Most people know St. Tropez because of the actress Brigitte Bardot who, back in the 1950’s, starred in a film that made this small fishing village town in the South of France a popular and fashionable getaway for the “beautiful people.” I was hoping that there would be more to see than just yachts and expensive shops so convinced my ship friend JJ, who when off ship lives in the South of France, to be my guide for the day.
We tendered on into the port where masses of people were milling about in and out of the waterside coffee shops. We, however, left that hectic area and meandered through pretty cobblestoned streets and lanes to what JJ explained was the more traditional and less touristy side of town by the old fishing piers in La Ponche.
Overlooking a small rocky beach filled with locals cooling off from the hot summer sun, we sat down for a meal at La Pesquiere restaurant that JJ said had very good, down to earth Provencal food. We were serenaded by roving musicians while gorging on mussels and steak tartare, a St Tropez favorite it seems.
Proving that St Tropez maintains some of its old world customs we headed over to Place des Lices, the town’s central square. This tree-lined park surrounded by cafes is used for an open air market a couple of mornings a week, but the rest of the time it is the spot for Boules (or Petanque as it’s called here.) Old time players come and spend their afternoons and nights competing and taking the game quite seriously too (as I got to witness.) No chance at all for me to have a go.
There were two more places on JJ’s list that he told me he stops by on every visit to St Tropez. The first is an unassuming and unpretentious pub by the marina called Kelly’s Pub. I wouldn’t have anticipated going to an Irish Pub in the South of France but this turned out to be a fun and very friendly spot with probably the most inexpensive drinks you can get in St Tropez.
Then, our final stop is at Glacier Barbarac, a super busy ice cream store that serves an unbelievable number of different flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurts. We managed to nudge our way to the front and get ourselves some. Honestly, I can’t remember what I ordered but I know it was good since I devoured it rather quickly.
While JJ had to get back to the ship, I continued to stroll around a bit and even bought a few fun reasonably priced gifts before having to leave this quite charming and welcoming town.
I love the South of France!