Escaping to St. Tropez, French Riviera

Europe - 61 St Tropez

St. Tropez, France


Italian Macaroons

Upon returning to the Mediterranean, there was one place I had to see- St. Tropez!!!!! I watched the Forbes top 10 destinations for millionaires and sure enough, St. Tropez was listed. Then I said to myself- I am going there! You don’t have to be a millionaire to see St. Tropez, maybe to sail there on a yacht but not to visit. My husband and I had an amazing day in St. Tropez with memories to last a lifetime. It is exactly as I had pictured it to be, picture perfect with sail boats, yachts, fancy clothes, jewelry stores, bistros, pastries in the windows, beautiful women and very clean. There are plants and flowers growing up the sides of the homes, shutters and hotels. I loved our day in St. Tropez!!!

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St. Tropez

While in St. Tropez, the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup was underway.  The inshore racing took place with the event’s international fleet. In all there were a hundred yachts, divided into two groups. We viewed Maxi yachts which are larger boats measuring over 60-feet.

Be prepared to see women without bikini tops. They were working on the sail boats, prepping for the race in bikini bottoms only. It is a sight to see watching the people get off of the yachts dressed in extremely high fashion clothes. The kids had large hats, linen pants and leather loafers. St. Tropez is truly a world of it’s own.

History: The port was used frequently in the 18th century. In 1789 it was visited by 80 ships. Saint-Tropez’s shipyards built tartans and three-masted ships that could carry 1,000 to 12,200 barrels. The town was known for various associated trades, including fishing, cork, wine, and wood. In 1860 the floret of the merchant marine, named “The Queen of the Angels” visited the port.

Port Grimaud

Port Grimaud

At the end of September, a regatta is held in the bay of Saint-Tropez, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. This is a draw for many yachts, some up to 50 meters in length. Many tourists come to the location for this event, or as a stop on their trip to Cannes, Marseille or Nice.

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Port Grimaud boat ride

We headed to Port Grimaud for a boat ride around the gorgeous, colorful vacation homes.

Boat ride through the canals

Boat ride through the canals

Port Grimaud is a charming village which is built in Provençale style on a network of canals. It is full of character and atmosphere as any village on the Riviera, including a typical market held twice a week.

The local restaurants can be reasonably priced with their ‘plat du jour’ menus. From Port Grimaud, there is a regular boat service to St. Tropez – perhaps the most famous of all the towns – with its harbor and colorful artists, its ancient winding streets and alleyways, pavement cafés and bars, and inviting restaurants. In both Port Grimaud and St. Tropez, water sports are well to the fore. You can enjoy water-skiing, sailing, snorkeling and scuba-diving or just laze about on a pedalo.

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Restaurant in St Tropez

$$ saving tips: The short boat ride through the canals on Port Grimaud is only 5€!!!! It’s the best deal in St. Tropez. Take pictures as you sail along and listen to the tour guide share information about the area. I remember that each home comes with a personal boat parking space and they are all vacation homes, not permanent

Shops in St. Tropez

Shops in St. Tropez

residences. If you are in St. Tropez just for the day, I highly recommend booking a tour which includes the port, bay, shopping and lunch. The shopping is extremely pricy in St. Tropez and therefore, I did not purchase anything. We ate at a fabulous restaurant and regrettably, I didn’t catch the name. As you can see from the picture, it was a stone building decorated in bright purple, orange and yellow. This is where we sipped rosé wine all afternoon. When booking a package deal, the restaurants are much more cost effective. You have free time to walk about and shop on your own.

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Shopping in St. Tropez

More on rosé wine: (from French: rosé also known as rosado in Portugal and Spanish-speaking countries or rosato in Italy) the wine’s pink color comes from incorporating some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to truly be considered a red wine. Rosé may be the oldest known type of wine. The pink color can range from a pale “onion”-skin orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grape varieties used and winemaking techniques. There are three major ways to produce rosé wine: skin contact, saignée and blending. Rosé wines are made in several verities: still, semi-sparkling or sparkling and with a wide range of sweetness levels from bone-dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandels and blushes.

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

Monte Carlo and Monaco, French Riviera

Casino Monte Carlo

Casino Monte Carlo

I always dreamed of visiting the French Riviera and mostly, Monte Carlo to tour the infamous Grand Casino! The luxurious cars parked out front with attendants by their side was a grand beginning to the tour of the Casino. We had purchased a ticket in advance for the tour and unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside. The only way to enter the Casino is if you are a guest staying at the hotel or if you are on a tour, otherwise you will not be able to enter. For that reason, I highly recommend that you purchase a ticket to tour the hotel. The tour consists of walking through the lobby and grand casino area. The guide tells the history of the hotel, famous people who frequent the hotel, the history of the chandeliers and what types of events have taken place in the casino. While on the tour, you will have free time to place a bet, but I must warn you that the minimum bet is very, very high. It was exciting to walk around and observe the guests sitting up to the lavish tables gambling. You can sit out in front of the hotel and watch the people coming and going in their high fashion clothing and large hats. We happened to be there during the Monte Carlo Yacht Show in 2012. The Casino Monte Carlo looks as fabulous in person as it does in the many movies filmed there. Monte Carlo and its casino were the locations for a number of James Bond movies, including Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye, as well as for the “Casino Royale” episode of the CBS’ Climax! television show. This is not a place to take kids as you must be at least 18 years of age to enter the Grand Casino. I learned that citizens are not permitted to gamble at the Grand Casino.

