It was a wonderful privilege to be able to stay in a five-star hotel in the very centre of St Tropez. No steps, no hills, no long treks, no waiting for a shuttle ‘bus – just a moment’s stroll along a pretty street and I was exactly where I wanted to be, next to the harbour. This is what – uniquely – is offered by the Hôtel de Paris. And this is what I enjoyed each day: a leisurely stroll in the sunshine to my seat at a café on the quayside, opposite the yachts of the visiting rich. Much is said and written about the importance of location, but that of the Hôtel de Paris is beyond splendid. It is almost miraculous, and afforded me immense pleasure. I love St Tropez. And now I love the Hôtel de Paris.
The original hotel opened in the 1930s, but it has been completely rebuilt and its 90 rooms offer luxurious comfort in a style (the work of interior designer, Sybille de Margerie) which is decidedly modern. The establishment is well run and all members of staff I encountered were friendly and efficient – a tribute to the charming General Manager, Danielle Lagrange (pictured, with your correspondent). The public areas, too, are impressive, particularly the entrance hall, which is large, light, calm and elegant. Exhibitions of art are held here. And the hotel claims that its suspended, glass-bottomed swimming pool is the only one in the world.
My own accommodation was on the second floor, to which I ascended in one of the swish glass lifts. Room 205 was a ‘Prestige Suite’, and therefore 800€-1,550€ a night for two, which I judged good value. Its décor reflected the discreet modernity of the rest of the hotel. In the hallway a loo to one side was matched by a small kitchen to the other. In the sitting room were a low sofa and a wicker-work ‘throne’, as well as a large wall-mounted television. Then the dressing area (with fitted wardrobes and a safe) gave onto the bathroom. Here I found a decent bath tub, a separate shower and one wash basin – the last designed to function without a plug. The toiletries were by Clarins. (There is a Clarins Spa at the hotel.) Finally came the bedroom, with a bed made comfortably soft for me and with the second television set.
The views from the windows were of the surrounding streets, and across to the Maison de Chanel, which looked sumptuously inviting for those tempted to splash out on some of its expensive perfumes. There can be a lot of traffic on this corner, but the double glazing was so effective that I heard not a single sound from the motor cars down below. This, combined with very efficient air conditioning, ensured my total comfort.
I should mention at this point the room service at the hotel. I am not really a user of room service, but here I discovered that it was overseen by Jean-Jacques Zanghi. The excellent Mr Zanghi I first encountered at the Chateau de la Messardière. It was comforting to know that he was in charge of providing any comestibles I might have wanted delivering to my suite.
Eating of the public sort is done either in the hotel’s dining room on the ground floor, the Restaurant Le Pationata, or at Les Toits Lounge on the top floor (pictured), next to the aforementioned swimming pool. I chose the latter for dinner. There is a bright and breezy room, but I decided to go to a table on the terrace to enjoy the gorgeous view over the rooftops of St Tropez Bay. Here I was right next to the pool and did not notice that I was also right next to the open shower. Reaching for support as I went to sit down, I managed to turn on the spray of water... It says much for the excellence of everything else about my evening that this little disaster is no way diminished my enjoyment of the Les Toits Lounge.
Damian Courchet (pictured, with your slightly damp correspondent) is a fine chef, whose technique and culinary intelligence deserve high praise. His dishes are pleasing to the eye and delightful to the palate, and his combinations of tastes are exactly right. I began with raw vegetable carpaccio with honey. It was the delicacy and refinement of this dish which impressed me, with the sweetness of the honey acting as a delicious foil to the crisp asperity of the radish, the carrot and the cauliflower. My main course was just as good: chicken breast stuffed with black truffle (the fungus suffusing the meat with its pungent magic) and the chicken’s legs stuffed with its tasty offal. This was a dish fit for a king. My pudding was a lovely rum baba. This was a very French version – by which I mean its presentation was très elegante. (Allow around 70€ for three such courses.) At this dinner I was looked after with great courtesy and attention by the charming maitre d’, Giuseppe D’Ambrosio
The wine list is entirely French and comes in the form of an ipod. This, as usual, rather threw me. But I did manage to note some seriously good clarets: 1998 Margaux (1,300€), 1988 Cheval Blanc (2,500€), 1976 Latour (1,500€), 1996 Pétrus (4,800€) and 2001 Haut Brion (1,200€). Thanks to the advice of the excellent Mr D’Ambrosio, I enjoyed a very good white burgundy of real elegance, with lots of those creamy, vanilla undertones I like (Saint-Romain, D.Moret, 2017 – 70€).
I broke my fast each morning on this same terrace. I awarded a gold star to Alain for dealing with me so well. He even sent out to the shops for a packet of Allbran, when I remarked to him that it was not offered on the buffet table. All the food was of high quality: the croissants, the dishes of raspberries and strawberries, the apple art, the cheeses and the smoked salmon. And the hot food brought from the kitchen was just as good: pots of coffee and plates of bacon, poached eggs and mushrooms. Then, as always, there was my concluding cappuccino. These breakfasts were highly enjoyable.
Indeed, the whole of my stay at the Hotel de Paris was highly enjoyable. Its accommodation is comfortable, its service is top rate, its food is tip-top and its location... ah, its location is magnifique.
1 Traverse de la Gendarmerie, 83990 St-Tropez, France.
Telephone +33 (0)4 83 09 60 00
Fax +33 (0)4 03 09 60 20
Double rooms from 270€