A day at Club 55 in St Tropez is one to cherish. Not because of the frequent star sightings, it’s a favorite haunt of Elton John and Kate Moss, but because of its white umbrellas and serene tables under the natural pergola of trees. This is a place between St Tropez and Ramatuelle where the bright blue sky, white sand, azure ocean and white dotted umbrellas delight your senses.
The beaches of St Tropez are actually located in Pampelonne, a stretch of sand between St Tropez and Ramatuelle. There are several public beaches and also several private beach clubs, where for a price, you get a lounger, beach service and lunch at a restaurant. There is something magical about wandering through the trees along old, thin boardwalks to get to the white stretch of sand beckoning just beyond the tree line.
We arrived at the club at eleven am. This is early by French standards where the first lunch seating is 1:30 and the beach doesn’t even open until 10:30. We parked the car and made our way through the low hanging olive branches to the perfectly white beach.
White umbrellas dotted the beach and small thatched huts lined the back end. As we were with three small kids we wanted to be front and center, making it easier to watch the kids as they played in the water, becoming Mermen or Kings of the Sea. Oh, how the world and imagination opens up in a large blue body of water. Seaweed becomes enemy snakes, and sand becomes the energy of life. This is the place where kids and adults spend hours jumping off the same dock that greets Beyonce and Elton John.
I have not relaxed much of late and find myself easily stressed over the small things: do you have your barrette, did you misplace your retainer, how much math have you done today, where is the tennis racket, and so on.
But not today. Today I refused to have an agenda. We would go where whimsy took us. I settled the family and headed off to the amazing little Club 55 Boutique. It’s filled with the usual wares: Club55 emblazoned tees, bags and hats. But they also have an amazing selection of jewelry by local artisans and lots of gorgeous summer bracelets. The hats are to die for, and I am sure you will see me wearing my pom-pom fedora at some point in the near future.
After grabbing some gifts, clothes and toys from the boutique I headed back to our chaises. And I noticed something. The kids were all having a grand time, not just my kids, all the kids. And when a ball went astray bopping a French woman in the head she would laugh it off.
I thought about how many times my kids have been yelled at on the beach in Florida for errantly getting sand on someone but, here’s the thing…if you don’t like sand and you don’t like getting wet, perhaps the beach isn’t the place for you. I am not saying that kids should throw sand at people. And mine don’t and none of the kids at the beach were today. But everyone was just so happy and relaxed, as one should be at the beach, that a ball bouncing nearby didn’t send them into a whirling dervish of panic.
I watched as a little American boy accidentally kicked a ball too hard and it splashed a woman sitting next to me. His father reprimanded him sternly. But the woman just laughed it off. I overheard her asking her husband, in French, why the kids dad was so upset at his son for playing on the beach.
Perhaps, I thought, we all need to relax. Especially at the beach. And that is what I love about France. There is no time restriction. No one is ever going to hurry you. Please do not mistake this as bashing my home land; I love my country. But I truly appreciate the French emphasis on appreciating the quality of one’s time.
I also noticed that women of all body types were enjoying their time in the sun. Two eighty year old women were sunning themselves and laughing, their faces etched with laugh lines, and I thought, those are the lines of joy you are gifted when you stop to enjoy life a little more and worry about consuming carbs a little less.
We had a lovely day. We sat on the beach from eleven until seven pm. I felt all of my troubles melt into the sand as I watched our children play and the adults around them giggle if the kids splashed near them or tossed a ball their way.
Lunch was amazing. We sat under the pergola of olive tree branches at tables covered in white cloths. I have heard some bash the food at Club 55 but the tomato mozzarella salad was out of this world and the mussels in cream are to die for. Once you have them you will spend years trying to recreate them, only to realize you can’t.
There is nothing like a two hour lunch to slow you down. After the kids were done eating the babysitter took them back to the beach and my husband and I sat and chatted. I told him my goal is to bring a little piece of France back with me. I want to stop and slow down when the pace gets too frenetic.
Call to reserve in advance– two lunch options 1:30 or 3:30
Park your car in lot with attendant then walk to club. If you have reserved beach loungers an attendant will take you to your chairs. Be prepared to pay him in cash–much easier than putting on slip.