It's tempting to say that the best way to save money in St-Tropez is not to go there at all. Europe's most famous little resort really doesn't cater to the budget-minded. In a sense, that's the whole point of the place.
However, there are ways of keeping a certain control over your wallet or purse ...
Eating and drinking
- If you're tempted by a big posh meal, consider having it at lunch-time rather than in the evening. Restaurants are invariably more reasonably-priced at midday. For instance, the Brasserie des Arts has a lunch menu for 18 euros. You'll pay double that for a full dinner at the same spot.
- Cheaper still, of course, is to have a sandwich lunch. There are a couple of decent sandwich / takeaway stands on the central Place-des-Lices. Try a pan bagnat - essentially, a salade niçoise in a bun - which will fill you up for around 4 euros. And eating it on a bench under the shade of the plane trees on the square is really rather pleasant.
- Cheapest of all - on Tuesdays and Saturdays - is to visit the huge market, also on the Place des Lices, and buy the makings of your own sandwiches.
- If in need simply of a coffee (or a beer or a glass of wine) - and not also of a sit down and a rest - don't take a table on a café terrace. Go inside and have your drink standing at the bar. It will be cheaper. And, should you want to sit down later, there are plenty of public benches about the village.
- And please be wary of cocktails in night-time bars. A mojito might cost you 13 euros in a bar (much more in a nightclub). For that, you could probably get three or even four servings of pastis, the anis-based drink which Provençal people drink. I have no desire to encourage alcohol consumption - but this is a serious consideration, especially if you're in a group and buying rounds. Of course, it also assumes you all like pastis.
- The only sane way to visit the centre of St Tropez is on foot. However, that's assuming that you've arrived in the village in the first place. In late spring and early autumn - and especially in high summer - it can take two or three hours to do the final four miles along the only main road into the resort. Same thing on the way out.
- There are, though, three ways round this. The first is to arrive very early in the morning - before 8am - and leave late, after 9pm.
- The second is to drive to St Raphaël or Ste Maxime, leave your car there and take the ferry across to St Tropez. In St Raphaël, make for the Bâteaux de St Raphaël ferry service (+33 494 951746; www.bateauxsaintraphael.com). It takes about an hour, is a lovely crossing and costs 14 euros one way, 23 euros return ... or 9 euros and 13 euros, respectively, for two- to nine-year-olds.
- The crossing from Ste Maxime is shorter - around 20 minutes - and cheaper: 7 euros one way, 12.50 euros return (or 3.70 euros and 7 euros for children). You'll find the Bâteaux Verts at 14 Quai Léon Coudroyer (+33 494 492939; www.bateauxverts.com).
- The third way is to go in winter.
Other useful tips
- Not so much a tip as a word to put your minds at rest. Despite the crowds and night-time exuberance, St Tropez is a relatively safe place, even in high summer. Neither I nor - more particularly - any lady I know has ever felt any menace walking around, even late at night. There are excesses, of course, but the place is small and the people there mainly rich and in pursuit of a good time rather than your wallet .. of which they have no need, anyway.
- And, if you're out at five-o-clock in the morning, you may be assured that lots of other people will be, too.
- St Tropez is also less bothered by organised crime than you might imagine. As a club-owner once explained, the southern French mafia do their business in Marseille, Nice and similar. They go to St Tropez to forget about work and relax.