Home Europe An Offbeat Guide to the French Riviera: Top 6 Things to do in St. Tropez Beyond it’s Nightlife

An Offbeat Guide to the French Riviera: Top 6 Things to do in St. Tropez Beyond it’s Nightlife

written by ParoChak September 16, 2017

The name St. Tropez, the famous “it” destination in the French Riviera, evokes myriad images. Sun kissed beaches. A pulsating nightlife. Luxury shopping. Sunbathing and 50 shades of tan. Plunging necklines and bronze kissed shapely legs. Gel doused hair and lots of bling on both genders. And finally, the very famous scene from the 1960s movie “And God Created Woman” where French actress Brigitte Bardot is dancing away without a care. A movie which placed this town firmly on the world map and made it the mecca for French glitterati to escape to and party. A movie that inspired me to pick St. Tropez as our destination only to realize that this was not our happy place after all. Being neither a beach bum or party animal, St Tropez was quite not my scene. Yet I still managed to somehow enjoy my time here by discovering my favorite parts of the town beyond the neon haze of the mammoth luxury party yachts. So if you are very much like me, part wanderer and part foodie with a splash of artsy, here is my take on 5 offbeat things to do beyond St Tropez nightlife.

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Beyond St Tropez Nightlife activity#1 Exploring Old Town

St. Tropez’s old town is a treasure trove of pastel buildings with colorful doors and windows and narrow cobbled lanes that are a delight to explore. Early morning is a great time to walk around with barely any soul in sight (thanks to late night partying) and the fresh morning air has a balmy, quiet feel to it. Walk in the shadows of the old bell tower atop the Eglise Notre Dame de l’assumption or peep into the several art galleries all around (they stay open very late by the way for the nocturnal crowd). Pass Tour Portalet, the 15th century stone defense tower, and walk along the narrow strip of Môle ‘Estienne d’Orves to get to the cute as a button lighthouse Phare de Saint Tropez. You can climb up the stairs to take in the windswept scenery of boats, ferries and yachts sailing on the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean.

We stayed at the beautiful Hotel La Bastide du Port which boasts of a fabulous location,  beautifully decorated Mediterranean-chic rooms and drum rolls please, for FREE PARKING (cause it can get tricky to find one in this touristy town. Side note: parking raked up quite a pretty penny for us in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, our previous destinations). True to the aesthetics of the French Riviera, our room was decorated in blue and white and we lucked out in getting a sea facing room. Located on the busy and popular Port du Pilon with beaches a stone’s throw away, we got a marvelous view of the sea and the twinkling lights in the evening. Old town was a brisk 20 min walk and we were pretty close to several popular restaurants, including the one-Michelin star Les Viviers du Pilon, where we dined one night. Highly recommend this hotel for it’s reasonable price, location, cleanliness and parking, parking and parking!

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Beyond St Tropez Nightlife activity#2  Visiting Gendarmerie Nationale

If curiosity gets the better of you and you dare peek into any souvenir or art store, you are bound to see photos and replicas of a certain building, which also happens to be the pride of St. Tropez. This building is non other than Gendarmerie Nationale, which used to the erstwhile station of the “Gendarmes” or the lawkeepers/armed police officers of this city. Turns out that the St. Tropez Gendarmes were quite famous, having had their own movies and TV shows that yet again shed more spot light on this French Riviera town. This building, once a police station, has now been converted to a movie museum, showcasing St. Tropez’s role in French and world cinema.

We were lucky to catch a special exhibit based on the life and times of Brigitte Bardot, the famous actress and the darling of this town who made St. Tropez her home and continues to live here. She also started her animal charity work and office from this place and is an icon of St. Tropez, thanks to her first feature “And God Created Woman” that released in 1956 that made it’s setting (i.e. St. Tropez) famous. The exhibits included lots of photographs from the 60s and 70s when she rose to fame and her time in St. Tropez after 1973 when she quit cinema. I loved seeing the human persona of this famous celebrity and was humbled to see her passion for animal rights and her activism. The museum is truly a visual delight for all cinephiles!

Beyond St Tropez Nightlife activity#3 Getting a panoramic view

Don’t think twice about climbing up those endless flight of stairs to Citadel de Saint Tropez, which was completed in 1620 to defend coastal France against Spain. In 2013, a maritime museum was inaugurated in it’s dungeons to celebrate the life and times of the brave St. Tropez fishermen and sea farers. For some reason, we found the citadel closed at the time of our visit, but were happy to get some breathtaking views of St. Tropez from way up. That panorama alone is totally worth those achy feet.

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Beyond St Tropez Nightlife activity#4 Eating your heart out

This is a no brainer, cause when in France, you kind of have to stuff yourself till you go comatose. The French Riviera boasts of some excellent Mediterranean cuisine and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fabulous meals we had in St.  Tropez. From snagging a last minute lunch reservation at the 3 Michelin starred La Terrace (chef Arnoud Dockele, the youngest chef to be awarded three stars, at the helm of affairs) in the posh hotel La Résidence de la Pinede with a beautiful view of the sea from the lawn where we dined, to tasty bites at the Saturday Provencal farmers’ market at the main square Place des Lices, from breakfast tarts at the famous Tarte Tropezienne (Brigitte Bardot’s favorite bakery and which literally means “Tart from St. Tropez) to dinner and a sunset to match at the 1 Michelin starred Les Viviers du Pilon, we ate our way through St. Tropez. For more ideas, see this list of 10 must visit restaurants in the French Riviera.

