Unmissable places to visit and discover in our mythical village...
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The Port : Saint-Tropez and the sea
Saint-Tropez is not so much a fishermen’s village but rather a seamen’s village; the main reason being the port’s draught (4m) which allowed access to big ships (20 to 30 m) and the subsequent development of several maritime activities: trading with exports of products such as cork, olive oil…Seamen would also sail from port to port in search of contracts as well as protecting sister ships from enemy attacks. Great soldiers such set off from here such as Le Bailli de Suffren, an emblematic personality of Saint-Tropez, its inhabitants often referring to their village as “la Cité du Bailli”. He took part in several military campaigns in America, but mostly in India where he won many victories against the English. He then reached the rank of Bailli, the highest of the Maltese order.
The statue of the Bailli, made with the bronze taken from enemy canons, was inaugurated in 1866. Other marine activities began also in Saint-Tropez (ship building, underwater cables factory, torpedo factory since 1914). Saint- Tropez’s maritime vocation is still evident today with such prestigious events as the Giraglia Rolex Cup in June and the Voiles de Saint-Tropez in September, not to mention the Latin Sails in May. The Port and its ultra modern equipment can accommodate up to 800 boats,including those who contribute to Saint-Tropez’s reputation and appeal.
The old town gateway at the fish market and the Place aux Herbes
Here stood one of the town’s fortification towers, la Tour du Port. The fish market decorated with mosaics remains one of the symbols of the Tropezian and Provençal life style, to small fruit and vegetable market next door at the Place aux Herbes . The word “herbes” in Provence means fruit and vegetables and this square was where the original Saint-Tropez market was held. We enter the Old Town with its picturesque houses and streets.
Rue du Cepoun Sanmartin
Named after Sanmartin, a previous Cepoun (the Cepoun is the Guardian of Traditions; he is nominated for life and plays a role which is inseparable from Saint-Tropez’s life, culture and history). This is where we enter the “Tropezian soul” symbolized by the Bravades which take place with an unchanged ritual every year, and since 1558, on 16th, 17th and 18th May. The Bravades commemorate the town’s glorious military past and celebrate at the same time the Saint “Torpes”.
Frederic Mistral, the famous Provencal writer, lends his name to this quay which was built soon after the last war. Before then, houses were virtually on the water’s front. From here, one can see the doors of the old boat shelters. One can admire Saint-Tropez’s typical houses, their rather narrow facades in ocre and pastel tones incurved at the bottom to increase their strength as these buildings were once the only rampart against the sea.
Môle Jean Réveille
At the foot of the jetty, the “banc des mensonges” (“tall story bench”), where the elderly still sometimes meet. From here one can admire the fishing boats (“pointus” with latin sail rigs) and the Tour du Portalet, one of the town’s earlier fortifications (16th century). Here , in 1637, 21 spanish ships coming to destroy the royal navy’s fleet were repelled. This tropezian victory is still celebrated each year during the Bravade des Espagnols.
Le Château Suffren
Otherwise named Tour Guillaume. Guillaume, Count of Provence is famous for having freed Provence at the end of the 10th century. Built in 980, it is Saint- Tropez’s oldest civil and religious construction. Today’s building was erected later on, probably between the 14th and 15th centuries.
Place de la Mairie
One can see here the Ecole d’Hydrographie, opened in 1802 by Napoleon for the training of long haul captains. It functioned until 1914. One of the symbolic features of Saint-Tropez’s glorious maritime past is the Zanzibar door. It was brought to Saint-Tropez by captain Justin Cerisola for a friend. This is a finely decorated Swahili style door made of clove-tree wood. Here stands the Hôtel de Ville (town hall) built in 1872.
The yellow and pink bell tower is famous the world over. Its clock can only be seen from three sides; it is said that the fourth side facing Sainte-Maxime doesn’t have a clock in order to prevent the maximois (the enemy) from reading the time!. The truth is that a clock on that side, which is more exposed to winds, would be quickly damaged. This is not the town’s original church, which was situated on the beach just behind the town hall (Mairie) and was abandoned due to the town’s sharp rise in population since its reconstruction.
A new one was built in the 18th century; its white stone façade is said to be of “Jesuit” style, inspired by the one founded by the Company of Jesus in Rome. One can see here a statue of the Torpes cavalier in roman centurion dress. Torpes is not only present in the church but also around town. There are more than 40 oratories in Saint-Tropez and also four chapels (Sainte Anne,Saint-Joseph, la Miséricorde and le Couvent). The church is open mornings. We recommend calm and discretion.
La Tour Vieille (1522) et la porte du Revelen (1550)
The town’s second fortification has the same type of chicane entrance as that of the Poissonnerie (fish market). Here, one leaves the old fortifi ed town outlined by the medieval walls to arrive in the Ponche district, the old fi shing port. The name Ponche is derived from the original name Pouncho, meaning the point in provençal language. The French version of the name comes perhaps from the “colonization” of this district by Paris’s stars after the last war. Later on, Brigitte Bardot and the fi lm “Et Dieu créa la femme” became symbols of the renowned glamorous aspect of Saint-Tropez. Some of the scenes of the film were shot on this little square.
La Tour Jarlier (1564) et la Citadelle (XVIIème siècle)
The Tour Jarlier is one of the fortifi cations built during the town’s reconstruction. This is where began the two peripheral walls which protected the village. The tower faces the hill which was one of the town’s weaker defensive areas. This why the Citadel was later erected. Below the Citadel lies the Maritime Cemetery, one of France’s only three with Sète and Saint-Malo.
La rue and la Chapelle de la Miséricorde (1635)
This district still shows traces of former country life (rue des Bouchonniers (corkers), rue des Moulins (windmills), rue Bergère (sheperdess). Coming from Rue Gambetta one enters the 18th and 19th century part of town. This street is where the wealthy built their town houses. The facades differ from those of the old town; they are larger and built with finer rendering and more architectural detail. The main ornament on the Chapelle de la Miséricorde’s front is made of serpentine, a beautiful green stone. This was the chapel where Black Penitents cared for the sick, the prisoners and managed funerals until mid 19th century
La place des Lices
The other lively center of Saint-Tropez, besides the Old Port. This was pasture land for animals and where the old ditches lay until end 18th century. Today, the square is not so much known for its monuments but rather for its atmosphere during market days on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Every day, summer and winter, this is where the pétanque is played. The famous plain trees have been immortalized in a Signac painting which can be admired at the Annonciade museum. The street stretching from here to the port is rue Sibilli. This was the bed of the Garonne stream and is today lined with the luxury boutiques.
The Salle Jean Despas is named after a member of Saint-Tropez’s “résistance”. Saint-Tropez was in fact the first town of Provence to be freed on 15th August 1944. There were even battles at the Citadel to dislodge the last of the Germans who were hiding there. Saint-Tropez received France’s highest war award for its military achievements.
La Bourgade and la rue Allard
The majority of this district’s houses are from the 19th century. The gardens enclosed with walls give it a secluded feel. One of the streets, rue Etienne Berny which passes before the butterfly museum, opens out on to the rue Allard where one can see a remarkable door called Maure du Nègre; a witness to the rich period of maritime trading during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Built in 1568, this old chapel of the White Penitents (in charge of collecting funds to buy back tropezian seamen reduced to slavery following their capture by the Barbaresques) is today a museum dedicated to post impressionism art (fauvist, nabi and pointillist).
The Gendarmerie and Cinema museum
The Museum invites to discover the history of this building, before becoming an emblematic place thanks to the movies. It also honors the representation of the gendarmes t hrough f ilms a nd t races t he h istory o f cinema in Saint-Tropez.