Saint-Tropez and Brigitte

In the spa, Chauvin showed our group the Les Caves du Roy shower. As water poured forth, the accompanying wild lighting and sounds of a club had all of us in stitches.

Our dinner spot, the Rivea at Byblos, described as an Alain Ducasse signature restaurant, was new in the 2013 season. We dined with Saint-Tropez Tourisme’s Maniscalco.

Some of the visiting boats moored in the harbor at the edge of Saint-Tropez, a fishing village gone upmarket.

Some of the visiting boats moored in the harbor at the edge of Saint-Tropez, a fishing village gone upmarket.

One may wonder why the village even needs a tourist office, given the crowds it already attracts.

Overnighters among its 5 million annual visitors vie in peak season for space in 2,000 hotel rooms and 32,000 villas and apartments. Or, if arriving by boat, they vie for 800 moorings (at $1,600 a day on average), and at peak times, there can be a thousand yachts anchored outside the harbor, as well. Visitors also shop in some 250 boutiques.

Maniscalco, answering my unasked question, described himself as “concierge of the village. Visitors can get anything they want.” His office makes arrangements, he said, cooperating with hotels and other providers.

He said, “I don’t sell, I offer Saint-Tropez. We want good clients and we don’t need more [numbers].”

So, over out-of-this-world lamb chops, I asked Maniscalco what he meant by “top-level” clients. Essentially, he said, they are prominent, at the top of their fields, whether entertainment or business, and “yes,” he said, “it helps

Rooftops in Saint-Tropez, seen from the height of the village’s 16th century citadel.

Rooftops in Saint-Tropez, seen from the height of the village’s 16th century citadel.

to have money.” By extension, such clients are magnets for any who can afford to go where the big shots go.

Maniscalco said 65 percent of visitors are non-French, but that number is 85 percent in summer. They represent 85 countries, with the U.S. generally in the third-to-fifth spot.

At this point, I also wondered why Saint-Tropez bothered hosting journalists, but Maniscalco’s emphasis on maintaining a diversity of markets was suggestive. Americans are an important part of the customer mix, and some of our countrymen spend a lot.

Bottom line? Saint-Tropez is a distorted reality, but I liked it.

 

Picture-postcard view of Saint-Tropez from the top floor of the village’s Hotel de Paris.

Picture-postcard view of Saint-Tropez from the top floor of the village’s Hotel de Paris.

This article and its photos are by Nadine Godwin, the author of Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia, which was published by The Intrepid Traveler.

Reposted with permission. Copyright 2013 Travel Weekly.

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