Tuesday, 30 November 2010
A Nostalgic Myth That Never Dies
Location: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

St. Tropez was always on the radar of France’s creative class.
Brigitte Bardot lives. since first arriving in 1956 to star in Roger Vadim's And God Created Woman,la Bardot has never left. A parade of nubile Bardot lookalikes, golden boys, and bon vivant wannabes fill the topless--and sometimes bottomless--beaches, some of the nicest and sandiest on the Riviera. "The good old days" and their sybaritic hedonism have dimmed over the decades, but St.-Tropez has survived its fame, success, and ballooning summer crowds and has even become fashionable again. Its flirtatious charm remains evident, especially in the early-morning hours or off-months, when the light and innocence of this old fishing town can still be appreciated. On the other hand, this craziest of resorts is all about its eccentric habitués and impromptu street theater. Maybe Colette started it in the 1920s, when she scandalized the outside world by going around with bare legs. It's not the place to get away from it all. For nonpareil people-watching, turn up for breakfast--or après-beach, when everyone has baked at the popular Plage Tahiti (where topless sunbathing is said to have originated) or at Pampelonne--at the portside Café Sénéquier command post on the Quai Jean Jaurès. This is the perennially "in" place to watch the parade of those in various aesthetic stages of beach and resort chic that they could never get away with back home. The St.-Tropez glamour quotient remains intact, with flair and dare aplenty.


WHAT: town, restaurant. ST.-TROPEZ: 45 miles/72 km southwest of Cannes. CAFÉ SÉNÉQUIER: Quai Jean Jaurès, tel 33/4-94-97-00-90, WHERE TO STAY: Les Moulins de Christophe Leroy, about a mile away, Route des Plages, Ramatuelle. Tel 33/4-94-97-91-91, fax 33/4-94-97-85-60; leroych@aol.com; www.christophe-leroy.com. Cost: doubles from $145.

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