Dior des Lices: chic garden dining and life music in St Tropez

Dior des Lices is the verdant crown of polished hedonism in St Tropez. Envisioned by the multi-Michelin French chef Yanick Alléno of the Pavillon Le Doyen in Paris, and by LVHM backed 1948 at the Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, beautiful surroundings meet luxury are in sync with his gastronomic style at the Dior café. This is where the well-dressed meet for an evening aperitif, afternoon patisserie, or a luxurious meal staged on the al-fresco carpet of joy. On weekends, live music gigs vary from soft guitar tunes through vocal chansons as well as smooth English songs.
Dior cafe
Design, naturally covets any fine aesthete’s eye — art installed in the garden, exclusive Dior dishware, branded pastries — even the butter gets its Dior stamp. By using luxurious ingredients overall, Dior des Lices pampers the well-heeled clients. This summer, the sun-lit social space that turns into a romantic restaurant in the evenings, was further plushed up. The bar was reshuffled into a cosy music lounge, a new tailed carpet added a cleaner feel, while more plump chairs increased comfort. Bellow are pictured the more simple plates at Dior des Lices prior to its recent luxing-up. Further down follow the most recent dishes.
French saladbest in St Tropez

Contemporary renderings of Mediterranean food

The menu at Dior des Lices changes each season in St Tropez. Some dishes remain familiar, but the gazpacho might include a new twist, the brioche of the burger may be updated and the risotto instead of the usual rice may be replaced by spelt or kamut. Some of the food was more delicious before than certain recent renderings on the carte. The friendly staff listens, so I am confident in them ironing any creases up for the years to come. For the food I prefer lunch, for the atmosphere, the evening setup is much more entertaining.
Before the meal, creative savory snacks arrive with an order of a cocktail (house specials include champagne spiked cucumber fizz), wine (French) or a glass of champagne (Dom Perignon vintage or Moet Chandon). The fresh bread comes plain with its southern accompaniment in the liquid form as an olive oil, the superb Brittany butter is served upon request.
Our favourite plates at Dior des Lices in St Tropez include the gazpacho. This year elevated with a cucumber, strawberry, tomato and basil leaf skewer, wild strawberries and a basil sorbet for a more powerful refreshing effect. Perfect at a scorching summer lunch. The lunch salads are clean yet original. We love them all. The Nicoise with an added raw courgettes and quail eggs instead of the usual chicken’s is my husband’s must lunch on.
vegan St Tropezsummer light food
summer tasteFrench salad
The Bucolic salad with raw cucumber, fennel, zucchini, and grilled avocado with broccoli florets, seasoned with fresh oregano leaves and yuzu vinaigrette and is superb accompaniment to a heavier plate such as the burger. The later can be upped by an aged cheddar, grilled ceps or grilled pork belly. To the buttery brioche splattered generously with ketchup (unfortunately soaked the bottom part of the bun to a mushy pastry), a leaf of lettuce, a succulent slice of tomato under a chunky beef patty, we added the melted cheese. Served with perfectly crisp fries, the salad came in handy. We were disappointed by the unmatchable Burrata with spelt grains, and bland green nut-free pesto.
best burger in St Tropez
The menu slightly changes at dinner when the superb, lean steak with mashed potatoes and grilled giant cep mushrooms, some extra pasta (linguine with lobster are superb) and other more weighty dishes replace some of the lighter lunch plates. We loved the steak, cooked medium plus rare upon request, served with a decadent sauce that you can add abundantly over the lean beef fillet. At dinner once I got the order wrong as either my ultra-chic Dior eggs with caviar were horrible – the cold runny egg ruined all my pleasure from the expensive caviar cum smoked fish and sour cream dish. Also the Asian lobster ravioli had missed the Asian fragrant point as they were bland and undercooked. The superb French Comtè cheese and bread fixed my palate on that weak night!
Luxe St TropezAsian style ravioli

Luxurious French wine list nods to St Tropez glam

The wine list is intensely influenced by the LVHM stable. A Moet by the glass, Domaine Lambrays Burgundy, and Cheval Blanc for the fortunate, but also some local rosè not breaking the bank. The coravin allows pouring a €160 glass of the Clos de Lambrays Grand Cru Monopole Pinot Noir or Petit Cheval, the second label under the Cheval Blanc star.
rare Burgundy wine

