Until 1956 (when the film And God created woman, starring Bridget Bardot, was filmed here), St Tropez was a typical, quiet fishing village, attracting a handful of artists and very few tourists. Now St Tropez is a world-famous destination that draws celebrities and tourists from every continent. And yet… at the right time of year, you can still find the charm of a quiet Mediterranean fishing village.
‘The season’ takes place approximately between mid-June and the end of October, but things start opening up around Easter (which is busy) and then there is a quieter period of about six weeks before the season really kicks in. So we suggest you come in May (or at the very beginning of June) when the heady scents of jasmine and Japanese mock orange (Pittosporum tobira) fill the narrow streets of the old town and you have your choice of restaurants and bars.
Get up early in the morning, just after the streets have been washed and the last leaves are being blown away, before almost anyone else is up, and it will be worth it. Walk round the port with its fancy bars below the pastel-fronted houses and admire the luxury yachts. Then go up into the old town behind the port and wander round the tiny streets, climbing upwards to the Citadelle. Walk along the wild-flower-edged paths outside the castle walls, joining locals doing their morning walk or jog, and you will be rewarded by breath-taking views out to sea and over the Golfe de Saint Tropez. You will also look down onto what is surely one of the most desirable waterfront plots: the maritime cemetery, right down at the sea’s edge.
Also make sure you go to the Place des Lices, the square at the heart of St Tropez where locals still play boules under the dappled shade of huge hundred-year-old plane trees. If you’re eating at Le Café bar and restaurant, they have a couple of sets of boules they will lend you so you can have a game. It’s here too that St Tropez market is held on Tuesday and Saturday mornings.