How did St Tropez become the hottest Mediterranean summer destination?

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Every summer, yacht charterers head to the hottest spots in the Mediterranean to enjoy an idyllic vacation. Mykonos, Ibiza, Capri... the trendy islands compete for the top position. But if there is one place in the Mediterranean that everyone agrees on, it is the charming French Riviera village of St Tropez. Now famous throughout the world for its bustling port, batch of celebrities, wild parties and fashionable venues, Saint-Tropez hasn't always had such a reputation. Here is the story of a small fishing village that has become a favourite hangout for celebrities.

An exceptional heritage

This is not necessarily what you think of when you come to holiday in St Tropez. And yet... St Tropez is and has always been a village of art, culture and traditions. Although many tourists do not venture further than the port, St Tropez has many hidden treasures such as its 16th century church with its famous bell tower, the Château de Suffren, the fishermen's quarter “La Ponche” and the citadel home to the Maritime Museum. The authentic character of Saint-Tropez, with its old alleyways and Provencal market, combined with its history as a fishing village, keeps on seducing and attracting people.
The authentic village of St Tropez and its bell tower on the French Riviera

The early days

It was only in the 19th and especially in the 20th century that the seaside town started to arouse the curiosity of painters and writers. Matisse and Bonnard, Colette and Françoise Sagan, among others, were regular visitors to the seaside resort. The beauty of its tiny harbour, natural light and landscapes provided inspiration for these artists who also enjoyed the local lifestyle. The Mediterranean village inspired many stories, but also paintings. One must admit that the perspective of a bay stretching out to the open sea against the backdrop of the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps can only be inspiring. Exhibited in Paris, the artwork served as a postcard to attract Parisians to come visit and experience the pleasures of St Tropez. At that time, the year-round residents welcomed this small crowd with open arms. If your yacht charter takes you to St Tropez, you should visit the Musée de l'Annonciade which brings together some of these iconic works that have contributed to the history and development of St Tropez.
A narrow street in the old village of St Tropez on the French Riviera

The Bardot myth

In the pre-Bardot era, St Tropez was a popular destination for artists such as Matisse and Bonnard, who would come here to seek inspiration in the beautiful landscapes of this peaceful paradise. In 1956, Roger Vadim's movie "And God created woman", starring French actress Brigitte Bardot and shot on the beach of Pampelonne, established the reputation of St Tropez in France and throughout the world. The success of the movie brought the tiny village to international fame. The crowd began to change, many rock stars, socialites and other celebrities started to flock. Some of them to spend their holidays, others to invest and buy a villa. St Tropez became this festive Mediterranean holiday resort attracting the most famous French and international stars of the time such as Alain Delon, Eddie Barclay and Mick Jagger who married his first wife Bianca in 1971 in St Tropez. With this influx of rich and famous, the small fishing village started its great transformation. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs and shops were opened to keep all these people entertained.
The beach of Pampelonne

Keeping the legend alive

From the 1990s onwards, many tycoons started buying properties in the area. Like the island of Saint-Barthelemy or the ski resort of Gstaad, St Tropez was becoming a hotspot. Although fishing boats have given way to superyachts in the small port of St Tropez, there are other legendary places that have stood the test of time. The famous Café Sénéquier, with its signature red furniture, still stands, although it was created in 1887 by Martin and Marie Sénéquier, a couple of local pastry cooks. Founded in 1938, the Hotel de la Ponche with its magnificent sea view is another mythical location that remains open today - and still belongs to the same family! Picasso, Juliette Gréco and Romy Schneider all wrote the history of this small peaceful refuge that has become the most secret and intimate of the 5-star hotels in St Tropez. A last example is the famous beach restaurant Club 55, which keeps on attracting crowds since 1955! But at the same time, new venues are opening up to meet the needs and desires of a new clientele such as Bagatelle beach club where the champagne flows and everyone ends up dancing on the tables. The Opera is another favourite with burlesque dancers performing in sparkly bikinis. Oh St Tropez has changed but the legend remains.
Luxury charter yachts moored in the port of St Tropez

A true luxury haven

From gourmet restaurants to luxury hotels, champagne parties to sports car parade, superyachts to designer boutiques, St Tropez is the perfect luxury paradise. But luxury goes even further... Although St Tropez is often associated with excess and extravagance, it is worth highlighting the true lure of this enchanting coastline: peace and privacy. In a town where people want to be seen, there is ultimately nothing more glamorous than not being seen at all. Some hotels in St Tropez such as the Château de la Messardière offer this kind of privacy and are popular places for artists and other celebrities who want to enjoy the peace and quiet. Many successful businessmen have also invested in luxurious villas and are looking for nothing else but a peaceful retreat, far from the bustle of the port and the swarm of tourists. This countryside seaside atmosphere, this chic yet relaxed vibe, this is the true spirit of St Tropez.
Aerial view of the Gulf of St Tropez and the beach of Pampelonne

Ad usque fidelis. “Faithful to the end” is the motto of St Tropez and the village never disappoints! If you are looking for the perfect blend between authenticity, fun and relaxation for your next yacht charter, St Tropez is the right place for you. Whether you wish to try this stylish beach club, enjoy those wild nights, do some luxury shopping, dine in a gourmet restaurant or immerse yourself in the history of this charming coastal village and visit its monuments, St Tropez awaits you. Contact our team to discuss your yachting vacation and receive your custom proposal. For more information, you can also browse our St Tropez yach charter guide