As with many trendy French Riviera villages, the St Tropez of winter time has little to do with the busy, bustling, bursting St Tropez of summer months.
Yet on a winter open market day, St Tropez's Place des Lices pulsates heartily. Under the square's plane trees, folks wrapped in colorful scarves and high boots fill their baskets with shiny mandarins, hams from Corsica, rounded gourds. Between the cheese and sausage stands, cubes of Aleppo Pine soaps pile up. They're a rarity: made from scratch on the St Tropez peninsula.
"Where can I find a dog sweater?", asks a lady at the Pulls: Cashmere et Soie stand.
"Ma chérie," answers the lovely sweaters lady as she winks over to my side, "just buy two cashmere scarves and have your seamstress make one."
The marché winds down and St Tropez makes its way into the cafés around the plaza*. This isn't exactly rush hour: no need to wait in line for a table. I settle for a coffee at one of my favorites for its friendly atmosphere, Le Sporting café.
"What are you writing about?" asks my sly-eyed neighbor, as I scribble on paper. I explain. The waiter pitches in: "If you're writing about St Tropez, it's a little quiet right now, at least until the February school break."
Quiet? It's relaxed, personal, perfect.
- Open Market Days in St Tropez on Place des Lices: Saturday and Tuesday mornings, until 1PM.
- A sample of coffee shops around Place des Lices: Le Clémenceau, Le Sporting, Bistro, Café des Arts at the corner, Le Café and its boules available for playing on the plaza. In summer, all are busy. Off-season, the ones facing the sun fill more sun-ray-loving hearts.