In Saint Tropez , opposite the small beach of the same name, the legendary La Ponche hotel is reopening after eight months of work.
La Ponche is one of the iconic hotels on the French Riviera, where artists arrived in the 1950s, before and after hosting the team for the film “And God Created Woman”. There were many stars from the arts, politics and cinema: Boris Vian, Michel Piccoli, Pierre Brasseur, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Pompidou, Kenzo, Jack Nicholson, Catherine Deneuve. Several famous couples hid in their rooms: Brigitte Bardot and Gunter Sachs, Bernard Buffet and Annabel, Romy Schneider and Daniel Biasini.
Renewing a legend was the challenge imposed on Fabrizio Casiraghi, the architect responsible for the works and the new decoration of the hotel. He searched thrift stores and antique shops for objects, armchairs, lamps, the South, Dolce Vita, the 60s, the sea and holidays, to create an environment that blends Provence and summer. In the 21 rooms (including 5 suites), the walls are white and the wood is black walnut. The floors are terracotta and the walls are hung with paintings by Cordier and original lithographs by Picasso. The exceptional room is number 8, the one where Romy Schneider and Daniel Biasini always stayed. The terrace is the same size as the bedroom and overlooks the roofs of Saint Tropez , the citadel, the church tower and the sea.
At just 29 years old, chef Thomas Danigo, calm and strict, has traveled the world, worked in Chartres and Paris, but has returned to propose a Mediterranean menu emphasizing the region’s vegetables, fish and the everyday vibes of the open-air market. « No frills and no exaggerations, a cuisine focused on regional products and flavors ». It offers fresh pea gazpacho, grilled lobster, the famous “bouillabaisse”, daily dishes in a charcoal oven and desserts made with seasonal fruits. For lunch, traditional dishes are served on the terrace, while the menu emphasizes the chef’s personal creations at dinner time in a more sophisticated environment.
To feel the spirit of a hotel, the best place is without a doubt the bar. The hotel’s history – and success – began at Saint-Germain-des-Prés-La Ponche, a meeting point for fishermen and artists, whose renovation was very carefully done by Fabrizio Casiraghi. He took a wall of mirrors behind the bar, installed some light fixtures to enhance the bottles, covered the ceiling with black walnut, and chose a floor of black and white tiles. The fireplace, wrought iron tables and armchairs created a cozy atmosphere to enjoy, at any time of the day or night, an amazing cocktail and finger food menu , an atmosphere worthy of the past of La Ponche and Dolce Vita.
The new director, Audrey Brémond, is a “tropezienne” of the gem who once worked in the Oetker group. He had successful experiences in Courchevel, Vence and in the Monsieur hotels, Parisian “boutique hotels” belonging to the company HN6 ACTIVE, now also the owner of La Ponch e. Even if the decision was made to leave the Esprit de France chain, the company led by businessman Nicolas Saltiel wants to breathe new life into La Ponche , rediscover the bubbling of its origins and the atmosphere of the 60s, the anthem to the sun, simplicity, to the Mediterranean, go beyond the simple notion of accommodation to release the cultural dimension of a peculiar experience with the spirit of Saint Tropez.