Destination: France: St.-Tropez
Situated at the far end of Pampelonne, this is a quiet private beach by day, and at night Bambou restaurant is one of those rare places where you can dine with your toes in the sand. The Thai food is well prepared, and the restaurant, which is open in July and August, is a romantic choice far from the party crowd.
Key West Beach
The beachside restaurant is open year-round, and its sun-drenched deck is a delight, particularly in the off-season. Its menu mixes reliably good (if pricey) Asian dishes and Provençal staples. It’s always busy, even during the winter, when the locals come here on their lunch breaks.
La Voile Rouge
UPDATE: As of fall 2011 La Voile Rouge has closed indefinitely
Much like Club 55, La Voile Rouge is a staple among the St. Tropez beach clubs. With its funky design and wild lunches, La Voile Rouge offers a see-and be-seen beach scene of all ages (literally from twenty-year-olds to grandparents when I visited). For the best experience, reserve beach beds and a late lunch and let the pace of the club dictate your afternoon. While you may not want to go to La Voile Rouge everyday, it is definitely worth spending an afternoon to see what its all about. There is also a wonderful beach shop that sells casual dresses and bathing suits located to the side of the club. Reservations are highly recommended.
Le Club 55
When Roger Vadim shot And God Created Woman, with the then-unknown Brigitte Bardot, in 1956, he used Club 55 as a snack shack between takes. Though a genuine landmark presiding over a stretch of Pampelonne beach, it has remained a family business. The ever-gracious Patrice de Colmont keeps track of every reservation and knows his glittery clients’ favorite tables. Saudi princes, multimillionaires, and film and rock stars dine under a thatched canopy surrounded by tamarisk trees. Order the classics—tomato-and-goat-cheese salad, crudités (a heaping basket of raw vegetables served with anchoïade) and fresh grilled fish—and a glass of chilled local rosé. I can never resist a visit to the club’s beach boutique, which carries gorgeous swimwear and cool accessories. The best part is that everyone is made to feel welcome—as long as you have a reservation.
Indagare Tip: There’s a kid’s program available at Club 55.
Nioulargo, Kaï Largo
The more spacious version of Club 55, in an exotic setting, draws its own share of celebrities, including Naomi Campbell who has celebrated her birthday here. The two superb restaurants sit side by side on the same beach; Nioulargo serves up Mediterranean fare and Kaï Largo delivers refined Vietnamese, Thai and Cambodian cuisine. Try the barbecued fish wrapped in banana leaves and fresh mango ice cream.
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