LE CLUB 55
THE SAINT-TROPEZ BEACHSIDE HANG OUT THAT BRIGITTE BARDOT MADE FAMOUS
Despite its reputation as one of the most famous spots on the luxurious sands of Pampelonne Beach in Saint-Tropez, Le Club 55 still remains delightfully down-to-earth. One of the secrets behind this is its humble past, which began in 1955 (the venue’s name comes from the year of its founding). In fact, the de Colmont family with Monsieur Patrice de Colmont at the helm—the son of the original owners—has kept the club’s longstanding philosophy in tact for over 63 years: “The customer is not king here…because he is a friend."
In 1953, Bernard de Colmont, the father of Patrice, built three cottages for his family with no electricity and running water on the white sands of the coastal French Riviera town. In front of one of the huts, a large wooden table invited passers-by to visit and people believed it was an informal dining establishment. One day, a film crew called to book the space for three weeks in order to accommodate 80 people (actors as well as lighting, camera, and make-up crews) for taking breaks and eating while in production for And God Created Woman, starring a scantily clad Brigitte Bardot alongside Jean-Louis Trintignant. Amazingly, Geneviève de Colmont, the family matriarch, prepared all of the daily meals for the crew on one gas cooker.
Even after the film’s wrap, Bardot and the film workers continued to visit the de Colmontson the beach. Little did the iconic actress and her husband at the time, director Roger Vadim, know that this little cabana was not a bistro! In 1955, the family formally registered Le Club 55 as a business. The following year, in 1956, the finished film, became a cinematic sensation and both Bardot and Saint Tropez officially became bonafide, international stars.
Le Club 55 could have coasted on its association with Bardot for many years, but non. Instead, it still attracts a legion of regulars who include celebrities and everyday people. There is no air of pretension and Patrice makes it that way on purpose: He once said, “In today’s society, we are facing too much speed and too much consumption every day, but here we have created a normal place to relax and to calm down. Everybody is treated equally.” INSTAGRAM
In order to book a space on the beach or a table at the restaurant, one needs to call the main line—there is no email address listed. And being there under the thatched roofs and rustic wooden structures can immediately make anyone feel relaxed and special. Whether visitors reach the club on foot or by car from Boulevard Patch or from the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean via yacht, everyone is welcome.
Outside, it’s impossible not to notice the parking lot full of European luxury cars as well as the easy-on-the-eyes crowd. If lucky, one can easily spot the likes of Angelina Jolie, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, or Ralph Lauren. To access the club, lush, green landscapes frame the wooden pathways to and from entrances and exits. Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere resembles the beach: the dining area has no walls in order to open up the space for natural breezes and all tables and chairs are placed on the sand and fit underneath the rustic roofs. Amidst a backdrop of blue table linens to match the sea, a delicious array of classic French cuisine is on the menu with their famous le paniers de crudités ("fresh vegetable platter"). The wait staff commonly serve orders of la piscine ("rosé over ice") as a refreshing drink on hot summer days.
Nearby stand the white umbrellas and smaller straw roofs to provide shade over the matelas(beach mattresses with wooden frames). The beach staff—all dressed in white—are more than eager to assist visitors. What’s worth the rental cost of the matelas is the priceless people watching, and better yet, the outstanding view of the Mediterranean. From the small pier that extends from Le Club 55 to the water, dinghies transport yacht passengers back and forth, from shore to sea.
And just like the sun setting at the end of the day, Le Club 55 closes at 6 pm—no exceptions. It doesn’t matter because by that hour, a fun time was had by all.