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19 June 2015

A ride to Saint-Tropez, the timeless French village

Célia Gumbau-Serra is the designer behind the Hôtel Muse in Saint-Tropez.

After a career in events, five years ago she created the perfect haven away from the agitation of the port.

Simultaneously contemporary and an integral part of her natural environment.

Just before the start of high season, she shares with Plume Voyage Magazine her favourite addresses in the Varoise city.
St Tropez

Cabane Bambou
Interview by Laurence Gounel

The city of Saint-Tropez was named thus by the monks of the Saint-Victor Abbey in Marseille, which christened it San-Torpes. These religious figures owned the peninsula and all the neighbouring land during the 11th century.

Saint-Tropez owes its number one position as a jet-set spot to the infatuation of New Wave artists at the end of the 1950s, then to 60s celebs who immediately adopted it as their own.

Legendary films set in Saint-Tropez: Hello, Sadness, The Collector, The Swimming Pool, la Cage aux Folles, The Umbrella Coup, Bad Luck, Year of the Jellyfish, le Facteur de Saint-Tropez, Les Sous-doués en vacancies, Les Gendarmes, Le Viager…

Saint-Tropez’s artistic side: the Var city plays a central role in modern art. Paul Signac discovered such locations and convinced painters such as Matisse, Bonnard or Marquet to relocate here. Is this a trend? Two in fact: that of pointillism and fauvism. Much later, Bernard Buffet, David Hockney and Donald Sultan would join them. Two celebrated authors would also follow in their footsteps: Colette, and then Françoise Sagan.

  • Best Beach: The Cabane Bambou

    Because it is still wild and not flashy. It is right at the bottom of Pampelonne, alongside a sand dune full of bamboo. And it is human size. Here, you can eat with your feet in the sand, surrounding by lumber décor: the products are all fresh. I come here for their crispy vegetables serviced with sublime ricotta dressed in local olive oil.
    Route de Bonne Terrasse,

  • Firm favourite: Pomme de Pin

    An Italian restaurant run by the same family for two generations that favours the quality of products (which are collected twice a week from the Italian border, delivered from Sardinia), the generosity of helpings and their refusal to increase prices. A rarity in Saint-Tropez!
    Route de Tahiti,

  • Bistro: Bistro Pastis

    Run by two boys from the village. One of the few places open all year round. Come here for a typical Provençale cuisine, decorated with cement tales and moleskine seats and, in the summertime, the little terrace just a stone’s throw from the old port. On Fridays, it’s aioli time!
    18 rue Henri Seillon,

  • Dinner table: the Strand

    Located in the heart of Saint-Tropez, this terrace is shielded from noise and onlookers behind the blackberry bushes and century-old trees. Formerly knowna s the Palmyre, this is the oldest restaurant in the Val port. Classic French cuisine with a sophisticated twist.
    2 rue du Petit-Bal,

  • Boutique: The Galeries Tropéziennes

    An institution! A sort of luxury bazar, where you can buy espadrilles, silk socks and an exclusive Goyard bag…
    82 rue Gambetta,

  • Best local Tropezienne: found at Les Deux Frères

    This is one of the oldest boulangeries in the town, founded at the start of last century and run by the same family generation after generation. Their recipes have stayed the same and they are the best as they are perfectly balanced. The Genoise sponge cake is not dried out but wonderfully soft and brioche-like, scented with orange flower.
    3 rue des commerçants,

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