Rosalyn Wikeley dusts off her diamonds and heads to Saint Tropez for a shimmering South of France sojourn…
It’s that time of year again when the world’s glitterati descend upon Saint Tropez and the port swells with super-yachts, diamonds glisten under Michelin-starred ceilings and cigar smoke fills the salty air. While Saint Tropez’s cultural face is often overlooked – with its quaint old village, citadel and Musée de l’Annociade – the glamorous Riviera scene is equally deserving of the culture tag (read, arrive by boat and disembark for a glitzy five-star hotel). Hotel Byblos is the one to head for, a decadent gesture to Brigitte Bardot and where Mick and Bianca Jagger got hitched.
If you haven’t managed to secure a super-yacht, head down to the port and admire them lining the front from Senequier, the restaurant famed for its red film directors’ chairs. The old village has a distinct blend of bakeries, cafes and designer shops (the luxury boys are forced to blend into Saint Trop’s historic aesthetic), along with local favourites such as Atelier Rondini with their timeless Tropeziennes sandals.
Visit the parish church to see the bust of Tropez himself and head up to the impressive 16th-century citadel at the top of the village. If you’re feeling brave, Le Sentier du Lottiral is a seven-mile track wrapping around the coast to he notorious Pampelonne beach. En route, enjoy a coffee or a cocktail at Plage des Graniers, a more secluded side of Saint Tropez (Bardot herself bought a house nearby).
While a rustic setting may seem an unusual backdrop for the hedonism Byblos is famed for, provincial village character and brightly painted walls are joined by fine dining and the lavish expectations of its well-heeled visitors. Riviera breakfasts by the pool roll on until 12 pm, lunch is whenever and however you fancy and their Sisley Spa shower plays club classics while you scrub. Pack your Gucci loafers. Book now at byblos.com
Hire a bike or Mini Moke and head to Pampelonne beach. See and be seen here (make sure you reserve a table at Club 55 for lunch). Rifle through the market ant the Place des Lices (open on Tuesday and Saturday mornings) where you can bag yourself some good quality bargains, from bespoke leather belts to truffle oil and smelly cheese. Salon D’Antiquités is an upmarket treasure hunt found in the same square.
Alan Ducasse’s Rivea at Hotel Byblos is a refined, calm corner of the hotel with locally sourced produce whipped up in their open kitchen. Bagatelle is an unpretentious, family-run Italian restaurant in an old-town setting. L’Opera if you’re chasing the party and fancy cabaret for pudding.