The chic resort of Saint-Tropez is a food lover’s paradise with restaurants for all budgets. Here is our pick of places to eat
Dolce Vita, Villa Marie
Perched on a vine-clad hillside just minutes south of Saint-Tropez, with breathtaking views of the shimmering waters of the Baie de Pampelonne, this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant certainly lives up to its name.The Dolce Vita is part of Villa Marie, a luxurious Italian-style five-star hotel. Come for lunch and you’ll dine alfresco on the spectacular sun terrace, which looks over the azure waters of the hotel pool and the manicured sloping gardens.
Lunchtime dishes take their inspiration from all corners of the Mediterranean, ranging from a Lebanese-style tabbouleh salad to a Provençal pan bagnat sandwich.In the evening, meals are served inside the stylish conservatory-style building, complete with antique furniture and elegant tableware, and the menu changes focus. Now it’s all about French Mediterranean haute cuisine inspired largely by the bounty of the sea. I chose a grilled sole with herb-infused mashed potatoes, while a companion had the oven-cooked royal gilt-head bream with a Provençal vegetable confit. Dessert was an experience in itself as our table of six shared a perfectly crafted hot lemon and red berries soufflé – the largest that I had ever seen. Our meal complete, we clinked glasses in a toast and watched as the tangerine sun gave way to a star-filled darkness.
Open May to October, dinner mains from €39.
La Vague d’Or, Résidence de la Pinède
For a gastronomic feast in a spectacular setting, this three Michelin-star restaurant is worth the splurge. Nestling on a private beach with views of the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, La Vague d’Or is one of two restaurants at the luxurious Résidence de la Pinède hotel. Chef Arnaud Donckele, who was trained by Alain Ducasse, gives a modern twist to classic dishes and makes full use of Mediterranean flavours.
From the à la carte menu, I chose the loin and cheek of sea bass poached in sea water, with lime cress and seaweed, while my friend had the sea bass tartare with caviar, shellfish stock and large pied de cheval oysters from the Bassin de Thau, near Montpellier. Both dishes were packed with extraordinary flavours and looked exquisite. When it comes to dessert, La Vague d’Or has a penchant for fruit-based dishes, so we selected the figs from Collobrières, inland from Saint-Tropez, which were either roasted or buried in luscious sorbet and complemented with slices of rosemary and orange peel. The service was as impeccable as you would expect from a three-Michelin-star restaurant. Although prices are high, they are worth it for the intriguing mixture of ingredients and delicate balance of flavours in every dish.
Open April to October, menus from €280, mains from €96.
Restaurant l’Olivier, La Bastide de Saint-Tropez
Just a ten-minute walk from the vieux-port of Saint-Tropez lies the elegant La Bastide hotel, where you can enjoy Mediterranean cuisine in either the restaurant or bistro as you look over the garden and pool.We opted for l’Olivier, an immaculate, cream-coloured restaurant that serves elegantly crafted dishes made from locally sourced produce.
Dishes draw on the best of surf and turf, and I chose a fillet of red mullet decorated with salsify and roasted chestnuts from a menu that also included roasted sea bream with fennel and lemon water, and roasted pigeon with liquorice, lemon and turnips.Excellent service and a wide choice of wines added to the enjoyment, as did the chance to relax afterwards in the garden, with its many exotic plants and centuries-old olive trees.
Open from Tuesday evenings until Sundays, lunch mains from €28.
Nestled in Saint-Tropez’s quaint La Ponche district, La Pesquière is a down-to-earth, no-frills, family-run seafood place which has been serving bulging platters of seafood platters since 1962. Here, everything on the menu is the freshest it can be – fish is landed just metres from the restaurant doors each day. The restaurant boasts a delightful little terrace, where you can enjoy a hearty fish supper overlooking the inky-blue waters of the Golfe du Saint-Tropez.
Open every day from 9am – midnight mid-March to November, mains from €14.
Tel: (Fr) 4 94 97 05 92
Auberge des Maures
For generous portions of earthly Provençal cooking, this is the place to go. Auberge des Maures is the oldest restaurant in Saint-Tropez and serves up tasty dishes such as daube (braised beef stew), grilled lobster and sea bass covered with sage. Diners can enjoy their meal at a table on the restaurant’s leafy courtyard and booking is advised.
Open only for dinner from 7pm – 11pm April to October, mains from €35.
This former hangout for artists and intellectuals when Saint-Tropez was still a sleepy village serves no-nonsense dishes, including roast chicken, mussels and grilled fish. The café boasts a lovely interior bar where lights and wooden fixtures give it a fin-de-siècle feel.
Open all-year-round, mains from €22.
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