Lay of the Land
“And we laughed, because it is good to laugh, and because one laughs easily in a climate where there is a real long, hot summer with soft breezes...”~Colette
In town, the Place des Lices, St. Tropez’s central square where old-timers play pétanque and the bi-weekly outdoor market is held, is the place to orient yourself. It continues to a row of cafés on the quay of the Old Port, where the mega-yachts are moored, and near the harbor, a maze of streets lined with designer boutiques snakes its way to a 16th-century citadel on a hill. In neighboring Ramatuelle, the beaches of Pampelonne occupy a wide swath of coastline for some five and a half miles.
How to Get There
Nice has the closest major international airport to St. Tropez; Delta flies nonstop here from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, as do carriers from most major European cities. If you’re renting a car at the airport in Nice and driving to St.-Tropez, it generally takes an hour and a half on route A8 (exit Le Muy), but it can be much longer during the summer. The notoriously traffic-clogged RN98 down to the peninsula of St.-Tropez may be less busy early in the morning or late at night. At the height of the season, avoid the RN98, the single-lane road that leads to St.-Tropez from Ste.-Maxime, by taking A57, which merges with A8. Exit at La Garde Freinet and follow the signs to St.-Tropez. This route is longer, but there’s little traffic and it’s a beautiful mountain drive.
VIPs looking to avoid traffic entirely usually book a helicopter service, which departs from the Nice airport and arrives in St.-Tropez or in the nearby village of Grimaud. Be aware that weight limits usually mean your luggage can’t travel with you, but a driver can deliver those directly to your hotel. Alternatively, flights from Orly can land at Toulon, which is a more scenic forty-five minute drive from St. Tropez.
When to Go
St. Tropez becomes a jet set playground in July and August, but the best months to go are May, June and September, which have lovely weather and few crowds.