The fame of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez was established a long time ago: legend says that the name 'Saint Tropez' comes from St. Torpes, a martyr who refused to give up his faith. He was beheaded and his body was thrown into a boat, which drifted into what is now called the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, where he finally came ashore.
Between 1470 and 1672, Saint-Tropez was effectively ruled as an independent republic by captains drawn from its guilds and elected by the town citizenry. The captain had the privilege of raising a standing army, which drove away a fleet of Spanish galleons in 1637 and the area was not taxed or levied by the French government during this time. However, this privilege was abrogated by King Louis XIV, who reasserted French control over the city. The mission of the Japanese samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga en route to Rome visited Saint-Tropez in September 1615, in what is known as the first instance of Franco-Japanese relations. The father of Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez, a famous french sailor, was marquis de Saint-Tropez.
In the 1920s Saint-Tropez attracted international stars from the world of fashion. During World War II, on August 15, 1944, it was the central site of a beach landing in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France. After the war it became the French existentialists' summer retreat. But it was in the 1950s — partly thanks to Brigitte Bardot — that Saint-Tropez received international recognition. Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez movie series made Saint-Tropez famous internationally.
Set on the blue waters of the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, this modern version of a medieval town is most popular for the line of luxury yachts in her harbour and the facing line of terrace cafés, divided by a parade of strolling tourists and slowly cruising sports cars.
Night life is very lively and often one can see helicopters bringing elegant guests to private parties, in one of the many luxurious villas in the bay. "People watching" is a favourite sport in Saint-Tropez in the summer. Visitors like to sit in the outdoor cafés, hoping either to be seen or to see someone else.
Beaches: Baie de Pampelonne
Opinion suggests that the best Tropezien beaches are located along the coast in the Baie de Pampelonne, which lies south of Saint-Tropez and east of Ramatuelle. Pampelonne offers a collection of beaches along its five kilometre shore. Each beach is around thirty metres wide with its own beach hut and private or public tanning area.
Some beaches are very chic and offer fashion shows on the beach, others are quiet and relaxing and some even have restaurants and cafés directly on the water's edge. Many of the beaches offer windsurfing, sailing and canoeing equipment for rent, while others offer an abundance of motorized water sports, such as power boats, jet bikes and water skiing.
Each year, in early October, a regatta is held in the bay of Saint-Tropez. This is a draw for a great many classic yachts, some up to 50 metres in length. At this time, the harbour is a hive of activity and spectacle.
A ferry boat connection operated by Les Bateaux Verts connects the town with Sainte-Maxime, across the bay.
Another option is to take the train to Saint-Raphaël,
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