St-Tropez was a quiet fishing village before Brigitte Bardot shook things up in the late 1950s. Since then, it has become a magnet for the world's sun-seeking jet set, radiating a surreal yet naturally laid-back nautical chic where mom-and-pop butchers and bakers share blocks with leading luxury brands.
Sun, Glitter and Gold
First stop: Café Sénéquier (Quai Jean Jaurès), a beloved institution on the port made famous by all the celebrities who go there. Than make your way to the Golden Triangle, an area delimited by the port, Place de la Garonne and Place des Lices. Here, the likes of Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi test their cruise and seasonal collections.
And while several brands and independent designer boutiques call St-Tropez home year round, others stay open for summer only. Some are even more ephemeral with occasional pop-up stores in villas. Towards the end of October the whole town hits the streets and scales down their prices for la Grande Braderie, which means big sales on great names in haute couture, jewellery, beauty and design.
Dress like the Locals
Impossible to leave St-Trop without a new swimsuit! Gentlemen, local brand Vilebrequin (1 rue Jean Mermoz, 24 rue Gambetta) is king of men's luxury swimwear, and has a huge collection of fun, colourful shorts. Ladies will find that perfectly sassy bikini at Kiwi (four locations in St-Tropez) or Pain de Sucre (94 rue Général Allard).
As for footwear, Atelier Rondini (16 rue Clemenceau) is the place to go! This 85-year-old family business made the chic Tropézienne sandal world-famous. K. Jacques (25 rue Allard, 16 rue Seillon) plays in the same league, though tends to be a bit flashier. Praiaz (Passage du Port) sells trendy new shoes perfect for yachting and the beach: light-weight, supple and... scented! Try coconut, vanilla and monoï.
Back to classics, La Chemise Tropézienne (23 rue Gambetta) has beautifully made shirts that are ideal beach cover-ups, while Terre et Mer (Place des Lices) specializes in linen. For a little bling, stop by Gas Bijoux (Place de la Garonne), a local favourite since 1971. Before that, owner and designer André Gas could be found selling his creations on Pampelonne beach...
On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, wake up early and head to Place des Lices for the lively open air market. Then grab a table on the terrace of Café des Arts (Place des Lices), an authentic French bistro with front row seats to the square's on-going petanque matches.
For a slice of the city's most luscious vanilla Tropézienne pie, head to Marcel et Cavazza (29 rue Georges Clémenceau), or cool off with St-Tropez's best homemade sherbets and ice cream at Glacier Barbarac (2 rue Général Allard).
Top off your hedonistic getaway as the fashionable do, and reserve a table (or even better, a room!) at iconic Hotel Byblos (20 avenue Paul Signac). This five-star hotel, where in 1971 Mick Jagger married his first wife, Bianca, reflects St-Trop's surreal mix of laid-back cool, well-heeled glitz and glamour...