I think going to Saint-Tropez was the closest I've ever come to being a "high society jet setter." This hot destination is known for when it's "on season," AKA the time of year when everybody who's anybody comes to kick back, enjoy a chardonnay and spend wild nights partying with celebs on the beach. There are pricy restaurants and bars, booming nightclubs and exclusive lounges where you spot celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. All in all, Saint-Tropez is a sexy place.
So it may come to a surprise when I tell you that I decided to go to Saint-Tropez with my family (couldn't get more unsexy than that)....and we decided to go during the "off season." The off season is basically the time of year when it's about 70 degrees, and none of the nightclubs and day beach parties are up and running. If I'm going by cool people standards, I did Saint-Tropez in the least sexy, cool way possible. But I loved it.
Without the crowds, my family and I got to experience the beautiful village for what it was. We stopped in authentic cheese shops, enjoyed local restaurants without a wait, roamed the cute streets without being overwhelmed by crowds, and got to venture into the local town market. We also got to stay at one of Saint-Tropez's nicest hotels, La Résidence de la Pinede and enjoy the quiet, instead of the wild party that Saint-Tropez is known for.
Where I stayed
La Résidence de la Pinede
- 5-star hotel
- Extremely romantic
- Beautiful rooms
- Oceanfront views
- Impeccable service
- Michelin star restaurant (la Vague d'Or)
- One of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in
Where I ate
We went to several restaurants, but these are the ones I highly recommend.
La Vague d'Or
With a 3 Michelin star rating, La Vague d'Or is the most renowned restaurant in the south of France. Located in the lobby of the beautiful oasis of a hotel, La Résidence de la Pinède, it is the perfect restaurant for an elegant family dinner or a very, very extravagant date. Through the glass doors is bright lighting, white tables, elegant wooden chairs, and dedicated servers who rush to your every need (they even walk you to the bathroom). The menu is presented as a "gastronomic adventure" crafted by Chef Arnaud Donckele, a man who paints a plate with food as Van Gogh would color a canvas. Donckele is a culinary scientist and artist who crafts unique dishes with a variety of eclectic ingredients and presents them in a beautiful and delicate manner (each dish was literally brought out to the table on white stones). My family and I went for the over indulgent eight course meal aka the "Epicurean Adventure" which ended up being an adventurous three hours of ingesting unique food combinations and abusing the wine list.
Les Trois Saisons at the Chateau de la Messardiere
When it comes to the beach, La Résidence de la Pinède is the ideal place to stay. But when it comes to enjoying the beautiful French landscape, Le Chateau de la Messardiere is the best choice. Not even a 15 minute drive from the city, this hotel is located in the middle of the luxurious French country side with hills, mountains, trees, and a vineyard all in view. Not to mention, le Chateau de la Messardiere has a top of the line restaurant: Les Trois Saisons. Out of every restaurant, this was my favorite. The dishes were original (but not off the wall like some from La Vague d'Or) and the waiters and waitresses were extremely friendly. The menus ranged from a 7 course tasting menu, a lighter 4 course "discovery menu," or à la carte. My mother and I chose the discovery menu (with the exception of replacing the lobster with foie gras) while my brother and father opted to go for the 7 course tasting menu.
Before we get to the food...how beautiful is this place?
Ok, the food.
Casa Cri is a quaint “Italien” restaurant in one of Saint-Tropez’s off the map alleyways that may seem a bit dangerous past dark. Luckily, the sun doesn’t fully set until around 9:30 p.m. and the alley isn’t dangerous (Americans just tend to be paranoid about alleyways so I thought I would throw that out there). The restaurant itself has outdoor seating in a courtyard around back while the inside is dimly lit, white, and clean with a glass roof over head. Considering this is a quaint Italian restaurant in France, we were not expecting a great selection of Italian wines. However, the wine list proved us wrong and we ended up choosing from a good amount of “vin Italiani.” When it came to the dining menu, the dishes were textbook Italian with selections such as parmesan eggplant, tagliatelle Bolognese, and scallops with the classic French addition of truffles.
Go to the Fromagerie and Boulangerie to make your own unreal cheeseboard
On the other side of the spectrum, one of my favorite parts of this trip was going to the fromagerie and the boulangerie. They have a few local shops and they all deliver great product. I could have lived off of the amazing wine, cheese, foie and baguette throughout the whole trip.
Some "street food"
Places des Lices Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday, there's an open-air market with everything from fresh food to clothes and accessories.
Take a day trip to Monaco while you're here
We went all out and rented a boat with a captain to go to Monaco for a day. Monaco is so small, so it's really all you need.
Explore the village
Saint-Tropez is really charming. There's so much character here, away from the luxury shops and extravagant over-the-top dining (there's literally a Dior restaurant...that's what I'm referring to.) I think the most magical parts of this destination are the local boutiques, quaint side streets, walk-in restaurants and the beautiful beaches that aren't filled with partygoers.