Sun-kissed lasciviousness is rampant in this carnival town, but the true Tropezian resents the fact that the port has such a bad reputation. "We can be classy, too," one native has insisted. Creative people in the lively arts along with ordinary folk create a volatile mixture. One observer said that St-Tropez "has replaced Naples for those who accept the principle of dying after seeing it. It's a unique fate for a place to have made its reputation on the certainty of happiness."
St-Tropez -- this palimpsest of nostalgia -- was popularized by sex symbol Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman, but it had long since attracted the famous. Colette lived here for many years. Even the late diarist Anaïs Nin, confidante of Henry Miller, posed for a little cheesecake on the beach here in 1939 in a Dorothy Lamour-style bathing suit. Earlier, St-Tropez was visited by Matisse, Signac, and Bonnard, and even Maupassant before he died of syphilis.
Artists, composers, novelists, and the film colony come to St-Tropez in summer. Trailing them is a line of humanity unmatched anywhere else on the Riviera for sheer flamboyance. Chic people anchor their yachts here in summer but disappear long before the dreaded mistral of winter.
In 1995, Bardot pronounced St-Tropez dead -- "squatted by a lot of no-goods, drugheads, and villains" -- and swore she'd never go back, at least in summer. But 1997 saw her return, as headlines in France flashed the news that St-Tropez was "hot once again." Not only Bardot, but other celebrities have been showing up, including Oprah Winfrey, Don Johnson, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and even Elton and Sly (not together!).