Christmas Eve in St Tropez

Brigitte Bardot on the beach in St Tropez

I‘ve only been to St Tropez once and let me tell you my expectations were not high.

It was Christmas Eve day several years ago and my wife and I, with our good friend Yamina, decided to hop in the car and take a leisurely ride.

A little under two hours later we were pulling into St Trop.

I had mixed emotions.

Images of Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson cavorting on a yacht with their drunken entourage were a bit hard to shake, and I didn’t really have any interest in meeting P. Diddy (I’m sure the feeling was mutual), but I had always wanted to visit this famous town.

Years ago I watched Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman” and was intrigued by the quaint, war torn little village that had become so popular (and also, of course, by the beautiful Brigitte Bardot).

So buck up man, I thought to myself.
Give St Tropez town the benefit of the doubt.  There must be something appealing about this star-studded celebrity Mecca.
Ditch that negative attitude and enjoy the day!

And so I did.

Our first stop was a nice little cafe on the quay with a table in the sun and coffee for three.

There was a nice rhythm to the place.
Handsome couples strolling slowly down the street, plenty of well-behaved dogs, no sign of P. Diddy.

Just behind the Quai Jean Jaures is the bustling Place aux Herbes.
We arrived as the market vendors were finishing up their morning work.
Discarded vegetables and flowers lay on the sandy ground as tiny work trucks maneuvered into position to load up the remaining goods.  Christmas lights shaped like stars hung loosely across pedestrian only lanes.

St Tropez is a shoppers paradise, and for that reason alone I should have hated it, but it was fun meandering down the charming streets filled with every designer boutique imaginable.

Hermes, L’Occitane, Christian Dior, Diesel, Longchamp, Balenciaga.

Who knows what any of that means?

Probably P. Diddy.

While my wife salivated inside a small boutique I watched as an enormous, shaggy dog tried with little success to guide his owners down the street.  Every few feet he was forced to stop so that children and adults alike could bestow on him the endless love and attention he so obviously deserved.

At lunch time we dropped into a small grocery store for bread and cheese and had a pleasant little standing picnic on the sidewalk.  Very French.

Winding through the Ponche Quarter I happened upon the Porte du Peche and immediately recognized it from And God Created Woman”.  Looking at the deserted, rocky spit of beach I was happy to note that it still retained tremendous charm.

I’ve heard that St Tropez is a lot of fun in August when the crowds descend and the bars stay open until dawn and the beaches are full.

I don’t know about that but I can tell you one thing.

I like it on Christmas Eve.

4 responses

  1. Good, warm and accurate portrayal of St. Tropez in the winter. In the summer St. Tropez is a place to be seen and for watching the theater of “La Dolce Vita”. It is great drama indeed, played by beautiful, tanned actors in a tiny seaside theater of a town and all for the lowly price of a long, slow and congested drive out the peninsula. If you own a yacht the commute is easier but the price of admission much higher.

    There are without question more charming and beautiful Riviera towns but none as publicly animated by wealth and celebrity as St. Tropez. If you wish to star gaze then, by all means, visit in late summer. If you are of a more contemplative nature, December in St. Tropez can be wonderfully calming and inviting. It will reveal to you the deep, quiet energies of renewal that occur during the repose of a Riviera winter.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself Rick! Maybe this year I can get down there while the weather is still warm and experience the madness.
      Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. I, too, have visited St. Tropez during the off- season. It was fun – even saw the wife of a celebrity while strolling through the shops that line the beachfront. There is a village on the hill above St. Tropez that is beautiful in every way. Ramatuelle (sp?) is home to Brigitte and many of the rich and famous who inhabit the area around St. Tropez. You’ve described this glamorous spot so well that I feel as though I’ve visited it a second time.

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