Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Amanda Wakeley’s St Tropez

The fashion designer is renowned for her chic, pared-down daywear and glamorous eveningwear worn by Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson and, lately, Kate Middleton.

June 19 2011
Alison Gunn

“I’ve been going to St Tropez for years, and what I love about it is that it’s a real old port, totally picturesque, and still has a villagey feel – the locals are passionate about their town. It’s small enough to walk round easily, yet it’s an international magnet; it’s incredible the amount of friends we bump into over a weekend.

We fly out to Nice on Friday afternoon and arrive in St Tropez in time for a late supper. Our yacht, Savannah, belongs to my partner, Hugh Morrison, and she is a real sailors’ boat – a 90ft modern classic sloop, built in 1996 on J-Class lines. She’s moored stern-to in the harbour, so it’s perfect for people-watching on the quayside and at Le Sénéquier bar, which is always buzzing until the small hours.

Friends will come on board for a drink, or we’ll go to La Maison Blanche, which has an outdoor sofa bar and does wonderful cocktails. Another place I’ve discovered is the Pan Deï Palais. You go through an old wooden door on the street – you’d easily miss it – and find a very chic hotel, with tables around the pool and live music. Les Caves du Roy is also great fun for a nightcap. St Tropez is a late-night town but it’s very relaxed – you can dress up or down as much as you like and you won’t feel out of place.

I spoil myself on Saturday morning with fresh orange juice and pain au chocolat before strolling around the boutiques. The shops here really set the bar high, showing their most special pieces – Louis Vuitton opened its new Villa last year, and Dior is incredibly on-trend. There are some great pop-up stores, too. I love it that the designers are inspired by St Tropez – Louis Vuitton even has a special St Tropez bag.

Around midday we’ll leave port and motor to Le Club 55 for lunch. There can be a couple of hundred boats moored in the bay – everything from Rivas, Aquaramas and Wallys to The Maltese Falcon – and it’s fascinating to see them close up. For lunch, I love the crudités with mustard dressing, the sensational fish and the Salade de Pampelonne, made with fresh mint and goat’s cheese, all washed down with gallons of rosé.

The wind usually picks up in the afternoon so we’ll have a proper sail, heading out to sea first, then round to another bay, such as L’Escalet or Bastide Blanche. Friends often join us and we all help on deck. Savannah is wonderful in that she’s modern and comfortable – there’s a roll-top bath and a woodburning stove on board – but equally, she’s built to race and it’s very exciting sailing her with a full crew in a good wind.

At Bastide Blanche we swim off the back of the boat, over white sand. Later on, we’ll sit on deck and eat under the stars. We have an amazing team on board who make the most delicious meals – I’ve never dictated a menu but they get it right every time. We spend the night bobbing at anchor and I sleep like a log.

In the morning the sea is normally like glass, perfect for waterskiing or a really good, long swim before breakfast. Then I’ll spend the rest of the morning going through magazines and on my iPad. I love this time, out in the elements, sitting back from the world. I may be working through inspiration for a collection, and there’s something about being at sea that clarifies my thinking.

There are so many lovely places to visit along the coast here. We might head up to the Porquerolles islands, which are exquisitely beautiful, or Le Lavandou and have lunch at Coco Beach. But my favourite anchorage is probably Paloma Beach at St Jean Cap Ferrat – it has a magical, secluded feeling, and the restaurant there is one of the best.

Then it’s time to sail back to St Tropez and catch the flight home. After a weekend on the boat, I’m completely refreshed and rejuvenated – it feels more like five days than two.”

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