I really don’t know how this place became so popular and luxurious in years. They told it is because people started to sunbath topless in 1930s and this made it popular. Some others think Brigitte Bardot was responsible for making the city famous. We call it Saint-Tropez, but the most popular areas are little far away to Saint-Tropez. All the famous beach clubs and places are located in Pampelonne. If you are not into luxury life or do not want to enjoy beach clubs all day long, you may consider a day trip, however considering low transportation opportunities, I recommend at least 1-night stay.
How to reach
That’s the hardest part. If you rent a car, that will be the easiest option. In Saint-Tropez, you will definitely need to use transportation in order to reach beach (Pampelonne). So, using many bus transfers can become horrible during day time. More importantly, there is really no direct bus to the beach side. Renting a car for 2 days from Nice can be one of the best options for you.
The main problem about Saint-Tropez is not having a train station there. So, only way to reach there is by either car/bus or boat. If you want to prefer boat, you again have many options. However, once you book your tour with tour companies, they mostly allow you little time and that time is really not good enough to experience Saint Tropez. Tours from Cannes leave you only 5 hours.
I found a boat company called Les Bateaux de Saint-Raphael. In high season (June-July-August), the earliest departure from Saint-Raphael to Saint Tropez is at 09:30 and in July & August, the last return ticket is at 20:00. Your journey takes around 1 hour. This is the only way to spend maximum of time in Saint-Tropez whether you visit for one day or two days but by public transportation. Roundtrip ticket costs 25 EUR, unfortunately this is valid only if your departure and return is on same day. So, if you plan to stay there for one night, you have to spend 30 EUR. They also offer midnight return from Saint-Tropez to Saint-Raphael but only on Wednesday and Thursday.
I have tried above option and it was really nice option if you do not want to rent a car. So, you may ask how I have handled transportation in Saint-Tropez. That is not a flexible option but there is bus company called Varlib. There are two routes (7703 and 7705) which departs from Saint-Tropez Bus station to Pampelonne. It leaves you on Boulevard Patch where you have to walk 700 meters to reach beach side. The whole beach is about 6 kilometers. So, it is impossible to walk that way. You just have to choose your beach club and head it there. If you prefer Nikki Beach Club or Le Club 55, those bus routes will satisfy your requirement. Only problem is returning from Pampelonne by bus, because if you want to stay until beach club is closed, there is really no possibility to return Saint Tropez by public transportation, but don’t be mad about this. There is no public transportation, because Saint Tropez is not for public. So, just find some friends in the beach club and arrange your return with them. That’s what beach clubs are for 😉
Saint-Tropez to Pampelonne
- 7703: 10:50 – 13:50 – 18:50
- 7705: 12:00 – 13:30 – 15:00 – 17:20 – 18:45
Pampelonne to Saint-Tropez
- 7703: 07:45 – 10:05
- 7705: 09:28 – 10:52 – 13:12 – 14:38 – 17:08 – 18:05
What to do
If Saint-Tropez is on your list when you are visiting French Riviera, probably you are looking for beach clubs. Considering you will probably spend 1 night there, on your arrival day, you may directly head one of the famous beach clubs. Below is a list of beach clubs I have considered to visit:
- Tiki Beach
- Cabane Bambou
- Cap 21
- L’Epi by Petrie
- Key West
- Riva Plage
- Plage Tropicana
It is up to you whether you want to spend your night also in Pampelonne or not. If you do not want to stay in the same region, you may consider to spend your evening in Vieux Port. This is the old port close to La Ponche. La Ponche is the old town of Saint Tropez. All luxury brands have their own store in luxurious villa with their Saint-Tropez style cafes. If you want to empty your pockets, this is the area you should be wandering.
On your next day, you may want to spend some time in public beaches not in Pampelonne region. Plage de Bouillabaisse, Plage des Graniers, Plage des Canoubiers, Plage de la Ponche, Plage de la Fontanette are some few public beach examples close to old town area.
You also have a chance to visit some museums in Saint-Tropez. Maison des Papillons is a butterfly museum offering whatever you need about butterflies. Another museum I really enjoyed spending time is Gendarmerie Nationele. This is a film museum where you can learn but mostly enjoy.
The most important thing you should not forget is visiting La Tarte Tropézienne. I really don’t like using sentences such as “if you have not visited this place, it means you haven’t seen it”; but this time I have to use it. La Tarte Tropezienne offers you the best desserts. Do not leave it for your last day, otherwise you will feel guilty for not going there earlier.
This is the commune in French Riviera where you have to take your boat to Saint-Tropez. So, if you prefer using boat option I mentioned, you will eventually visit this stop. Even if you prefer going by car, it is still on your route. This place is a typical example for summer place for French people. Unlike Saint-Tropez, there is nothing luxurious here. You may consider to spend some hours or a dinner on your second day perhaps before you take your train back to Nice.