Brigitte Bardot arrived in St Tropez in 1956 to shoot And God Created Women, the film which would catapult her into international superstardom and transform the rustic fishing village into one of the hottest destinations in the South of France.
The French film star was a relative unknown when she began filming on St Tropez’s idyllic waterfront with her then husband director Roger Vadim. It was not the first time she had visited the seaside hamlet, however.
Growing up, she had spent her summers in a nearby vacation house owned by her wealthy Parisian parents and, prior to her return as a 22-year-old, the Bardot family were not the only ones to succumb to the charms of the French Riviera town.
Many of the places Bardot visited at the height of her celebrity status have since become the places to be seen for A-listers during a South of France yacht charter vacation.
Writer Guy de Maupassant described the ‘lovely, little, modest town’ in 1888 and a string of artists, led by Impressionist Paul Signac in the late nineteenth century and followed up by the likes of Matisse and Picasso throughout the forties and fifties, sought inspiration from the Riviera gem.
But none could command the world’s attention on the St Tropez as Brigitte Bardot did.
Doe-eyed with bee-stung lips and big, soft, tousled hair, Brigitte Bardot oozed sex appeal as she rolled in the St Tropez surf in a two-piece swimsuit. She embodied the spirit of the French Riviera: naïve but sexy with a liberated attitude to flaunting her body.
She was the male fantasy of the French girl they could dream of meeting in Paris, while women copied her hair piled high, kohl-rimmed eyes, gingham dresses and Capri pants.
Breaking the mould of bourgeois conservatism, she became the symbol of a new generation of young women who enjoyed life to the limit.
She became one of the most photographed women in the world, the phrase ‘sex kitten’ was coined after her and the press called her ‘the princess of pout, the countess of hither’.
As well as revolutionising the bikini, Bardot transformed St Tropez into a playground for the rich and famous and, over the next decade, the once small fishing enclave became synonymous with international celebrities.
The actress even bought a house in St Tropez and relocated from the French capital not long after filming. She still lives along the waterfront today and many of the spots she once frequented as a young actress remain in business.
Her favourite boutiques at the port have since become trendy hotspots for discerning visitors to gather in throughout the day.
Likewise, Club 55 – a restaurant on the iconic Pampelone beachfront where the crew of And God Created Women dined – is now a trendy yet low-key hangout for A-listers and locals alike.
St Tropez certainly continues to be in vogue among the jet set, with a seemingly immortal status as one of the most in-demand superyacht hotspots.
Luxury yachts jostle for a space along the quay as others anchor at the nearby Pampelonne Beach, with those aboard visiting by tender one of the many private beaches, such as Tahiti Plage and Nikki Beach.
Celebrities congregate at Byblos Hotel’s Les Caves du Roy nightclub, world-class cuisine from top chef Alain Ducasse is served at the upmarket Spoon Byblos restaurant and rosé is sipped at the venerably stylish Café Senequier, perfectly placed on the waterfront to watch the town's comings and goings.
But beyond the crowds and couture, St Tropez still retains its quaint allure, with tiny ornate streets, peach-coloured facades, hidden plazas dripping with fountains and petanque-playing locals.
Due to her iconic status on the world stage, Bardot has unsurprisingly featured in a range of modern artworks. From psychedelic prints to black and white portraits, her famous pout adorns a number of canvases which can be purchased in St Tropez.
Indeed, local pop artist Sasha, the genius behind the Sasha de Saint Tropez produces stunning pieces that charter guests are able to take home with them.