Saint-Tropez, French Riviera

Saint-Tropez is a French commune located in the department of Var in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, capital of the canton of Saint-Tropez.

According to legend, the city owes its name to a Roman soldier, grand officer of the court of Nero, named Caius Silvius Torpetius (Saint Tropez of Pisa). Converted by Saint-Paul, it generates the anger of the emperor Néron which makes it behead on April 29, 68 on the place of Pisa. His body is thrown into a boat with a rooster and a dog responsible for butchering it (according to a punishment usually reserved for parricides of which these two animals are the symbols). The boat was delivered to the Arno river, in the east wind then to the vagaries of the sea. It ran aground on May 17, 68 on the shore of Heraclea (future Saint-Tropez) at a place later, the Pestle.

Saint-Tropez was a military stronghold and fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first town on its coast to be liberated during World War II as part of Operation Dragoon. After the war, it became an internationally known seaside resort, renowned principally because of the influx of artists of the French New Wave in cinema and the Yé-yé movement in music. It later became a resort for the European and American jet set and tourists.

The walled city dominated by its citadel of the 16th century the fishing village at the beginning of the 20th century, the first town liberated during the landing in Provence became from the 1950s a resort known internationally of the French Riviera Var thanks the craze of the artists of the New Wave then the Yéyés and finally, a holiday resort of the European and American Jet set like tourists in search of Provençal authenticity or celebrities.

Middle Ages
After having seized Rome, the Visigoths of Athaulf, successor of Alaric on the way to Spain crossed the south-east of Gaul in 413 and seized Narbonne.

The kingdom of Burgondes (regnum Burgondionum), which can be considered as the first kingdom of Burgundy, owes its name to the Burgundian people, a group of Germanic tribes who came to settle in 443 on the shores of Lake Geneva and extending their power to ‘to the Mediterranean. In 534, after the fall of Burgondia, all Frankish troops led by Thibert Ier were located near Provence. Arles was taken during the same year.

During the ix th century, pirates put the country with fire and sword. These atrocities which lasted almost 100 years are in the collective memory, all attributed to the Saracens who will take refuge in the Garde-Freinet. There will remain from their passage the pink tile roofs known as “sarrasines” of the country of Provence.

From 890 to 972, the peninsula of Saint-Tropez was an Arab-Muslim colony under the names of Jabal al-Qilâl “mountain of the peaks” and Farakhshinit, an arabized form of the Gallo-Roman FRAXINETU “frênaie”, to put in relation with the second element of the Garde-Freinet. However, the toponym -Freinet comes directly from the Roman term. Évariste Lévi-Provençal brings the toponym Ramatuelle from the Arabic Rahmat-ûllah “divine mercy”. Nasr ibn Ahmad was appointed chief of the Saint-Tropez peninsula in the year 940, territory in which takes refuge between 961 and 963, Audibert son of Bérenger, the pretender to the throne of Lombardy driven out by the Germanic emperor Otton I. In 972, Muslims in St. Tropez remove the abbot Maïeul Cluny they release against ransom, but they will definitely be driven by William I Count of Provence, lord Grimaud in 976. This lord had a tower built in 980 at the current location of the Suffren tower in order to better protect the city.

Two papal bulls emitted in 1079 and in 1218 confirm the existence of a stately domain in Saint-Tropez.

Renaissance and Modern Age
From 1436, Count René I (the ” good king René “) tries to repopulate Provence, he creates the barony of Grimaud and calls on the Genoese Raphaël de Garezzio, gentleman, who approaches the peninsula with a fleet of caravels accompanied by sixty Genoese families. In return, the Tropéziens will be frank, free, and exempt from any tax, this convention will last until its abrogation in 1672 by Louis XIV. The February 14, 1470, the agreement was made between Jean Cossa, Baron de Grimaud, Grand Seneschal of Provence and Raphaël de Garezzio. In Saint-Tropez destroyed by the war of the end of the 14th century, Raphael Garezzio built walls of speakers that two large towers are still standing: one at the end of the great mole and the other to entrance to the “Ponche”.

The square tower was part of the whole. The city is a small republic which has its fleet and its army, and is administered by two consuls and twelve advisers which it elects. In 1558 the creation of the office of city captain, Honorat Coste, strengthens the city’s autonomy. The elected captain, each year, heads the district captains, a bomber, a militia and mercenaries. The Tropéziens resist the Turks, the Spaniards, rescue Fréjus and Antibes, help the Archbishop of Bordeaux to retake the Lérins Islands.

