St Tropez has become the most popular place for celebrities and stars to holiday in the South of France. For 9 months of the year it is an idyllic seaside town with fresh seafood restaurants, picturesque white sand beaches and quaint museums and shops to look around. But in the heat of the summer everyone descends on this piece of coastline resulting in stifling crowds, awful traffic and tourist ridden beaches. So I have two recommendations for you: visit St Tropez outside of peak season; and stay outside of the main town in Ramatuelle, at the Villa Marie hotel.
This lovely sleepy little place overlooks St Tropez but is removed enough to give you a peaceful holiday – blissfully quiet and perfectly civilised. Villa Marie hotel is part of the sophisticated and traditionally French Sibuet Hotels group, an understated offering of 5* luxury located amongst a seven acre pine forest. There are 45 rooms and suites, each designed and consciously decorated by Jocelyne Sibuet.
We were in a cosy room on the ground floor, with a balcony that opened out to the forest and a path down to the swimming pool. Unusually the bathroom and bedroom were together in one long room, with just a toilet separately. I was delighted to find a wonderfully indulgent free standing bath, which I used at every opportunity to soak and unwind. The bed was gloriously soft and comfortable, and the natural surroundings were blissfully quiet in the night. The pale white, cream and grey colour scheme in the bedroom is subtle and calming, and suits the character of this area of France.
The terrace restaurant looks out to the sea and the menu is simple but focuses on fresh fish and seafood from the area. Drinking the hotel’s own deliciously crisp rose under the starry sky was a real pleasure for our last night in Provence. We chose a few dishes to share, highlights were; the calamari and vegetable tempura, light and crispy with flavoursome seafood inside and accompanied with a creamy rich aioli; and the asparagus and truffle risotto, a dish too tasty to be classified vegetarian. After the delicious dinner we retired to the sitting room inside to test our skills in a competitive game of Scrabble, whilst sipping fresh mint tea.
After an al fresco breakfast of coffee and croissants on the terrace, I enjoyed a brief massage at the hotel’s boutique spa. The shabby chic spa has a beachside feel and stocks all of the Pure Altitude products, the brand founded by owner Jocelyne. I specifically asked to try a treatment which used the range of products, and found the argan and neroli balm to be deeply relaxing and soothing. It was the perfect envigorating morning wake up and I imagine would be a great place to be pampered after a day at the beach.
Villa Marie is open from April to October inclusive every year. Instead of joining the Riviera regulars in the heat of summer, opt for a quieter time of year and enjoy a truly relaxing Provencal holiday.
More information and book a stay here.