Think you know the beach club scene in St Tropez? Think again. Pampelonne Beach has undergone some major new changes, and YachtCharterFleet had the pleasure of heading to St Tropez to get the lay of the land and discover summer’s hottest new beach clubs for 2020 first-hand.
Tucked on the east coast of St Tropez, Pampelonne Beach is where the A-listers of St Tropez come to drink, dance and relax.
An exclusive party playground and dining mecca, no South of France yacht charter would be complete without a visit to this iconic stretch of beach, and Pampelonne is invariably a magnet for superyachts during the summer season.
But in the last year, the beach has undergone some substantial changes. In keeping with new legislation that aims to protect the local environment and encourage sustainability, a number of Pampelonne institutions have closed their doors.
Above credit: St. Tropez House
Now, a new wave of beach clubs has sprung up- and YachtCharterFleet had the privilege of heading down to Pampelonne to re-discover the newest St Tropez beach clubs which have opened their doors for summer.
Below, get the low-down on all the best places to drink, dine, sunbathe and party in St Tropez for summer 2019/2020 and onwards.
There are plenty of brand new spots along Pampelonne for you check out, each of them offering something different for every type of experience. Check out our hand-picked recommendations below:
Best for: No-holds-barred fun and an infectious party atmosphere
Headed up by uber-trendy hospitality brand Yeeels, Verde Beach is one of the newest outposts to storm the St Tropez scene for 2019.
This boho-chic restaurant and strip of beach is the best place to go if you’re looking for a laid-back lunch that has the potential to transform into a buzzing party scene at a moment’s notice.
The restaurant is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Thibault Sombardier, so be sure to nab a highly-coveted table and choose a few dishes from the menu. The burrata is divine, the lobster pasta hits all the right flavour notes and the octopus manages to elevate a simple dish to a new level of taste.
Afterward, take a stroll outside and set up shop on one of the sunloungers overlooking the sea. Take a dip, top up your tan or order a cocktail; the mojitos are not to be missed.
The hip younger sister of the archetypal beach club, Verde Beach is where the St Tropez insiders come to feast, rest and play all under one roof. Reservations are strongly advised.
Best for: Elegant unwinding
Embodying the same sophisticated style as the five-star La Reserve Ramatuelle around the corner, La Reserve a la Plage is bringing a dose of Riviera glamour to Pampelonne for 2020.
Expect chic surrounds, with marble-clad bathrooms and a small shop selling delicate jewellery and straw bags. Arrive early to stretch out on one of the amber-coloured sunbeds and enjoy some bronzing and yacht-spotting.
After a morning of unwinding, slope inside and peruse the menu, which is the creation of Michelin-starred chef Éric Canino.
For something fresh and light, opt for tuna ceviche and courgette flower fritters; more hearty options include truffle rigatoni and smoky barbecued rack of lamb. Top off with tiramisu for two or the beach club’s signature specialties; rum babas. Reservations are not necessary, but advised.
Best for: A Mediterranean gourmet experience
An offshoot of the legendary Hotel Byblos which was initially established to woo Brigitte Bardot, Byblos Beach opened its doors on Pampelonne earlier this year to much acclaim.
This beachfront offering is wall-to-wall with models, A-listers and yacht-goers in search of a lazy lunch on shore. It takes interior cues from a castaway theme, but dresses it up with tables draped in white linen and perfectly-plated dishes.
The menu is full of star billings, but among the best of the bunch; king crab with lemon and grapefruit caviar, seabass ceviche with kiwi and spare ribs glazed in Corsican honey.
Byblos also excels with deserts. The strawberry pavlova is easily large enough to share- split it with a Tart Tropezienne, a St Tropez staple that has been given a Byblos upgrade under executive chef Rocco Séminara.
Best for: Family-friendly fun
La Serena opened its doors for summer 2019, and has swiftly become popular among those looking for a relaxed time with friends and family. But don’t let its child-friendly approach fool you; the cocktails are strong and the party vibes amp up as the day wears on.
You’d be remiss not to sample one of the venue’s creatively-named highballs; try ‘I Am Sorry About Last Night’ for a tequila kick, or opt for the bourbon-blackberry infusion, ‘What’s Your Name Again?’
With its slick service, the restaurant is also a highlight of La Serena. The artichoke and truffle salad stands out, as do the generous portions of seafood-laced spider linguine. Booking is recommended, but you can usually bag a table.