Casino Monte Carlo

Casino Monte Carlo

IMG00214-20100917-1439The circuit de Monaco is used on one weekend in the month of May of each year to host the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. You can walk along the street of Monte Carlo and find all kinds of shopping. It is a really fun, cute place to roam around. Surprisingly small, only 3,000 people live in Monte Carlo.


The legend Monte-Carlo® was born in 1863, on the Plateau des Spelugues in Monaco and was so named in 1866, in honor of Prince Charles III of Monaco. With its glamorous ocean-side Mediterranean location, the site is the perfect setting for a premium casino. Its beautiful olive groves and lemon tree orchards combine with the deep blue sea to provide a sumptuous natural backdrop. The first casino was built in 1863 and like most premium things in life, it grew slowly and steadily.
Casino de Monte-Carlo® is inextricably entwined with the history of high-class European gaming entertainment. It is the acknowledged home of the most classic casino games, and of the most elegant and luxurious of all European casinos. This is also where French roulette was first introduced in the 18th century.
Casino de Monte-Carlo® has become the most revered name in casino mythology. The rooms have been immortalized in films and popular cultural legend. The mere mention of a Monte-Carlo® instantly conjures up iconic, tension-filled showdowns over the baccarat, roulette or poker tables. The suave, audacious style of James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ is forever associated with its Monte-Carlo® setting. Casinos in Monaco are also the rendezvous places for exclusive events during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix weekend, which celebrities flock to. Film stars, music superstars, designers and fashionistas, international socialites, and the biggest sports stars in the world list Casino de Monte-Carlo® as favorites on their social calendars.

Hotel de Paris

Hotel de Paris

Right next to the Grand Casino you will see the Hotel de Paris, which is one of the most expensive hotels in the world. It has 175 suites that look out  over the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel does offer special rates from 479€ per night. Check out more information at

Monaco Palace

Monaco Palace


Palace of Monaco

Monaco enjoys a privileged location at the heart of Mediterranean Europe. The Principality is nestled between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by the French Riviera to the west and the Italian Riviera to the east. The palace of Monaco began as a fortress when in 1191 the German Emperor Henry IV ceded the harbor and the rocky promontory to the Republic of Genoa on the condition that they build fortifications to combat piracy. Additional property was acquired from the Council of Peille and the monks at the Abbaye de Saint Pons and construction actually only began in June 1215 when Fulco de Castello, one of Genoa’s most enterprising consuls, anchored his fleet of ships loaded with building supplies in the harbor. By then they were ready to trace the outlines of a rampart of thirty-seven sections and four buttressed towers connected with 8-meter to form a triangular boundary. Later a higher wall was erected and a second fortress was added on the port side entrance, none of which remains today.

Today, from June to October, the Palace is open to visitors. There they can see the royal courtyard paved with 3,000,000 white and colored pebbles formed into beautiful geometrical patterns. On exhibit are the 16th-century Genovese frescoes depicting scenes from mythological. The columns and the spectacular double-revolution staircase inspired by a staircase at Fontainebleau are done in Carrara marble.

Footsteps of Saint Nicholas Cathedral

Footsteps of Saint Nicholas Cathedral


Grace Kelly’s burial site

Just down the street from the palace sits Monaco Cathedral, also known as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and St. Nicholas Cathedral.We took a tour of the Saint Nicholas Catherdral where Grace Kelly is buried. The Cathedral is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday and they do allow photography inside.  The Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco Cathedral (French: Cathédrale de Monaco), is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco in Monaco-Ville, Monaco, where many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently, Rainier III. The cathedral was consecrated in 1875, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. Of note are the retable (circa 1500) to the right of the transept, the Great Altar and the Episcopal throne in white Carrara marble.Pontifical services take place on the major religious festivals such as the Feast of Sainte Dévote (27 January) and the National holiday (19 November). On feast days and during religious music concerts, one can hear the magnificent four-keyboard organ, inaugurated in 1976.From September through June, “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco” and the singers of the Cathedral Choir School sing during mass every Sunday at 10:00am. Mass is also celebrated here each year on 6 December, when primary children gather for a joyful remembrance of St. Nicholas’ life.,_Monaco

$$ saving tips: It is not necessary to have a tour guide to view Saint Nicholas Cathedral, as there are plaques throughout, detailing historical events around the Catherdral. It is free of charge and open to the public. When visiting the Casino Monte Carlo it is a good idea to eat prior to entering the Casino plaza area. The plaza has shops and restaurants but they are all very pricy. It is the perfect place to grab a coffee or a glitzy, key chain as a remembrance of the Grand Casino Monte Carlo. The further you walk away from the Grand Casino, the better chance of possibly catching a sale sign. The off season for Monte Carlo is December- February and that is when you can get the best rate on a room at the Hotel de Paris. There are shops in Monaco outside of the Palace which are fairly reasonable to pick up hats, clothing and other gifts. is featured monthly in Destinations Travel Magazine