1577: Geneviève de Castille, daughter of the marquis, lord of Castellane married Jean-Baptiste de Suffren, marquis of Saint-Cannet, baron de la Môle, adviser to the Parliament of Provence. The seigneury of Saint Tropez becomes the prerogative of the Suffren family.

1615: Saint-Tropez welcomes for some time the expedition of Hasekura Tsunenaga, who was on his way to Rome but was forced to stop because of bad weather. This unexpected visit constitutes the first recorded trace of Franco-Japanese relations.

June 15, 1637: The Tropéziens overcome 21 Spanish galleys. This victory will give rise to a bravado on June 15 which glorifies the victory of the inhabitants over the Spaniards.

Contemporary period
The August 14, 1948, the Croix de guerre 1939-1945, with bronze palm, is awarded to the city of Saint-Tropez.

In May 1965, a heavy helicopter Super Frelon preproduction crashes into the Gulf, killing its pilot, the lieutenant Claude Bonvallet and wounding three other soldiers.

The March 4, 1970, the submarine Eurydice disappears in the gulf, at the level of Cap Camarat with 57 crew members.

Internationally known seaside resort
Fishing village in the early 20th century, Guy de Maupassant reached syphilis comes to rest in his yacht in 1887. Guy de Maupassant published his logbook in 1888 under the title Sur l’eau where he described his arrival in the Gulf on April 12 on board the Bel Ami. Paul Signac discovered in 1892 this small fishing port aboard his yacht the Olympia. There he bought La Hune, a house which he made his workshop and became the place of pilgrimage for many painters. The proximity of spas attracts artists like Colette in the1920s. Léon Volterra, director of Parisian cinemas, became its mayor in the 1930s, ensuring its national promotion (stays of Louise de Vilmorin, Arletty, Jean Cocteau).

His last defense of the citadel was that of the last war. The August 15, 1944, the allied fleet landed on the nearby beaches and Saint-Tropez was the first town in Provence to be liberated. After 1944, the port was in ruins, the chapel of the White Penitents was mutilated, the bombardments raised the quay. During the reconstruction, Philippe Tallien, architect, notices workers preparing to destroy the rocky arch of the fish market. He stopped everything, went to Paris, alerted influential personalities who formed a committee. Under the leadership of Minister Raoul Dautry, the village was spared a large avenue eight meters wide which was to cross it to Place des Lices and climb to the citadel.

From the 1950s, Saint-Tropez became an internationally known seaside resort on the Côte d’Azur, thanks to the filming of Et Dieu… created women in 1956, and the enthusiasm that ensued by artists from New Wave (several films are filmed there such as La Collectionneuse, La Piscine) or more popular (La Cage aux folles, La Scoumoune, L’Année des méduses, the ” Gendarmes ” series) then Yéyés and finally, a holiday resort of the jet setEuropean and American like tourists looking for Provençal authenticity or celebrities.

The town is located in the first tourist department of France. Since the 1950s, the town has become a seaside resort acclaimed by the jet set and the artists. To meet this clientele category, it has eleven five-star hotels on its territory, including the famous Hôtel Byblos and the Château de la Messardière, classified palaces, and Cheval Blanc St-Tropez. The town also houses eight four-star hotels and eleven three-star hotels. The municipality would like to develop business tourism.

Architectural heritage
The Revelen gate was one of the entrances to the village controlled by the Guard Corps
The citadel of Saint-Tropez and its “marine museum”: from the foot of the ramparts, the citadel offers a beautiful panorama of the city, the gulf and the Massif des Maures.
Purchased by the city from the State in 1993, it has since been the subject of a restoration program
The Guillaume tower or Suffren tower
The tower Portalet or turn Daumas: 16th century
The Jarlier tower originally was called “common area”: the median next to the Jarlier tower was used to thresh wheat or other peasant activities. The tower is shaped like the bow of a ship
The rue du Portail-Neuf and the three flying buttresses of the chapel of Mercy : the dome is in glazed tiles and the door is decorated with serpentine, dark green marble, typical ornament of the country.
Rue Gambetta breakthrough 18th century during the golden age of Saint-Tropez, the great families of sailors and merchants were building them mansions.
The Byblos hotel built in the early 1960s by the Lebanese hotelier Jean Prosper Gay-Para.
The port, its lighthouse and its famous Sénéquier café.
Place des Lices with coffee, historic establishment, testimony to the sweetness of life on the coast.
La maison des Papillons: at the initiative of the painter Dany Lartigue, the son of the famous photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, a collection of almost 20,000 butterflies is presented in paintings recreating the environment of butterflies.
La Madrague, famous house of Brigitte Bardot.
La Mandala, Bernard Tapie’s villa.
The Latitude 43 hotel built in 1932 by the architect Georges-Henri Pingusson.