Best for: Riviera romance
The sister of the highly-acclaimed Loulou in Paris, this new beachfront oasis on Tamaris Beach has a stylish setting that has quickly made it a hotspot for the models and VIPs of St Tropez.
In spite of its polished appearance, it has a rustic Riviera vibe that bodes well for those in the mood for something unfussy. The menu entries are flavour-focused, with prawns in orange zest and yellowfin tuna tartare with jalapenos among the highlights.
Finish with a cocktail on the beach looking out over the azure water. LouLou doesn’t hold back with their cocktail menu; Free in Pampelonne is served in a coconut husk, and features the tropical flavours of rum, pineapple and fresh coconut water.
Several beach clubs along Pampelonne have undergone some changes, with many undergoing refurbishments or upgrades to make them more environmentally-friendly.
Best for: Summer serenity
Run by charismatic St Tropezienne couple Mimi and Stephanie, Les Palmiers is a certified Pampelonne favourite. For summer 2019, it’s moving to a new location on Tamaris Road.
Coming back with a bang, the beach club now has veritable eco-credentials, with structural design by sustainable architect Philippe Madec.
The beach life scene is buzzing, with an inviting spread of sunbeds, shisha lounge, cocktail bar and bijou shop selling an impressive variety of fashion accessories.
Nodding to the owner's Italian heritage, the venue's restaurant sees Italian dishes take centre stage. Recipes passed down through the generations feature throughout. Try Mamma's Meatballs as an entree, followed by caviar spaghetti to share.
Best for: Chic chilling
Situated on the north end of Pampelonne, Jardin Tropezina has been given a sleek upgrade for 2019.
It now resembles an elegant Mediterranean garden, where diners can soak up the beauty of the beach and enjoy meals below a canopy of ivy and fairy lights.
Farm-fresh produce is the order of the day, with wicker baskets filled with local ingredients lined up on the boardwalk entryway. As you might expect, the menu places heavy focus on vegetarian dining, but there is a stellar selection of meat options available as well.
Jardin Tropezina is open between April and October, making it a great place to visit year-round for good food and a party atmosphere that gets going around 5pm. Advance bookings are recommended.
Best for: Non-stop party vibes
The new-and-improved Moorea Plage is Pampelonne’s party hub. A jetty makes superyacht transfers quick and easy, and a selection of sunbeds lined up along the beach invite you to enjoy a morning of blissful relaxation.
When lunchtime rolls around, head inside and grab a table. The restaurant starts to heave with hungry diners around midday, so book ahead or get in early.
The interior of the venue has an urban feeling balanced by natural touches, and the menu reflects typically Mediterranean flavours with countless options for a light lunch.
The dining experience is enlivened by live DJ sets and live entertainers. Once the party takes off, expect feel-good tunes and dancing on the tables.
A few St Tropez institutions have been untouched by the legislation, and will be offering the same signature experience along Pampelonne Beach.
Best for: Celebrity-spotting
Easily the most legendary venue along the French Riviera, Le Club 55 holds a cult status on Pampelonne. Established in 1955, it rose to notoriety when it became the go-to restaurant for the cast and crew of 1956 film And God Created Women, including Brigitte Bardot herself.
It may have been many years since the Hollywood starlet set foot in Club 55, but walking into the restaurant area still feels like a who's-who of A-listers. A place to see and be seen, the atmosphere is impossibly upbeat, with laughter and conversation filling up the space.
Grab a table- booking is strongly advised- and tuck into fresh steak tartare or zingy seabass with hollandaise. Afterward, stroll outside and spend some time browsing the club's shops, where unique trinkets make lovely gifts or charming souvenirs.
Club 55 has its own private jetty and tender service; a winning addition to any crewed yacht charter vacation. Whether you make an entrance of a lifetime or just find a spot in the sand to watch the yacht-goers arriving, Club 55 is the perfect spot for spending the day at the beach.
Best for: Idling by the pool
Set back from the beach in the midst of pine trees, Nikki Beach's expansive outpost on Pampelonne is a firm favourite for anyone looking to dine, unwind and party in one alluring spot.
A variety of sunbeds and loungers are spread across the venue, offering numerous options for stretching out and soaking up the summery soundtrack. The drinks here are expertly crafted and are best enjoyed while floating around on an inflatable in the pool.
The pool is a unique component to the beach club scene in St Tropez, and during the day this is where the party really starts to warm up. Expect live DJ sets, wild dance performances and epic champagne showers; you'll leave Nikki Beach with memories to last a lifetime.