Kelly Bertrand is by herself in Saint Tropez on the French Riviera. What’s a girl to do?
It was in a coffee shop on the water’s edge in Saint Tropez where I had my first real French Riviera experience.
Part of a group of eight or so, we finished our espressos and were shown the (tiny) bill. With my wallet being closest, I went to pay the ten euro bill.
“No, don’t do that,” said one of my travel companions in a hushed tone.
“It’s ok, it’s just easier,” I replied, as all Kiwis would do.
“Yeah, it’s just that *that* guy (points to one of the men in our group) is a literal billionaire, so you really don’t have to get the coffee bill.”
“Ah.” (Hastily puts notes back in wallet).
Welcome to Saint Tropez, where actual billionaires lurk around every corner, yachts that dwarf your house are constantly humming with parties and money is literally everywhere (well, apart from in my wallet, besides my rather sad 10 euro note).
I’ve travelled to the seaside French town to watch the Saint Tropez league of Sail GP, a perfect spiritual home for a yacht race. But as someone with French heritage and a wildly over-romanticised idea of France thanks to genetics, an unhealthy love of Côtes de Provence rosé and Emily in Paris, I’m also taking some time out for a solo break before heading home to Aotearoa with an actually empty wallet and a few extra kilos (the bread! The BREAD!).
So, here’s my guide to a solo girl’s trip to Saint Tropez!
Booking.com is truly your friend when it comes to accommodation in Saint Tropez. You’ll see that there’s a huge range of options for your stay, but if you’re carless, try your best to find a spot in the middle of the town.
For an affordable option, check out these modern and cosy apartments right in the city – they’re super-cute with French vibes, an amazing location right in the middle of town, so everything is right at your fingertips, and you’re able to self-cater which will get the food bill right down.
Or, if you’re like me and you want to treat yourself a little – when in Saint Tropez, after all – the Le Yaca Saint-Tropez is probably the most amazing hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
From the stunning courtyard with pool, recliners and umbrellas that’ll have you thinking you’re in a movie, through to the ornate-but-quirky décor in the foyer (they even serve dinner on Christian Dior plates) and the sumptuous rooms, it’s a stunning spot to live your best French Riviera fantasy, without feeling too posh or that if you break something, you’ll need a second mortgage to pay for it.
You’re literally spoilt for choice when it comes to dining in Saint-Tropez. You’d think that the food prices would be astronomical – and yup, some definitely are, check the menus BEFORE you sit down – and a lot of the ocean-facing ones do cater to tourists. BUT, weirdly for a tourist mecca, they’re not rip-off expensive, and the food is actually gorgeous.
Try the long-standing Café Senquier (the big red one) for cocktails and snacks – it was one of Bridgette Bardot’s favourite haunts – and then pop along to La Petite Plage for some Mediterranean fare. Fair warning though, don’t wear heels – the floor of the restaurant is sandy!
You’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to a good espresso, too – but if you’re like me and love a flat white, just opt for an espresso shot. France does a lot of things well, but milk isn’t one of them!
A highlight for us was the Dior café because hell, if you can’t afford a Dior bag, you CAN (just) afford a coffee with DIOR written in cinnamon on the top. But the café itself is simply stunning, set in the courtyard of a rambling mansion, and features a high tea menu as well as drinks. I opted for a mimosa and we felt like absolute superstars. It’s also fantastic people watching, if that’s your vibe.
Make sure you take at least half a day to simply wander. European towns are absolute dreams to have mosey on through because everything is just so different. Saint Tropez is crammed full of cute boutiques, as well as the very fancy shops, so you’re bound to be entertained until it’s time to grab lunch, then stroll down the boulevard and marvel at the ridiculously huge yachts and wonder if the owner has a cute son that might take you out on it (ok that was just me but come on, it’s the Saint Tropez fantasy and it, shockingly, didn’t happen. Oh, and I’m not single. That too.)
You can take a walk up to the citadel too – a GREAT spot for a photo that overlooks the entire town – and there’s even a maritime museum in the dungeons.
And whatever you do, don’t miss the market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings – you can stock up on fresh fruit and veges, but the local craft offerings are incredible. There’s no tacky souvenirs here, just incredible locally-made artefacts that’ll have you wishing you had more room in your suitcase. Or another suitcase.
Popping over to Port Grimaud is another must-do. Sometimes called the Venice of the South of France, the neighbouring town is easy to get to via ferry from Saint Tropez and also features markets, delicious restaurants and boats you can hire to pedal your way down the canals.