Sweet afternoons at Dior des Lices

House-fresh fragrant iced-tea, Nespresso coffee, iced upon request or spiked with a scoop of ice cream as I like it in the summer are perfect at lunch. The sorbets ventured into uncharted waters with creative flavors easily competing with the local ice cream sweetheart Barbarac.
The afternoon tea treats at Dior des Lices in St Tropez are very popular thanks to the pastry chef’s elegant skills, with the Dior choux and eclairs landing on every other table. Very good, not the best, but I am a perfectionist and choux fanatic, beware. Breakfast offer includes the classics like the French viennoisserie, egg dishes, bread and jams, next to freshly pressed juices.
Comte cheese
Alléno’s team translates his twists on some French, but mainly Italian dishes with an overall precision. From its inception over five years ago, we have enjoyed the evolving culinary offerings served in the lush garden. Open from late spring, throughout the summer until early October the provençal house of Dior feeds your aesthetic soul with updated decadence for today’s tastes.
13 Rue François Sibilli, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
+33 4 98 12 67 65
Daily from May until second week in October 10am-midnight

Tropicana La Plage: Tarte Tropezienne on the Pampelonne beach serves the best live music around St Tropez

Tropicana La Plage brings the authentic beach spirit of St Tropez to the new, eco-conscious millennium. Rejuvenating the highly commercialised beach, meant going more upscale, moving some structures further inland and building them so they can be easily disassembled during the off season for the flora and the sand to ‘breathe’. While nature was granted a well deserved facelift over the new French law protecting the sandy dunes, some successful establishments had to close down, others were rebuilt and some privately owned patches like the legendary Club 55 just stayed as they were.
French film posterSt Tropez beach dining
Tropicana had to be pushed a bit inland, keeping the beach bar and chairs in the front of the less party, more quality time focused stretch of Pampelonne closer to Ramatuelle. Losing a snap of the beach view that the family-friendly restaurant enjoyed before the broad revamp did not transform the experience into lesser grounds, rather the two level space feels better than before, while the food is close to the best in the vicinity of St Tropez. Our locally-based Parisian friends nodded to the realness of Tropicana.
Saint Tropez beach diningSt Tropez cake

St Tropez tradition meets contemporary taste: Tarte Tropezienne et co.

The well-looked-after smart child of the owner of the Tarte Tropezienne offers quality ingredients skillfully cooked into Mediterranean delectables in unpretentious atmosphere. A live band strokes the chords of bossanova as you relish the bounty off the white-cloth tables under the shading pines mingling with umbrellas. Dig your feet into the sand on the lower side, or feast cosied under the roofed part. You get more private space at Tropicana than at most other high-end restaurants on Pampelonne. No elbowing and cigarettes in your face of the Club 55 glitz and who is who, but more elegant and balanced lunch occasion.
French pastryTropicana La Plage
The original bakery and café on Place des Lices sparked up to fame by Brigitte Bardot and the film crew behind And God Created a Woman, the sexy 60s blockbuster that landed Pampelonne on the star-studded echelon of summer voyaging. The sweet-tooth teasing Tarte Tropezienne pastries, a white plain or cereal bread served whole on your table with a knife to slice and ice cream from Barbarac, by far the best glacier in the area (try pistachio, straciatella or natural yogurt) are prepared locally off-site. For a gourmand coffee after the meal order the Café St Tropez – your choice of Nespresso coffee with four mini tropezienne tarts in different flavours. The famous cake is essentially a dense, flavoured cream sandwiched in a springy brioche topped with granulated sugar.
vegan St TropezGluten free St Tropez

Tropicana La Plage: Mediterranean food for millennial tastes

Beyond its famous cakes and baked goods sold in its cafes all over South of France, Tropicana whips Mediterranean dishes with a touch of trendy plates like superb, fresh ceviche, or a vegan platter of crisp chickpea fritters, citrus-fresh quinoa salad (also offered as a single starter in a larger bowl), olive and anchovy dip and fresh vegetable crudites cater to all diets and palates. You can order a side of the panisses fritters or superb house french fries golden and roughly cut with skin on. Other gluten free dishes, daily catch paraded around for you to select from, superb thinly pounded veal, pasta, and daily specials like a refreshing gazpacho, goat cheese tart and a different dessert from the pastry chef each time broaden your options at Tropicana. As a generous starter, the French fresh goat cheese, grilled peppers, olives and toasted bread at Tropicana might be too much for one person, but as a main this locally sourced plate works. From the classics, the ham with summer ripe melons shows these pure ingredients at their best. For a shared meal, the 1.2 kg whole roasted chicken served with whole roasted young potatoes fills you up till a late night.
Mediterranean foodSt Tropez dining
My favorites include the fried calamari rings, parsley (not too oily, perfectly crisp) with lemon wedges and house mayonnaise, while my husband cannot go without the generous serving of his favorite eggplant parmigiana, in olive oil and tomato sauce baked eggplant with melted parmesan cheese. The Nicoise garbanzo panisse fritters are a must order and so are the pastries by Tarte Tropezienne.
detox juiceglace Barbarac
To drink, the aperol spritz aperitif is served with fresh citrus, and the wine list is narrowed down to French, mainly Provencal bottles. Non-alcoholic smoothies and detox juices (my husband’s favorite is the Green Boost), tea and herbal tisanes, iced coffee for a much needed pick-me up round any meal up. being on the beach though, I would strip the cocktails and juices off the plastic straws since the greatest pollution in our oceans is due to the plastic waste. There are plenty compostable alternatives.
St Tropez has suffered from the influx of careless party-goers and cheep tourism over recent years, but with more businesses of local quality, such as Tropicana La Plage, I glimpse a more authentic return to the bygone era of Southern French glamour.

