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You Can't Go Home Again but You Can Come Back to St. Tropez

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With all of the world changing, and so much of it being angry, what was fabulous about St. Tropez remains so: the light on the softly rippling Gulf of Grimaud, the matchless sunsets. A few clouds catching the waning rays, turning a radiant pinkish orange, purple around the edges, And underneath the predictable trashiness of some leftover summer visitors, weapons merchants on their yachts anchored in the port, there is a subtle spirituality, a sense of peace and inner expansion. The fish is delicious and a fair price, the ice cream a match for Italian gelato -- Mike Nichols once went on a search for the best ice cream, and I think chose here -- and the caramel. The fruit is so fresh and sweet you wonder what it is exactly we have been eating in the states.

Then there's an exhibition of Brigitte Bardot, the only one of her movie star generation not to have plastic surgery. So in between the relentless sun that beats here in season and the saving of baby seals, she is mercilessly weathered, so it's better to see her in the exhibition than in the marche, the outdoor market where she comes to shop. But the market!! That alone is worth the trip.

Best of all is the Villa Marie, once Les Bergerettes, a tiny hotel discovered long ago that has been renovated to a fare-thee well, or even better, a hello, as it is now quite beautifully grand, without being pretentious. Sheltered in a tiny forest of maritime pine, it seems a more peaceable kingdom than the much touted Byblos, noticeably Russian. Most people do not come to this area to be tranquil, but the best place to achieve that is off the road to the beaches, in Ramatuelle. I used to think if God took a vacation, He/She would come here. God knows God must need one.