Citadel of Saint-Tropez
The site has been classified as Historic Monuments since 1995. The Tropéziens constantly struggling with pirates, corsairs, the Turks demanded by letter patent the construction of the citadel. It was destroyed by the Duke of Guise’s troops while the Tropéziens remained loyal to the king.

In 1592, Valletta, governor of Provence proposed the fortification of the hill known as Moulins and Bourgade; construction begins but displeases the Tropezians who file in 1594 a request to the king by committing to defend the city in compensation for the destruction of the citadel. Henri IV on 6/9/1596 accepts but the Spanish war had resumed the previous year and Épernon, governor of Provence, disgraced by Henri IV took refuge in the citadel with the rebels. The Duke of Guise undertakes the siege and will save the citadel. The siege of the citadel puts an end to the resistance and in spite of new steps for its demolition. In 1602, the royal engineer, Raymond de Bonnefons, undertook the construction of a large tower, now called a keep. It is characteristic of the coastal fortifications of this period. In the years 1620-30, the large enclosure was completed.

In 1652, during the troubles of the Fronde, the Citadel was again attacked by the regiment of Entraigues which took the side of the Fronde; the Tropéziens resist bringing about capitulation. The end of the civil war brings calm to Provence. In 1742 five Spanish galleys were sunk in the port by the British. The Citadel deprived of cannons cannot intervene. It becomes the general store for the supply of the armies in Italy of Marshal Bellisle and it is occupied in 1793 by the Tropéziens during the federalist revolt.

During the First Empire, the English navy did not dare to venture into the tropezian waters because the artillery of the gunners of the coast guards was present there. After 1873, the fortress lost its strategic aspect because it was no longer effective in firing new explosive shells replacing traditional bullets.

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In 1789, the port had 80 ships, traffic was intense and port and agricultural activities were flourishing. The Tropéziens were not ordinary people, both sailors and warriors. In 1860 the flagship of the merchant marine was called The Queen of the Angels, a three-masted vessel of 740 tons. Before 1914 Saint-Tropez is the 17 th commercial port of France, the three-master, the bricks Italian, come to buy.

The shipyards built tartans and three-masts of 1000 to 1200 tons that had to be tanned and the whole population was called by the bells and the rolling of drums for launching. The wine, cork, wood businesses, the installation of important fishmongers, a cork stopper factory, the submarine cable factory in Canebiers (the TSF puts an end to it), a school of ‘ hydrography.

The torpedo factory
In 1907, Schneider designed the French center for torpedo studies and tests in Saint-Tropez. The peculiarities of the coast, the seabed, the environment and the climate lend themselves to the tests of “navigation” of the machines, practically unique in France. The first order of torpedoes for the Navy was placed in 1914. It was in application of the law of August 11, 1936on the nationalization of the manufacture of war materials that were taken the decrees of expropriation of Saint-Tropez. The Navy takes possession of the torpedo factory on February 4, 1937.

