If there’s a spot on earth that never needed Justin Timberlake to bring sexy back, it’s St. Tropez. It’s been sexy all along. Ever since the days of Brigitte Bardot, St. Tropez has evoked images of pristine beaches, beautiful people, and luxurious living. It remains the home of sunbathing celebrities, extravagant yachts, and exclusive boutiques. But St. Tropez also has quaint neighborhoods, local vineyards, and historic sights and museums. It’s so much more than a millionaire’s playground on the French Riviera.
For most of its long history, St. Tropez was a military outpost and fishing community. After WW2, it became a popular destination for French artists and filmmakers, and fame and tourism followed. Today, it unites a civilization dating back to the Phoenicians, with the best of modern shopping, watersports, and premiere accommodation. Always a popular destination for sun-lovers and jet-setters, St. Tropez remains one of the top vacation destinations in the world.
While you may imagine doing nothing on your vacation but drinking mimosas and working on your tan, there are several sights in St. Tropez that are definitely worth leaving the beaches. These are some you will want to be sure to experience:
Overlooking St. Tropez is a massive 17th century citadel, built to defend the city from the Spanish. Today, it’s a historic site, offering insight into military and French history, and the dungeons house a maritime museum. While the citadel is worth seeing and exploring, the location offers spectacular, nearly 360-degree views of the city and the gulf below. A cool and quiet break from the busy beaches and boardwalks, a visit to the Citadel is an essential part of the St. Tropez experience.
Quai Jean Jaurès
The Quai Jean Jaurès is the best spot for people-watching in St. Tropez. Bordering the marina and lined with shops, cafes and super yachts, this quay is where the old city meets the sea and it’s the hub of the town. There is no better people watching than the port of Saint Tropez! Sit at a cafe, enjoying the sunshine and looking at the endless uber-boats parked in line (if we could only go inside one of these sleek boats!), or stroll the boardwalk, pausing to window shop and sample foods from the street vendors. Maybe you’ll spot a celebrity or two!
Saturday Market in Place des Lices
Most of the time, the Place des Lices is a park, comfortable for dog-walkers and those taking a break in the shade beneath the century-old plane trees. But twice a week it’s a traditional open-air market, crowded with vendors and shoppers alike, taking their time and socializing. This market sells a huge variety of local goods and produce, including bread, pastries, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, flowers, sausages, tapenade, spices, and more. It’s the produce that draws the locals, while tourists also enjoy browsing the locally-made crafts, antiques, vintage posters, clothing, and more. The market closes at 1:30pm, and it’s important to go early for the best produce and baked goods. Or visit just to browse, smell the delicious foods, and take in the festive atmosphere.
This museum celebrates the history and legacy of art and artists on St. Tropez. Housed in a 16th century chapel, this museum is small, but the collection of modern art is renowned. Honoring the local and global importance of Paul Signac, the collection features works from 1890 – 1950 and focuses on the pointillist, Nabis and Fauvist movements.
The beaches of St. Tropez are legendary, and need no introduction. Sun-worshippers love this stylish town for a reason. But St. Tropez also has a rich history and culture, and offers sights and experiences you won’t have anywhere else, to say nothing of the local fresh French food and wine. You can have sun and surf and sand, and so much more in this beautiful part of the Mediterranean.
And if you aren’t planning a trip with St. Tropez as the primary destination, it is certainly worth making a day trip if you plan to visit Nice, France for an extended period of time.
Be sure to check out our photo tour of all the Mediterranean’s hottest destinations for 2018!