Posts Tagged ‘St-Tropez’


Researching a Guidebook Off-Season

March 30, 2009
St-Tropez by Michael Gwyther-Jones

St-Tropez by Michael Gwyther-Jones

In a tourist-hot region like Provence there is one enormous advantage (bar the obvious) of travelling out of season – or rather on the cusp of the season as I have done for the past fortnight. Come Easter, this fabled part of southern France will burst into mad-busy life. But for the moment many hotels and restaurants are in a sleepy state of anticipation – painting woodwork, doing up shop fronts. Or they are simply shut full-stop … zero sign of life.


For me, researching a guidebook, this poses an interesting phenomenon. Instinct says ‘Pain in the neck! Have to come back!’ Selective judgment says ‘Great, easy as pie to spot where people who live here go!’.



Take St-Tropez. All those flashy, high-flyer celebrity addresses – Club 55, La Voile Rouge et al – are shut: summer’s jet set hadn’t arrived yet. Rather, it is down-to-earth, gutsy, simple bars and bistros like Brasserie des Arts, Le Sporting, La Dame de Coeur that are open, busy and buzzing. And have been all winter. That’s where I’ll send you, where the locals are.


Where would you stay in or around St-Tropez?

March 16, 2009


I leave for Provence in one week, rendering the list of what I have to do before throwing laptop and luggage in Twingo and driving six hours south decidedly daunting:-


  • Finalise Provence book style-sheet with Lonely Planet style guru in Melbourne and send to co-authors
  • Re-read and digest 150pp of map, book and product briefs plus too many related emails to count.
  • Discuss potential new maps with cartographer.
  • Read and make notes on 100-plus readers’ letters.
  • Create list of Provence highlights for images to be sourced.
  • Buy new Michelin Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur road map (one I have dates to 2007 when I updated the last edition).
  • Finalise day-by-day travel itinerary of Leg One: St-Tropez Area.
  • Stop dithering about where to stay, make a decision and book: in St-Trop itself aiming for Hôtel Lou Cagnard (cheap, spitting distance from Place des Lices, has its own – drum roll – free parking. Got a better idea?). Elsewhere must reserve Chez Bruno (eat, sleep, truffle cooking course: this chef’s even on Facebook); sign up for ‘Man & Forest’ hike in the Massif des Maures with the Conservatoire du Patrimoine in La Garde Freinet; keep looking for olive farms/wineries where guests can help with the harvests – any ideas?
  • Continue stuffing freezer with meals to avoid husband @luefkens and two small boys starving in my absence.

Enough chat. Best get on with it.