In the great outdoors
Whether it is the Mediterranean Sea, the Massif des Maures or the inland countryside, the Gulf of Saint-Tropez boasts an exceptional natural heritage brimming with colours, scents and music which change with the seasons. In order to get closer to the nature here and learn how to listen to the birds or understand the insects, why not go on a guided walk with a nature guide? These walks let you discover what is hidden in the Massif des Maures or the coastal flora.
There are also 50 signposted footpaths taking you through the countryside of the twelve towns in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. Mountain bike enthusiasts can explore the spectacular scenery by riding along the special mountain bike trails. You'll hurtle through the garrigue scrubland and enjoy the magnificent countryside around you from Sainte-Maxime to Saint-Tropez and from Cavalaire to Gassin.
It's hard not to mention the Massif des Maures when you talk about the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. Outstanding heritage responsible for the quality of its living environment. There's nothing like exploring this small mountain chain on horseback, which is why horse riding tours, accessible for everyone, are available. Through the changing seasons, you are invited to accompany a donkey on a rope over the hills of La Garde-Freinet to gather Easter eggs, figs and chestnuts (information from the Tourist Office).
To enjoy a panoramic view over the whole of the Massif des Maures, make your way to the La Mole dam, an amazing body of water which supplies the region's population. To get there, it's three kilometres along a wide dirt track that you can walk or cycle along. In this mountain landscape, you'll spot turtles (pond terrapins), herons lying down, cormorants or migrating birds depending on the time of year. It's a really beautiful family outing and also an ideal opportunity during your holiday to explore the hidden treasures of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez.
Staying with nature, why not visit the Mediterranean gardens? The Domaine du Rayol offers another breathtaking view over the rocky coast of the Maures. Open all year round, this garden is just a few kilometres away from Cavalaire.
Another garden, this time facing the Gulf of Saint-Tropez in the town of Sainte-Maxime heading towards Grimaud, is the woodland park called the Parc botanique des Myrtes, covering three hectares and containing 60 species of plants. A superb collection of palm trees as well as exotic and Mediterranean trees . An ideal holiday activity for the family as the park is just 30 metres from the beach and has safe play areas for children and guided tours for visitors aged 6 and over. It also has a scented trail for the visually impaired.
Beaches for everyone
You cannot go on a camping holiday in the south of France without going for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea. There are plenty of beaches there:
The large beach at Cavalaire-sur-Mer is a family beach, ideal for those who like nothing better than lazing around. You can go kayaking, canoeing or take out a pedalo there. There are children's games and a pedestrian pathway, far away from traffic.
The Plage des Salis at Saint-Tropez is also a family beach. You can go crab fishing among the rocks. It is supervised, has disabled access and you'll also find catering facilities there. Please be aware that it is difficult to find somewhere to park there in the summer.
At Grimaud, Port-Grimaud beach is ideal for tiny tots as it has a slide as well as pedalos and a sailing school. The beach is supervised and there is a parking fee. For those opting for a pretty beach, choose the Plage des Cigales for its original scenery: a lighthouse and a basket-handle shaped bridge, but no car park.
You'll love the giant palm trees at the beautiful Plage des Marines at Cogolin. Situated at the far end of the gulf, you'll have a view of Saint-Tropez and Sainte-Maxime on each side.
At Sainte-Maxime in fact, we recommend the Plage de la Croisette, a supervised, pebble and sand beach with disabled access, parking and catering facilities. If it's peace and quiet you're looking for, try the Plage de la Madrague, towards Les Issambres. Even though it has a few stones and rocks, you'll love this tranquil beach.
The Plage de Sylvabelle at La Croix-Valmer is also a haven of peace and a pretty spot to relax in where you'll find magnificent greenery. Don't forget your parasol if you prefer the shade or have children. There is a parking fee.
The Plage de Pampelonne at Ramatuelle is the most famous beach in Europe and listed as a "Remarkable Natural Area". It is supervised and there are catering facilities and disabled access. There is a parking fee.
Finally, we shall finish our tour of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez beaches with the one at Gigaro in La Croix-Valmer, a beach recommended to all romantic lovers who would love to gaze at an unforgettable sunset… It's also a supervised family beach with disabled access.
Holiday indulgence... all is forgiven!
Provence produces tasty, multicoloured vegetables, juicy fruit and herbs with scents that remind you of the garrigue and taste divine with fresh fish from the Mediterranean Sea such as in bouillabaisse or stew.
You should start by wandering around the markets, walking among the abundant stalls where you can meet the producers and taste the local produce. As for Provençal specialities, there are enough of them to make a complete meal, several even, no doubt.
Start with an aperitif, in the shade of an olive tree and with the backdrop of the humming cicadas, a few slices of bread rubbed with garlic or olive oil and spread with a little anchoïade (anchovy purée with capers, garlic and olive oil). Move on swiftly to the bouillabaisse (a soup made with several types of Mediterranean fish, accompanied by croutons, grated cheese, rouille and aioli). This dish should be eaten for dinner. At lunchtime, try a pissaladière (a tart made with onions, anchovies and black olives): the local pizza! For a balanced meal, you mustn't forget the vegetable tian mainly made with courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes, or an excellent ratatouille. If you're ready to move onto something sweet, you'll find it hard to resist the famous Tropézienne Tart! And finally, to finish off your meal, a few Patiences Fraxinoises (orange flower biscuits) will be a perfect accompaniment for your coffee.
As you'll have realised, holidays here are an opportunity for indulging yourself and this is easy to do if you spend them in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez in one of the campsites available among its 12 towns. However, no doubt you won't be staying long enough to try out all the seaside restaurants offering the region's culinary specialities. So there's nothing else for it... you'll just have to come back!