ST. TROPEZ, France -- After Brigitte Bardot appeared in the film And God Created Woman, the French bombshell and the city of St. Tropez were forever changed. Bardot became an international sex symbol — more famous for her pouty lips and coif than her on-screen performances — while the quaint French fishing village transformed into jetsetter’s row.
Known as a go-to haunt for the beautiful people — celebrities, super-models and moguls — St. Tropez also has become a lifestyle brand for everything from sandals to tanning products to swimsuit styles. Although institutional hotspots remain, you should also consider these up-and-coming posh picks on your next St. Tropez vacation.
REST YOUR HEAD
If you yearn for the intimate and serene, the Pan Dei Palais is your solution. Located in the heart of St. Tropez, this 12-room luxury hotel provides everything a demanding diva or picky Paul could request, including a full spa, room service, state-of-the-art gym and private pool. This member of the Relais and Chateaux hotel group mixes Moroccan interiors with pan-Asian flavor. If chartering a yacht for the day seems way too taxing, the hotel offers its own private yacht located in the nearby marina (for a fee, of course). Rooms start at $390 a night; http://pandei.com.
In need of a muse? Designed by landscape architect Sophie Agata Ambroise (the mastermind behind the Bulgari Hotel Milan), the Muse Hotel resembles a private Tuscan abode, complete with Italian cypress trees and fresh lavender, more than a 15-room hotel. In a nod to classic Hollywood, each suite bears the moniker of a famous screen siren, including Audrey, Greta and Grace, so remembering your room is easy after a night out at La Cave. Forget your beach read? Each suite has its own miniature Assouline library as well as a minikitchen, espresso machine, plasma TV, iPod station, outdoor patio and Hermes body products. Whether you’re lounging on a submerged chaise in one of the private cabanas surrounding the pool or having an afternoon rubdown at the spa, the Muse is a wonderful home away from home. Rooms start at $943 a night; www.muse-hotels.com.
EAT YOUR FILL
Spending $12 on a chocolate milkshake is well worth it at Dior Des Lices, a garden oasis where chef Yannick Alleno opens the iron gates only during summertime. With a crushed granite patio under 100-year-old elm trees, it offers a tres chic snack spot between shopping escapades; 13 Rue Francois Sibilli.
The unnaturally handsome wait staff is just one draw at Le Grand Joseph, where ideally you want to be dining on the outdoor patio. Make a 9 p.m. dinner reservation so you have a primo bottle popping position once the DJ starts spinning around 11:30 p.m. Place de L’Hotel de Ville.
Seeking Italian food? You’re going to fall in love with Cristina Saulini’s self-named bistro featuring large-portioned homemade goods such as truffled mozzarella, shrimp linguine and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake. The chalkboard du jour menu features whatever baker Saulini and her father dream up — freshness is taken seriously here; 13 Rue des Feniers; www.cristinasaulini.com.
When you want to be seen, Bar Plage at Club Les Palmiers represents the chicest beach spot in St. Tropez. Nosh on the fresh Dover sole and crabmeat salad before taking a dip in the Mediterranean or enjoy the bikini models showing off resort wear and furs sold at the on-site boutique. The ginourmous King Kong and sumo wrestler statues make for an interesting conversation piece and photo opportunity; Route de l’Epi.
READY TO SHOP
Stopping by Zadig & Voltaire is a must for rocker-edge duds that won’t break the bank. It’s an all-time favorite among hipsters such as Sienna Miller, Chloe Sevigny and even Drake (yes, they have gear for the guys). Stop in to pick up a tribal batik scarf or a cashmere-distressed T-shirt for the ultimate rich-hippie look. Little Kingston Rossdale or Shiloh wannabes can emulate their toddler-punk style in the children’s section; 11 place de la Garconne; www.zadig-et-voltaire.com.
Crafting the “St. Tropez” sandal look for more than 85 years, the Rondini family’s designs were one of Bardot’s staples. Visit Rondini Sandals and find everything from metallic gladiators to candy-colored thongs. Prices start at $150 a pair. 16 Rue Clemenceau; http://rondini.fr.
Whether you’re a regular or a first timer, everyone must experience Club 55.
And not just for the food at this beach club restaurant; the people watching here gives even the most lackluster personalities something to talk about.
The “it” crowd sits under the canopy awnings while the wannabes are banished to the fence line; http://club55.fr.