Dreaming of St-Tropez with T A Williams
Dreaming of St-Tropez?
What better way to start your dreams than a tour of that very place, the literary location of TA Williams who immerses you in St Tropez in his latest sunny read…..
It’s one of those names, isn’t it? It immediately conjures up an image of billionaires, luxury yachts, horrifically expensive villas, and restaurants that cost an arm and a leg. At least, that was how I viewed it before going there. So, when I decided to set a book there and wanted to undertake a research trip to see for myself (I try to visit the locations of all my books), I was faced with a dilemma. You see, the problem is – I’m not a billionaire.
Now, if you have the good fortune to be a billionaire, you will find some (but hopefully not all) the advice I have here inappropriate. Apologies. If, like me, you don’t have limitless funds, here are a few ideas.
First of all, I have to tell you that I wasn’t expecting to like the place as much as I did. I lived in France for a year or two, back in the mists of time, and I like the people and the country, but I had my doubts about somewhere as glitzy as St-Trop (as the locals call it). But the fact is that I loved it. Yes, there were loads of tourists, yachts moored at the harbour worth ten times or more what my house is worth – wait a minute, make that twenty times or more. Yes, there are all the big name fashion houses represented there and hotels and restaurants with eye-watering prices, but the people who live and work there that I met are good, pleasant local French people.
So, first things first. Where to stay?
I checked out booking.com and was unsurprised to see hardly any accommodation for less than 300 euros a night and most at least twice as much. So, seeing as I am not a billionaire, I chose to stay in Ste-Maxime, which is a hell of a lot cheaper. The Gulf of St-Tropez is roughly horseshoe-shaped and St-Trop is on west side of the mouth and Ste-Maxime on the east. A regular ferry service (Les Bateaux Verts) takes only fifteen minutes or so to cross the mouth of the bay. So, tip number one – stay in Ste-Maxime.
Where to eat and drink?
There are numerous bars and cafés and one of the best ice cream shops in the world, but all at affordable – but not cheap – prices. Senquier on the quayside is probably the best known of all, but as long as you don’t start ordering Jereboams of champagne, it shouldn’t break the bank. There are famous restaurants like La Ponche where all French celebrities worth their salt have stayed or eaten at some point. Dinner there looked pricey, but we had lunch sitting outside under the parasols and it wasn’t too frighteningly expensive. I justified it to myself (and am prepared to do so to the Inland Revenue if asked) as it being important for me to see how the other half live, if I intend writing about them. Otherwise, we had sandwiches for lunch and then had dinner at more modest prices over in Ste-Maxime. So, tip number two – check the prices before going into the restaurants and be prepared to go elsewhere to eat.
What to do?
Wandering around the narrow little streets and along the quayside people-watching is a must. And yacht-spotting is fun as well. Check out the flags of all the tax havens of the world flying from the flagpoles. Keep your eyes open for celebrities, if that is your thing. We were fortunate to see the legendary Brigitte Bardot a couple of times (she lives there) and I’m told Hollywood greats (and not so greats) regularly drop in. The one thing you really should do if you are physically up to it is to walk round the coastal footpath from Tahiti Beach (allegedly where topless sunbathing took off – pun intended) round the headland to St-Tropez. You can get there in a little Toytown-style bus (Navette) which will take you to Les Salins. The views are spectacular and, for a writer, several of the villas studding the hillside morphed into the villa where most of Dreaming of St-Tropez takes place.
I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you so I’ll just finish by saying that I loved the place and I hope you will, too, if you ever go there. One final word of advice – we were there in May and it was crowded, but not too crowded. The summer months are, I believe, another kettle of poissons altogether so, if you can go out of season, do so.
If this has been of interest or helpful, I’m pleased. If you have any queries I’ll do my best to answer them.
Thank you so much for this very insightful guide. It’s always great to get the author insight into the places in the book. A unique guide indeed!
BookTrail Boarding Pass: Dreaming of St Tropez