The French Rivera offers “la dolce vita”

Angelika Lantz
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***For the French version of “la dolce vita,” definitely give Saint-Tropez
a whirl. While some travel guides rate the ritzy and glitzy town past
its prime as an “in” spot for movie stars and the jet set, its harbor
remains an absolute must-see for yacht enthusiasts.  

If you are the sophisticated type, you will be able to nonchalantly
sneak a peak, or two, or else you may find yourself gawking, or worse,
with your mouth agape.

All along the quay, the rich, the beautiful and the would-be, can be
observed perfecting the tan of their gleaming golden bodies or having
their banquet-like repasts served on deck their truly awe-inspiring,
sparkling white yachts.  It’s like they are graciously performing
for the amazed tourist masses, while appearing heedless of their
presence. No use being rich, if you can’t show it off.  

***image2***As you tear yourself away with envy in your heart, you encounter
numerous shiny shop windows with exquisite displays of all types of
merchandise, pre-dominantly, however, with goods that require some
serious purchasing power. Even the tiniest pub, café or restaurant
seems to exemplify superb taste and extraordinary decorating skills.

Yet, despite its posh offerings and clientele, traces of an endearing
down-to-earth  atmosphere remain in this little port with a
population of about 5,500.  Narrow cobble-stone streets teem with
life; simple, yet picturesque, old buildings are veiled with bright

More importantly, a few paces beyond the well-trodden tourist paths,
you’ll encounter the lively squares with almost clichéd scenes of old
men sitting on benches enthusiastically discussing the topic of the day
or keenly concentrating on a game of bocce.

Another feast for the senses is the famous Saint Tropez open-air
market, held every Tuesday and Saturday, with its inspirational
multitude of goods. Besides the colorful offerings at vegetable, fruit,
spice and flower stands, you can buy cheeses, meats, seafood, olives
and olive oils − and that’s just some of the food.

***image3***Furthermore, there are clothes, shoes, hats, jewelry, provincial
fabrics, pottery, hand-made soaps, souvenir and gift items, books,
household goods and hardware, even antiques, art − the list is

The prices are affordable, the bargaining is fun and the crowds rival
the merchandise in vibrancy, but, go before 10 a.m.    

Avoiding the high season is key to visiting Saint Tropez, which draws an estimated 80,000 during the month of August.

We found mid-May to be perfect. It was sunny but not too hot, lively
but not too crowded. The people were friendly, and waiting lines were
non-existent or short.  

Sainte Maxime, across the bay, is a 15-minute ferry ride from Saint
Tropez.  The beautifully landscaped house we rented proved to be a
restful heaven.
We found colorful and dynamic Sainte Maxime more family-oriented and
much more reasonably priced; providing a great base for our excursions
up and down the French Rivera.