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Hôtel de la Ponche, by Simone Duckstein

Click on above cover to see book on Amazon.

When we hear about Saint-Tropez, it's too often about a celebrity in dark shades hurrying down the narrow streets to the quay, what Jack Nicholson or Bruce Willis or Kate Moss might have whispered at the Caves du Roy nightclub, what possible scandal brews and where.

Nothing nutritious.

Unfortunately, all this banter hides the soul of Saint-Tropez.

So it's with delight that I read through a personal account of St Tropez from the eyes of Simone Duckstein, a Tropézienne from the inside out. 

Mme Duckstein was born in her parents' bed at the Hôtel de la Ponche in St Tropez. At the time, the hotel was not yet a hotel but the Bar de la Ponche. It was her mother's popular pub, etched in a triangle of homes that huddle together and look over the fishing port of La Ponche.

In her book, Mme Duckstein whisks us through her personal history as she grows up within a rapidly changing St Tropez. As a child, she lives in a St Tropez vibrant with the artistic scene of the 50's and 60's, the St-Tropez-des-Près. At her mother's Bar de la Ponche, she meets Picasso, writer Françoise Sagan, actress and singer Juliette Gréco, American saxophonist Don Byas, poet Boris Vian and many others. They're not celebrities, but familiar faces, like cousins who visit for the summer.

But the Bar de la Ponche, consumes most of her mother's time and affections. The book describes Simone's struggle with this, her family history, the tear that splits outsiders from insiders, her personal tragedies, and how she returns to the Hôtel de la Ponche and reconciles past with present.

If you're looking for juicy pieces on famous folks who haunt Saint-Tropez, you won't find it here. Simone talks about Saint-Tropez with simple affection and style and offers a lasting impression.

In French only for now.

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