Walking through the streets of the old town in Saint-Tropez, took me back to shopping on the left bank of Paris a few years ago. Narrow cobbled streets with little boutiques and cafes on every corner; artist lofts and flowers tumbling from pots and balconies. There was a big boat race with crews from all over the world. The harbour was crammed with sailing boats and people thronged the quayside. Artists set up stalls and the ‘beautiful people’ stopped off at the restaurants around the port.
The boutiques were crammed with summer clothing as the season is only as long as the tourists stay. Swimwear was much in evidence, with neon colours used in contrasting tones on bikinis, unlike Saint-Maxime across the bay where they show cased a more nautical theme with lots of navy and white stripes and other two colour combinations.
Long, loose white shirts from India were in most of the shops with lots of detail and with lace trims, embroidery or both. Printed Afghani trousers, dresses in bright printed lightweight polyester with rouched bodices both long and short were also to be seen. The expensive boutiques showed sheer printed tops, lots of scarf prints, brightly printed shift dresses with flashy detail around the neckline or kaftan tops as loose cover-ups.
Shoes had diamonte detail or were plain canvas rope soled wedges. Straw 'pork pie’ hats were de rigeur for everyone. In the harbour side shops, which spilled out onto the quayside, the look was plain cotton voile in two layers. Lots of hot coral, light aqua and white. Burn out fabric was being used in layers on tunics over plain jersey vests, all loose and shapeless in soft pastel colours. Printed fine linen baggy vests over were seen to be worn over a second plain undervest. Floral printed jeans were also widely on display and young girls on the street were wearing long loose t-shirts over fitted jeans and flat sandals, very cool and casual.
Up the coast in Nice the windows were full of bright chalky coloured handbags in green, cobalt blue, cerise and orange. Crochet over tops or waistcoats were in the young boutiques in natural, denim blue or champagne. Long georgette tops or short georgette dresses in plain coral, turquoise or cream.
The streets were busy and there was a great buzz about the city. Avenue Jean Medicin, between the station and Place Massena, has had a facelift over the past few years and it looked fantastic. There were many big new fashion shops with wide selections and at good prices. Side streets were full of boutiques and cafes. The flower market was packed with tourists sampling local food and produce.
In Juan Les Pins and Antibes there was a more of a casual beach theme. Short scarf print dresses, printed cotton kaftan tops and the plain hot coral cotton voile layered tops again worn with white slim-line trousers.
The weather was perfect and the skies a blue as ever. I managed to have two sunset dinners at beachside restaurants…the Riviera has not lost its magic!