The 6 Best Neighbourhoods & Towns in St Tropez area for Tourists
City Centre – the centre of the town is one of the best places to start exploring. Despite its international past, St Tropez is, above all, a traditional Provençal town. There’s even a traditional Provençal market held in the town square, the Place des Lices, every Tuesday and Saturday. Here you can buy all kinds of eatables as well as clothes and household goods. In the summer months, the town is a summer resort with its sunshine and seaside atmosphere. Its lively cafés and proximity to beautiful beaches and a yachting marina give it a fun and exciting vibe.
This area is very pretty and it’s possible to walk around comfortably. But in the height of the summer, you would probably be well advised to do most of your walking around in the morning before the heat of the day goes into full blast. You can see many old buildings alongside those of more recent times. The great quality of this area is its centrality. Everywhere you need to go is accessible from here.
There’s also a fine selection of hotels, particularly luxury hotels. Stay here to be near all the action in the town. You could even find yourself sharing your hotel with a famous celebrity. St Tropez has been attracting leading lights in the international community for decades. Brigitte Bardot and Pablo Picasso have moved on but a newer breed of celebrities has taken their place. You look at someone intriguing and think ‘who’s behind those sunglasses?’
Old Town – The historical old fishing district of St Tropez is known to the locals as ‘La Ponche’. This is where to find the church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Eglise de Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption). It’s the most recognisable landmark in the town, an Italian-style building with distinctive red and yellow colours. It’s visible from a distance and practically symbolises St Tropez. It houses the bust of St Tropez, the town’s patron saint.
There are pedestrian walks populated by designer boutiques and art galleries between the waterfront and the Place des Lices. As with any historical town, the old town has retained its original charm and brings you back to another time. It’s also home to Chez Maggy, one of St Tropez’ top nightspots.
This town’s main industry is tourism, and there’s a wide selection of hotels for all budgets. You can tell it’s a holiday destination for the wealthy and famous because you’ll find so many upmarket boutiques crowded into the tiny lanes, but you’ll also realise that this was once a humble fishing village with cobbled streets. Yet it was much more than a fishing village.
Situated here is the Rue de la Citadelle. This will lead you to the 17th-century fortress which once guarded the coastline against Spanish attacks. It’s now a maritime museum. St Tropez may have been a humble fishing village but there was a strong fortress here. With a history that stretches back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, it’s not really surprising.
Old Port – Otherwise known as the ‘Vieux Port’ in French, this is where the fishing village of St Tropez originated. In the harbour, you can see small fishing boats and stylish yachts docked alongside each other. The row of Mediterranean style, pastel-coloured houses forms a charming backdrop. Around the harbour are lively cafés with outdoor terraces. Relax with a drink and watch the world go by.
It’s a great idea to stay here because as is the case with the town centre or the old town, it’s close to everywhere important. It’s also near the fruit and vegetable market and the fish market. This is where the top restaurants of the town purchase fresh local produce to serve their discerning diners. Another little gem close to the harbour is the Butterfly Museum (La Maison des Papillons), which is set up in a typical St Tropez residence, a typical Provençal house. There are over 35,000 species of butterfly on view here and for those who are interested in science, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Near the harbour is another lovely gem. That’s the Annunciation Art Museum. It has an aura of serenity and one of the finest art collections. It has been rightly observed that the light in St Tropez is inspiring for artists and painters. So it’s only right that this wonderful art collection has found a home in this dignified 16th-century chapel, which provides a perfect backdrop to works by artists such as Signac, Matisse and Derain.
Pampelonne Beach – As mentioned, this is probably the most famous of the beaches of St Tropez and even in France. The Plage de Pampelonne is the favourite beach for international tourists. It’s five kilometres of white sand and sparkling waves. It was the backdrop for the Brigitte Bardot film ‘And God Created Woman’.
It gets extremely crowded in the summer. There are good facilities such as public toilets near the beach and lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer. The beach has both public and private areas. It’s located in a sheltered bay and strictly speaking, it belongs to the nearby village of Ramatuelle, rather than St Tropez proper. For those who love the beach and water sports, this beach has it all. It’s a few kilometres away from St Tropez, so people who wish to make the most of this amazing beach often prefer accommodation close to this place.
There’s a good range of hotels to suit all types of budgets in this particular area. This is a favourite stopping place for yachting cruises. It’s one of the best places for water sports in France. Whether the tourist’s a water sports professional, an infrequent dabbler or even keen to try out water sports for the first time, they’ll be well suited here. Here you can try jet skiing, wakeboarding, paddleboarding and windsurfing. That’s only some, there are many more. There are also some nice restaurants close to the beach, for when you’ve worked up an appetite.
Port Grimaud – if you’d like to be near the glitz and glamour of St Tropez but would prefer to stay in a quieter neighbourhood, you could get accommodation in Port Grimaud. That way, you could enjoy peace and tranquillity and still be close to the action. This little town is often compared to Venice because it has an interesting canal system.
To be honest, there’s enough in Port Grimaud to keep you happy if you like quiet places. You need never venture out towards the glamour of St Tropez if you don’t wish to do so. Like St Tropez, Port Grimaud has its typical Provençal market and a range of boutiques and restaurants. You can hire a motorboat at an hourly rate to explore the port.
There’s a good range of accommodation to suit all budgets. There is also camping accommodation available. That’s a treat for those who love the great outdoors. There’s also a variety of restaurants to please those who love good eating. Even if you’re a vegetarian you’ll find the selection to be good. The nicest thing of all about Port Grimaud is the fact that nowhere is too far from a beautiful, sandy beach. So if you love the south of France but would rather have a quiet, restful holiday than a glitzy, glamorous time, this could be the place for you. Should you fancy a change, St Tropez isn’t too far away. You could end up enjoying the best of both worlds.
Sainte-Maxime is another quiet town close to the district of St Tropez. It’s one of those places where people go when they fancy the vibrant buzz of St Tropez but feel they can’t afford to live that jet-set lifestyle. So they stay in Sainte-Maxime and aim to spend their days in St Tropez or one of its famous beaches.
This, too, was a fishing village like St Tropez, but it diversified its economy and its port shipped wine, olive oil and vegetables. Today, that port is replaced by a yachting marina. This town is low key in comparison to the more glamorous neighbour. This would be in keeping with its patron saint, the daughter of a nobleman. She allegedly rejected wealth in favour of a simple life, serving God. There’s no doubt, Sainte-Maxime can give tourists many of the joys of a French Riviera holiday for a more accessible price.
There are vibrant local markets and Sainte-Maxime even has its own casino. It’s possible to reach St Tropez by ferry from Sainte-Maxime. The ferry runs frequently throughout the day and gives the visitors to Sainte-Maxime a taste of St Tropez without actually having to stay there. This way the tourist really gets to enjoy the best of both worlds. A quiet, French Riviera vacation with a taste of the glamour of an international jet-set resort. It’s a good combination. The ferry runs daily so it’s possible to drop in and out of St Tropez as the mood takes you.