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  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

Saint-Tropez & Sainte-Maxime

This is one of our favourite day-trips and the one we would most probably turn to if - say - we had some friends visiting for just a weekend and only had one opportunity to show them the very best of the French Riviera.

Saint-Tropez | Photo © 2018 Robert Brands
Saint-Tropez | Photo © 2018 Robert Brands


Make an early start, as it's gong to be a long and lovely day! Our top tip is to stop at your local boulangerie on the way and collect some ready-made baguette sandwiches that you can throw in a cool box or cool bag, together with some water bottles. You will be taking the A8 Autoroute to the Le Muy / Saint-Tropez exit, then the D25 directly into Sainte-Maxime. Note you are not driving on (round the bay) to Saint-Tropez itself - and joining the long traffic jam of people who also made that mistake - but rather parking in the Port Car Park and strolling the two minutes walk to the Bateaux Verts foot ferry:

Taking the boat across the bay is not just about escaping traffic. It's part of the whole day-trip experience; feeling the wind and the spray on your face, whilst you check out the amazing yachts and boats in the bay. A little pair of pocket binoculars would be great right now, so what a good job that you bought some with you! Well done you.

It also has the effect of making Saint-Tropez feel even more magical. You can trick your mind into feeling like you are visiting an island paradise, rather than just another part of the Riviera coastline. And, in a strange sort of way, you are.

Les Bateaux Verts

14 Quai Léon Condroyer, 83120 Sainte-Maxime

2 of 15 Tours & Activities in Sainte-Maxime • Ferry

★★★★☆ • Tripadvisor Reviews

Tel +33 4 94 49 29 39 | Website


By the time you land at Saint-Tropez, you will already be hungry no doubt. So why fight it? One of Saint-Tropez's loveliest restaurants is almost right in front of you (on the Quai Jean-Jaurès): The Petit Plage. If you called to reserve whilst queuing for the boat, they will probably have your table ready for you when you arrive.

La Petite Plage

9 quai Jean-Jaurès, Saint-Tropez, 83990

€€€€ • Mediterranean Cuisine

★★★★☆ • Tripadvisor Reviews

Tel +33 4 94 17 01 23 | Website

There are lots of nice things about this restaurant. It serves delicious seafood (from the basic fish-n-chips (that Saint-Tropez is famous for) through to really elegant dishes that are perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. You will have a lovely view of the port and the big boats moored just metres away, plus you can kick off your shoes and sink your toes into the lovely sand that covers the floors beneath the tables.


Right! Off to explore the old town. I am not gonna lie. The shopping is amazeballs here. Expensive sometimes. But Saint Tropez has become the No1 shopping destination in the Cote d'Azur for good reason. The streets in the town are laden with designer boutiques and dazzling jewellery shops; including Hermès, Dior, Giorgio Armani, CELINE, Louis Vuitton & Faconnable. There is also Manoush, Caroline Dechamby, and Francesca Donà.

Shoppers at the Grande Braderie market
Shoppers at the Grande Braderie market

If you are looking for the perfect time to visit, check out our post on the Grande Braderie market, held at the end of October; which is a great time to pick some some end-of-season bargains on clothing in particular (with discounts of 50% or more).

Download a walking map of Saint-Tropez from the SeeSaintTropez website, and check out their directory of shops

Beyond the shops, there's lots to see or just stumble across, and even just walking down the Provencal streets fills your heart with joy. Our favourite little stops include:


So time to get back on that boat, as we are spending what's left of the day in Sainte-Maxime. It's easy to underestimate this little village, or view it as some sort of poor relation to its cousin across the bay. But trust me, give it some love and it will love you right back. I don't know about you, but my favourite time to be on the beach is definitely late afternoon and early evening, as the heat of the day begins to subside. And our go-to venue in that regard is the Plage de la Nartelle in Sainte-Maxime:

Plage de la Nartelle in Sainte-Maxime
Plage de la Nartelle in Sainte-Maxime

There is a small (and very satisfying) public beach in the centre of the Nartelle strip, but for a really special beach experience, we always head to one of the fabulous beach bar/restaurants that line the seafront. A nice coffee, glass of wine, or beer and a comfy chair or beach bedis the perfect accompaniment to the sound of the waves or the setting of the sun.


Which brings us onto dinner. You can probably tell my thoughts rarely stray far from food. We recommend the Mahi Plage as the venue for beach, drinks, and meal afterwards:



Mahi Plage

53 Av du General Touzet du Vigier, 83120 Sainte-Max

€€ • Mediterranean Cuisine

★★★★☆ • Tripadvisor Reviews

Tel +33 6 21 92 72 43 | Website

Sure, there are better restaurants in the centre of the village (for dining really well) and it's also nice to walk around there at night. Maybe a third of the time, we would indeed do that (particularly if we were entertaining foodies). But Mahi Plage is relatively inexpensive and it is just so convenient to kick the sand off your feet and tuck right in.


Afterwards, yes a brief drive into the village proper (if you still have the energy) and a mooch around the shops. Le bar à thym might be a good place to knock back some cocktails before you finally head home:



Le bar à thym

52 Rue Paul Bert, 83120 Sainte-Maxime

€€ • Wine Bar

★★★★☆ • Tripadvisor Reviews

Tel +33 6 10 15 12 43 | Facebook

But I am guessing you may be tired by this point and thinking about that relatively long drive home (perhaps in the dark). I hope you had a lovely day.


Do you have a great tip you'd like to share - that we could add to this day-trip entry? If so, please add a comment (below) or use our suggestion form on the ★ Little Pieces of Lighthomepage. And if you are looking for somewhere to stay in the area, please do check out Haute Vue; our large holiday home with private pool in Montauroux. It has panoramic views, private pool, super-fast WiFi and modern air-conditioning, and is the perfect central base for a holiday in the South of France.

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