The bohemian ambience of St Tropez’s beachside restaurants is under threat from a new law being pushed through by the French government that would banish the chic driftwood structures in favour of collapsible flat-pack outlets that can be taken down if required.
The trendy lounges on the white sand of Pampelonne, made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1956 film And God Created Woman, are to be scaled back in number from 27 to 23, meaning four will close completely, while the number of mattresses available to the well-heeled for lounging will be reduced by nearly half from 5,000 to 3,000. The contentious new rules, known as the Décret Plage 2006, have been in the offing for a number of years and state that the commercial area of the beach be reduced from 30 per cent to 20.
“We risk erasing a large part of the history of St Tropez,” said Josselin Chouvet, who runs Tabou, a beach bar established in the Fifties. “We are concerned not just for the tourist trade, which is going to be difficult, but also for the local people, who have always enjoyed coming here.
“These changes will dramatically affect prices.”
The government says the law is to protect the ecological qualities of Pampelonne’s natural environment. Michel Dubromel, president of France Nature Environment, said there is a need to “promote both employment, protecting of the population and a preserved environment”. When passed, restaurants will have until the end of the 2018 summer to comply.