As someone who is captivated by all things French, it’s not surprising that I adore the South of France. We’ve been lucky enough to visit several times over the last few years and it’s become a destination that I look forward to returning to again and again.
During our first trip in 2016, we spent one night in Saint-Tropez and I was instantly enamored with its beauty. It has the charm of a traditional European seaside village with the chic sophistication of a metropolitan city. The port boasts countless mega yachts and a vivacious nightlife scene, but the winding, narrow streets of the town are filled with quaint eateries and shops, all of which instantly transport you somewhere completely different.
We stayed right outside the main town at Villa Belrose. I chose this property because we wanted to be slightly removed from the hustle and bustle, but close enough that we could easily go in for shopping and dining. The grounds of the hotel were gorgeous, offering postcard-worthy views of the Mediterranean Sea. We loved enjoying sunset with cocktails and live music on the ocean view terrace before heading into the town for dinner. Both the accommodations and service were great.
Saint-Tropez is a mecca of designer stores, unique boutiques, and fine art galleries. If we weren’t relaxing by the hotel pool, we were in town shopping and exploring the colorful streets. As a handbag lover, I knew I couldn’t visit Saint-Tropez without having lunch at the Dior Café des Lices. Situated in the courtyard below the Dior boutique, the cafe is a lush outdoor eatery outfitted with Dior patterns and logos throughout. Even the burger is griddle stamped with the logo! I loved eating and imbibing amidst the beautiful setting with my Dior Book Tote in tow.
Saint-Tropez is also known for its beach clubs, where you rent a chair and spend the whole day or just stop in to enjoy lunch. Since our hotel had a great pool, we chose to do the former at the famous Le Club 55, which has a storied history made famous by patrons like Brigitte Bardot. The restaurant was light and airy; your toes are in the sand as you sit amidst trees that are draped with a canopy of curtains to shade the outdoor seating area. It was incredibly chic but in a very unassuming way.
The dining and nightlife in Saint-Tropez really shines. You can make a vacation there wild and party as much as you want, but you can also make your visit all about relaxation amongst gorgeous scenery. We did a bit of both! The majority of restaurants have two seating options – 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Since the sun doesn’t set until close to 9 p.m. in the summer, the 7:30 p.m. feels very early, yet I have to say, 10:30 p.m. is late to eat. We mixed up our reservations so some were early and some were late, and I thought that was a good way to experience the vibe of each. No matter where you choose to dine, you need to make your dining reservations well in advance if you visit during the summer months. I would recommend leaning on your concierge to assist you, as bookings can be difficult to get at the hot spots.
L’Opera was our late “night out” where we had dinner with quite the show. This spot is so much fun and we loved the energy of it! Every 15-20 minutes all of the servers get up to dance, followed by amazing live singing and dancing performances. If you sit outside at the main table, which is what we did, you have a front row seat to the action…literally. It’s the perfect way to welcome yourself to Saint-Tropez! On the other evenings, we enjoyed more “tame” meals. Le Café is a delicious spot with a dreamy outdoor patio that overlooks the main square. If you dine later, the inside area becomes a party, similar to L’Opera, but when we went it was very calm and romantic. Hotel Byblos’ Cucina Byblos is a casual outdoor Italian eatery set in a beautiful garden. This meal was beautiful from an ambiance standpoint but the food was just ok compared to other meals we enjoyed during the trip.
Saint-Tropez is about 1.5 to 2 hours from the Nice Airport. You can either rent a car (this is what we did because we wanted the flexibility of driving around), hire a car service, take a boat, or a helicopter. The traffic can be daunting during the peak season, so plan ahead when you land if you are making reservations for lunch or dinner right after you arrive. If you are staying right in town, you can probably forgo a car as everything is walkable except for the beach clubs and you could take a taxi to them. Parking in town was not as challenging as you might think; we almost always found a spot on the street. It just depends on your comfort level and the location of your accommodation.
If you’re looking for a relaxing seaside destination coupled with fantastic upscale shopping and dining, this is it. A summer night in Saint-Tropez is simply magical and the French Riviera has a certain “je ne sais quoi” you need to experience to understand.
The A-Lyst is a Boston-based lifestyle blog curating the very best of style, beauty, food, and travel.