DALLAS, June 22, 2011 — It was in 1967 that Hotel Byblos opened its doors becoming the most talked about “place to be” in France’s Cote d’Azur. That would be Saint-Tropez.
Since that time, much has changed, but not what’s really important. The property maintains high-touch standards, like the staff’s attention to detail, a General Manager who remembers your name from year to year (and knows a good wine – well, he is French) and lastly, that feeling of just being one of those people who must be living the dream.
It was a month ago that I visited the illustrious Byblos in Saint-Tropez, France with one night added on in Monte Carlo complements of the Black Legend both a part of Groupe Floirat.
Flying into Nice I arrived in the late afternoon and had a little over an hour ride from the airport to Saint-Tropez and my first introduction to the convivial little village. On first look Byblos’ design is reminiscent of a small Mediterranean village with playful facades and a resident peacock on alert to say hello. Of course, also on property is renowned Alain Ducasse’s restaurant Spoon as well as the Les Caves du Roy night club.
During the summer months, lines queue in the street to get a glimpse, and possibly a nod, for admittance into Les Caves.
Worth it, of course.
At Byblos you’ll spend a lot of time in the courtyard where both the pool and a restaurant called B. is located. B. is where breakfast is served each morning under the lemon trees.
The dinner concept at B. is a combination of light and small bites. For lunch one day we also dined by the pool at B. where I had the best Margarita pizza I’ve eaten outside of Southern Italy.
My first and last dinner at Byblos was at the revered Spoon, Of course, things always go better with French wine too, need I say we had our share?
The spa at Byblos is another tranquil affair using Sisley Cosmetics along with a fusion of modern techniques and ancient therapies. While I received an hour long massage a quick scan through the spa brochure and the “ritual” selections had me ready to sign up for a restorative facial and a chakra balancing with hot stones.
Located in the heart of Saint-Tropez, Byblos is near both the port and the beaches of Pampelonne. It is only a short walk to the heart of the village, the ever-popular Place des Lices, where an open air market is held every Tuesday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you are there on one of the market days there’s a chance to pick up items local and regional. Think clothes for the upscale beach set, lavender, crafts and some amazing tablecloths and house wares.
On non-market days boule players gather to enjoy the morning at the Place. When the area is not playing host to the market or even a circus a few times a year you can easily see the 100-year old trees divided into seven long arcades offering a subtle shade.
Locals also rave about a restaurant called L’auberge des Maures which I was told, and on good authority, that this is the town’s oldest restaurant. We spent one evening there sampling the menu and picking and choosing from the exquisite wine list.
Provençal cooking reigns at L’auberge des Maures where the cuisine is prepared with seasonal products in a setting of stone walls and a vintage garden. An excellent dinner choice, the only meal they serve by the way, if you can get a table.
Another highlight was a visit to Club 55. Ever since Bridget Bardot raved about Club 55 so many years ago, tourists and locals have been trying to get in. In fact, Club 55 was actually the first beach club on Pampelonne Beach that boasted a “sexy scene” complete with celebrities and gourmet cuisine. Now 50 years later the place still has just the right amount of heat, especially in the summertime when Ferraris and Porches vie for attention.
Don’t let the entrance fool you either with its thick bamboo – it immediately gives way to white canopies and a beach club clear out to the Mediterranean.
For the ultimate in the Byblos éphéméride our final afternoon was a six-hour tour on a stunning yacht called Algandra. Larger than life we journeyed into the Mediterranean to take a late lunch and explore the islands off of Hyeres. Guests at Byblos can also take full advantage of Algandra , just one more offering for the ultimate stay in Saint-Tropez.
Part Two : Monte Carlo and Black Legend
On to Monte Carlo for my last full day and night and it was the Métropole with décor by Jacques Garcias well as the Michelin-starred talent of Joel Robuchon and Christophe Cussac. With a number of things to see and do in the small principality of Monaco the only question is where to begin. On our visit the Grand Prix was right around the corner, transfixing the entire scene for the upcoming race.
With our main objective to take in the night at Black Legend, we started late with dinner at 9:00 p.m. and the live band set for 9:30.
Located at the foot of the Princes’ Palace on the Grand Prix legendary Route De La Piscine, the Black Legend is part restaurant, part lounge bar and every bit live venue and nightclub when the sun goes down.
The music of Motown plays on in this throwback to the 70s era, but in Monte Carlo style of course. Chocolate leather sofas and a menu that includes the great American hamburger, Black Legend is at once vintage and modern. Think speakeasies in New York and Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder all rolled into one big boogie oogie.
To end the trip in true Cote d’Azur style, on my final morning I was whisked to the Monaco airport for a short helicopter ride to the Nice Airport.
A journey must always end and so with the bon voyage home, it was a trip truly worth recreating.
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