Saint Tropez

Everybody’s heard of Saint Tropez, but the stereotype we all know is quite misleading. It’s imagined to be a sort of place you learn about through the amniotic murk – an iconic coastal town barnacled with Mediterranean hedonism. But to be honest, in fact this place is rather calm and peaceful. At least off-season. With its rolling countryside, long, golden beaches, and breathtaking light, Saint-Tropez is one of the French Riviera’s most gorgeous destinations. This picturesque peninsula on the Côte d’Azur still embraces its history as a quiet fishing village and artists’ enclave – it lured painters such as Henri Matisse long before it was made famous by legendary beauty Brigitte Bardot, who has called it a “little nook of paradise.” Here are the two places I’ve especially loved in this town:

The Dior Villa. If you read my site for a while, then you know I’m not a Dior person (especially Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior). But somehow, in Saint Tropez, it all clicked – the intricately embroidered eveningwear, the pearl jewellery, the glassware… this is the French way. And of course loved the delightfully furnished store, which as well serves coffee in its yard.

13 Rue François Sibilli

Lots of huge, old cypress trees and yes, Brigitte Bardot is everywhere…

L’Atelier 55 specialises in vintage, restored design and it has a branch of stores located in Paris, Megève and other French destinations. Their boutique in Saint Tropez is kept in matching, Mediterranean style and its filled with original 1960s posters, Pierre Jeanneret armchairs and plates illustrated by Jean Cocteau. The staff here knows pretty much everything about 20th century French design, so you can always treat this place like a sort of encyclopedia. And if you’re planning to move to Saint Tropez… you know where to get your furniture!

29 Boulevard Louis Blanc

/

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Villa Ephrussi De Rothschild

Can’t believe I’m finally finishing my coverage from our French Riviera road trip, which took place back in January! I just can’t not write about the beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, located on a hill just a few kilometres from Cap Ferrat. The villa of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild houses a rich fine and decorative arts collection (the owner had collected well over 5,000 pieces ranging from fine furniture to paintings, statues, and porcelain dinnerwar), all exhibited in a Belle Époque, Italian-style palazzo. Hiring and firing at least ten architects during the seven-year building period, it reflects her taste perfectly. She used it as residence and party villa until the 1930s before bequeathing it to the Institute de France for use as a fine art museum. The magnificent park with nine distinct gardens is equally attractive year-round (we’ve been there in January, although it felt like it’s mid-spring!). The mild weather of the Côte d’Azur ensures that there are always flowers in bloom but spring and high summer see the most vibrant colors. Visitors may wander through the gardens at will but do pick up a map of the garden. Following the suggested route, you can stroll through the gardens with Villefranche-sur-Mer views before scaling a small hill and descending next to the waterfall into the French garden in front of the villa. Spending an afternoon here feels like a dream.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Èze / Côte D’Azur

In craggy cliffs high above the sea, the medieval village of Èze is a delightful step back in time. The well-preserved stone buildings, winding alleyways, 14th-century chapels, and dramatic Mediterranean backdrop make this tiny village seem like a movie set. The views are best earned by taking one of the many hiking trails, like the famous Nietzsche path, that connect the the town and the summit, which sits 1,400 feet above sea level. At the top, you’ll discover the town’s medieval fortress, which you may recognize from Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief”, surrounded by the Jardin Exotique, a desert garden brimming with succulents and exotic florals. The wonderful sea breeze is another reason to get up here!

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Fondation Maeght / Côte d’Azur

Visiting this place has always been my dream. Fondation Maeght is France’s most important private art foundation and among the world-leading cultural institutions. It was created by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, a visionary couple of publishers and art dealers, who represented and were friends with some of the most important artists of the 20th century, including Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall and many others. The Maeght Foundation was inaugurated back in 1964 and instantly became the new art mecca. Located near the famous village of Saint-Paul de Vence the foundation is situated in the incredible architectural complex designed by Josep Lluís Sert. Painters and sculptors worked in collaboration with the Catalan architect to create a place where art, nature and architecture blend in perfect harmony. The Foundation’s highlights include the Giacometti courtyard (remember Louis Vuitton’s resort 2019 collection? It was staged right here!), featuring an exceptional ensemble of sculptures by the Swiss artist, the Miró labyrinth, a whimsical sculpture garden by the Catalan artist, monumental mural mosaics by Marc Chagall and Pierre Tal Coat, a pool designed by Georges Braque as well as a mechanical fountain designed by Pol Bury. Visitors can also enjoy the sculpture garden, with a rotating selection of works by Calder, Takis, Miro, Arp and other, two rooftop terraces with spectacular views, exhibition galleries hosting temporary exhibition as well as selected works from the permanent collection, a consecrated chapel and a library. Looking back at the photos I took there, I still can feel this unique combination of nature and silence meeting some of my all time favourite artists (that created the appealing aura of Côte d’Azur).

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Saint Paul De Vence / Côte d’Azur

As you go north from Antibes, a place you have to visit is Saint-Paul de Vence. In this village located at the top of a hill, you should of course see the Fondation Maeght (a separate post on this art oasis is coming up shortly!). If you want to continue with the art path, why not see the authentic Matisse or Picasso at the legendary La Colombe d’Or? You can find it in the heart of Saint-Paul: it’s a real secret garden with original works given to the owner by the artists as payments for meals. It’s worth giving the village around an hour if you’re by car: its centre is overcrowded with touristic “art galleries” and restaurants, so the most important is the postcard-like, medieval, stone architecture that seems to be untouched by time.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.