From goats to gods of the art world, this tiny spit of land is world famous for many things, but still hides something to discover for each visitor who arrives. And, they have been arriving. Since the days of the Emperor Nero, in fact.
The Name Comes from A Corpse
According to local legend, St. Tropez is named for a Roman officer by the name of Torpes. He was beheaded in the time of Nero, in 68 A.D. His body apparently washed up on the shores of the island in a rotting boat, weirdly also carrying a rooster and a dog. The islanders took pity on the deceased, adopted him as their patron saint and the name of the island was derived from Torpes.
It Wasn’t Always So Peaceful
A once sleepy fishing village, now a playground for the rich, St. Tropez also faced several skirmishes in its history. During the 15th century, it was a ship-building hub and one century later, Turkish and Spanish forces began a series of attacks to claim the prosperous harbor. The Citadel, which survives to this day, and multiple other armaments were built to fend off the invaders. It was so well protected, a small army was able to defend the coastline from a fleet of 21 Spanish Galleons.
Signac to Simone––Many Artists Were Swayed by this Coastline
It remained a small-but-busy port with lots of shipyards through the 18th century, but the St. Tropez we see today really came into being in the 1800s, thanks largely to artists.Paul Signac, the famous neo-Impressionist, once stopped in due to storms and fell in love. He built a house and entertained legends like Matisse. The bohemian atmosphere swelled and literary characters arrived, including philosopher, activist and author Simone de Beauvoir, as well as fashion designers like Coco Chanel by the 1920s.
Brigitte Bardot Had a Massive Impact
One of the biggest reasons that St. Tropez became one of the world’s glitziest beaches is due to a 1956 French film called “And God Created Woman.”
Starring Brigitte Bardot, the plot centers around a woman who marries one man and falls in love with his brother. Her vivacious, sex-pot image, a few nearly-nude scenes on the beach and an American cinema rerelease in 1957 put the film site of St. Tropez on the map for millions.
Goat Cheese? Yes, please.
St. Tropez has more than 85 nationalities, and you’ll find a world of cuisine in this compact destination. The city of St. Tropez, however, also has some serious (and seriously delicious) goat cheese production. Multiple styles are made here, including Poivre d'Ane, Cabri aux Epices and Buchette de Banon, and an exceptional place to try a few is Place aux Herbs, near the port. This outdoor market of produce vendors and fish mongers also hosts cold cases of rich, creamy cheese––as well as stellar people-watching moments, too.