If life is made up of choices, then St. Tropez is life at its most choice. From the yacht-studded harbor to one of the most famous nightclubs on the Riviera, who knew that this quiet fishing village could put the ay yi yi in high season? The purrr in supermodel?
But if you don’t have a yacht, sailboat, private jet or chauffeured car, your purrs will soon turn to grrrowls. Because what chiefly strikes the non-accoutremented traveler is the logistical difficulties that the city presents.
Do you know the way to St. Tropez? The train only goes as far as St. Raphael, and from there you must take either a bus, a $200 Mercedes taxi ride, or a ferry. Helicopter? From Monte Carlo it costs about a whopping $700. It is almost as if, perish the thought, St. Tropez didn’t want the rag tag masses at its door! Do you get that feeling?
Okay, now let’s say you’ve miraculously found your way to St. Tropez. You have the town on one end and the beaches on the other. The town is charming with a great market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and cafés along the harbor promenade. The beaches are right on the Med and boast the likes of Brigitte Bardot and a house that was Hemingway’s. Obviously, you want to be two places at once. You want to be playa-side during the day and you want to hit the town in the evening. Good luck!
St. Tropez only has about seven taxis, and the current rate from town to the beach is $20 one way. You heard me! I got stranded in town, I won’t say how, and in the morning, I needed to get back to my beach-side hotel. At nine in the morning, zee little taxi stand, she was empty. I had a coffee, still in my party dress, and considered my options. I took to begging/ hitchhiking, not a very Tropez thing to do. A lovely Frenchman took pity on me and drove me back to my hotel for free. But I couldn’t always rely on the kindness of strangers, could I?
So what is my recommendation? Stay in town! Stay in the lovely town. Find a hotel with a pool, for the love of convenience! Take a day when you’re feeling very motivated and adventurous, and have that single day be your beach day. For us yacht-less, chauffer-less masses, the thing about St. Tropez is that you have to make choices. Dine at Spoon or sup on the beach at sunset? Shop till you drop or work on that tan by the pool at Byblos? Champagne or rosé? Yes, St. Tropez can make life very difficult sometimes …
Logistics aside, St. Tropez is like that hot restaurant that makes you wait an hour for a table- because it can! And who wouldn’t pay $200 to find yourself amid the winding, cobbled streets of this old fishing village with orange tiled roofs and aquamarine shutters that wink at you, rigorously preserved by a dedicated mayor? Where the tall masts of sailboats stand at attention like a bobbing forest of wood and rope. Where hotels like Byblos serve up the good life on a golden platter to their each and every guest. Yes, even you, oh yacht-less one! As the general manager of Byblos put it, “If you want to reach paradise, you have to make a little effort!”
But the thing about St. Tropez is that sometimes yachts are woefully passé. When the throbbing sails of the Giraglia Rolex Cup boats are in port, their same-shirted windswept crews dashing bow and aft like polo pirates- tan, nimble, and babbling Romance languages—one tends to forget the slow grind of yacht engines in favor of the silent power of kept winds.
Another St. Tropezienne choice is whether to arrive during high or low season. Low season (mid-April to mid-October less high season) finds a certain calm before the supercilious storm. The Rolex Cup and other races lilt in and out of port, and you can hear village life rambling quietly around you.
High season (July 10 – August 20) hits like a glittering tornado. The party kicks into high gear, and suddenly the streets and clubs and bars and docks are jammed with fabulousness. This is the St. Tropez of legend pulsating with a galaxy of international stars, flush playpeople, and champagne selling by the magnum.
The Do’s of St. Tropez:
Do stay at Hotel Byblos. That’s all you need to know.
Do see about reciprocity and a letter of introduction if you belong to a flying or yacht club or some other private or sporting club.
Do approach the lapelled guards at the gangplanks of mind-blowing yachts and ask questions. They won’t tell you who’s on board, but you can learn a lot about how the other half lives at sea.
Do dress nicely in St. Tropez. It is a lovely place for lovely people.
Do attend the market in the Place des Lices on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. Do bring cash.
Do throw calories to the wind and indulge in the most famous local pastry, La Tarte Tropezienne, invented by Brigitte Bardot.
Do pay attention to the special events that St. Tropez has to offer. Famous regattas like the Giraglia Rolex Cup and Les Voiles de St.-Tropez abound, as well as polo matches, film festivals, art exhibits, and more. See ot-saint-tropez  for details. Byblos, too, has its share of concerts and charity events, so be sure to consult the hotel’s concierge.
Darling, do charm your way onto some seaworthy vessel at some point during your stay. A true Diva doesn’t need to own a boat to luxuriate on one.
By Stephanie Block