, a wooded area managed by France’s Port-Cros National Park. You’ll find several trails in there, either amidst the pines or along the cliff, with staggering Mediterranean vistas.
Indulge in some St. Tropez shopping
Many who arrive in St. Tropez feel the sudden yen to upscale their wardrobe. Don’t worry. The sensation will pass once you hit the beach. The most chi-chi street is the Rue François Sibilli, home to several luxury labels like Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, which has its own garden and champagne bar. Not to be outdone, Chanel opens a “pop-up boutique” in a nearby mansion each summer and Dior is housed in an 18th-century building. You’ll find overflow couture like Balenciaga on the nearby Rue Gambetta — but that street has more affordable clothing options as well.
If window-shopping alone is burning a hole in your wallet, explore the galleries on Boulevard Louis Blanc and lose yourself in the artwork. Better yet, if it’s a Tuesday or Saturday, hit up the market on the Place des Lices, which carries everything from crafts and t-shirts to interesting foods. It’s open on Saturday mornings, with a smaller version on Tuesdays.
The best beach clubs in St. Tropez
Les Palmiers — Plage de Pampelonne
The most quintessential St. Tropez experience just may be a boozy seaside lunch — preferably at a trendy beach club. The clubs have private beach areas, behind which are a restaurant and maybe a bar. These aren’t clubs in the sense that you need to be a member; more in that they have a party feel to them. Club Les Palmiers is a favorite, as the tables are closer to the ocean breeze and the DJs spin the best tunes. There really is no table that’s not near a speaker, so make a 1:00 PM reservation and you’ll still be able to have a conversation over the music. (They switch DJs and the music gets even louder at around 3:00 PM.) Or you could make a late reservation, order another bottle of rosé, or two, and let the night start several hours early.
Address: 962 Chemin des Tamaris, 83350 Ramatuelle, France
In the height of a hot summer, Club 55 can be really warm — as a thicket of trees, while lovely, blocks sea breezes from reaching the dining room. Rather than eating here, make a lunch reservation elsewhere but park in the 55 lot. Then arrive early to take advantage of the beach and maybe enjoy a long swim. That’s what I did while my partner, who’d already gone for a morning run along the Coast Trail, chilled under a tree in a cocktail zone between the beach and the restaurant enjoying the people watching. When you are in fact feeling peckish, go have lunch.
Address: 43 Boulevard Patch, 83350 Ramatuelle, France
Les Graniers — Les Graniers Beach
Les Graniers is in fact not a beach club, since the beach is public. It is also easily reached on foot from St. Tropez, as we noted above. The beach feels surprisingly secluded here and the on-sand restaurant is on point. They may not have chilled gazpacho with mustard ice cream the day you come, but whatever chilled soup they serve, it will be delicious. You can’t go wrong with the freshly grilled fish either.
You won’t find a party vibe at Les Graniers, although there are always a few tables with larger groups and empty bottles of rosé. And if daytime drinking in the heat wipes you out, post-beach naps are definitely part of the rhythm of summer here. In any event, you’ll notice it’s perfectly okay to plunk an ice cube or two in your rosé and water it down a bit. Also, you’ll find non-alcoholic cocktails, beers, and even wines on drink menus throughout St. Tropez.
Address: 1 Plage des Graniers, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Where to eat in St. Tropez
You’ll have to drive 15 minutes to Ramatuelle from town, but the view of the serene beach cove on which Chez Camille sits is worth it. As with most St. Tropez restaurants, reservations fill up quickly in summer. The trick is to pick an “early” dining time, like 8:00 PM. It’s not quite as fun, since your fellow diners will be other non-French travelers, but you’ll get the bonus, at Chez Camille at least, of pastel sunset colors. (The sun sets after 8:00 PM from early April to early September.)
Since no one rushes you to eat in France, you’ll glimpse chic French diners and even extended families who summer on the Riviera arriving for dinner around 10:00 PM, just when you may be having dessert. Prices are eye-watering — with the lobster bouillabaisse coming in at $130 per person, but the linguine with clams is a more affordable $33. (These prices reflect current Euro to US Dollar parity).
