Saint-Tropez is a town located in the south-east of France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region, in the Var department. A former fishing village, Saint-Tropez became, from the end of the 1950s, a seaside resort popular with the Jet Set and movie stars like Brigitte Bardot. Famous for its tropézienne pie created by Alexandre Micka and for its port which welcomes the most beautiful yachts in the world every summer, Saint-Tropez also sees its population multiply by 10 during the months of July and August. In this article, we will discover the history of Saint-Tropez, its port and its beaches, while taking an interest in the celebrities who have contributed, for more than half a century, to the notoriety of this village throughout the world. .
The history of Saint Tropez
Saint-Tropez is located on the peninsula of Saint-Tropez, which closes the gulf of the same name. The town covers nearly 1,118 hectares and 12 kilometers of coastline. The town of Saint-Tropez has 8 beaches distributed from west to east, as well as in the old village. Saint-Tropez is only accessible by one road, the national 98 then the departmental 93, also known as the “beach road”. Similarly, Saint-Tropez has no roads or paths around the coast. The town is located 104 kilometers from Marseille, 60 kilometers from Toulon and 15 kilometers from Sainte-Maxime. The communes bordering Saint-Tropez are Gassin to the west, Ramatuelle to the south, Grimaud to the northwest and Sainte-Maxime to the north.
In 1887, Guy de Maupassant, suffering from syphilis, came to rest in Saint-Tropez, aboard the Bel-Ami, his yacht moored in the port. The painter Paul Signac discovered Saint-Tropez and its fishing port in 1892. He acquired a house called “La Hune”, a building which quickly became a workshop and a place of pilgrimage for many painters, such as Henri Matisse. In the 1920s, the proximity of the spa resorts also attracted artists such as Colette or Léon Volterra, a producer of shows from Paris, who would become mayor of the town in 1930. From then on, other artists like Jean Cocteau or Arletty stayed in Saint-Tropez. During the Second World War, Saint-Tropez became the first town in Provence to be liberated by the Allies, thus marking the last defense of its famous citadel. Thanks to the filming of Roger Vadim’s film “And God Created Woman” in 1956, Saint-Tropez became an international seaside resort. This film starring the French actress Brigitte Bardot arouses the enthusiasm of the artists of the new wave, a movement of French cinema which brings together directors such as Roger Vadim, Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut. From then on, several other films will be shot in Saint-Tropez, such as “La piscine” by Jacques Deray or the Gendarmes saga. The village is becoming a resort for the European and American Jet Set in search of Provençal authenticity or celebrities.
The port of Saint-Tropez
A former fishing port, the port was also a commercial port before becoming a marina. In 1470, the freshwater cove at the foot of the city became a fishing port before undergoing several developments over the following centuries. From then on, the city developed around the port of Saint-Tropez and at the end of the 18th century, the port had the 3rd fleet of ships and men in the Mediterranean, behind the port of Marseille and La Ciotat. In 1965, the main basin was renamed “the old port” and expansion work was carried out. A new basin with an area of 5 hectares is being created, making it possible to accommodate boats with a length of 21 meters. At the time, the port of Saint-Tropez had a capacity of 734 anchorages, for an area of 9 hectares. Located in the heart of the village, the port is now a major stopover in the Mediterranean where no less than 40 people provide daily reception, security and maintenance of the site. For more than half a century, the port of Saint-Tropez has been featured in many French films featuring great actors such as Brigitte Bardot or Louis de Funès, thus becoming the emblematic place of the village and a important summer marina for luxury yachts. Today, the port of Saint-Tropez has a mooring capacity of nearly 800 boats and can accommodate yachts measuring up to 50 meters long! The port and its eternal Provençal village spirit is also famous with its many luxury boutiques and its surrounding café terraces, such as the mythical “Sénéquier” establishment. It is also an unmissable meeting place with its museums and discotheques which welcome many show business personalities every summer.
