St Tropez is one of the most famous resorts on the planet. But it is also a small town. When the happy summer crowds evaporate, the place reduces to a permanent population of a little over 6000.
So, clearly, it can’t sustain much in the way of cultural sites or visitor attractions. There’s the citadel, of course, and a more-than-decent art gallery but that’s about it. And most holidaymakers don’t see either. (Should you get fed up of the crowds on the port, nip into the Annonciade gallery. Even if you’re no fan of modern art, you’ll appreciate the tranquillity.)
The fact is that the majority of visitors arrive in St Tropez not so much to do things as simply to be there … bit-players in a glam-dram that’s been running for 50 years or more. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. People may do what they damned well like on their holidays.
I would urge you, though, to take a little time to look beyond the dazzle. Try to see not only the citadel and gallery but also St Tropez-the-village as it was before the worldly deluge. Strip out the effects of high-rolling and you’re left with a charming little village with a valiant past in a tremendous natural setting. This is worth discovering, both for itself and because it helps explain the origins of the St Tropez phenomenon.
One could easily argue that, if artist Paul Signac hadn’t shown up in the late 19th-century and been so struck by the beauty of the place that he stayed, well, no-one would ever have heard of St Trop..
How I’ve picked my things to do:
In this part of the guide, I've tried to give a cross-section of the St Tropez experience.