Le Club 55: legend still cooking on the beaches of St Tropez

Simple and authentic“, that are the defining words of Le Club 55. Yet, this is also the best and long lasting place in St Tropez to have a delicious lunch on the beach. Since 1955, the Club 55 (Cinquante-Cinq, hence the name), has been the mecca of the rich and famous. For over 50 years, almost every famous person lunched at this restaurant or hanged out by its bar. From the French icon Brigitte Bardot to the British Kate Moss, Madonna or Jay-Z with Beyoncé – you can see in flesh any of the stars at Le Club 55.
Plump Vegetables at Club 55
I go to St Tropez a number of times every year and each time I have lunch at Le Club 55 – I know, I am the lucky one. The location and ceaseless popularity of this beach restaurant allows for higher than usual prices as without wine one can spend between €50 and €100 for a two-course Mediterranean meal at the rustic yet chic restaurant.
Lively ambiance at Club 55
Le Club 55 has an unforgettable atmosphere. Skirting the Mediterranean shores, beside St Tropez, its location was destined for success. There are many beach restaurants that die as time passes in South of France, but not Le Cinquante-Cinq! Here, the guests is welcomed as a friend, casually, without any hypocrisy or snobbery as it often can happen at some of its neighbouring establishments. And that is perhaps why everyone loves it so much. Over the years it became an institution that keeps its promises. One can wear a celebrity outfit (large sunglasses, jewellery and hat on) or a linen kaftan with flip-flops and still fit in. During the peak season, resident jazz band swings around with a giant contrabass singing for a birthday table on one side, and later entertaining the always active bar scene.
Famous stars show up often at Club 55
The food is ultra fresh, and local ingredients are served without pretensions. Baked mediterranean fish, pike-headed artichoke or a horse meat burger? Do not translate the later as I did as Hamburger à cheval is not made of horse meat, but Hamburger à cheval is made of beef and fried egg on the top. Not a horse in it. The name comes from its look, the eggs are sitting on the flat minced beef  like a rider on a horseback.
The menu is all in French, so it is wise to either learn some food words ahead (there is a menu, that never changes, and daily specials; I will include the standard menu items with their French names for you) or ask the stuff, which is normally very helpful.
You can order very simple dishes, some of them ideal for the beach dieters – Carottes Râpées – Greated carrots will not add many calories to your daily total. Southern staples such as Salade NiçoiseAnchoiade (anchovies, olive oil, garlic) or Panier de Crudités – a huge basket of fresh vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and a delicious mayonnaise-based sauce to dip in – are always a great start. The vegetable basket is ideal for sharing, as you can see below on the picture it is large.
Vegetable cruditèe at Club 55
My favourites include the Salade de Pampelonne (Tomatoes, fresh goat cheese, creamy rich sauce and fresh mint), Artichaut Vinaigrette, (huge cooked artichoke, that you peel, leaf by leaf until you reach the meaty heart and carve it out to savour with a yellowish mouth-watering mayonnaise sauce), Epi de Mais (grilled corn knob with melting butter – simple but exquisite, although pricy for such an uncomplicated dish) and Feuilleté de Ramatuelle – which is a quiche-like savoury style pie with cheese, eggs and tomatoes starter.
As a main course, the choice is again diverse. Seafood like Grilled prawns (Gambas Grillèes), various fish, Veal Milanese (Escalope Milanaise), Beef Filet (Fillet Grillé) or Burger with fried egg (Hamburger à cheval) are all excellent. The fish is fresh and often great for sharing. My friend tried the Hamburger à cheval and loved its juicy and succulent flare in a freshly baked bun. At that time erroneously thinking that he was eating a horse burger – he was quite excited about it. For regulars the daily specials are interesting as one can get bored with the same food every time.
Fruits, cakes, homemade ice cream and sorbets charge you up with sugar fuel. In particular the Strawberry tart (look below at the picture and I guarantee you will not resist) is heavenly and quite light for a cake, making it a perfect treat, before you strip into your bikini or Vilebrequin shorts.
Strawberry cake at Club 55
The bon vivant atmosphere seduces for a bottle or two of something racy. The wine list does not strip your pocket as there are many local roses and white wines for a reasonable price to be chosen from. I like the Domaine Ramatuelle, Chateau de Pampelonne and Les Bouis roses next to the more known provençal domains from the list. Sangria, mojitos and other cocktails are a compulsory items on the beach bar list.
Chateau Pampelone rose
 Daily from April till November for lunch 1-4pm. There are two seatings in the high season. Reservation is incremental at least a couple of days prior your visit.
 43 Boulevard Patch, 83350 Ramatuelle, France
+ 33 4 94 55 55 55

