THE BLOG

A Long Weekend in St Tropez

23/07/2015 10:20 BST | Updated 21/07/2016 10:59 BST

It's been another perfect day, topping up my tan and taking in the sights of this historic town on the Côte d'Azur.

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I'm in St Tropez at the start of the summer season, the playground of the rich and famous, and I'm staying at the Grand Dame, the Hotel Byblos. Anyone who's anyone has stayed here from the sixties siren Brigitte Bardot to modern-day A-listers.

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Built up and on over the years, it looks like a Provencal village with 41 rooms and 50 suites painted in burnt ochre, terracotta and gold. The rooms are large and traditional with white-washed walls,and antique furnishings.

It's well placed and right in the heart of the town with the historic Port a five minute stroll away.

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If you don't own your own yacht, don't worry because you can take a one-hour cruise around the harbour on the Brigantin II. A little like an audio version of the French magazine Paris Match, the captain will point out where the celebrities live, how much the yachts cost and all the gossip.

The Hotel runs a cookery class with Vincent Maillard, the Head Chef, and the morning is spent getting stuck in, as if you were cooking at home. I learn how to make a starter and main course with seasonal vegetables - courgettes and artichokes - from an Alain Ducasse protege.

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If cooking isn't your thing, there's plenty to keep you occupied here, even if you're not loaded. The Annonciade Museum is a former 16th Century Chapel and considered one of the top museums for modern art in France. Works include masterpieces from Paul Signac and his mate Matisse. Just for the view, visit the Citadel at the top of the town, there's an amphitheatre and walled garden and a display of naval artefacts and one of the best panoramic views.

A coastal path runs for more than six miles from the old harbour to the northern end of Pampelonne Bay, where you'll find one of the most famous beaches in the world.

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It's also home to Le Club 55, a great place to eat lunch and hangout for the day and if the walk is a little ambitious, the Hotel can organise a shuttle which takes about ten minutes.

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Bardot shot the 1958 film And God Created Woman on this stretch of beach and back then Club 55 was tiny. In the middle of nowhere, the film crew asked if they'd cater for the shoot. The family kept the production team fed and watered for the time they shot the film and, as they say, the rest is history. Thirty thousand beach-lovers visit this three mile stretch every day during the summer. Booking is essential.

If you've got cash to splash, head to the designer stores on Rue Gambetta and Rue Sibilli but for exploring the old world charm in the old town look out for Rue Clémenceau. To see a little more of the town without wearing out the shoe leather, there are Segways available for hire, in 25 Avenue du Huit Mai.

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Each day there's a fish market at the Place aux Herbes and a twice-weekly market held on Tuesday and Saturday mornings on the Place des Lices, also the playground for the locals and their petanque matches.

When the sun goes down, the restaurants come alive, and when the candles burn out, the queue forms outside the Hotel's legendary nightclub Le Caves du Roy. This is one place where age is no barrier to a good party and you can expect to find sugar daddies rubbing shoulders with models, actors, in fact, anyone who can afford to get in and stay all night. Jay-Z and Beyonce have partied here, so too have the Beckhams and the Clooneys. Thankfully, for my wallet, it was closed when I visit. A glass of wine or water is almost €30 but the big hitters go for a Methuselah (equivalent to eight bottles) of Dom Pérignon (Rosé of course), a snip at €150,000.

I end my trip in the hotel's Sisley Spa in the vain hope my facial will take ten years off. It doesn't, but an hour of being 'plumped' with expensive creams does feel amazing. I also get to nose around the Turkish Bath and Hamam (enjoyed to the full by one Mick Jagger and his new wife Bianca after their wedding here in 1971).

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For more information about St Tropez, visit the tourism website.

Hotel Byblos, 20 Avenue Paul Signac 83990, Saint Tropez, France

A longer version appears on my website.

All images taken by Rebecca Williams