In terms of beach bars – hell, maybe just bars and beaches in general – few have stories like those of Saint-Tropez and the legendary spots lining the idyllic Pampelonne beach. Along with luxury, glamour and celebrities, the area and its lifestyle have become synonymous with rosé wine.
And when it comes to rosé, there are few regions with as much pedigree as Côtes de Provence, the area in which Saint-Tropez sits. Taking up 50,000 acres of South Eastern France, the area produces the bulk of the rosé in one of the world’s most famous wine regions.
Simply put, when it’s time to drink in Saint-Tropez, you will be drinking rosé. It goes like this; rock up, order enough for your party and sip the afternoon away in the glorious Mediterranean scenery. In spots like the perennially cool Nikki Beach, as afternoon gives way to evening the music gets turned up, the weather stays sweet and you’ll start hearing the frequent popping of champagne bottles from the beach’s more high-end clientele.
But where did it all come from? The story of Saint-Tropez’s rise is pretty fascinating in itself; it all starts with a legendary celebrity haunt known as Club 55. Though the bar’s story ends in glamor and wealth, it is really one of a family business. It’s owned by Patrice de Colmont, whose father bought a patch of Pampelonne beach back in 1953. The story goes that one day he announced that this is where the family would live, building a cabin with no running water or electricity and resolving to live off the cooking of Patrice’s mother.
The beautiful area was then randomly discovered by Bridget Bardot while she and director/husband Roger Vadim were filming the 1958 classic And God Created Woman in Saint-Tropez. The actress/sex symbol was smitten with the picturesque little fishing town and while exploring found the family’s cabin. She asked if she and the crew could be fed there and fell in love with the place; from there it became the production’s de facto canteen.
The release of the movie introduced St. Tropez and Pampelonne beach to the world, turning the area into one of France’s most famous and exclusive destinations. The newly christened Club 55 had no problem maintaining its ties to the most exclusive reaches of the wealthy, powerful and fabulous.
You don’t get more rags-to-riches than going from a family beach shack to the sort of place that comes with fleets of valets on deck to park some of the world’s most expensive sports cars and a month spanning, eye wateringly expensive reservation lists. And, throughout the area’s journey, rosé has been the drink of choice.