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Not far from Côte d’Azur’s popular spots St Tropez and Sainte-Maxime, Ramatuelle is a worthy stopover along the French Riviera. Ensconced by fields of lavender and sandy beaches, this provincial village is the stuff of Tropezian myth.
Overlooking Provence’s rolling lavender fields and endless striped vineyards, Ramatuelle is small French village masked by tall medieval walls. Built to defend itself against enemies, Ramatuelle’s high position, thick ramparts and mighty watchtowers were enough to deter pirates who once looted and terrorised the villages along the French Riviera.
A place of Tropezian legend, wander through the circular, labyrinthine streets seeking out historical jewels on every corner. Stop by the 16th-century Church of Notre Dame, filled with gilded statues and an ancient watchtower or visit the crumbling, disused prison, built in an unusual Arabian style by Napoleon III.
Continue down narrow, shady streets, admiring stone gateways and charming buildings covered in tumbling bougainvillea, until you arrive at the tree-studded central square. The smell of freshly baked croissants and strong coffee will lure you into a quaint bistros or cafés, where you can sit and watch the sun rise above houses decked with jasmine, honeysuckle and – naturally – lavender. People watch to your heart’s content.
One of the Côte d’Azur’s biggest draws is its beaches. Head to Pampelonne, just below Ramatuelle, for a lazy day trip spent bathing on the gold-coloured sand or taking to the waves for a dip in the Mediterranean.
Rent a car and drive inland to explore other neighbouring villages. Perched on a rock, Gassin has double the appeal thanks to jaw-dropping views across the bay on one side and rolling hills flecked with windmills on the other. Stop for lunch on the Promenade Dei Bari for poetry-inducing vistas and A-grade French cuisine.
Who to take with you
A number of small art galleries are dotted around Ramatuelle. Choose a companion who fancies their hand at arts and crafts – join a workshop or pick up local wares at the craft markets held twice weekly in the village square.
When to go
During the summer, several events and festivals liven up the village’s sleepy streets. Come in July for the Temps Musicaux and the Theatre and Variety. Jazz fans should coordinate their trip in line with Ramatuelle’s Jazz music festival, held in August.
Where to stay
Surrounded by nothing but olive groves and lavender fields, book a room at La Réserve Ramatuelle for a quintessentially provincial stay. With twelve private villages, manicured garden and the renowned Crème de la Mer spa, you’ll never want to leave.
Most likely to bump into…
Despite oozing a rural ambience, Ramatuelle’s proximity to St Tropez and Sainte-Maxime means celebrity spotting is not unlikely. A-listers looking for a quiet escape on the Côte d’Azur, away from the bustling crowds of French Riviera hotspots, are among the usual suspects.
Essentials to bring with you
These Cult Gaia Kaia leather sandals scream Provencal-chic with their neutral shade, square toe and elegant ruched strap.
How to get there
Fly into Nice Airport, only an hour and a half drive from tranquil Ramatuelle.
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