A peek at glitzy St. Tropez
January 28, 2012 81 Comments
Who says dreams don’t come true? Growing up, places like St. Tropez, French Riviera, Provence and the South of France came to my consciousness from reading too much Mills & Boon novels. The impressions from those romantic novels never really left me and although I knew then that I’ll never travel to these places in my lifetime, the dream remained alive in my heart.
It’s kind of funny and weird to finally be in places that used to be figments in my imagination. The M&B novels had of course, over-romanticized these places for the reality was far from what I had conceived about in my mind. St. Tropez was over-rated to my assessment. Yes, everyone wants to be seen there but all because of its reputation as the playground of the rich and famous, the jetsetters, fashion models, Hollywood stars and millionaires. The harbor itself was oozing with those uber expensive futuristic-looking yachts that did not blend in with the centuries-old buildings in the backdrop and its streets were choked with expensive sports cars which actually cannot drive any faster than a few kilometers an hour.
Well, it’s one place that we should see at least once in our lifetime if we have the chance…all for the sake of experience. In summer last year, we camped in Roquebrune sur Argens which is part of the municipality of Ste. Maxime. Ste. Maxime is a municipality in the department (province) Var on the French Riviera and is very close to St. Tropez. The road to St. Tropez is a known nightmare especially in summer months and the 16 km drive can take 1-2 hours so we parked our car at Avenue General Leclerc near the port and took the shuttle ferry from St. Maxime to St. Tropez which was a pleasant experience especially on a warm and lovely summer day. The boat trip all but took 15 minutes.
My first impression of St. Tropez was not that all wonderful. It was busy and the shops and cafes especially those along the harbor were real tourist traps.
Am I just too old fashioned that I found distasteful the glitter, glamour and decadence of today’s modern times that did not match with the town’s architecture? One thing though was that St. Tropez was a place to indulge in people-watching especially of those socialites and wannabes who were regulars for botox or facelifts. Trendy shops were all over like Hermes, Prada, etc. and that was expected if the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Georgio Armani, Elton John, etc. were the regular visitors to the place.
St. Tropez was not really to our liking as we’ve been to far better places where culture and history were still intact. Anyway, we went around and found the fish market more fun to explore. That was an unbelievably amazing but uber expensive fish market with seafoods flown from all over the world to cater to the discriminating palate of St. Tropez visitors.
We got a warning from other Dutch campers we met at the camping site to avoid restaurants close to the harbour for they were real tourist traps. With that in mind, we found a small nice restaurant that was a block away from the usual tourist route. The day’s menu or “plat du jour” was grilled calamares served with rice so we ordered that and half a bottle of wine. The calamares was wonderful! The funny part was that in our whole stay in the South if France, our cheapest lunch was in St. Tropez, the swankiest of places.
We did a bit more of sightseeing after lunch, saw the VIP bar that caters to the rich and famous, and found a merry go round which thrilled our little girl to no end.
After lunch, St. Tropez just became busier and with the mercury rising further, we decided to head back to our camping site. The overpriced shops were really not that fun to explore. Even simple candies from the candy shop were priced 4x more.
We were relieved to finally leave St. Tropez. The place was really nothing special. I prefer the picturesque harbour of Honfleur in Normandy or the Medieval mountaintop village of Bormes les Mimosas. Well, some may disagree with me but this is a personal opinion.