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"When writing about places I’ve been to, I tend to focus on what could have gone wrong, what did go wrong and what should have gone wrong, but for the grace of the Gods. This is not due to a pessimistic nature, but because in my opinion, this is where the entertainment is. It may also be why hotels aren’t falling over themselves for me to review them!

Christy Powell
© 2013 Christy Powell. All rights reserved

St Tropez – Guide to a Girls’ Trip

The important thing about a girls’ trip is not to get so overexcited that you peak early and blowout on the first day. This is not an easy thing to manage, especially if the destination is St Tropez where you just know it’s going to be too much fun and you can hardly contain yourself at the thought of it. My advice would be to take a breath, approach with caution, and if you can try and hold it together so that you don’t totally self-combust in a vat of Domain Ott  and end up on an Ryanair flight back to Stansted before the party has even begun, you’re doing well.

Having said that, I don’t always practice what I preach (read as rarely), that is not to say that I am known to exit Club 55 horizontally after a long lunch but it has sometimes been a close call. The only thing I can say is, if you are going to make a spectacle of yourself, then for God’s sake make sure you’re dressed appropriately. The French will tolerate loutish behaviour as long as you’re clad in the latest designer labels. If you’re going to be escorted off the premises for falling off a table while trying to lunge at an unsuspecting, seriously cute waiter called Etienne, then at least make sure you look like you’ve maxed out your Net-a-Porter membership card (what you don’t have one?) before you arrive. If you want to actually be applauded for swinging from the chandeliers and landing on the DJ decks at Le Cave, then we’re talking Missoni crochet hotpants, Roberto Cavalli silk poncho, Jimmy Choo python sandals and enough chunky jewellery to prevent a light aircraft from taking off – a good pair of tits would probably help as well, but obviously that takes a little more forethought.

A girls’ trip does not necessarily mean that all hell has to break loose, even if this is your first holiday away from your husband and you’ve been looking forward to it since your Honeymoon. The only reason why I’m highlighting some precautionary measures is because St Tropez is a ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ kind of place and that can trigger the I’m-gonna-behave-like-a-rock-star kind of attitude in some people.

For eight months of the year, St Tropez is a beautiful, quiet, charming, port-side town. It is nestled between Nice and Marseille on the Cote D’Azur. There are wonderful hillside villages to visit as well as beautiful beaches to walk along. From September through to Easter, you can drive your car into the centre, park anywhere you like, and stroll around the fantastic boutiques and excellent restaurants. September and April are my two favorite months, when the climate is warm and dry, and the locals are out and about. It is a totally different place to how it is in July and August when the glamourrati and glitterati arrive in their masses to party their Prada pants off.

For the holiday shot it is always nice to get everyone in the photo, which usually means you have to ask a passerby take it.  The gentleman who happened to be snorkeling past us, didn’t mind at all being stopped on his journey from the lighthouse to the shore. He was very patient while we took quite some time trying to find a position where all our tummies were hidden – with thirteen babies between the four of us, this was not a quick procedure – who knew the French were so good at treading water?

Getting to St Tropez can be a bit of a schlep, especially in peak season when the drive from Nice airport can take up to three hours. It is worth looking at flights to Toulon which is only about forty-five minutes from the centre, or better still using the heli service (Heli Securite) from Nice airport, which only takes about fifteen minutes and gives you a chance to check out the lay of the land and some of the serious mega yachts making the daily cruise from the port of St Tropez to Nikki Beach and Club 55 for lunch.

On the subject of boats, while you are here, you should definitely try and get in some boat action. If you don’t have a friend with a gin palace, that’s a bit of a shame, but not the end of the world; there are many places to hire from. For a great day out, take your boat over to the Pocorol islands for lunch. Don’t be intimidated if your boat looks like a bathtub toy compared to everyone around you, I personally think it’s cooler to be on a stylish, 1950’s Riva than it is on an Oligarch, horizon-eclipsing monstrosity. If you can’t get it into the port, what’s the point? Jealous? Yes, very possibly, but I like to be able to dive off the side of a boat without arriving in the ocean the following day.

When the bill turns out to be way more than you expected, you can take it one of two ways.

Ordering in a foreign language can sometimes lead to error and subsequent disappointment. I think a little bit of simple sign language is no bad thing to make sure everyone is on the same page.

When it comes to shopping, just walk around, there are all the obvious designer shops but also loads of fantastic little boutiques such as Martine Chambon and Gas Bijoux, and some of the most beautiful children’s clothes I have ever seen. Every Saturday morning, there is a market in the square that is worth a visit. You can pick up great t-shirts, maxi dresses and sandals, as well as delicious cheeses, salamis, bread, wild strawberries and those white peaches that can make you quite insane they’re so good.

There are poser restaurants, restaurants with great food, restaurants with great atmosphere and restaurants where you could quite happily hang out all day. The restaurant that ticks all four boxes, even after all these years, is Club 55. Other favorite beach restaurants are Kai Largo and Cabane Bamboo; the latter has a fantastic boutique attached to it. If you were in St Tropez last year after the 23rd July it might not have been open because I was there on the 22nd and literally bought everything, including a leather biker jacket which is an unusual thing to do while having lunch on the beach on an extremely sunny day when temperatures are in the 30’s, but fourteen glasses of rose will do strange things to people.

Within minutes of purchasing an obnoxiously large hat, Nicci found she was being mobbed by the paparazzi – mission accomplished.

I have done a girls’ trip to St Tropez for the last three years running and can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are wondering how I’ve got away with this, with three small children that I’m meant to be responsible for, and an Italian who needs his wife within radio contact at all times, I will tell you – it’s called ‘tradition’.

It is absolutely essential to establish the association of ‘tradition’ with ‘Girls’ Trip’ very early on. Men understand the importance of tradition; after all, this is the point of the Boys Christmas, Easter, New Year, Bonus, and Bank holiday Lunch, as well as Stag weekend, Head-wetting night, Golf Open trip, and Melbourne Cup week. Not to mention, why the World Cup has to be watched in the pub even though you have a beautiful 72 inch plasma at home and subscribe to every single sports channel ever invented. Yes, tradition is the ticket to keeping the girl’s trip in play. As soon as you’ve got away with two in a row, it’s officially a tradition, and it would be a terrible, terrible thing to mess with that. It is not that you love your family any less, and in fact you would probably rather stay at home this year, but it just wouldn’t be right to let the other girls down.