St.Tropez can be dated back to ancient times when it is believed to have been a fishing village established by the Phoenicians. The town took its name from Torpes, an important Roman nobleman who converted to Christianity and was later martyred in 68AD. His body came ashore here (accompanied by a rooster and dog, the rooster who flew off to give Cogolin its name, he gave the town and the bay a patron saint who is still celebrated in festivals to this day.From the middle ages to modern times, St.Tropez has produced fine sailors, navigators and naval strategists, it even had a French Naval Shipyard which produced one of the finest in the line.Perhaps this had something to do with the decision to populate and defend the town with people from the famous Italian maritime town of Genoa in the 16th century, a decision which was rewarded in 1637 when the small St Tropez army fought off a fleet of 21 Spanish galleons that tried to lay siege to the town. The Genoese built very sturdy defences, such as the Citadel, which remains standing to this day.The harbour here was also one of the safest in the area and often provided shelter in stormy weather.Despite being heavily bombed during World War Two, many of the town’s buildings escaped serious damage,and in the latter years of the war it was used as an allied landing site
In 1892, Paul Signac moored in the harbour, taking shelter in bad weather and he was struck with the quality of the light and immediately fell in love with the town.He bought a house and opened the ‘Salon des Independants’, a gallery where every budding artist dreamed of exhibiting their paintings, and so it became ‘THE’ place to be in the artistic world. Unknown artists came and fell under the spell of Provence’s quality of light, people like Henri Matisse, Louis Valtat, Albert Marquet, André Derain, Charles-Henri Person, Pierre Bonnard and many more . At the “Salon des Indépendants”, the Parisian bourgeoisie who came to buy their works soon succumbed to the charms of the decors and life of leisure depicted by the young artists, and Saint-Tropez and the neighbouring Riviera towns rapidly became coveted by these wealthy visitors.
St.Tropez is not a large town, with a population of just under 6,000 people, however with its scenic setting and reputation for good living it is still a very popular tourist destination and in the summer months gets quite crowded as the influx of tourist swell the number of people wanting to be, and be seen, here, especially along the quayside where the large, luxurious yachts are berthed.On the opposite side of the road are a line of waterside cafes and restaurants where one can sit and watch the goings on in comfort. Behind the bustling waterside there are quaint, cobbled streets with picturesque buildings and lots of little shops to browse through.There are a number of historic landmarks around the town the ‘Vieux Port’ (old port), the Quai Jean Jaurès, the Place aux Herbes and Place des Lices. Boules are regularly played in the Place des Lices under its huge plane trees and the markets on the Place aux Herbes are interesting and lively
Tropezien beaches are located along the coast in the Baie de Pampelonne, also known by the residents as Grania ,which lies south of Saint-Tropez and east of Ramatuelle. Pampelonne offers a collection of beaches along its five- kilometre shore. Each beach is around thirty metres wide with its own beach hut and private or public tanning area. Many of the beaches offer windsurfing, sailing and canoeing equipment for rent, while others offer motorized water sports, such as power boats, jet bikes and water skiing, scuba diving. Some of the private beaches are naturist beaches.
Each year, in early October, a regatta is held in the bay of Saint-Tropez (Les Voiles de St. Tropez). This is a draw for many yachts, some up to 50 metres in length. Many tourists come to the location for this event or as a stop on their trip to Cannes, Marseille or Nice. In May there is the Fête de la Bravade, which was originally a procession in honour of the town’s paro saint, nowadays it is a Provençal festival. A statue of the saint is carried through the town with plenty of Provençal music, singing and dancing .
There are several museums to be found in St.Tropez which offer information of the town’s seafaring past, such as the Maritime Museum which is housed in a hexagonal-shaped citadel.
Office de Tourisme
Quai Jean Jaures
Tel : 04 94 97 45 21; Fax: 04 94 97 82 66
Market day: Tue, Sat, Place des Lices
Fish Market: daily (except Mon during the winter), Place aux Herbes
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