LIVING LARGE IN SAINT-TROPEZ
Living Large in Saint-Tropez - Luxury Travel Magazine
Living Large in Saint-Tropez
|By: Pam Grout, Issue 48 – Spring 2011|
|THIS LITTLE FRENCH RIVIERA VILLAGE HAS MORE CELEBRITIES PER COBBLESTONE PATH THAN JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET. PAM GROUT TELLS YOU HOW TO MIX IT WITH THE RICH AND FAMOUS IN SAINT-TROPEZ.|
Hip-hop artists rap about bling, bodacious babes and bacchanalia. But the preeminent ones, the ones like Diddy, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, rap about holidays in Saint-Tropez which, when you think about it, amounts to the same thing.
Top models (Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson), rock stars (Elton John, Bono, Madonna, Mick Jagger), Hollywood royalty (Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, Johnny Depp) and big-name designers (Armani, Hilfiger, Versace), have all parked their yachts at Saint-Tropez and soaked up the sunshine and flashed their titanium
American Express cards.
Want to join in? Here are six must-dos for shadowing the fabulous set:
Tack your yacht into Port de Saint-Tropez. Oh sure, you can fly into Nice, rent a car and suffer the hellish traffic jam of a ride over. But if you want to do Saint-Tropez like Ivana Trump, Beyonce and other fast-lane big shots, sail over from Cannes and vie for one of 31 berths on the old port. From there, you’ve got a ringside seat to the gorgeous harbor cafes, designer boutiques and windy streets, two donkeys wide.
Get your picture taken with Jack E. He’s the resident deejay at Les Caves du Roy, the perennially hip nightclub inside Saint-Tropez’s legendary Hotel Byblos. Even if you can’t score one of the embroidered VIP booths, a snapshot with the corpulent DJ who loves to yell “Welcome back to Saint-Tropez” puts you in the same league as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis and Jack Nicholson who, according to Jack E, guzzled Cristal straight from his shoe. Word of warning: Getting in the door can be tricky. Bouncers the size of well, Jack E, work hard to keep out paparazzi and other riffraff. A room booking at Hotel Byblos guarantees entry. And why not? It’s the most famous hotel in town. Built to resemble a Provencal village, it even has wild peacocks strolling its hillside lawns.
Shop till you drop. Where else can you find those designer shades, custom-made sandals and Fendi beach totes? Every Tuesday and Saturday, Place des Lices, the sunlight-dappled, tree-lined town square, offers a killer open-air market with everything from antique Vuitton trunks and 1930s fly-fishing gear to organic aubergines and sausage made from local boars. Even on non-market days, it’s prime people-watching territory as such notables as Karl Lagerfield play petanque, the national game of bowling, amid scattering pigeons. Coco Channel, who has been in town since the 1930s, is now joined by such blue-chip clothiers as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Dior and Hermes. Or check out one-off boutiques like K Jacques or Atelier Rondini where the famous Tropezien sandal was invented.
Reserve a paillote (a straw-topped sunshade) or matela (foam mattress) at Le Club 55. Le Club 55, where Elton John and David Furnish recently vacationed with their new tot, Zachary, and where Naomi Campbell celebrates her birthday every year, is one of dozens of posh beach clubs on three-mile Pampelonne Beach. Club 55 was launched in the year 1955 after the mother of Patrice de Colmont, the current owner, was asked by Brigitte Bardot, who mistook their cabana on the north end of the beach for a restaurant, for 80 roast beef sandwiches. She wanted it for the crew on her film, And God Created Woman, that turned Saint-Tropez into the household name it is today. Lunching outdoors under Club 55’s tamarisk trees has long been a Saint-Tropez rite of passage. Even though it’s open to everyone and remains faithfully democratic (the King of Belgium was once asked to wash his own dish to help out the overbooked kitchen), Club 55 requires reservations.
Have some beluga caviar with your pizza. Villa Romana, once a simple Italian bistro, has morphed into what can only be described as a culinary amusement park. George Clooney and Vin Diesel are just two who have walked its Persian carpets, eyed its fish tanks, been chatted up by its pirate emcee and sampled risotto on its leopard-print cushions.
Share stories with long-time local Simone Duckstein, owner of Hotel de la Ponche. Once when trading tales with guest Jack Nicholson, who snuck outside for a smoke, Simone and the famous actor were besieged by camera-snapping gawkers. Nicholson, Duckstein says, leaned over and whispered coyly, “We should probably go back inside. You’re starting to attract attention.” This charming historic landmark, also a favorite with Kylie Minogue and playboy Gunther Sachs who has been known to rent all 18 rooms, started life as a pub for local fisherman. In fact, Simone who was born in her parent’s bed in a room on the second floor, recounts visits during the 50s and 60s from Picasso, poet Boris Vian and a pot-bellied Jean-Paul Satre.
Hotel de la Ponche
|A suite with a large terrace and sea views starts from €380 (about A$498) per night, a suite overlooking the pedestrian street starts from €280 (about A$367) per night and a junior suite facing the sea starts from €260 (about A$340) per night. Rooms which overlook the inside patio or the sea start from €185 (about A$242) per night. Visit laponche.com for more details.|
|Rooms at Hotel Byblos start from €325 (about A$425) per night for a single room to the duplex room which starts from €650 (about A$849) per night. Suites are from €780 (about A$1,019) per night for the junior suite and from €1,610 (about A$2,103) for the suite deluxe. The larger suite, Riviera is available on request. For more information visit byblos.com|
|Saint-Tropez has no airport or train station in the immediate vicinity. Qantas offers flights from all main cities in Australia to Paris. Return fares start from A$2,608 for economy and from A$9,209 for business. qantas.com|
|From Paris you can decide to take another flight to Toulon or a four-hour direct train ride to Toulon or Saint-Raphael. Air France operates return economy flights from Paris to Toulon from A$324 per adult. Catch a taxi or ferry from Toulon or a taxi from Saint-Raphael to reach St Tropez.|
|When to go|
|The beach clubs begin to open in May and the beach is comfortable to swim in by early June. July to August is bumper-to-bumper traffic in the water with a large summer crowd along the ports. If you prefer a smaller crowd and less tourists September through to October is when you can relax and still soak up the sun.|