Saint Tropez is one of the prettiest villages in the world and, while it’s a lot quieter during the winter months, there’s still a sleepy charm to enjoy.
With an average of seven hours of sunshine each day in February, there’s an excellent chance that you will experience clear blue skies and sunshine on your out of season break in Saint Tropez. Temperatures tend to average around 15ºC in the daytime, dropping to a low of 5ºC at night. If the weather is inclement, you can always find a cosy restaurant table, all exposed stone and candlelight to while away the time, or dress for the occasion and take a wild and windy walk along the magnificent coastline.
Where to stay
The choice of accommodation during the winter is more limited than during the summer as most hotels will shut down for the winter season, not reopening until the end of March or even mid-April or mid-May. Having said that, this is your opportunity to stay in beautiful properties for a fraction of the price you would normally pay in high season. Often selling for €1500 a night or more in the summer, some of St Tropez’ most prestigious establishments offer fantastic cut-price rates in the off-season.
Of the few hotels to remain open, the stunning La Bastide de Saint Tropez hotel, set in a lush garden, will make you forget that it's the winter. Another luxury option is the boutique Pan Deï Palais Hotel, in the heart of St Tropez with bedrooms and suites decorated in an eclectic style. Villa Cosy, which is open during the weekends in the winter, has 10 bedrooms and three suites situated around a heated swimming pool in a quieter, more residential part of town.
B Lodge only closes from mid-January to the end of February and offers an affordable option in the centre of the village with stylish bedrooms and a lively bar. A little further away (9km) is Shangtasia Luxury Art Room guest house. This is a California-style villa near Grimaud where the owner Philippe Shangti (a renowned artist and photographer) has created four bedrooms, decorated and designed in his own artful manner. Well worth a look!
Where (and what) to eat
If the sun’s out, head down to Plage des Jumeaux on famous Pampelonne Beach. While most of the beach clubs close for the winter, this sophisticated little place stays open for lunch year-round and is a truly wonderful place to take in the sea views. For a Michelin-starred dining experience, the L'Olivier at the Bastide de Saint Tropez will be open for dinner some days per week.
While in town, don’t forget to try the famous Tarte Tropezienne, a lightly orange-scented brioche filled with cream, or the pissaladiere, a soft pizza-bread topped with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies. Saint Tropez was once famous for its anchovies so be sure to try the anchoïade dip, and the seafood bouillabaisse is a speciality too. The restaurants down by the old port specialise in fish dishes and are likely to be open during the low season months.
What to do
Take a romantic drive along the Route du Mimosa, a wonderfully scenic driving route between medieval villages famous for their floral displays. Perhaps stop for lunch in a cosy local café with a view over the coast. This is wine country, so a drive through the vineyards of the Var and Provence is also a great idea. Stop at estates and taste their wonderful wines along the way. If you don’t have a car or don’t wish to count your drinks, there are half and full day tours available.
The wild and rambling Sentier du Littoral coastal walk is nothing short of magical, as it meanders past rocky coves, empty bays and deserted white sand beaches. You can pick up this walking trail by the ramparts in St Tropez, and the full walk will take you five or six hours. The island of Porquerolles is dazzling in the sunshine so, if the weather is nice, head down the coast to Hyères to catch the ferry across. Walk among the fruit trees, vineyards and olive groves and explore the stunning beaches of this mesmerising Mediterranean isle.
Finally, if you stay over the weekend, don't miss the local market in the Place des Lices. It's on from 08:00 on Saturday mornings and has a wonderful selection of local produce, clothing, gifts, art and antiques.