Address: Rés Cap Nioulargue, 83350 Ramatuelle, France
The Patio at Le Yaca
Le Yaca has one of the loveliest patios in town and its food is as appealing as the elegant surroundings. The zucchini blossoms stuffed with tangy ricotta followed by ravioli served with browned butter and briny anchovies are delicious and beautifully plated. The white chocolate shaped peach, filled with cream is an excellent dessert to round up a great meal. With the cheapest main course costing $40, there’s no way to avoid paying high prices at The Patio. However, if you’ve come to St. Tropez with your partner and want to splurge on just one romantic dinner, this is the place. (Note that Le Yaca is also a lovely hotel. Peak prices are very steep, coming down to about $400 per night in late September).
Address: Boulevard d’Aumale, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
St. Tropez regulars have been enjoying Pizzeria Bruno’s ultra-thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas for years. The priciest is the indulgent $27 Tartufo, with truffle cream and shavings, as well as buffalo mozzarella, but there are plenty of $16 and $17 pies as well. If you’re cutting the carbs, you can choose from a slew of salads and a few appetizing meat or fish entrees. The dining room is invitingly small, but the best tables are splashed outside on Rue Sibille — so reserve ahead. Don’t get confused, tt’s not on the Rue François Sibilli that’s packed with couture shops, which is two blocks away, but the people watching is still as good as the pizza. If you want to save money, order the pizzas to go as the takeaway options average about $12. Sadly, the truffle pizza is not available for take-out.
Address: 6 Rue de l’Eglise, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Falafel & Co
If St. Tropez food prices threaten to blow your budget out of the water, Falafel & Co is your answer. In fact, the freshly made falafels served on really fresh pitas or as a salad are worth a stop even if you aren’t counting pennies. To get to this friendly Lebanese eatery, keep walking south on Rue François Sibilli, past Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana, until the street ends at Place des Lices, a small plaza. The kiosk is on your right, but it looks out onto the plaza.
Address: Rue François, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
St. Tropez hotels for every budget
We hope you love the hotels we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
Hotel La Ponche
If you want to be in the thick of things, Hotel La Ponche has the best location in town, close to all the action but also offering ocean views and, once you open the shutters, welcoming sea breezes as well. Decor in each of the hotel’s 18 rooms is elegant but understated. The real draw are the common spaces, like its rooftop terrace and superb restaurant. In fact, since room rates crest four digits in peak weeks, you may prefer to stay elsewhere and just enjoy a meal at said restaurant. (The melon soup is unforgettable).
Address: 5 Rue des Remparts, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Pastis Hotel St. Tropez
Pastis Hotel St. Tropez hits the sweet spot between pampering and affordability. It is by no means cheap, at least not in the height of the season from mid-July through August, but you will have friendly service, a beautiful room with a spacious bathroom and a clawfoot tub, and an inviting pool. It is also right on the water, a ten-minute walk from the center of town. Three of the rooms look out onto the sea or, if you want a quieter room choose one of the two at the back, which each have their own terrace overlooking the pool. The light breakfast at this inn is also a perfect start to the day. Rooms are over $600 per night in mid-summer, go for under $500s in September, and drop to the 200s in October.
Address: 75 Avenue Général Leclerc, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Bastide du Port
The least expensive option here is Hotel Bastide du Port, which is almost next door to Pastis. It offers guests the same walking access to the center of town, sea views from most rooms, and even little verandas complete with wrought-iron tables and chairs. Breakfast outdoors is also a perfect combination of café au lait, croissants or a baguette with jam, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Like every hotel on this list, all rooms have AC. The rooms are a little less decked-out than those at Les Pastis and the hotel doesn’t have a pool — but that means you get a good price for the location. You can snag a room in September for under $300 a night.
Address: Port du pilon, 73 Avenue Général Leclerc, 83990 Saint-Tropez