The French Riviera: Places to Explore

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St-Tropez

At first glance, St-Tropez really doesn't look all that lovely: there's a moderately pretty port full of bobbing boats, a picturesque Vieille Ville (Old Town) in candied-almond hues, sandy beaches, and old-fashioned squares with plane trees and pétanque (lawn bowling) players. So what made St-Tropez a household name? In two words: Brigitte Bardot. When this pulpeuse (voluptuous) teenager showed up in St-Tropez on the arm of the late Roger Vadim in 1956 to film And God Created Woman, the world snapped to attention. Neither the gentle descriptions of writer Guy de Maupassant (1850–93) nor the watercolor tones of Impressionist Paul Signac (1863–1935), nor even the stream of painters who followed him (including Matisse and Bonnard), could focus the world's attention on this seaside hamlet as could this one luscious female, in head scarf, Ray-Bans, and capri pants. With the film world following in her steps, St-Tropez became the hot spot it—to some extent—remains.

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