We love St Tropez
on the French Riviera. The glitz, the glam, the sparkling stars - in the sky
and on the boats! - and all the beautiful yachts it attracts year after year.
We love the fashions, the atmosphere, the lifestyle, the history, the parties and of course the fun of dressing up and strutting your stuff in Pampelonne Bay at a trendy beach club or on the harbour front with a delicious gelato!
But when you live on a 50 foot long sailing yacht, how easy is it to call St Tropez 'home' for a week in the warm sunny months of the summer?
During May and
early June the number of spaces in St Tropez marina are limited but are more
readily available at this time of year than in peak season.
This is mainly due to two big events in the East Riviera that the big boats flock to - the Cannes Film Festival (16th - 26th May, followed by the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix (26th May).
Another big contributor to the number of spaces is the low number of French people that are on holiday during this time. Boats up to 15 metres in length can usually find a spot on a daily basis.
June and July:
Once into later June and throughout July, spaces start to become more difficult to find but if you want to stand the best chance of getting one, try these simple rules:
The month of August is one long test of your patience! The French are on holiday and flock down to the Riviera in their hundreds.
Campsites are full to bursting, beaches are lined with the tanned and beautiful and Pampelonne Bay is the preferred playground for day time activities.
It is almost impossible to get a space in the marina for boats up to 15 metres in length as the spaces are not open to reservations and are given on a first-come first-served basis. The marina do an excellent job of policing the harbour and stays are limited to 3 consecutive days with no return in a week.
Be patient and wait
your turn. Monitor the radio before you call so you don't interrupt superyacht
movements. Always ask permission to enter the harbour - even if you're just
dropping off - there will be a queue and quite possibly a superyacht will be
coming out, blocking all movement in the harbour.
There are also a small number of spaces available by other means. A local boatyard owns 3 spaces on A pontoon and will willingly rent you one for a night. It's also worth checking out the back pontoon for spaces left by rental boats that are away overnight - follow them on Twitter for daily updates.
Once September arrives, everything calms down and you'll be left wondering if the craziness of August was just a dream! Spaces become more readily available again, a calmness descends over marina staff and even the boats seem to be more relaxed!
What to do when there's no space?
When you hear a response that says the harbour is full for the night, panic sets in! However, there's really no need to worry. The harbour are happy to let you in to drop off and pick up as long as you radio and wait in the queue.
Avoid peak times of between 11am and 1230pm and 5 - 6pm. Sainte Maxime, about 4 miles North across the bay, has a few spaces on it's quay and, with a very friendly and welcoming service, is well worth a visit. There is also a regular ferry service across to St Tropez.
Port Grimaud also offers visiting berths at the head of the bay but again has limited spaces available.
For me, the best option is to drop anchor to the west of St Tropez, outside the buoyed area, and take the dinghy in to a small, shallow area where there is a fishing club and a couple of pontoons. The old gentlemen that are sorting lines and nets will show you where you can leave your dinghy.
In the evening, it's best to move to Canebiers Bay, east of St Tropez as this will give you the best night's sleep at anchor ever. The wash from the superyacht tenders zipping in and out of the harbour doesn't reach you, any South-based swell won't touch you, the winds are usually very calm and the holding is exceptional, not to mention the spectacular fiery sunsets you'll see over the surrounding hills.
So visiting berths in St Tropez Harbour has to be possible if you time it right. A
quiet morning is also an added bonus with everyone enjoying the quiet calm
before the mad dash to Pampelonne Bay starts all over again!
Essential Sailing offers you the chance to visit St Tropez on a luxury Beneteau
Oceanis 50 sailing yacht including professional crew and all inclusive fuel,
berthing, breakfasts, lunch and 2 evening meals between May and October.
French Riviera itineraries includes St Tropez, Port Grimaud, Sainte Maxime,
Frejus, Cannes, Iles de Lerins, Juan les Pins, Antibes, Nice, Villefranche and