The Golf of Saint-Tropez
What a fantastic bay is the Golfe de Saint Tropez, approximately 7 km long and at the widest spot between Sainte-Maxime and the peninsula of St. Tropez of a width of barely 4;km! It is hard to imagine a more beautiful place for bathing or sailing. It is not surprising that this area is practically overcorwded by tourists.
Of course, the city St. Tropez is the main attraction at the same named golf, but there are a lot of highly attractive bathing resorts and tourist places. One should consider at least one full day for the Golf of Saint-Tropez; but during the summer months, one spends the major part of the time in the traffic jam of the coastal road.
Many tourists would never notice the place Sainte-Maxim, as - by coming from St. Raphael - one already has before Ste. Maxime the peninsula of St. Tropez as destination at sight. But during the typical summer days, the traffic gets so congested before Sainte-Maxime that everybody will compulsively remind this place.
Sainte-Maxime is a typical holiday resort that, in the last decades, experienced an unbelievable boom. Right in the place there is a beautiful boardwalk with palms and cafés as it should be for a typical bathing resort at the Côte d'Azur. Behind it, there are some small alleyways where one can buy some souvenirs and other stuff. The harbour of Sainte-Maxime is large, where barely 1.000 yachts and boats find a docking place.
What makes Sainte-Maxime so interesting for the tourists are the long extended beaches at the west and the east of the city. Even though the beaches are actually not very big, it is not very easy to find a parking place, as there are simply too many tourists who are annoyed by the traffic jam and decide on a short term to have a break here for bathing. Unfortunately, it also happened in Sainte-Maxime, where I found the beach so disgusting that I never went to this place again: all of a sudden, a disgusting cloaca came out of a hole and crossed the beach so that all the bathing people had to rush bit by bit to a tiny corner. Every person with more or less ecological aware is horrified to experience live how the seawages are simply channeled over the beach into the sea.
One more final advice: those coming from Fréjus and are stucked in the nearly enternal traffic jam before Sainte-Maxime should turn into the first road that leads to this place and muddle through. By this way, one can save a good half an hour or even one hour of annoying stop-and-go.
Port Grimaud - An artificial Venice at the Côte d'Azur
In the very interior of the bay of the Golf of Saint-Tropez there is an artificial lagoon city named Port Grimaud. What a city has been designed on this spot by the arquitect Francois Spoerry: Port Grimaud is an artificial Venice where there are not any roads but water channels.
The holiday complex Port Grimaud was designed in the year 1966 and is still considered as the prime example how to implement the holiday tourism in an ecological and soft way. From the outside, the canned city appears as an ancient city; but in its interior, one finds all modern facilities one is used to in case of a modern city. Most of the houses are plastered in pastel-colours so that the city gives a fresh and coloured impression.
Port Grimaud is a holiday resort where the rich people buy their house right at the water in order to keep their boat always at sight. The a little more than 2.000 small houses are communicated with each other by a water channel system of a length of more than 5 kilometres.
Every year, hundred thousands of tourists rush into the artificial lagoon city. In front of the city there are huge parking areas on which one can leave the car at costs. One gets to the city by going through a "medieval" city gate. There are practically no roads in the interior of the city. The main means of transport are, as it is the case in Venice, the boats.
I think there is no need to mention that all the restaurants, ice cream bars and shops of the city have adjusted their prices in accordance to the mass tourism. Port Grimaud is a worthwhile seeing spot at the Golfe de St. Tropez that one can quickly visit during the way through. As attractive the artificial lagoon city might be for the tourists, I do not want to spend more than half a day there.
Compared to the harbour city Port Grimaud, the place Grimaud is nearly not worth to be mentioned. Grimaud is located a few kilometres above the canned city Port Grimaud. While Port Grimaud has been artificially arranged in the same year when the shooting took place at the famous Wembley-Gate, the small village Grimaud looks back to a more than 900 year old history.
The small village Grimaud is a very nice spot at the upper side of the Golf of Saint-Tropez. The place itself is viewed in one hour; the most attractive thing is the old Roman church Saint-Michel. But much more interesting than the place itself is the view from there: from Grimaud, one can look really majestically all over the whole Golf of Saint-Tropez. The one who resides here is the King...
At the south coast of the Golf of St. Tropez there is the city Cogolin, that will surely be acclaimed in equal measure of the world famous city St. Tropez. But Cogolin neither has a world famous past that is worth to mention nor it offers big tourist attractions. Why do I mention this unconspicious city Cogolin at all?
Cogolin is located between Port-Grimaud and Saint-Tropez. Usually, the tour at the Golf of Saint-Tropez is done in one day. Normally, one is quite tired after having visited Port-Grimaud and having had some extended walks in the sun. As while one normally loafs through shady oldtown-alleyways during the viewing of a provencal city, in Port-Grimaud, one is permanently exposed to the sun.
And now, a traffic jam of more than one hour is waiting for one before the walk continues in Saint-Tropez. Then, an unconspicious place as Cogolin is welcomed, as in Cogolin there is a beach where one can relax. And I recommend everybody who just left Port-Grimaud behind to have a small stop in Cogolin before continuing driving to St. Tropez. The beach of Cogolin is certainly not quite attractive, but one has a nice view to the lagoon city Port-Grimaud and one can get there some energy for viewing Saint-Tropez.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz