Dame Joan Collins: ‘Not everyone looks glamorous in St Tropez’
My Kind of Town: Dame Joan Collins, the actress and author, reveals her favourite haunts in St Tropez, the setting of her new book..
Why St Tropez?
Of all the places I’ve lived in the world, St Tropez definitely stands out. I love the light, the people, the market, the port and the beaches. It has a unique atmosphere, a joie de vivre, particularly in the summer months, that is infectious.
I’ve had a house there for 25 years and regularly spend three or four months there annually. The town is constantly changing – there are always new restaurants, clubs and shops to explore. I’ve written parts of most of my books there and my latest novel is set in the area. It is a great place to be creative.
Anything special I should pack?
Unless you plan to step onto Valentino’s yacht, you don’t need very smart clothes. It is a fallacy that everyone looks glamorous. If you are visiting off-season, in the winter, then take warm clothes – it can be cold.
What do you miss most when you’re away?
I have a theory: I never miss anything that doesn’t miss you, so the only thing I miss is people.
And the first thing you do on your return?
My house has the most magnificent view, so after I have unpacked, I like to go on to the terrace with a glass of rosé wine and stare at the Mediterranean coast for hours.
Where’s the best place to stay?
Le Byblos (0033 49 456 8800; byblos.com) , which is in the heart of St Tropez and is very modern. Or the Châteaux de la Messardière (49 456 7600; messardiere.com/en), which is a bit more out the way, but it is extremely glamorous, and has a huge pool.
Where would you meet friends for a drink?
Sénéquier (49 497 2020; senequier.com) , a large café in the port, which has been there since around the late 19th century. It is perfect for people watching.
Where’s the best place for lunch?
Le Club 55 (49 455 5555; club55.fr), which originated in 1955 when Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot were filming And God Created Woman in the town, and dined there regularly throughout the shoot. It is one of the most popular coastal restaurants in the world, has a great atmosphere and their salade niçoise is very good.
And for dinner?
L’auberge de la mole (49 449 5701; Place de l’Église, 83310), which is in a town close-by called La Mole. It serves traditional French food – incredible pâtés, steaks and salads. It was said to have been popular with Diana, Princess of Wales. If you want to be trendy, try L’Opera (09 449 5131;opera-saint-tropez.com). It has non-stop dancing and singing, while opera is playing. It is a very wild place and their food is excellent.
Where would you send a first-time visitor?
The Place de Lices, the market in the centre of St Tropez every Tuesday and Saturday. It has the most beautiful bracelets, shoes, T-shirts, cheese, olives and antiques. You can buy so many wonderful things there. A stroll around the port area, taking in the huge luxurious yachts is always diverting. The streets have many interesting little shops, so wandering around on foot is a good idea. The the harbour fort is worth a look. The beaches are world famous. Tahiti Beach is my favourite part of the coast.
If you want to venture a bit farther afield, Ramatuelle is a remote village with fabulous views and gorgeous little shops. On the outskirts of St Tropez, is Gassin, a small village high on a hill, has some lovely little restaurants with spectacular views.
What should I avoid?
If you are averse to crowds, then avoid August. May, June and September are wonderful months to visit, while it can be quite busy around Christmas.
Public transport or taxi?
There is public transport – no rail link, but buses and ferries can be taken to town. I tend to walk and take taxis.
Manbag or moneybelt?
In high season, there are quite a few pickpockets so you do have to be careful.
What should I bring home?
Pottery. There are fantastic, hand-painted jugs and plates in the market. The rosé wine is very good too.
Anywhere that isn’t your kind of town?
I always try to find the best in everything, as I do with people, so I have found that invariably a place has something charming or interesting about it.
The St Tropez Lonely Hearts Club by Joan Collins (Little, Brown Book Group; £16.99)