Saint-Tropez - Cult City at the Côte d'Azur
Although the small city St. Tropez has barely 7.000 inhabitants, it is one of the most famous places of the Côte d'Azur. Saint Tropez is a city full of clichés and myths, here, the rich and the super rich are supposed to be. St. Tropez is the top-less city and the city of Brigitte Bardot. Of course, St. Tropez is also a typical procencal fish village. But this is hard to notice during the summer months as then the city is overcrowded by tourists.
Saint-Tropez is the city of the rich people. In the city-harbour, rich people from all over the world show their yachts. And those who do not come by ship to the city will at least show off their fire-red sportscar or their Harley Davidson.
From the former glory and richness, today, mainly the respectively high prices for the hotels, restaurants and souvenirs remained. The really rich people do not live any more in this city, they only dock for a short time period at the harbour. From the numerous celebrities, only a few still live in the city. But despite of this, St. Tropez is a tourist attraction: mainly young people come to the famous small city in order to experience something from the hustle and bustle of the city and from the excentric people.
History of St. Tropez
Those who think that a famous city as St. Tropez has a significant and widely back going history are wrong. According to the legend, once a Roman mate named Hallow Torpes existed, but actually, there is no history of the city previous to the medieval times.
Not until the 15th century, some families settled down in St. Tropez. But the city never gained a bigger significance. St. Tropez was not even in the shadow of Marseille or Toulon but it was simply an unsignificant fishing village. The annual Bravade-festivity goes back to a naval battle of the year 1637, when a small national fleet won against a much bigger one coming from Spain.
Saint Tropez did not experience an advancement that is worth to mention until the year 1892, when the painter Paul Signac got sttled in the city and numerous artist followed him. By this way, Saint-Tropez became a city of painters and artists.
During the Second World War, the city had to experience a hard beat. German occupation troops blew up numerous houses when the allied troops docked in the city. Many destroyed buildings were rebuilt true to original.
But the city experienced its real advance in the year 1956, when the movia "And God created Woman" of Roger Vadim was filmed in the city. With this movie, also the big career of Brigitte Bardot started. From now on, St. Tropez had a world-famous image as topless-city, as the city of sins and the city of playboys and lightly dressed women.
Sightseeings of St. Tropez
Do really millions of tourists take all this strain of visiting Saint Tropez just because once, a famous movie was filmed in this city and thus the city became a source of numerous scandals? Those who drive to St. Tropez during the typical months of holiday will have to invest a lot of time in order to get into the city. To be exactly, there is only one road that leads to the city and everyone has to drive through it twice - in and out of the city. There is a big parking place at the harbour that has to be paid. Normally, one stands for 1-2 hours in the traffic jam before getting into it. Under these circumstances, those who do not have a car with an air conditioner will not be able to enjoy their visit to St. Tropez, as one arrives there completely exhausted and actually wants to leave immediately.Also those who come with a cabriolet will latest close the car at the traffic jam of St. Tropez and activate the air-conditioner, as the sun continuously burns down on one.
But those who already parked their car will walk through a lovely provencal city that cannot be more typical. At the harbour, some artists offer their (partly bad) artworks for selling. There are a lot of junk goods and useless things to buy. Behing this, rich people get their champaign served in their yachts. In St. Tropez, one comes across numerous small shady alleyways with tiny boutiques, art-shops and souvenir-shops. During the winter months, many of those shops are closed, as the inrush of tourists stops.
Speaking of the inrush of tourists: While it is possible to loaf unhurriedly through the oldtown during the cold months, in the summer months, one has to drag with thousands of tourists through the crowds. The city offers a nautic museum as also the Musée de l'Annonciade, in which the works of Signac and other painters can be viewed. But those who did not catch a day of bad weather will not go pleasantly to a museum in this city.
One preferrably walks around the city. A view to the harbour and the city from the Quai d'Estienne d'Orves is much more impressive than any painting. Those who can walk a lot can simply walk around the city alongside the coast. A walk on the Sentier Littoral up to the Tahiti-beach is the most impressive way to explore the peninsula St. Tropez. But it is also the most exhausting way except one affords a cooling bath in one of the numerous beaches...
I would like to mention the citadel above the city. It was built in the 16th century in order to protect the coast from intruders. Those who drive or walk up the hill will be rewarded with a great view over the city and the coast in front of it.
Beaches of Saint Tropez
The biggest beach of the peninsula of St. Tropez is located at the Bai de Pampelonne. The beach's name is respectively Plage de Pampelonne with the Plage de Tahiti at the northern end. Unfortunately, the golden sand beach was strongly commercialised: the biggest part of the beach belongs to renters of deck chairs and parasols. Unfortunately, one has to pay for a full day; thus, those who only want to relax for an hour will hardly accept to pay 10 € per person. But between the commercial beaches there are also one or two public beaches.
Those who want to bath right in the proximity to the city centre will find some beaches as the Plage des Graniers, the Plage de Cannebiers or the Plage Bouillabaisse that are all nothing exceptional but it is possible to relax there for an hours from the tours.
Gassin and Ramatuelle
Most of the visitors of Saint Tropez come from St. Maxime and/or Fréjüs alongside the coastal road and return on exactly the same way. This is actually a pitty, as they do miss the actual peninsula of St. Tropez where there is much more to see than the famous small city at the Golf of St. Tropez. On a very curvy and partly narrow road, it is possible to circumnavigate the city and passes some attrctive small cities and beautiful beaches.
Thus, at a height of 201 metres one comes across to the small place Gassin that is a popular destination for excursions. The place is nicely tarted up and made ideal for tourists: there are souvenir-shops, bars and cafés everywhere. The place itself is quickly viewed but the actual reason why one should visit Gassin is the great view to St. Tropez, the Golf of St. Tropez and the coast of Port Grimaud up to St. Raphael.
Practically in the centre of the peninsula of St. Tropez the small place Ramatuelle is situated. The place itself practically does not offer any sightseeings but a wonderful panorama view by continuing driving to the Moulins de Paillas (Mills of Paillas). But it is a little tricky to find them as one drived on a hilly area on some small roads without any helpful signpostings.
The circumnavigation of the peninsula of St. Tropez and the visit of the two small villages Gassin And Ramatuelle are only worthwhile if the weather is clear. In case of slightly cloudy weather one can only look straight down to the sea and maybe also the northern coast of the Golf of St. Tropez.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz