A village clinging to a hill side, visible from afar, a cluster of houses grouped in a dense fortification. That's a village perché, a striking feature of the Provence landscape. Close to the Mediterranean sea, on the peninsula of St. Tropez, you find two such villages: Ramatuelle and Gassin.
You visit Ramatuelle, not because it's more charming than its neighbour Gassin, but because it also encompasses France's most famous beach, Pampelonne. That stretch of five kilometres where the jet set, and those who want to be close to them, tan, swim, cavort, lunch, disco and what-not, in a happy ambience of sun and fun.
Built on a hillside five kilometres from the famous Pampelonne Beach, Ramatuelle is a small village (2000 residents) that offers fabulous views overlooking the Gulf of Saint Tropez. This exceedingly pretty town has gorgeous narrow streets lined with coloured shutters and vibrant pink bourganvillea trees- and lots of cafes, boutiques and artisan galleries to while away the hours.
In the 1950's it began to attract actors and artists, who settled in one of the narrow houses, or visited in the season. Many celebrities since then have fallen in love with the place and settled there, and quite a few tourists have too. Today, its summer is filled with performances in the amphitheatre: its Theatre Festival in July or, in August, its famous Festival du Jazz, when artists from around the world perform during the four-day festival. We were there many years ago when Dee Dee Bridgewater gave a sparkling performance. It was the last night of the festival and after the final encore, the visitors began to throw their seat cushions (thin and light!) onto the stage, not to show their disapproval, but just because it had become customary to end the jazz festival that way. The drummer in Dee Dee's band had not been informed of this custom and in anger started to throw the cushions back. Confusion and hilarity on both sides; a true cushion fight ensued. In the end, the drummer suffered slight damage to his front teeth and the custom was banned once and for all from the Jazz Festival in Ramatuelle.
If you are seeking peace, tranquillity and a heavenly beach holiday, the village is ideal. It is around 10 kilometres to the south west of Saint Tropez.
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