What’s Haute: Saint-Tropez

What is it that makes Saint-Tropez one of the most coveted places to visit in the South of France? Close your eyes and allow yourself to become whisked away in the fantasy of standing on an exotic white sandy beach as radiant, electric blue waves splash against your ankles. Glancing around, you spy tan oiled bodies sprawling across luxurious megayachts in the distance, while on land every passerby is donning daring couture as they head to their favorite restaurants. You think about the evening to come and try to decide which of the world-renowned nightclubs or lounges will make the cut and appear on your entertainment agenda. While Saint-Tropez as a whole is renowned the world over for being one of the most exclusive and opulent vacation destinations, Haute Living readers demand the best of the best. So we are here to help you plan your itinerary. Whether you prefer to spend your days basking in the glow of the sun’s glorious rays, hitting the famed fairways, or cruising on a multimillion-dollar yacht, Saint-Tropez is the perfect place to kick back and stay a while.

Step inside the mythical and romantic Hotel Byblos and you will never want to leave. The grand, fortress-like hotel situated in the serene fishing village is the definitive must-see place in Saint-Tropez. Icons such as Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Cher, and Elton John have made Byblos their sought-out destination stay thanks to the charming staff that is dedicated to making every visitor feel at home. Twenty-first century renovations to 32 rooms and suites inside the oldest part of this boutique hotel mean that state-of-the-art luxury décor in bright hues welcomes guests to the French Riviera, inviting everyone who enters to bid adieu to gloomy weather and daily stresses.

After unpacking your suitcase, venture to Spoon at Byblos, a Mediterranean restaurant located directly on the upscale Place des Lices that boasts an exceptional garden terrace surrounded by foliage lit with romantic mini-chandeliers. Featuring 300 wine references from regions all over the world, the culinary delights include inspirations from Italy, Greece, Lebanon, and the south of Spain. Once your appetite has been properly satiated, escape to the private nooks inside Les Caves Du Roy, the dolce vita-style interior lounge that has rolled out the red carpet for an eclectic assortment of the world’s most famous night owls. When you awake the next day, continue the glitz and glam at Spa Byblos by Sisley with everyday treatments, a Jacuzzi bath, steam room, and Moroccan “decompression” chamber. The first and only Sisley spa in the world offers exclusive treatments and products, including the aromatherapy shower with changing colored lights that blend with different aromas and soothing sounds to provide the ultimate pampering.

Should you decide to venture off of the property, two dining establishments must show up at the top of your vacation agenda; Café de Paris, the ritzy al fresco dining restaurant, with lush red sofas and gold trimmed mirrors, is perfect for people-watching and is one of the most famous cafes in Saint-Tropez. Villa Romana, an old-school Italian restaurant, will satisfy even the most indulgent culinary cravings, with appetizers like foie gras with figs and homemade gingerbread, entrées such as the veal with small violet artichokes, and, of course, homemade pasta.

If you didn’t arrive by superyacht yet still desire to cruise the deep blue waters of the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, a visit to L’Echo Nautique for yacht charters, sailboats, and high-powered motorboats is in order. After your long day at sea, anchor your watercraft and take a dinghy to La Plage de Tahiti Beach, arguably the most glamorous stretch of sand in the world and home to Le Club 55. Celebrities and Forbes 400ers alike frequent the world-renowned beach club, so making reservations is essential. Sip on a bottle of Chateau de Pampelonne Rosé while observing the breathtaking sea- and landscapes at this exclusive Mediterranean restaurant located inside a petite wooden hut along the beach. If you’re not up for the legendary Saint-Tropez party scene of the hot beach clubs, complete with Champagne-spraying showers, a trip to Les Palmiers is a must. It is a local hot spot, meaning that it is little known by the Hollywood glam squads. Boasting a more refined and sophisticated scene, the food at the daytime social club is touted as the best on this strip of sand that is known as Pampelonne Beach.

As the day transitions to dusk and the night begins to fall, make your way to L’Escale Joseph, one of the most luscious restaurants on the gleaming Saint-Tropez port, known for its flavorful shellfish and carpaccio dishes. Once the sun dips below the horizon, the establishment transforms into a lounge where stars, yachters, visitors, and the local elite gather in the vivacious coral colored interiors as well as on the plush terrace, which are both decorated with pictures of Hollywood icons. Keeping it in the family, the sleek and upscale ambiance at sister restaurant Le Quai Joseph provides the perfect locale to kick off your heels and dance, or to sit back and relax while holding court at your favorite table. The all-night club and piano bar features distinctive details like a posh waterfront marble bar and floors that are famously covered in black sand.

For the ultimate Saint-Tropez experience, saunter to the famed and futuristic two-story Le Papagayo club that illuminates the harbor with a neon light display at the entrance. Be sure to call ahead to book one of the most sought-after tables in the South of France on the breathtaking, pine tree-shaded terrace, where you will have views of the impressive yachts in the harbor. If dance music (and we don’t mean Top 40) is more your vice, unwind at VIP Room, where the deep purple and green décor is just as seductive as the music. If dancing isn’t your forte but Champagne is, venture to Champagne Bar at Hotel La Maison Blanche, an elegant, stylish, and sophisticated candle-lit garden where only the finest bubbly is served by the glass or bottle.

Besides fabulous food and nightlife, one thing is certain in Saint-Tropez: there is an excess of small boutiques where you can find all the latest fashions and couture essentials. Castañer has transformed the popular espadrille into a chic, sophisticated, and comfortable design. The natural materials, handcraftsmanship, and impeccable finish are just a few reasons to bring a pair of the authentic kicks home to your closet. Ever wonder how sandals are really made? Stroll over to Sandales Tropeziennes and see the workshop where Saint-Tropez’s signature leather sandal has been crafted for the past 70 years. Armed with the perfect shoes, there is still some time to shop as the boys finish on the fairways at the Gassin Golf Country Club, featuring nine- and 18-hole courses. For those in search of unique and stunning undergarments, make a stop at Nana Bis Lingerie to find the perfect delicate French pieces. Then head straight to Place des Lices, an upscale market that is home to the likes of Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Escada, and Roberto Cavalli.

After a long day of cruising the boutiques, it’s time to relax. Enjoy a personalized, regenerative Himalayan rose facial or the Mediterranean body care beauty treatment at Spa Pure Altitude at Villa Marie, which uses the finest products from Pure Altitude and can be booked through Small Luxury Hotels of the World. If your objective is fitness, slimming, beauty, and reducing stress, La Réserve Ramutuelle Hotel-Spa has more than 10 treatment cabins, a pool, fitness studio, and doctor on site to help you detoxify, re-energize, and combat the signs of aging. Even if you are not staying at Chateau Hotel de la Messardiere, you do not want to miss the 1,525-square-foot natural light facility. The spa is a partnership between La Prairie and Cinq Mondes, with products made exclusively for the hotel including Soin Radiance Or Pur du Chateau, formulated using pure drops of gold. Treatments include ayurveda, hammam, reflexology, shiatsu, scrubs, and wraps, and day packages are available for those in need of extra pampering.

From perfectly bronzed bodies to savory restaurants, there is a reason that Saint-Tropez is one of the most frequented haute destinations in France. There is an exotic and daring elegance that goes back to the days of the iconic French actress and supermodel Brigitte Bardot, who put Saint-Tropez on the map. The storied past makes it easier to understand why celebrities and socialites alike continue to escape to this mystical place. Saint-Tropez is truly the culmination of Los Angeles celebrities, New York culture, Miami vivacious sun-kissed bodies, Paris couture, and Middle Eastern royalty, making it every luxury lover’s fantasy.