advertisement

Beaches — The hottest Riviera beaches are at St-Tropez. The best for families are closest to the center, including Plage de la Bouillabaisse and Plage des Salins. More daring and infinitely more famous is the 5km (3-mile) crescent of Plage de Pampelonne, about 10km (6 1/4 miles) from town. Here, around 35 hedonistic beach clubs dot the sand. Overtly decadent is Club 55 (www.club55.fr; tel. 04-94-55-55-55), a former Bardot hangout, while the American-run Nikki Beach (www.nikkibeach.com; tel. 04-94-79-82-04) is younger and more understated, if painfully chic. Gay-friendly Aqua Club (tel. 04-94-79-84-35) and bare-all Plage de Tahiti (www.tahiti-beach.com; tel. 04-94-97-18-02) are extremely welcoming.

You’ll need a car, bike, or scooter to get from town to Plage de Pampelonne. Parking is around 10€ for the day. More than anywhere else on the Riviera, topless bathing is the norm.

Boating — In St-Tropez port, Octopussy (www.octopussy.fr; tel. 04-94-56-53-10) rents boats 5 to 16m (16–52 ft.) long. Larger ones come with a captain at the helm. Prices begin at 350€ per day.

Diving — Multilingual scuba training and equipment rental is available from the European Diving School (www.europeandiving.com; info@europeandiving.com), on Plage de Pampelonne. Regular dives, including all equipment, cost 42€.

Wine-tasting — The St-Tropez peninsula is justly famed for its white and rosé vintages. Wine Tours Provence (www.winetoursprovence.com; tel. 06-17-14-43-41) organize half- and full-day expeditions starting in place des Lices and visiting up to 3 local wineries for tastings in the company of an experienced oënologue. Tours of the “Côte de Provence” and “Coteaux d’Aix” appellations are also offered. Call for pricing.

The wider Provence area produces 8% of the world’s rosé. Route des Vins’ (www.routedesvins-svp.com; tel. 06-52-97-84-04) half-day tour concentrates on 3 or 4 assuredly local vineyards, with tasting sessions in each. Tours cost 90€ per person for a minimum of two guests. Alternatively, rent a car and strike out on your own. The peninsula is littered with friendly vineyards of all descriptions. Particularly welcoming is Chateau Minuty, 2491 route de la Berle (www.chateauminuty.com; tel. 04-94-56-12-09). They offer complimentary wine tasting sessions to guests who plan to buy at least a bottle or two.

French Boules

A game of pétanque, or French boules, is seriously cool for kids. Hop to Le Café (www.lecafe.fr; tel. 04-94-97-44-69), one of many alfresco bars in place des Lices, and request a handful of pétanque boules to toss around the tree-dappled square. The game was created down the coast and is about as Provençal as it gets. Pick up some tips by watching the locals. Games begin with a toss of the jack, or bouchon. Teams then take turns to throw. Whoever is farthest away keeps trying to get closest to the bouchon, with any remaining balls tossed in at the end. A point is awarded for each steel ball that’s closer to the jack than any balls from the opposing team. 

Head to the Hills

Unfurling along the shores between St-Tropez and Cannes is a scarlet stretch of coastline known as the Esterel. It’s both regional nature reserve and a cluster of mountains (the Massif de l’Esterel), the latter renowned for their ethereal crimson hue. Hiking trails criss-cross the area and the tiny turquoise beaches are perfect for private picnics. Best of all, the Esterel receives just a fraction of the tourists that congregate along the Riviera’s more popular seaside resorts. Regular trains run from Cannes to Théoule-sur-Mer, a village in the center of the park. One-way tickets cost 2.70€, and journey time is around 10 min. The Théoule-sur-Mer Tourist Office, 2 bd. de la Corniche d’Or (www.theoule-sur-mer.org; tel. 04-93-49-28-28), distributes walking and cycling maps of the region.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.