The beaches around the village
Saint-Tropez has 8 beaches, the best known being the famous Pampelonne beach. Distributed to the west, east and in the heart of the village, the beaches of Saint-Tropez are as follows:
- Pampelonne beach : located in Ramatuelle, Pampelonne beach stretches 4.5 kilometers long and covers 27 hectares. Officially, Pampelonne beach is not attached to the city of Saint-Tropez, but mistakenly considered as such. Pampelonne beach, which was also a landing site in August 1944, is a tourist hotspot, made famous in the cinema by Bernard de Colmont’s famous hut, Club 55, which served as a refreshment point for the film crews from Roger Vadim’s film. At that time, only one hut existed, the Tahiti Beach, before seeing the establishment, from the 60s, of new huts which will become, over time, trendy places popular with the Jet Set. In the 2000s, the huts were privatized and sold to wealthy owners.
- Tahiti Beach : also located in the town of Ramatuelle, Tahiti Beach is the northernmost beach in the Bay of Pampelonne. Composed of private beaches and public beaches, Tahiti beach offers a breathtaking view of Cap du Pinet and its geographical location often requires the use of a GPS to get there.
- Escalet Beach : this beach, which is difficult to find, is also in the town of Ramatuelle. Located between Cap de Camarat and Cap Taillat, Escalet Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Saint-Tropez. Its coves and turquoise waters make it a heavenly place popular with tourists.
- Bouillabaisse beach: Bouillabaisse beach is located at the entrance to Saint-Tropez and offers an extraordinary view of the Gulf of Sainte-Maxime. The beach stretches for 500 meters and to the east is a private beach.
- La Ponche beach: this beach is located in the heart of the village and extends over about fifty meters. La Ponche beach is accessible on foot from the port or the citadel.
- La Fontanette beach : near La Ponche beach, La Fontanette beach is located at the foot of the citadel.
- Graniers beach : 80 meters long, Graniers beach is a beach located at the exit of Saint-Tropez, below the citadel. It is also the wildest beach near the city.
- Canoubiers beach : also called Canebiers beach, it is located 4 kilometers from the center of Saint-Tropez, on the Salins road. 200 meters long and sheltered by umbrella pines, Canoubiers beach remains, due to its accessibility, the favorite beach of Saint-Tropez residents. This beach also served as a filming location for the television series “Under the Sun”.
Films and celebrities linked to Saint-Tropez
Since 1930, nearly 70 films have been shot in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. It is to Jean-Luc Godard that we owe the very first film shot in the old port. But it was not until 1956 and the release of “And God Created Woman” that the fame of the village became international. The most famous films are:
- And god created woman : in 1956, this film by Roger Vadim uses different places in the town as a setting. The port, the city center, but also the district of La Ponche and its beach serve as filming locations and the release of the film in the United States quickly attracts tourists from all over the world.
- The Constable of Saint-Tropez : released in 1964, the adventures of Maréchal des Logis Cruchot interpreted by Louis de Funès will contribute to making famous the famous beach of Pampelonne, but also the place des Lices, known to welcome petanque players and the famous gendarmerie located near the port, which has now become “the museum of the gendarmerie and the cinema of Saint-Tropez”.
- The swimming pool : released in 1969, this film by Jacques Deray stars Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, but also a very young British actress of the time, Jane Birkin.
- Life annuity : this cult film directed by Pierre Tchernia in 1972 brings together actors Michel Serrault and Michel Galabru around the theme of life annuity.
- La Cage aux Folles : another cult film made in 1978, La Cage aux Folles depicts a homosexual couple who own a cabaret in the center of Saint-Tropez.
- The Year of the Jellyfish : released in 1984, Christopher Frank’s film starring Bernard Giraudeau and Valérie Kaprisky was mainly shot on the beach in Tahiti.
If you wish to stay in Saint-Tropez for your next vacation, we invite you to consult the website www.sainttropeztourisme.com to book your hotel or for any other information concerning your rental.