The other St Tropez

The church tower of St Tropez as seen on numerous postcards.

When we tell people how to get to our house we often say, drive along the A8 (La Provençale) until you see the junction for St Tropez, turn off but then go in the opposite direction. In theory, St Tropez is only 45 minutes away, but in practice the traffic is so abominable in summer we just don’t bother. In fact unless you leave early in the day we don’t recommend driving to it to visitors: far better to take the ferry from Ste Maxime if you must visit in summer.

However, the other Saturday we decided to go over because that weekend was the Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) with various places open or free that would not ordinarily be so. So we parked near the centre of ‘St Trop’ (as we call it with deliberate dismissiveness) and after the obligatory coffee and gawping at the rich and famous (or those who either were, or aspired to be, such), we found the real part of the town and got the shuttle bus (full of people who clearly were not rich and famous) to the south of the town.

By the harbour

The market, selling everything for reasonable prices

The bus driver (standing) is trying to make sure both the pushchair and the shopping trolley actually fit and don’t block the door too much. It’s a fairly safe bet than none of these people own a yacht.  

There we had a good wander around an old house, Chateau de la Moutte, and its grounds. In the 1860s the owner of the house, a local politician who was also involved in politics at a national level, modified and enlarged it to make a quiet retreat for himself and his family. It’s now managed by Saint Tropez and the grounds are a botanic park.

The library at Chateau de la Moutte

After looking at the house, we decided to walk back to the town along the coast. Possibly we should have consulted the map a little more carefully. It was a very long and hot walk, and we think we went by Brigitte Bardot’s villa. But we had certainly got through all the water we had with us by the time we walked into ‘St Trop’.

We then visited the Annonciade Museum, an art gallery which was free over this weekend. St Tropez was a haven for artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and despite the gallery’s small size it has a number of very fine paintings from that period, mostly painted locally. It’s often a problem with big art galleries that you soon feel you’re suffering from an overdose of art. There’s no risk of that here.

We walked back to the car past the harbour with its motor yachts bought to impress, carefully negotiated our way past the Bentleys, Lamborghinis and open-top sports cars and headed back to the normality of Taradeau.

St Tropez is a lovely place, we just wish it hadn’t been discovered by everyone else. Its all Brigitte Bardot’s fault.

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