Glitzy and brash? Or one of your favorite places? Opinion is divided on the attraction of Saint Tropez on the French Riviera. In the summer Saint Tropez can be hell – but also heavenly. It’s still basically a small fishing village, surrounded by villas for the super rich and super famous; the town heaves with crowds, but there’s a wonderful 14-kilometer path where you can get away from it all. Whatever you think of the place, it still attracts both the stars and the ordinary vacationer, and therein lies its charm.
The writer Guy de Maupassant started the trend in the 1880s, ‘discovering’ the place when he arrived the only way he could, in his yacht, the Bel-Ami. Then came the painter Paul Signac, followed by other artists of the late 19th- and early 20th-century who found the light fabulous and the living easy.
They loved the small fishing port that went back to the 1400s when the place was independent with its own small army. In the 20th century the trickle of visitors became a tide as everybody followed the famous names of Matisse and Colette, Errol Flynn and Jean Cocteau. By the 1950s Picasso, Juliette Greco and Boris Vian, Jean-Paul Sartre and Francoise Sagan were regulars. But it was Brigitte Bardot who through the film And God Created Woman, became the symbol of fashionable, rather libertine St Tropez. And the place never looked back. Today you might see George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Liz Hurley and P Diddy along with Michael Schumacher strolling around.