St Tropez

The very name, 'St Tropez', conjures up for many people the essence of the French Riviera; beautiful, rich, expensive, cosmopolitan.... and that's just the town itself, not its inhabitants! For a long time 'St Trop', as it is known to the locals and cognoscenti, was inaccessible in that it seemed to cater solely for the rich and possibly famous. Thankfully, the town is actually much more accessible, and much more interesting, than the Jet Set might have us believe.

St Tropez has some really nice upmarket shops and restaurants and a walk around the port is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, looking at all the fabulous boats and eating in a seafront restaurant or just having a drink and watching the world go by. There's a lovely long sandy beach, not private but open to the public and it's not uncommon to see people bathing there almost year round. In fact, there are several great beaches within walking distance from the town so you could try one per day if you want, without having to drive anywhere. If you do need to leave the car in town, try parking down at the port where there are plenty of spaces and not too expensive, either.

boats on the water in front of the yellow houses in the harbour at Saint Tropez

Getting around is getting easier with a free shuttle bus running around the town and bus routes to local towns such as Port Grimaud, Sainte Maxime or even Toulon and Hyères for just 2€ per trip. Remember that traffic along the coast in high-season has always been daunting so let the bus take the strain and save on petrol.

One of the joys of St Tropez is surely having your lunch in the sun and people-watching. Try a great Caesar Salad at the Bar du Port. This restaurant is worth visiting just for its toilet facilities - the most amazing black and silver loos with gorgeous central basin and chandelier-type hanging pipes (these turned out to be the taps). Has to be seen to be believed! The Bar du Port is the best-priced eatery on the port at just 16€ for the salad; other restaurants charge nearer 30€. If you want to mortgage your house, you can even buy a bottle of Moet et Chandon champagne for 2000€ - this really is where the rich hang out!

When you leave the port, look out for an incredible ice-cream shop which you simply HAVE to try - so many flavours to choose from and all using local, organic ingredients. The caramel and rum-and-raisin come heartily recommended - possibly the best ice cream the SFHV team have ever had, bliss and not at all expensive. But be prepared, you may have to queue to be served but you can be sure it will be worth the wait!

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