Written June 12, 2013.
The faint memories of my first trip to St Tropez about 15 years ago consist of a sparkling blue sky on beautiful spring day and the understated wealth that permeates this small Provencal fishing village turned playground for the yachting set. Today it remains pretty much as I remembered it, simple pastel colored buildings with contrasting shutters – some charmingly in need of repainting – and small fishing boats in the harbor, their fishing nets lined along the edge of the port, juxtaposed with high-end shopping and flashy yachts.
After spending a day and a half in this intriguing micro-culture, finer aspects of this curious mingling of the very rich and average fisherman come to light. First of all, there are no obvious high end hotels or restaurants in town. There are, in fact, very few hotels in the old town and they have facades as plain as the high-end designer shops. The five star resorts are scattered in the hills outside of town. The same is true for fine dining restaurants. The in-town restaurants have a more casual feel, almost too casual, a sort of anti-chic.
The people watching in St Tropez is also rife with contrasts, an international mix of visitors – from day-tripping backpackers to diamond clad Europeans, from shabby-chic, worn jeans to skin-tight designer brands, from young families, sweaters loosely tied over the shoulders, to elderly couples, sweaters also loosely tied over the shoulder. It’s a place to be seen and a place to watch. Tourists walk the port and survey the people on the mega yachts, backed snuggly into the port as if an invitation to oogle their luxurious life style. There are even several ice cream shops if you want something sweet while you take in the show and snap photos. Or if you prefer a drink, a line of bars and restaurant face the on board action.