Where to stay?
Le Sezz, a handsome design hotel launched in September 2010. Following the success of Sezz, Paris, hotelier Shahé Kalaidjian and designer Christophe Pillet created a contemporary low-slung resort surrounded with lush exotic trees, fragrant herbs and lavender, the magnificent gardens are by landscape wizard Christophe Ponceau. 37 rooms, suites and villas feature outside showers and glass walls giving airy light-filled rooms, many with plunge pools. “Consider Saint-Tropez a Mediterranean version of Paris’s Left Bank”, suggests Shahé Kalaidjian. Colette, the gastronomic restaurant, is named after the novelist who lived at La Treille Muscate, near to the hotel, in the 1920’s. Pre-dinner drinks sparkle at the poolside Dom Perignon bar.
Le Sezz and Spa Payot,
Route de Salins, Saint-Tropez
T: 04 94 44 53 12
If you prefer to be away from the centre, the exquisite 35-room 21 suite and apartment Chateau Valmer is located on the peninsula between sea and vines in a lush 5-hectare park shaded with 100-year old palm trees, potager, and a 500-hectare working vineyard producing the excellent AOC Chateau Valmer red and rosé wines. Next year the cellars will open for tastings and visits.
Recently two perched designer cabins were built high up in the oak trees, one with romance and honeymoons in mind the other for a family of four, air-conditioning and wi-fi, of course. The heated swimming pool just above the sandy beach on Gigaro Bay faces the Iles d’Or.
Sylvain Humbert (ex-Laurent Tarridec, St. Tropez, Chateau de Bagnols etc.) heads the restaurant “La Palmeraie”. “I’m self taught, I wanted to be a professional footballer, but it didn’t work out”, he admits. “My cuisine is inspired by the sunshine, the market and my vegetable patch. It’s not complicated, I call it “bistronomique” with a few Asian influences, c’est tout”.
Burn off the calories in the gym, on a bicycle, the fitness run or indulge in treatments at the Carita/Cinque Mondes spa in the chic and zen style booths. Or, challenge the delightful Michel Colomas, Managing Director to a game of tennis – but be warned he’s the local champion!
Chateau de Valmer,
Chateaux & Hotels Collection
Gigaro – La Croix Valmer
T: 04 94 55 15 15
The same owners, the Rocchietta family, own the 28-room 4 suite La Pinede Plage a short walk through the palms from Chateau de Valmer. Why not combine a stay in both? Pinede Plage is on the beach, fall asleep to the sound of the surf. Bliss. There’s free access to the beach, for clients of both, and lunch or dinner is served (delicious healthy menus by Sylvain Humbert) either on the terrace or under a beach parasol.
If you’re into a bit of sport action there’s windsurfing, kayak, pedalo, water-ski, jet-ski. Breakfasts are leisurely affairs, a generous buffet served on the teak deck. Return for lunch of freshly caught seafood, salads and grills, take afternoon tea and then dine by moonlight. Drink Chateau Valmer wines, although there’s an extensive Provence and French wine card. Or, order the delightful and refreshing Ice Tropez with or without alcohol. The local aperitif/digestive was created in 2009 by Gregoire Choix, owner of the Bar du Port (Johnny and Laetitia, Vanessa and Johnny Depp, although no longer together, etc). The bottle’s designed by Christophe Pillet who also designed the Bar du Port and Le Sezz. Salut !
La Pinede Plage,
Gigaro – La Croix Valmer
T: 04 94 55 16 16
Where to Eat:
The Benkirai is an exotic Indonesian tree whose wood has been used for much of the hotel/restaurant of the same name, all signed Patrick Jouin. Chef Bruno Doucet is the talk of the town, having taken over from Oth Sombath. Outside, a chic red neon signs indicates, “La Regalade at Le Benkirai”. Inside, or on the romantic terrace overlooking the pool, the menu is a mediterranean version of Bruno’s Paris signature dishes, at his addys in the 14th and 8th. And yes, the chunky freebie paté is served with tangy gherkins. Chef Julien Maunoir is wearing the blacks and sending out:
Gambas sautées vivement au piment d’Espelette, risotto crémeux à l’encre de seiche: Oeuf de poule « BIO » mollet, duxelle de champignons jambon cru, émulsion de champignons et foie gras: Mi cru mi cuit de thon rouge, condiment tomates et olives noires: Bouillon crémeux de petits pois et asperges vertes au persil plat chair de crabe rafraichie, huile d’olive et citron.
Mains include: Pavé de cabillaud demi-sel poché dans un bouillon de volaille et citronnelle pousses d’épinards ravigotées: Pavé de merlu rôti sur la peau, artichauts cuisinés comme une barigoule croûte viennoise à la sauge: Poitrine de cochon fermier moelleuse de chez Ospital, la couenne croustillante légumes verts de saison cuisinés à la française: or Suprême de volaille jaune au foie gras et persil, rôti la cuisse cuisinée aux échalotes, fine purée de pomme de terre.
Finish with: Dans un verre, mousse chocolat lactée caramel, amandes caramélisées, et Toblerone maison: Minestrone de fruits de saison au basilic, sorbet maison et shortbread or Riz cuit au lait et à la vanille comme le faisait ma grand-mère, caramel laitier: Fraîcheur de rhubarbe, mascarpone à la vanille, fruits rouges: Tarte citron aux fraises, sorbet maison
Dinner is excellent value for Saint-Tropez at 45€ and, if you’re worried about finding Benkirai, call and arrange a rdv at place de Lices, the voiturier will chauffeur you up the hill. You’ll feel just like Paris Hilton!
Bruno Doucet at L’hôtel Benkirai,
11 chemin de Pinet, Saint-Tropez,
T: 04 94 97 21 23
During WW 11 Pampelonne beach was used for Allied Liberation Landings, now it’s home to 27 hip designer beaches such as Nikki Beach, Club 55, Cabane Bambou, Les Palmiers etc. But not Voile Rouge, sadly refused permission to set up this year – don’t ask ! What will Paris Hilton, Sharon Stone, Madonna and le tout Hollywood do?
Senequier bar/brasserie/HQ for Tarte Tropezienne tasting celebrates 125 years.
Playing or watching boules Place des Lices also the location for the buzzing market Tuesday and Saturday.
The Chicken Shack on the south side of Place des Lices. Succulent rotisserie chicken, home-made quiche, salads, on the south side of Place des Lices. The owner’s a grumpy old man, his food’s delicious. Sit on the wall outside and watch the world go by and take hand-wipes!
The summer sensation is: Dior des Lices, Yannick Alleno’s open air pop-up brazza in the green and white garden of Dior’s handsome Hôtel Particulier. Go for his spin on calissons: those almond-shaped Provençal “sweets” transformed in a multitude of sweet/savoury flavors/ foie gras with melon gelée, tomato-citrus and basil, summer vegetables and zucchini with almond mousse or marinated anchovies with tomato-lemon mousse. Burn off the calories looking around the Peter Marino designed boutique. Dream on baby !
Boutique Dior & Restaurant Dior des Lices,
25 rue Franҫois Sibili,
T: 04 98 12 67 65.
Only one place for ice-cream. On the Port, Glacier Barbarac. Have fun !
Meanwhile back in Paris:
Looking for a fun day in Paris or Versailles? go to: Fat Tire Bike Tours
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