If you are staying near St Tropez this summer, then finding a great South of France beach to soak up the sun must be high on your list of priorities. We have had many great holidays in Saint Tropez, France, over the years and what strikes me most about the place is that essentially it is just an ordinary coastal town. Yes, you have your yachts lining the harbour which have oil paintings on the walls worth more than my house, and yes, you do have the occasional helicopter flying in A List celebrities for their lunch reservation. But if you strip all that away, in the streets of St Tropez you will find the same 8 à Huit supermarket that you find in every town in France. There is the same bar where the locals hang to discuss the events of the day and the local florist quietly going about her work.
Saint Tropez beaches France
So if you are looking for glitz and glamour, you can find that in abundance. But you will also need deep pockets to pay the steep entry prices to the cooler St Tropez beach clubs and the upmarket restaurants. But also, if that stuff doesn't faze you, then it is still possible to find a nice quiet St Tropez beach where you can sit and enjoy your €0.80 bottle of water and your €3.50 baguette sandwich you bought from the 8 à Huit. We visited St Tropez recently as we were adding a vacation rental property to our website, in nearby Grimaud. After visiting the villa, we popped down to the port in St Tropez for a coffee and a people-watch. And whilst you had all this luxury around you with Channel and Hermes boutique shops and stunningly attractive women with little handbag dogs, we still only paid €1.50 for a coffee. So St Tropez is like another world where ordinary life rubs along with complete wealth.
The one thing that you have to prepare yourself for, is the traffic. Over the years it has taken us 1 hour 45 mins to drive the 18kms from Sainte-Maxime to St Tropez. We have also snaked through the town on the way to the beach and seen people walk past us on the way to the shop, do their weekly shop and then walk back past us still stuck in virtually the same spot. So My advice would be to actually try to avoid going through or near St Tropez, to get to the best beaches. In actual fact, if you go to one of our suggested beaches (Le Rayol Canadel), you can actually enjoy one of the best driving routes in the French Riviera. The small D27 road which you can pick up near the St Tropez aerodrome, takes you up over the hills and into the back of Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. The views you get as you descend down the other side of the hills and look out over the turquoise sea are just breath-taking.
St Tropez beaches in South France
Go South France has compiled a list of the 4 best beaches in and near St Tropez, all based on our personal experience in the area. The most notable St Tropez beaches are Tahiti plage on the southern side of Saint Tropez and the world famous Nikki beach which is located in the bay of Pampelonne, close to Saint Tropez.
1. Best St Tropez beaches - Tahiti Plage beach St Tropez
The first Saint Tropes beach on our list is located just outside St Tropez, on the southern side of the peninsular. This is the famous Tahiti Plage. Tahiti Plage beach club was one of the first and most notable beach clubs in Saint Tropez (alongside Beach Club 55 St Tropez). The beach bar and restaurant still gets its fill off celebrities - often seen landing in helicopters at the back of the beach or sailing in on yachts. But it also very chilled out and open to everyone. Just be careful not to venture into the Naturist section here (unless this is your thing).
We first visited Tahiti Plage beach when our children were very small. Two things made this visit memorable to me. The first was I just had this overwhelming sense of being the most relaxed and chilled out I had ever been. I mean, just completely happy with the World. We were staying in nearby Sainte-Maxime with friends and we had driven over to Saint Tropez in the morning and headed straight to Tahiti Beach because we had read that it was the best beach in St Tropez. Me and my friend Justin had nipped off to the bar mid-morning for a cheeky beer. We were just sat there in silence, watching the kids playing in the sea. We could see the huge yachts bobbing up and down and the beautiful people walking up and down the beach. The soft reggae music was playing in the bar. And I remember just thinking, I have never been so completely chilled and happy in my life. It literally doesn't get better than this.
The second thing which makes the trip to Tahiti Beach so memorable, was that in the late afternoon, we took the kids to get an ice cream (which was the usual carnage of fights over the best seat, dropped ice cream cones and ice lollies dripping down over fingers, etc, etc). I remember the bar man listening to his radio and then looking over at us. I remember saying to Justin, I think we have been rumbled here. We hadn't paid for the €20 for renting the sun loungers, we had just put our towels down on the beach and got on with it. The bar man then came over and said "Are you English?". We nodded and he then said, "you better find a TV, New York is on fire, a plane has flown into the Twin Towers". We thought he was joking. But yes, that was the date of our visit to Tahiti beach in Saint Tropez, 9 September 2011.
2. Best St Tropez beaches - Nikki Plage
Nikki beach near Saint Tropez has long been the favourite destination for the 'beautiful people' - full of VIPs, the rich, glamourous and powerful people. It is located in the beautiful Bay of Pampelonne. Pamplonne beach is relatively small, but it is dotted with sun beds and white-clad waiters serving drinks and food to the tourists. During the evening, Nikki beach fills up with the sounds of chilled-out dance music as the celebrities party-on. Since its creation in 2002, Nikki beach St Tropez has retained its reputation of being one of the best beach clubs in St Tropez, attracting a host of world-class DJs, who get paid a small fortune to play there. The bar serves some of the most expensive cocktails you will find in France, as well as some of the best Champagnes available, including Perrier-Jouët, Dom Pérignon, Krug and Cristal.
Unless this is your scene (and you have the money to sustain it), I would personally head to Tahiti Plage, which is a much nicer beach and a lot less up-itself.
3. Best Saint Tropez France beach - Port Grimaud beach
Port Grimaud is located in between Saint-Tropez and Sainte-Maxime. This seaside town was created by architect François Spoerry in the 1960s and built out of the marshes of the bay of Saint Tropez. Built with small canals like Venice, the mainly traffic free town is popular with boat owners as most properties come with their own berth.
The beach at Port Grimaud, located slightly away from town is one long stretch of golden sand. The sea is shallow and gently sloping, making it perfect for families. Windsurfing and kayak hire is also available. Port Grimaud beach does get quite busy during the high season, but it is probably one of the best beaches around St Tropez.
We stayed in Grimaud a couple of months ago and we had a nice meal at the beach bar on Port Grimaud beach. You get a lovely view over the bay of Saint Tropez and it is really nice at night, when St Tropez is all lit up and you can see all the huge yachts in the bay. It brought back memories from about 20 years ago when we stayed in a campsite near St Tropez. One evening we took a Celebrity Booze Cruise. It actually was worse than it sounds. It involved an Irish guy taking us all out in the bay of St Tropez, pointing out houses owned by famous people (although it was very difficult to actually see the houses behind the security fences) and even harder to understand what he was saying. The booze involved cheap wine and supermarket larger. The only redeeming feature was that we got across to St Tropez a lot quicker than if we had taken the car.
4. Best beaches near St Tropez - Le Rayol Canadel, France
Moving along the coast from St Tropez towards Toulon, Rayol Canadel-sur-mer is a small stretch of coastline, which rarely gets busy, even in August. This is the coolest beach in the area, and has a few great bars. Our kids loved going to this beach because there is a diving platform a little way out in the bay. The beach can be tricky to find and the best way to find Rayol Canadel-sur-mer, is by taking the track from the airstrip at nearby Cogolin, past the campsite and up over the hill. The views coming down the other side of the hill are magnificent, but it is a bit of a white-knuckle ride.
Apart from Tahiti Plage, I would probably say that Le Rayol Canadel is one of the best beaches to visit near St Tropez, France.