Religious heritage
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Saint-Tropez of the 18th century Italian Baroque style, houses a bust of St Tropez surrounded by old blunderbusses of the bravado and an organ of 1870. A bell tower crowns the top of the bell tower . The facade is astonishing with the statue of Saint Tropez in Roman centurion.
The chapels and oratories:
Sainte-Anne chapel: built at the beginning of the 17th century in thanksgiving, after an epidemic of plague which spared the city. The day of Liberation by the allies and the resistance fighters of the brigade of the Moors, August 15 is celebrated each year after a torchlight retreat
Chapel of Black Penitents of Mercy
Chapelle Saint-Elme, Saint-Mème
Chapelle Saint-Joseph
Chapel of Saint-Tropez called chapel of the Convent of Saint-Tropez
Saint-Eloy Chapel
Sainte-Anne Oratory
Chapel of White Penitents of the Annonciade
The Annonciade museum: the Annonciade chapel was built between 1510 and 1558 by the Pénitents Blancs brotherhood. It is stripped in the 19th century: the main altar goes to Sainte-Maxime, the woodwork is used for the parish church, the silver ornaments go to Fréjus and in 1821, the bell tower is cut down. In 1908 André Dunoyer de Segonzac was the museum’s curator. Georges Grammont, rich industrialist and enlightened collector, obtained from the city the liberation of the chapel of the Annonciade and had it fitted out at his expense. The museum was inaugurated in July 1955 and in August Georges Grammont donated major pieces from his collection to the museum. The Annonciade museum bears witness to the French School and is at the forefront of innovative movements.
The Saint-Tropez synagogue.
The Protestant temple, built around 1930

Natural heritage
The coastal path: on foot from Saint-Tropez to Tahiti beach, this walk requires about three and a half hours over twelve and a half kilometers passing through the bay of Canoubiers. The Gulf of Pampelonne offers more than ten kilometers of coastline to Cape Camarat.
Ponche Beach: was previously the old fishing port. The commercial port at the 17th century 18th century cottage industries related to fishing, and boat refueling.
The Douaniers path borders the entire Var coast as close as possible to the shore. Its initial destination, wanted by the Minister Fouché under the First Empire, was to facilitate the patrols of armed customs officers, responsible for suppressing the traffic in salt then that of tobacco and weapons. The rehabilitation of the trail, since 1976, has resulted in a mandatory right of way at least three meters from any private property overlooking the shore. This obligation does not apply to solid fences and walls erected before this date. In the Var, nearly 200 km of coastline are affected by this provision.
The castle Moutte, formerly owned by Emile Ollivier and its botanical park.
Domaine de La Messardière, the only chateau-hotel in France affiliated to the LPO (League for the Protection of Birds).
The Borelli castle. This castle with oriental architecture was built between 1895 and 1900 by Marseilles jurisconsult Philippe Octave Borelli (1849 – 1911, who knew Egypt well) and has one of the most beautiful views of the bay of Canoubiers. The Borelli family stayed in this house until 1928. The castle was then requisitioned in 1944 by the Germans and underwent bombardments which destroyed the roof and the library, numerous glass roofs and greenhouses, its botanical garden and the whole domain were abandoned until 1960. This historic castle of Saint-Tropez is located in the heart of the Parks domain and is now divided into co-ownership.

Tropezian 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 30 metres wide with its own beach hut and private or public tanning area.

Many of the beaches offer windsurfing, sailing and canoeing equipment for rent, while others offer motorized water sports, such as power boats, jet bikes, water skiing and scuba diving. Some of the beaches are naturist beaches. There are also many exclusive beach clubs. One of the most famous beaches is Bagatelle, a popular destination of many wealthy people from around the world.

The port was widely used during the 18th century; in 1789 it was visited by 80 ships. Saint-Tropez’s shipyards built tartanes and three-masted ships that could carry 1,000 to 12,200 barrels. The town was the site of various associated trades, including fishing, cork, wine and wood. The town had a school of hydrography. In 1860, the floret of the merchant navy, named The Queen of the Angels (a three-masted ship of 740 barrels capacity), visited the port.

Its role as a commercial port declined, and it is now primarily a tourist spot and a base for many well-known sail regattas. There is fast boat transportation with Les Bateaux Verts to Sainte-Maxime on the other side of the bay and to Port Grimaud, Marines de Cogolin, Les Issambres and St-Aygulf.

Cultural Heritage


Bravade de Saint-Tropez
In the year 68 AD, the knight Torpes (Saint Tropez of Pisa), native of Pisa, intendant of the emperor Nero, converted to Christianity. When he refused to renounce his new faith, Nero, furious, ordered to behead him. His head, after having been thrown into the Arno, was collected by pious hands; today she is in Pisa. His body, placed between a rooster and a dog at the bottom of a worm-eaten boat, was abandoned at the mercy of the waves and came to beach on May 17 on the shores of Heraclea (former name of Saint-Tropez, the latter derived from Torpès).

