Were you never told St. Tropez is paradise? -Karl Lagerfeld
The pastel colored buildings, the narrow streets, the bougainvillea wrapped balconies – the colors and smells of the Mediterranean wind along every cobblestone street of this iconic Mediterranean town. If magic potions do exist I’m quite certain it’s infused in the air of Saint-Tropez.
We ubered from Eze to the Hertz in Nice. There is no easy way to get to St. Tropez and with us venturing into Provence after St. Tropez it only made sense to rent a car. There was a lot of information out there detailing the horrible traffic along the Riviera, and although there was some tight traffic getting out of Nice and getting into St. Tropez, it was all in all quite easy. Renting a car was the ideal way to really get out and explore. There is also something very empowering about navigating the roads in a foreign country successfully. It made us feel like the next visit we will actually know where we are going from memory.
Instead of staying on the interstate we detoured and took the long way. As much as we wanted to get to Saint-Tropez we also have been on this planet long enough to know that typically the long way comes with sights and magic that allude the fastest route. It proved a very good decision. The beach road takes you through Theoule-Sur-Mer with its dramatic, rocky coastline. You will continue through rural areas, observe interesting architecture of houses along the coastline, and eventually come to Sainte-Maxime. If you can, stop in Old town which is car free to experience a bit of history. Sainte-Maxime also has a number of beautiful, sandy beaches, including La Nartelle. After Sainte-Maxime you are very close to Saint-Tropez, in fact you can see it along the curved coastline.
There are hotels, and then there are the best hotels in the world. Residence de la Pinede holds the crown as the best hotel along the French Mediterranean and one of the best hotels in the world with its 5 star 36 room beachfront property, 3 Michelin star restaurant La Vague d’Or, Guerlain spa, and private umbrella dotted beach. Walking into this sanctuary by the sea you will notice the sleek, modern decor, a recent update by world renowned designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte.
First on the agenda, a beach walk to listen to the Mediterranean gently lapping against the shore.
With dinner time approaching we took the hotel’s shuttle into the town of Saint-Tropez. The streets were bustling with people and activity as sunset was approaching. In Saint-Tropez you will find your eyes drawn in many directions because there is so much to see and take in, but perhaps the most alluring sight to catch your eye – the yachts lining the marina. So large, so sleek, so lit up – they are there to be noticed and whether you like to ogle luxury or not, they are quite impressive.
We wondered through the streets taking in the scenery. People arm in arm window shopping the many designer shops, people strolling casually alone, people dressed to the nines on their way to dinner.
We stopped to watch street performers doing their acrobatics next to onlookers at a local cafe. The sky changed and lit up in oranges and pinks as the sun set and then the lights began to sparkle and the voices became much more boisterous. Saint-Tropez comes alive at night.
If you ever wanted to step into a Gatsby party, you can in Saint-Tropez. Kicking off our first night in true Saint-Tropez style, we decided to dine at L’Opera. With tabletop fire dancers, opera singers, glowing bottles of Dom Perignon, and white and gold decor draping the restaurant, L’Opera is a Gatsby party come to life. Reservations recommended.
As you arrive in Saint-Tropez you may notice the cutest vehicles to ever catch your eye, these pastel and brightly colored ‘Surrey meets Jeep’ autos were originally designed as a military vehicle. Called Mini Mokes they are perfect for the narrow streets of Saint-Tropez and a great way to explore.
We also ventured to the secluded Plage des Graniers, a quiet beach near the town of Saint-Tropez. It is also a great spot to enjoy lunch or drinks.
For dinner, perhaps the best restaurant along the Mediterranean will do. Experience the land and sea of the Mediterranean through Donckele’s creations at La Vague d’Or. Each plate bringing forth the ultimate in flavor, colors, and beauty from the region. Choose a la carte or set menus like the 5 course ‘Stroll Through The Gardens’.
We woke up for a sunrise walk throughout downtown and then stopped into La Tarte Tropézienne Bakery for the famous dessert. I am not a person who craves desserts, but this uniquely French treat set my senses roaring. The perfect amount of sweetness paired with a crispy, flakiness and a little cream may in fact be my ideal dessert.
After our morning stroll we headed back to enjoy a beach day at the hotel. It was so nice to relax and listen to the lapping waves. The water felt incredible. Crisp but so refreshing against the skin.
We enjoyed sipping on mocktails made of fresh fruit, ginger, and herbs and catching up on some reading.
After our day in the sun, we enjoyed some spa time at the luxurious Guerlain Spa at Residence de la Pinede. The Sun Ritual is an incredible way to refresh yourself after a day at the beach. Exfoliation, massage, and a customized mask repair while leaving the skin supple and bright. Guest of Residence de la Pinede can also enjoy a hammam (or hot steam bath), experience shower, snow shower, ice fountain, and fitness center at the spa. All treatments are designed around soothing the skin after a day at the beach or in sun while using the natural elements of the Mediterranean. Guests can also enjoy make up sessions and hair styling. After enjoying the spa, my husband and I were invited to refresh ourselves in one of the private rooms. Instead of in America where males and females are kept separate in all areas of the spa, Guerlain’s spa director invited us to “the sensual experience of showering and freshening up together.” The beautifully appointed room was stocked with Guerlain bath products, skincare, and makeup for guests to use.
Bags packed and anything but ready to leave, we left this beautiful sanctuary by the sea to head to our next destination. But we couldn’t leave Saint-Tropez without a visit to the famed Tahiti Beach. We headed into Saint-Tropez for a quick lunch of moules et frites at L’Olive, a cafe tucked into the narrow streets. My husband enjoyed a dish of prawns.
A quick drive to Ramateulle and we were soon walking along the white sands of the orange striped umbrella strip of land where Brigitte Bardot famously introduced the world to the bikini.
It was late afternoon and we had enjoyed plenty of sand between our toes and knew we needed to start our journey into Provence to the town of Riez. Little did we realize how intensely beautiful and distinctly different our drive inland was about to be.
For the first part of our French Riviera journey in Eze and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat click here .
Stay tuned for The Best of Provence.