The myth of Bardot may be long dead, but there's no stopping the voracious appetite that people seemingly have for Saint Tropez.
This was once a quiet fishing village at the end of a peninsula and it’s now a warm place in the South of France that seems to have its own economic micro-climate that’s immune to the financial vagaries of the rest of France and the rest of the world.
“In Saint Tropez, a tumble on the stock market is about a 20% drop in turnover. A bad weather forecast, and we’re down 80%.” So says Patrice de Colmont, owner of Club 55 in Pampelonne, one of the most frequented private beaches on the Côte d’Azur.
Saint Tropez has another bumper year in 2012 while the rest of France has been anxiously watching the floundering financial markets; almost as if the God of finances had a personal interest in the well-being of the coastal enclave.
Property is one of the major benefactors of the never-ending Tropezien boom. At the port, a small 40m2 two-room apartment fetches between €10,000 and €20,000. That’s per week, by the way. If you’d prefer not to waste your dead money on rental and buy a place instead, there’s no point in looking unless you’re prepared to fork out at least €30,000 per square metre (In Dublin, for example, an apartment in the poshest part of D4 would fetch no more than €2,000/m2). Villas start at €800,000 but only if you look hard – a drop in the Azurian ocean compared to the €70 million that Lakshmi Mittal (CEO of the world’s largest steel company Arcelor) recently forked out for a home in the Parcs de Saint-Tropez.
The agents get generous commissions of between 3% and 6% of the selling price – well above the Irish industry standard that got reduced back from 3.5% to about 1.5% during our short-lived boom.
“The rental of a yacht is certainly down 30% on 2009, but that was the height of the boom-time; the year of all record-setting,” says luxury yacht broker Thierry Voisin. “But a 42-metre yacht – which is the standard size for your average sheikh on tour – will still come in at about €100,000 per week, on top of which are 15% charges.”
Mooring it at the main port costs about €1,000 per 24 hours and booking must be made several months in advance.
Life in the Town of Bling-Bling doesn’t come cheap.