These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writer visited pre-pandemic.
More insider guides for planning a trip to St Tropez
St Tropez is many things, but mainly two: firstly, the most famous seaside resort in the world with a clientele which runs from the planet’s richest and best-known down to airhead hangers-on via thousands in between in town for the spin-off glam. It is also, secondly, a bona fide Provençal coastal village with a proper Provençal past (fighting, fishing, wine and the rest) and well-rooted taste for proper Provençal cuisine. The place caters for both needs. The highest of haute cuisine runs up three stars and three-figure bills in the poshest of places while (slightly) humbler ones specialise in regional dishes such as daube beef stew, Sisteron lamb with herbs, soupe au pistou (veg soup with basil and garlic), the grand aioli, sea bream, bass and every other fish which can be pulled from the Med. But be warned: even the humbler restaurants here will likely give your wallet a kicking. St Tropez is among the most expensive spots in Europe.
La Vague D’Or
There are a few exquisite, fabulously expensive tables in St Tropez – but this one, on the Plage de la Bouillabaisse at Résidence de la Pinède, is the finest. Chef Arnaud Donckele bagged his third Michelin star at the age of 35. He was also named French Chef of the Year. This was an extraordinary achievement for so young a fellow. The residence is a sort of mini-chateau hotel of bright, period sumptuousness, with a gorgeous terrace overlooking the beach. In this setting, Donckele weaves an inventive magic with the best Mediterranean ingredients. And the service is both correct and welcoming. Naturally, you pay a fortune, but, if menus from €270 (£244) and main courses which start at €105 (£95) make you blanche, you shouldn’t be here in the first place.
Contact: 00 33 494 55 91 00; vaguedor.com
Opening times: May-October, 7.30pm-10pm
Au Caprice des Deux
Another narrow side street, another venerable Provençal house and another brightly decorated spot providing robust country cooking – but with a contemporary tweak. This brother-and-sister operation – Sonia and Stéphane have been working together right here for 23 years – has built an enviable reputation. Au Caprice des Deux throws its net beyond Provence, across the South of France to Gascony and Aquitaine. It is by no means the worse for that, especially not if you like foie gras. Space is tight in the three rooms within, and not much less so on the tiny terrace outside. But the locals who cram in here don’t seem to mind. And, with honest food of this quality – bistronomique, they call it – there’s no reason why we should either. Prices, though, have rocketed in recent times; starters from €27 (£24), and mains from €32 (£29). They need to stop soon for the place to continue to appeal.
Contact: 00 33 494 97 76 78; aucapricedesdeux.com
Opening times: In season, Wed-Mon, 8pm-12pm (though open Tuesdays, too, in July and August); in winter, open Thur-Sat, 8pm-12pm
It is difficult, in St Tropez, to find an eatery which fits into any sort of budget category. This one does, just about. It’s a standard, few-frills café-brasserie – but with décor and layout refreshed by new owners. It remains tight-packed with locals in for a beer and children running about. There are many like it in every French town. Service and, indeed, standards may be hit and miss – but community life flows through and its heart is in the right place. Opt for the dish of the day, which might be something like lamb chops with many trimmings for €14.90 (£13), and enjoy it with a couple of glasses of house red. It’s difficult to not feel content.
Contact: 00 33 494 97 00 65
Opening times: Daily, 6am-12am
Reservations: Not necessary
Auberge des Maures
This lovely old Provençal house – all bare stone, beams, spring colours, and a summer terrace under the arbour – is home to the oldest restaurant in St Tropez. For the past 80 years, the Auberge has been serving up Provençal favourites, such as daube beef stew, lamb with rosemary, and line-caught fish, with panache and conviviality. Both Charlie Chaplin and David Niven were fans. French surrealist poet Paul Eluard held his 1950 wedding celebration here, with Picasso chief among the guests. These days, the place has branched out also to barbecue fare – and all this down a little side-street but a stone’s throw from the Place des Lices. As has been pointed out, prices are nearly double what they would be inland. That’s the joy of St Tropez.
Contact: 00 33 494 97 01 50; aubergedesmaures.fr
Opening times: Daily, 6.45pm-12.30am. Open March through to the end of November.
Brasserie des Arts
A hip, arty and bustling brasserie smack on the Place des Lices whose surprising charm helps you swallow some pretty ambitious prices. Ambitious for a brasserie, that is; from €16/£14 for a starter, and €25/£23 for a main. The food is good and contemporary, mind – have a go at the japanese poke bowl (salmon, cucumber, avocado, wakame salad and sesame dressing) or fusion sushi. And there’s a cracking eat-and-be-seen terrace out front. As the evening progresses, so the atmosphere heats up – there’s dancing on the tables, and much else besides.
Contact: 00 33 494 40 27 37; brasseriedesarts.com
Opening times: Daily, 12pm–3pm, 8pm–12am
Probably the classiest and most discreet of all the beach restaurants on Pampelonne beach (and one of those likely to survive the changes presently affecting clubs and restaurants here). The clientele is choice, a mix of world politicians, Russian and Middle Eastern businessmen and, of course, Kate Moss, Elle MacPherson and all the rest. It started life as the simplest possible cabin in the early 1950s, before it was adopted as the canteen of the people making And God Created Woman – the Bardot movie that put St Tropez on the world stage in 1955, hence the club’s name. To have any chance of a summer table, book ahead – and don’t be surprised [a] to be rather squashed in and [b] very much poorer afterwards. You’re unlikely to get out at much under €100 (£90) per head, including drinks.
Contact: 00 33 494 555555; leclub55.fr
Opening times: Lunchtimes from April 5 to November 3 2019
It helps if you like light blue – the place is thus coated – but here, in the tiny Rue de Portail Neuf, is what may be the best value restaurant in St Tropez. Granted, that’s a relative term, St Tropez being the most insanely expensive spot in France, but, on a short menu, these good people do a lunch menu for €21 (£19), and a three-course dinner for €39 (£35). Book ahead to bag a table on the titchy terrace, then try the brochette of monkfish and gambas.
Contact: 00 33 494 798509; facebook.com/LeGRestaurant
Opening times: From March 1, 2019 until the end of the seaon, Tues-Sun, 12pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-11.30pm.
This is a well-named spot tucked away from the tropezien hurly-burly in a sort of vaulted passageway giving onto an alley almost entirely colonised by the restaurant’s few terrace tables. It does indeed seem secret, the welcome is ace and the food Mediterranean with a pronounced Italian accent. It’s also very good value for St Tropez – with pasta mains from €15 (£14), linguine-alle-vongole at €22 (£20) and chicken with citrus fruit at €19 (£17). That kind of money barely buys you a bag of crisps in the resort’s flashier joints.
Contact: 00 33 983 667828; facebook.com/clandestino.saint.tropez
Opening times: April-October, Thurs-Sat, 7pm-11pm; Sat, 12pm-2pm