The Facts: St.-Tropez
St.-Tropez is at its best in May, June, and September. But July and August, when the crowds descend, can be an enjoyable spectacle—especially at the beach clubs on Pampelonne, where anyone who's anyone has lunch. If you rent a car, it's easier to get to the famed stretch of sand, six miles outside town.
HOTELS IN THE TOWN CENTER
Hotel Byblos Ave. Paul-Signac; 33-4/94-65-68-00, fax 33-4/94-56-68-01; www.byblos.com; doubles from $405. A legend—and justifiably so—this 95-room village-within-a-village (with a health club, pool, two restaurants, and Les Caves du Roy disco) is the finest and most expensive place to stay in town.
Hôtel La Maison Blanche Place des Lices; 33-4/94-97-52-66, fax 33-4/94-97-89-23; www.hotellamaisonblanche.com; doubles from $245. A new, high-style nine-room hostelry.
Hôtel La Ponche 3 Rue des Remparts; 33-4/94-97-02-53, fax 33-4/94-97-78-61; www.laponche.com; doubles from $180. Charming and historic (playboy Gunther Sachs used to rent the whole place every year). Book the Romy Schneider room, a rooftop aerie named for the actress, though the other 17 rooms are equally appealing.
Hôtel Le Yaca 1 Blvd. d'Aumale; 33-4/94-55-81-00, fax 33-4/94-97-58-50; www.hotel-le-yaca.com; doubles from $275. Wonderful service and a pretty pool, but some of the 27 rooms are cramped.
HOTELS OUTSIDE TOWN
La Bastide de St.-Tropez Rte. des Carles; 33-4/94-55-82-55, fax 33-4/94-97-21-71; www.bastide-saint-tropez.com; doubles from $340. Twenty-six country-style rooms surrounding a pool.
Château de la Messardière Rte. de Tahiti; 33-4/94-56-76-00, fax 33-4/94-56-76-01; www.messardiere.com; doubles from $348. Amusingly opulent or over-the-top?You decide. Some of the 88 sun-filled rooms have views of the valley.
Ferme d'Hermès Rte. de L'Escalet, Ramatuelle; 33-4/94-79-27-80, fax 33-4/94-79-26-86; doubles from $110. A 10-room inn set amid vineyards.
La Bastide Rouge Rte. du Pinet; 33-4/94-97-41-24 fax 33-4/94-97-73-40; www.la-bastide-rouge.com; doubles from $172. A modern 23-room inn on sprawling landscaped grounds.
Hôtel Villa Belrose Blvd. de Crêtes, Gassin; 33-4/94-55-97-97, fax 33-4/94-55-97-98; www.villa-belrose.com; doubles from $475. Thirty-eight rooms with Beverly Hills luxury, a view to die for, and prices to match.
From $6,000-a-week villas to $26,500 beachfront estates, International Chapters (44-207/722-0722; www.villa-rentals.com) has it all—including the estate of Johnny Halliday (France's Elvis).
La Voile Rouge Plage de Pampelonne; 33-4/94-79-84-34; lunch for two $200. Bikini tops optional.
Club 55 43 Blvd. Patch, Ramatuelle; 33-4/94-79-80-14; lunch for two $75. Refined simplicity.
Nioulargo 17 Blvd. Patch, Ramatuelle; 33-4/98-12-63-12; lunch for two $72 at Nioulargo, $108 at Kai Largo. The Nioulargo complex is actually composed of two clubs: Kai Largo, which serves Asian food, and Nioulargo, for Italian dishes.
Tahiti Quartier du Pinet, Ramatuelle; 33-4/94-97-18-02; lunch for two $92. A sprawling complex favored by British and German tourists.
Auberge de l'Oumede Chemin de l'Oumede, Ramatuelle; 33-4/94-79-81-24; dinner for two $82. Prix fixe dining near the beaches. Drive carefully down the treacherous approach road.
Chez Fuchs 7 Rue des Commerçants; 33-4/94-97-01-25; dinner for two $74. Family recipes from sisters Martine and Renée Fuchs.
Chez Palmyre 2 Rue du Petit Bal; 33-4/94-97-43-22; dinner for two $72. A pretty terrace beneath the Citadel.
Le Gorille Quai Suffren; 33-4/94-97-03-93; dinner for two $36. Round-the-clock drinking and light dining (croque-monsieur, poulet frites).
Maison Lei Mouscardins Tour du Portalet; 33-4/94-97-29-00; dinner for two $146. Haute cuisine in a tower on the harbor.
Les Moulins de Ramatuelle Rte. des Plages, Ramatuelle; 33-4/94-97-17-22; dinner for two $92. Stuffed zucchini, onion tart, and other country specialties. Also has five rooms to rent at the inn.
Sénéquier Quai Jean-Jaurès; 33-4/94-97-00-90; breakfast for two $20. Watch the fashion parade from this waterfront café, a St.-Tropez institution.
La Villa Romana Chemin des Conquettes; 33-4/94-97-15-50; dinner for two $110. The food isn't bad, but you're really here for the leopard skin—clad crowd. Reserve a table in the garden.
VIP Room Supper Club Résidence du Nouveau Port; 33-4/94-97-14-70; dinner for two $92. Theatrical dining, with DJ's providing the background beat.
Though the stores in the harbor itself are mostly low-end, the streets leading uphill from the port to the Place des Lices and the Citadel are lined with world-class labels (Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Tod's, Cartier). There's also great shopping just off the harbor in the Passage du Port, home of the jeweler Julian Joailliers (Passage du Port; 33-4/94-97-20-27). On the Grand Passage, Jil Sander and Burberry rub shoulders with the superb watch boutique Kronometry (3 Rue Allard; 33-4/98-12-62-50 ). Everyone buys sandals at K. Jacques (25 Rue Allard; 33-4/94-97-41-50).