For many years, pirates roamed the Mediterranean coasts. It became necessary to have a war chief and, in 1558, the community council decided to designate under the name of town captain, the chief of the local militia responsible for recruiting and commanding the men necessary for the defense of the cited. Since 1558, every Easter Monday, the municipal council has elected a city captain. For more than a century, the town captains and their Tropezian militia ensured local defense and victoriously opposed the numerous attacks from both inside and outside. The powers which were recognized to them in the city of Saint-Tropez were confirmed by letters patent from all the kings of France until. Under the latter’s regime, the local militia gave way to a royal garrison installed at the citadel.

But by ceasing to use their weapons for the defense of their city, the Tropéziens preserved them to honor their patron saint. The captain of the town continued to put himself at the head of the Bravade, the big patronal feast of May 17, and the inhabitants were only more zealous to take back that day the costume and the weapons they had hitherto worn. Since then, the city of Saint-Tropez sees its armed inhabitants every year put on their soldiers and sailors’ uniforms and sound their blunderbuttons and rifles in honor of the saint, as when they went to battle or when, on such a feast day, they protected from possible attacks the procession going to the chapel of Saint-Tropez located outside the walls.

This Bravado, resulting from the liberties of Saint-Tropez, communion of a whole population whose distant or recent history is only heroism and fidelity, has been perpetuated intact until today.

From the “Great War”, no bravado is no longer organized on the territory of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. They resume three years after the Armistice, thanks to the will of the Captain of the City of 1921, Jean-Baptiste Sanmartin, future Cépoun major, who enabled the survivors to overcome the painful memories of the massacre to commemorate again the feats of arms of the militia of the bailiff of Suffren.

While only members of Tropezian families are allowed to hold this office, Victor Tuby, a felber and a sculptor from Cannes, took his place in 1925, dressed as an academician when tradition imposed the uniform of a naval officer of the Second Empire, at the head of the elite corps of the saint guards of the bravado of Saint-Tropez. His influence and that of Joseph Clamon led to the revival of Provencal traditions.

There are two bravado, that of May 16 to 18 and that of 15 June (Spanish bravado) that corresponds to the victory over the Spanish galleys.

On May 16, the mayor, together with the mayor of Pisa, hands over the picnic to the Captain of the City elected on Easter Monday for a year. Gunshots are fired by the sailors and blows blown by the musketeers. The priest blessed arms. The Gardes-Saint take out the statue of Saint Tropez and take it in procession to the sound of bells, fife, tambourines, bugles and drums in the cloud of powder blows of blows from bravery arranged in a circle. The next day is the mass of the musketeers, the braverythis time have a stabbing weapon on which is fixed a small blessed bouquet.

Louis Marius Sanmartin Lou Cepoun (le Cep): his ancestor Isnard, born in Saint-Tropez in 1644, was also a carpenter. Marius created the Association of Friends of Bravade and managed to maintain the traditions even during the German occupation.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
Each year, at the end of September, a regatta is held in the bay of Saint-Tropez (Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez). Many yachts are entered, some as long as 50 metres. Many tourists come to the location for this event, or as a stop on their trip to Cannes, Marseille or Nice.

Traditional dishes
The Tarte tropézienne is a traditional cake invented by a Polish confectioner who had set up shop in Saint-Tropez in the mid-1950s, and made famous by actress Brigitte Bardot.

French Riviera
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean. Riviera is an Italian word that corresponds to the ancient Ligurian territory, wedged between the Var and Magra rivers.

The climate of the Côte d’Azur is temperate Mediterranean with mountain influences on the northern parts of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. It is characterized by dry summers and mild winters which help reduce the likelihood of freezing. The Côte d’Azur enjoys significant sunshine in mainland France for 300 days a year.

This coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it also played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon,h Wharton, Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans. After World War II, it became a popular tourist destination and convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.

The eastern part (maralpine) of the Côte d’Azur has been largely transformed by the concreting of the coast linked to the tourist development of foreigners from North Europe and the French,. The Var part is better preserved from urbanization with the exception of the agglomeration of Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël affected by the demographic growth of the maralpin coast and the agglomeration of Toulon which has been marked by urban sprawl on its part West and by a spread of industrial and commercial areas (Grand Var).

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