For most sun-worshippers, St Tropez’s Pampelonne Beach, a 5km stretch of glorious golden sand, has attained near mythical status, thanks to Brigitte Bardot’s 1956 film And God Created Woman and the glamorous beach clubs that line its shores. Yet two years ago, in order to protect the rare flora of its sand dunes, local authorities decided to reduce the number of beach clubs allowed.
So how did it work out, and how have the Pampelonne beach clubs fared according to St Tropez insiders?
Is Pampelonne Beach still The Place To Go in summer?
The decision to reduce the number of beach clubs from 27 to 23 ensured that 80% of Pampelonne beach could remain natural and free of charge. However, this meant saying goodbye to several old favourites while welcoming in new establishments run by some of the biggest hotel names in St Tropez. Bagatelle was one of the beaches that lost license in 2019, but unlike others it managed to open in a new location on Tamaris road, near Lou Lou, and the party here was as big as ever.
Other changes involved reducing the size of car parks and offering valet services. Club owners were also encouraged to invest in décor made of sustainable materials, and to observe the obligatory ban on plastics. Many took the opportunity to upgrade their kitchens and to start sourcing organic produce from local suppliers.
So what have guests made of it all? We asked local luxury property agent St Tropez House which establishments their clients have been impressed by, based on two summer seasons of data, and put the highest reviewed spots into our guide to the best beach clubs in Pampelonne, St Tropez:
Best For Food And Fun: Loulou à la Ramatuelle on Tamaris Beach has earned praise for its seasonal dishes, such as mouth-watering risottos and truffle pizza. With upbeat music from live DJs, expect dancing on the tables.
Most Sophisticated: La Réserve à la Plage is popular with A-listers who appreciate the boho-chic atmosphere and menu of fish tartare, linguini with truffles and tender rib eye steak. To stay near La Réserve in pure contemporary luxury, consider Villa Mirage II.
Most Upbeat Atmosphere: Verde Beach by Yeeels is stylish and hip, but it’s the lunchtime party atmosphere with live DJs that really gets guests going. For visiting with a large group, consider this seven-bedroom contemporary villa near Verde Beach, try Las Brisas.
Most Fashionable People And Best Desserts: Byblos Beach boasts a highly glamorous clientele and an exceptionally light Tarte Tropezienne dessert. Rent the six-bedroom Villa Ayapam to stay nearby.
Most Classic Vibe: Club 55, a Pampelonne St Tropez institution since 1955, is where time stands still. Diners here rave about the crudités served with Aioli, the dip made of anchovies, capers and lemon juice that’s dangerously addictive. To enjoy breathtaking views and contemporary luxury from a holiday rental near Club 55, try Villa Ama.
Most Family-Friendly And Best For Shopping: Tahiti Beach is not only Pampelonne’s oldest beach club, it’s also its most family-friendly. Not to mention, its chic boutique sells everything from original jewellery to Valentino swimsuits.
Despite the upheaval, Pampelonne Beach goes from strength to strength, and, if anything, has become even more exclusive as a result of the 2019 changes.