Le Strand in St Tropez

Le Strand is conveniently located near the St Tropez’ Citadelle, away from the town’s crowds. It is a lively restaurant, just not as noisy as the restaurants in the port. Despite being owned by the same group as the legendary clubbing restaurant Niki Beach nearby, it attracts a very different crowd. More foodies and lovely ambiance seeking diners tend to frequent Le Strand. Another big plus is its courtyard where eating becomes a refreshing escape from a hotel room. Its fashionable sister restaurant in St. Barths is not known for excellent food, but the Strand in St Tropez amends the reputation with high-quality seafood, fish as well as meat and fresh vegetables.
Interior of The Strand from access-sttropez.com
Atmosphere: Modern elegant inside and refreshing on the terrace under the trees where a Dj plays ear-pleasing lounge tunes each night of the summer season. During the summer, most people prefer the outside seating therefore, it is better to mention your desire when making your reservation. The service is very friendly and accommodating. Do not hesitate to ask for a better table if the restaurant is not full yet.
Food: Modern yet with a traditional French and Italian base. The olive bread is fresh and crunchy, making for a perfect teaser before your dinner. Just do not eat more than one bun and leave some space for the good food that is about to come.
From the more local French appetizers, I like the Asparagus served with poached egg and truffles. Enjoyable with a glass of champagne or a crisp dry white wine, this dish breaks the wine and food pairing guides’ misconception that eggs go hardly with wine. Adding zesty and crunchy asparagus as well as aromatic black truffles makes
Asparagus with poached egg and truffles
The Italian Burrata mozzarella with tomato salad is incredible here. A creamy texture of the cheese and an original take on the tomatoes traditionally accompanying this starter make it a hard-to-resist temptation.
The fish on the menu is all local and fresh. The Sea bass and barigoule artichoke may look a bit dull, but it is very good. The fish has a delicate texture, the vegetables are cooked to crispness and the soft artichoke balances the dish out with its mellowness. An olive oil, onion and chopped veggies-based condiment adds a bit of zest and juice to the fish, but it did not work for me with the vegetables served with the dish.
Sea bass with artichoke
For those not finding their favorite on the menu, the fish of the day are presented by your waiter on a tray before you order, so you might find your catch there. Encountering the robust lobster, one hardly resists. The Grilled lobster, as well as Prawns are both excellent. Delicate, juicy and melting in your mouth you might even skip the sauces served with it. If you are lucky on the day you dine at The Strand, the lobster can be huge so get ready for it!
Waitress offering daily fish & lobster
From the sides going for the Mashed potatoes with truffles will not disappoint you, unless you are a fan of a super-creamy and buttery à la Joel Robuchon take on this traditional French accompaniment to a meal. At the Strand the mash is more of a home style with crumbles of potatoes traceable in your mouth, the truffles add a festive touch.
Beef and veal dominate the meat dishes on the menu. The Italian Beef Rossini is very good.
I rarely get a dessert here, not that they would look unappetizing, but my favorite ice cream seller in France (Barbarac) is just a five-minute stroll along the port, so I must keep my sweet tooth on a leash until then.
Cuisine: Contemporary Mediterranean – French and Italian
Drinks: The bar  and a Champagne lounge is convenient for a drink while you might be waiting for your table. I have never had a cocktail there, but the champagne and French wines by the glass will certainly uplift your spirit before a dinner. The wine list is all French wine and champagne with medium-high price points prevailing. When we eat seafood we get a bottle of Burgundy and when meat then we tend to go for Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux.
From May-October: every evening from 7:30 pm
 +33 (0) 4 94 97 43 22
 2 Rue du Petit Bal, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France

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