Beyond St Tropez Nightlife activity#5 Fabulous day trips

St. Tropez will much more enjoyable once you realize that there are some fantastic tiny Provencal villages near it that are simply begging for a day trip. So why not oblige them a little bit? Most people rush to the more popular Grimaud, which true to the tradition of Provencal villages, looks straight out of a postcard. Plus, Grimaud has several beautiful local boutiques that are just as chic as those in St. Tropez but come minus the hefty price tag. The other two hidden gems in this area, thanks to recommendation by our friendly hotel staff, are Le Lavandou and Bormes-les-Mimosas.  While Le Lavandou has a beautiful marina and beach, Bormes has a spectacular view of yellow-orange tiled roofed houses from an elevated area near it’s parking lot. The pint sized commune also boasts of two popular restaurants: Le Jardin (1 Michelin star) and Crepe du Village, both of which were sadly closed by the time we arrived.

Beyond St Tropez Nightlife activity#6 Enjoy a Mediterranean sunset

When all is said and done, do take some time to enjoy a spectacular Mediterranean sunset from one of the several beaches at St. Tropez, ours being right from the sandy patch near Les Viviers du Pilon post dinner. There is also a nice, quiet beach across from La Bastide du Port (were we stayed), far away from the frenzied partying crowd.

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Beyond St Tropez nightlife is a guide to offbeat things to do in St. Tropez, France. This lists the top 6 things to do and attractions if you have only 24 hours in the French Riviera, Europe. A must read for foodies, romantics and those looking for off the beaten path, slow travel guides.

 

Beyond St Tropez nightlife is a guide to offbeat things to do in St. Tropez, France. This lists the top 6 things to do and attractions if you have only 24 hours in the French Riviera, Europe. A must read for foodies, romantics and those looking for off the beaten path, slow travel guides.

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20 comments

Victoria September 16, 2017 at 4:34 am

Looks like you had a great time. These pictures are stunning. Especially the sunset. It is my favorite. I too am not really the party animal any longer so I wondered previously if I would like it here. It seems that I shall have no probl. Thanks for the post

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Xin September 16, 2017 at 5:33 am

Lovely pictures! Was it expensive to hang out in St Trop? How long did you spend there?

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ParoChak September 16, 2017 at 6:02 am

Hi Xin, we stayed there for one day and got a good deal on the hotel. St Tropez is expensive if you shop there which we did not. Since I live in another super expensive city (San Francisco) , I didn’t find the food too expensive. Plus the US dollar is going strong now!

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Gabby September 16, 2017 at 7:41 am

Now that I see your post I realized I should have given this area more of a chance… I was also turned off by it at first and gave up!

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Khushboo September 16, 2017 at 10:05 am

Loved your post, I’ve only seen people going to Nice and Cannes in French Riviera but this looks promising. Amazing pictures.

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Faith Coates September 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm

You had me with the food and the farmer’s markets two of my favourite things in this world. Wouldn’t mind hanging out here for a few days…lol

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Danielle @ The Wanderlover September 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm

There’s always a part of me that wants to go here for the parties, but Old Town and the sunset looks stunning!

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Nifty September 16, 2017 at 4:38 pm

As a (mostly sober) introvert who isn’t the biggest fan of sand (it just gets EVERYWHERE), this post really speaks to me! Thanks so much or sharing – makes it easier for me when I visit!

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Tracy September 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm

It’s nice to know it’s not all about the nightlife. Love the look of the Old Town. Your photos are great!

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Michelle September 17, 2017 at 1:13 am

I totally forgot about St. Tropez until I saw your post! I loved your photos, especially of Old Town. Thanks for sharing!

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Frances September 17, 2017 at 3:08 am

It definitely doesn’t sound like my scene either – but it certainly looks like you were able to find some beauty in it!

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penelopi September 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

Amazing photos!!!!! I have lived in France for 9 months and I really loved it!!

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Julie September 17, 2017 at 8:56 pm

I couldn’t agree more that St Tropez is much more than a party town. Such a cute spot to spend the day

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Adilene September 18, 2017 at 2:46 am

Wow that’s lovely! Another place I would love to explore. Some places are hidden gems!

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Stephanie September 18, 2017 at 3:51 am

I haven’t managed to get to St. Tropez just yet but these pictures are making me want to go!

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Radif Rahman September 18, 2017 at 8:07 am

I love to travel and that’s why I have a travel blog too. loved the sunset scene very much. I saw the sunset in Cox’s Bazar sea beach and Kuakata sea beach in my country. It’s an awesome feeling. I hope you have enjoyed a lot. Foods and photos are really stunning.

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Laura September 18, 2017 at 11:47 am

These are my kinda tips – I love to be up and out and about too much to sit around! great alternative post.

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Alexxa | RAW TRVL September 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm

This is what I need. St tropez seems so picturesque, I love the colours and its charm. This is my kinda guide!

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Anna September 19, 2017 at 5:14 am

Great pictures! I love the French Riviera. It seems like you had a wonderful time.

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Emily September 20, 2017 at 12:41 am

I went in college and seeing all these lovely photos really took me back! Loved it.

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