Once upon a time (pre-Et Dieu… Créa la Femme, to be precise) St Tropez had it all: pristine beaches, unadulterated pine forests, fishermen’s-village charm. Easy to forget all that in the glamour tsunami that followed in Bardot and Vadim’s wake – but a clutch of savvy operators are trying to revive some of its midcentury appeal. Among them are Bernard Arnault’s Cheval Blanc brand, which has commandeered the staidly lovely Résidence de la Pinède and remade it with the help of Jean-Michel Wilmotte in a nautical palette of deep blues and white. Cheval Blanc St-Tropez (chevalblanc.com; from £700) now has 30 rooms and suites and a sleek Guerlain spa, but the wonderful Vague d’Or restaurant – and, critically, the compact but near-perfect beach – remain. And the venerable Hôtel Byblos (byblos.com; from €660) starts the season with a coup in Byblos Beach, a prime concession on the famous sands of Pampelonne, with 100 sunbeds, a restaurant seating 120 and design by François Frossard (author of the hotel’s more-is-more nightclub).