In the 1920s Saint-Tropez attracted international stars from the world of fashion. During World War II, on August 15, 1944, it was the central site of a beach landing in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France. After the war it became the French existentialists' summer retreat. But it was in the 1950s — partly thanks to Brigitte Bardot — that Saint-Tropez received international recognition. Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez movie series made Saint-Tropez famous internationally.
During the building work on her new home at 'Sunset House', Winifred & Elisabeth Starr resolved to escape to the sea for a much needed rest and change of air. Elisabeth kept a studio close to the harbour in St. Tropez which was still very much a fishing village but was already changing. Winifred mentions in her books how she felt sorry for the locals who would stand and watch as the wealthy and rather loud visitors would arrive in their large cars in the evening. Her visit to the studio is described in 'Sunset House' and the building containing the studio still exists.
This photograph has been annotated in
Winifred's writing to show the studio in St. Tropez
For many years Elisabeth had also rented a deserted coastguard station down on the coast in the Var, close to St. Tropez. She assured Winifred that it was the perfect location where one could still find peace and solitude. It was primitive, no running water, no electric light - only candles & lanterns, camp beds and no proper road to approach by. They went, with a minimum of luggage, along the hair raising tracks, in Elisabeth's 'Baby Peugeot' with certain larger items being sent ahead to St. Tropez and later delivered to the cottages by fishing boat!
The bay and the cottages are due south of Ramatuelle and best reached on foot via the cliff path from Plage de l'Escalet. Only one cottage is now intact, this is possibly the end cottage which, (as described in 'Sunset House'), served as the kitchen.
Click on the map or use the link
Pictures - Tony & Margaret Smith, archives of the Garde de la Côte, Plas Newydd archives, Michael Brett & the Brett Family