From Humble Beginnings – Club 55, St Tropez

 

Club 55 is nothing less than a legend in St Tropez; it is an iconic part of the folklore of the place, along with Brigitte Bardot and Gunther Sachs.

It is situated in the middle of the famous Pampelonne Beach, who’s lesser and tackier beach restaurants, do not compare with its style or sense of Theatre.

Set in the dunes of the white sands of Pampelone Plage, it is definitely the world’s most exclusive restaurant.

It all began in 1955, when Madame de Colmont used her little wood hut to attend to the culinary desires of Brigitte Bardot and the crew during the filming of Roger Vadim’s “…And God Created Woman”.

Her son and now owner, Patrice de Colmont has lived here since his childhood, and combines his love of the place with an iron hand when dealing with the whims, and demands of the impossibly spoilt, super rich guests.

Everyone is treated in the same manner and the right to a table is a privilege which needs to be earned. It is a real treat to go as the guest of a true local, whose right to sit in the hallowed section of the restaurant is enshrined in the unwritten etiquette known only to the waiters who have been there for years, and seen it all before.

In the seventies, it was still largely a European clientele, but by the 1980’s the oil rich Arabs had arrived with heir huge entourages, and thirty years later it is the newly enriched Russian Oligarchs.

Every year there is an invasion of the super rich from around the world, demanding the best tables and ordering the most expensive wines on the menu. The real connoisseur will begin with the opulent crudités, select a bottle of Chateau de Pampelonne Rosé, and then sit back and relax, and watch the show.

The waiters have been here for years and serve delectable Mediterranean cuisine, whilst the guests provide the Cabaret.

Impossibly beautiful, leggy girls, hang around the thick brown necks of perma-tanned plump businessmen magnates, and the seriously rich bring their yachts around from the harbour at St Tropez, and entertain their guests at Club 55, so that the sea opposite looks like a boat park for the biggest yachts in the world.

In order to keep the customers cool, there is a ‘sprinkler’ system of small bore pipes which expel a fine spray every so often to prevent the diners from expiring from the heat of the place.

Those who wish to enjoy the wonderful scenery should avoid July and August at all costs, and yet that is when the Cabaret is at its best with Gigolos seeking their prey, and young girls seeking their Millionaires, and everyone in between.

At any sitting for lunch or dinner there must be twenty of more languages being spoken, and rampant children, impatient with waiting for lunch at 4pm, playing on the beach outside. This is where the Paparazzi hang around in packs acting like wolves and seeking their prey.

Club 55 is possibly the most expensive restaurant in the world, because just to get there for lunch can cost the Yacht owner £10,000 just to motor around from St.Tropez, and arrive at his booked table, fashionably late, but then the ‘locals’, will often brave the beach and walk along the silicon sand, studiously avoiding the eyes, and appendages of the Health & Efficiency crew on the nudist beach.

The other great social leveler is the Car Parking regime! It’s no good just turning up in an Aston Martin or a Porsche 911, because they are two a penny. The Car Parking mafia will select the sexiest cars to line up outside the main entrance to the restaurant, and we are talking ‘special’.

So, by 6pm, the sun is lengthening over the beach, and the Billionaires have headed back to St Tropez or Juan Les Pins or Cap D ‘Antibes, or Cap Ferret or Cannes, and the wonderful beach looks its very mellow yellow best. That is the time to sit in the weakening sun, and sip a glass of Chateau Minutey Rose, and share the moment with those closest to you

Despite all the Posers, Pimps and Princesses, it is still a beautiful place, unspoilt by the endless efforts of the Glitterati to diminish its charms.

Further Reading