We had a wonderful time in the summer sunning ourselves on the French Riviera near St Tropez, or is it Saint Tropez – does anyone actually know?
We drove all the way there, and you’ve already seen how we broke up the journey to Saint Tropez on the way back using a great little stop off for the kids in Versailles. We don’t recommend doing the drive from Calais to the south coast without a bit of a stopover *that way lies madness.*
After arriving, we spent a full week exploring the area, and found some really gorgeous things to do with the kids there; from shopping to sun-lounging and everything else in between.
For all of you that are thinking of going to this part of France, I can’t recommend it enough for the kids. We LOVED it. Don’t feel you need to break the bank to stay near the golden sands. of St. Tropez itself either. We went to a Eurocamp at Port Grimaud, which was just over £1000 for a week with two kids in August. The accommodation provided enough room, and was near enough to Saint Tropez, and all the other gorgeous beaches in the area, for you to experience the lifestyle without needing to remortgage the house.
Here are some of the great things to do near Saint Tropez with your children, most of which we tried out for ourselves. And don’t feel you need kids to enjoy them either, just as much fun without!
Get a boat into the Saint Tropez resort
We visited Saint Tropez by boat, which is a great way to explore the coast-line but most importantly get up close and personal with some of the sumptuous yachts that are moored in the bay. Which one of them is Jenson Button’s; no idea, but my son did say he was going to get one when he had a job.
My helmsmen A photo posted by Helen Neale (@kiddycharts) on
Perhaps after his first million, right?
Boats from Port Grimaud leave from the Marina there, and are operated by Les Bateaux Vert. The trip is around 30mins and costs €12 for adults and €3.60 for children (Summer 2015).
Full information is in their website brochure. We took the trip from a little further into Grimaud, and even the landing area was a perfect place to explore, despite there being a storm brewing.
Visit the Beach
Yep – what a surprise, we visited the beach.
However, we DIDN’T go to Saint Tropez. We were looking for something that wasn’t quite so traditional; therefore we went to Post Grimaud instead. Saint Tropez is gorgeous of course, but so was Port Grimaud. It was also within walking distance from our Eurocamp, and there were still plenty of opportunities to bury each other in sand. As well as look out to sea and relax…
A photo posted by Helen Neale (@kiddycharts) on
Visit the Saint Tropez Citadelle and do some posh house spotting
Saint Tropez Citadelle is located above the harbour, and gives wonderful views all around the bay, and of the exquisite properties on the hillside above the bay. The Citadelle is actually a martime museum, and you could certainly visit there with the kids.
However, we decided not to, and instead walked around the back of the Citadelle to house spot in the hills, as well as look at the views down onto the town. I was rather partial to this house…
I think it would go rather well with this yacht don’t you think?
Which one to get? ;-) A photo posted by Helen Neale (@kiddycharts) on
Once you have admired the houses, both on the hills and the water, there should be time to feast your eyes on the town itself. It doesn’t disappoint, with its stunning sandstone, contrasting effortlessly against the sky.
Buy some expensive gifts in the harbour shops and eat at the red restaurant
St Tropez is known for attracting those who like the finer things in life…and the prices there reflect this. If you really want to show your kids the real Saint Tropez lifestyle, then why not splash out on some of the gifts available in the shops, or even eat in one of the fancy restaurants. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend €50 on a burger though ;-)
Senequier is the red restaurant on the harbour and is very famous – sit in one of the directors’ chairs to eat your food and imagine that you are eating across from a Hollywood star, explaining to him, or her, how to really “feel” their character…. Your kids might rather like to imagine they are James Bond perhaps?
Explore the Marina in Port Grimaud
Sometimes tourists are so caught up in the glamour of Saint Tropez, that they don’t consider there may be more beautiful locations just around the corner. For all its glitz and bravado, Saint Tropez isn’t the most picturesque of the towns in the area. Port Grimaud definitely is, and is well worth a walk around with the kids. The fortress on the hill is simply breath-taking.
The views onto the town from there are worth the climb alone.
The streets below, and the little alleyways, are picture perfect France. They are also much less crowded than its more well know cousin. Kids don’t like to be jostled, so walking these cobbles makes for a much less stressful time for mum and dad.
Visit the extraordinary PIRATE sweet shops in both Port Grimaud and Saint Tropez
Here, let the sweets do the talking…
Yes – they really are sweets. If you have kids, then you will be forced to go into these shops; and you can’t really blame them either. Everything looks stunning, a little bit like you wandered into the Gingerbread House’s builders’ merchants just before they started on the house….
Allow for a bit of time, and money. It’ll make your children’s eyes grow like saucers, but do give yourself a bit of sugar rush time on the beach afterwards!
Visit Aqualand for a day’s swimming fun
Clearly, there is a lot of water about for swimming in the sea. The temperature of the sea is perfect for swimming too.
However, if you are after something a little bit different, then a trip to the Water Park, in Sainte-Maxime; Aqualand is well worth it. There are slides, pools, restaurants, souvenir shops, and a park. Plenty here to keep the kids entertained all day. The food isn’t the most healthy, but at least they have the chance to burn their chips off. Slides are colour coded, just as they are in ski-ing, from blue to black; where blue is the easiest.
My kids are 8 and 10 and very good swimmers, so were able to go on everything. They didn’t LIKE everything, so you will (of course) need to gauge the competence of your own children. There are so many slides though, that there is something for everyone.
Mind you don’t get a wedge-y on the fast ones…!
Visit the markets, but specifically the local NIGHT markets
There are a lot of local markets in Provencal; plenty to enjoy in the mornings and to browse through with the kids for gifts BUT the best time to take in the markets is in the evening. The harbours and marinas come alive with the night trading, and the lights and glow can be captivating for the kids.
It really does create some truly beautiful scenes that your kids will remember forever, from the lights in the marina…to the shadows on the walls…
Not to mention the thrill of having an ice cream outside and in the dark, because the temperature is still fine to be able to do so….
Be rude not to, right? A photo posted by Helen Neale (@kiddycharts) on
Check out the Domaine du Rayol gardens
Further back along the coast, are the Domain du Rayol Gardens; set on the cliffs and running down into the sea. This is a unique location showcasing vegetation from different parts of the world in country themed gardens. Make sure you allow plenty of time to explore them, as walking through them can be hot and heavy work.
If possible, explore the sea gardens in a wetsuit at the bottom of the cliff in the private bay. This is a great opportunity to snorkel and learn about the sealife on Saint Tropez’s doorstep.
Snorkel with fish nibbling your toes in the shallows
Finally, if you didn’t manage to snorkel in the Rayol gardens, then you HAVE to take the kids to the beach at Cavalaire Sur Mer. They will love the calm, secluded bay – perfect for a dingy, or ring.
This beach is incredibly still, and not too crowded. It has a small rocky outcrop jutting out directly from the shoreline. This means that you can paddle in the shallows, even without a snorkel, and see the colourful fish swimming in and out of your toes.
If your kids are old enough to snorkel, they will love popping one on and exploring the rocks, watching the shoals of fish nibble on the seaweed. A water ring is actually great to use to help kids with snorkeling too….
Watch out for the odd eel though ;-)
These are recommendations for that you can do, both with kids and without, around Saint Tropez. Have you been, what would you do there?