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Museum of Police & Cinema in St Tropez

Exploring Saint Tropez' cinematic past & rise of the infamous gendarmes

Featured in: | Pam Williamson, Saint-Tropez Editor | Published

This newly revamped building in the small square that is also home to the Hotel de Paris Saint Tropez has certainly created a buzz amongst tourists who are eager to visit the Musee de la Gendarmerie et du Cinema, the museum of police and cinema.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself waiting in a queue of people getting their photos taken in front of this iconic St Tropez building. I waited a good ten minutes to get a goodie piccie myself and then scrambled quickly across to the entrance so as not to ruin anyone else's photos.

The Gendarme's of St Tropez

Off we go!

The series of comedy films about the Gendarmes of St Tropez has somewhat of a cult following here in France, so you will find that many tourists are keen to get that all important 'selfie' in front of what was essentially the set of the films. The museum allows you to discover the iconic place where the films were shot as well as learning the history of the building which was home to the real gendarmes (police) from 1879 until 2003. History has created a strong link between cinema and the gendarmes in Saint Tropez and in turn, cinema has contributed to the myth of the region. The museum space presents the numerous movies shot in the peninsula as well as looking at the many trades and professions connected with cinema.

Brigitte Bardot

Intimate photos of BB & her life in St Tropez

This is a small museum but well laid out and packed with fun exhibits, historical information and interesting facts that help bring the Saint Tropez myth to life. Currently, the ground floor houses a photographic exhibition paying homage to local resident and cinematic icon, Brigitte Bardot. A selection of intimate images of her life here in Saint Tropez, along with plenty of titbits of gossip about her relationships as well as her career make for a very interesting and absorbing exhibition. Many of these photos are on display for the first time, alongside several outfits worn by the blonde bombshell during some her most famous films.

Gendarmerie Nationale

The original Gendarmerie of St Tropez

As you continue up to the second floor the real 'gendarmerie' (police station) is brought to life as it as an office has been reconstructed with original desks, typewriters and documents. Giving a thorough history of the gendarmes of the region this exhibition manages to be informative and educative as well as being quite 'hands-on' and fun for both adults and children. The information presented is written in both English and French and you will find that all films and audio that are in French also have subtitles in English. A dolls house looking structure at the end of the room shows the original building as it would have been used in the past and you can take a peek inside at the offices and bunk rooms of the police force. A force that was, of course, made famous by the series of films starring Louis de Funes and Yves Vincent - the 'Gendarmes de Saint-Tropez'.

Cinema and Saint-Tropez

Driving down the Route Bleue

As you continue up to the third floor you will discover why the peninsula of St Tropez became such a popular destination, not only with tourists but with filmmakers and producers. You can take a drive down the roads that lead you to St Tropez and enjoy the scenes from various films that were shot along them. The Route Nationale no. 7 - also known as the Blue Road - symbolic of holiday time and paid leave, is often portrayed in films shot in the region.

"I chose Saint-Tropez - then one used to arrive after ten hours by car - so that I could hide away from all the pressing needs of public life. I was only looking for tranquillity, I found enchantment." Emile Ollivier (1825-1913), French politician who lived in the Chateau de la Motte.

Les Gendarmes de Saint Tropez

You descend the stairs to exit the museum to an explosion of camera flashes as photographers scramble to take your picture...worth it alone to feel like a start for a moment! At €3 this museum is well worth an hour or so of your time. Even if you aren't a fan, or haven't heard of the Gendarmes de Saint-Tropez films the exhibitions are interesting and give you a real insight into the history of the town and the stars who have made it famous. 

Visiting the museum

Musee de la Gendarmerie et du Cinema

Fully wheelchair accessible and ideal for children this is the perfect museum to enjoy on a rainy day or to escape the midday heat in the height of summer.  Open all year round this is one attraction that does not shut over lunch time (as is the French way) so you don't need to worry about timing. In fact, during the summer months it is open from 10:00 until 21:00 (17:30 and 18:30 the rest of the year), so yu don't need to feel rushed. As with most other attractions in Saint-Tropez, the museum is within walking distance of the main port and the central hotels and restaurants.

There is public parking very close at the Parking du Port and some on-street parking out in front of the museum, although this is liable to be busy. The museum is also situated next to the main bus terminal of Saint Tropez if you are arriving by public transport.

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