The first time we visited Saint-Tropez it was May, before the summer season began. The legendary town and the notorious beaches were quiet. While we enjoyed our time there, we wished we could experience the Saint-Tropez that we had heard about, the wild and crazy Saint-Tropez of the rich and famous.
Just 62 miles west of Nice, Saint-Tropez was a military stronghold and fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century. After World War II, the town became an internationally known seaside resort full of artists, musicians and actors, like Brigitte Bardot, whose presence helped turn the small enclave into a chic resort for the European and American jet set.
This year, we decided to time our stop in Saint-Tropez so we were there "In Season" and we arrived in early July. As we were steering Berkeley East towards the harbor, it felt as if we were in the middle of the Atlantic, the seas rough and confused. But visually, it was nothing like the open ocean as we were dodging boats, large and small, from every direction, all of them flying through the water at breakneck speed as if they were being chased; it was chaos.
The marina was full, so we anchored BE in the bay with 500 other boats, from 20-foot ski boats to 300-foot mega yachts, plus two cruise ships at the entrance. It was also the watersports bay, so jet skies, tubers and kite surfers were everywhere. The waves in the anchorage were bigger than they were outside. We decided to deal with it for a couple of days so we could get out to the beach and see the town again, since we were finally in Saint-Tropez "In Season."
We did the beach first, a long stretch of sand where exclusive restaurants / beach clubs sit aside public sections of sand. It is an eclectic mix of families and the beautiful people, ice cream and champagne, sand castles and fashion shows.
We had rose, and french fries with truffles and Parmesan, spent far too much money and loved experiencing this infamous party scene in its prime.
A trip into town was next, and as expected, it was hopping. The dock was full of super yachts, the marina packed with smaller boats. The ferries came and went every 10 minutes depositing hundreds of tourists in the streets. The cruise ship shore boats did the same. While we preferred the quiet town that we had seen previously, this Saint-Tropez had an entertaining vibe, at least for a day.
But a day would become a week when our dinghy outboard went kaput. It turned out it was the propeller and while Saint-Tropez is full of boats, finding parts for a 12-year-old Yamaha two-stroke that isn't manufactured anymore is challenging. It took several days but we finally were able to secure a new propeller just up the river. Who knew there was a river in Saint-Tropez?
When we were finally ready to leave this exhilarating area, we positioned BE in an outside anchorage where it would be easier to depart in the dark for the 15-hour crossing to Corsica. Like the rest of Saint-Tropez, the anchorage was crowded with boats of all sizes. As we were settling in for the night, we saw a boat motoring full speed towards another boat at anchor. Then we heard the all-too familiar sound of fiberglass hitting fiberglass; welcome to Saint-Tropez "In Season."