Wednesday, 18 July 2012 11:00 AM
Saint-Tropez has long been a popular destination among holidaymakers keen to sample fine cuisine and enjoy the pleasant Mediterranean sunshine; however, it is also a perfect place for culture vultures. Choose to visit the southern French town and you'll have the opportunity to soak up amazing art and history.
From the minute you set out from your Saint-Tropez luxury villa, you'll be presented with astounding architecture and landmarks, so there is certain to be something to catch your interest.
One fascinating cultural attraction that nature lovers in particular should visit is the amazing Maison des Papillons, which translates as the House of Butterflies in English. As you might have guessed from its name, this building showcases a wide range of the winged creatures displayed in a variety of forms.
It is thought that some 35,000 butterflies from around the world, including many rare and endangered varieties, are on show here. With species from as faraway locations as the Solomon Islands and Brazil exhibited, coming here presents you with a good chance to see animals that you might struggle to catch a glimpse of alive in the wild.
The institution was created by artist Dany Lartigue, the son of famous French photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue, who is dedicated to creating the natural environment of each species on display. That way, you are able to get an in-depth appreciation of butterflies' intricate colouring and how they use camouflage as a defence mechanism against predators.
A trip to the Annonciade Museum will also provide you with a stunning insight into local culture, with the institution dedicated to showcasing the best of French art. Focusing on works from the latter stages of the 19th century to the midpoint of the 20th century, pieces from the pointillist and Fauvist movements - including paintings and sketches from Pierre Bonnard, Henri-Edmond Cross and Albert Marquet - are shown.
Perhaps the most famous artist you will see here is Henri Matisse, a painter and sculptor who helped to drive the development of the fauvism and impressionism styles in the early 20th century and had a long friendship with Picasso. The 1898 piece Paysage Corse and 1920 painting Interieur a Nice are just two of his works on display.
Come here on Thursday mornings and you can take a guided tour, where one of the museum's members of staff will lead you through the collections, providing you with detailed information about the various works on show.
If you want to take a further step back in exploring Saint-Tropez's history, head to La Citadelle. As you might have guessed from its name, this structure has played an integral role in defending in the town, as well as the rest of the Var region, ever since it was established in the early 17th century.
Sitting on a hilltop overlooking Saint-Tropez, wandering around the fortress today will not provide you with an insight into how the country's military history, but also offer stunning views of the Mediterranean coast.
A trip to the Lavoir Vasserot building is also a great way to learn more about local culture. Built in 1862 as a washhouse for where local women could do their laundry, this structure became a listed monument in the 1980s and was renamed in honour of Charles Albert Vasserot, the architect who designed it. Today, it hosts an ever-changing series of temporary art exhibitions, with Francois Marechal, Daniel Marchi and Italian photographer Marcello Geppetti among the artists whose work has been shown here.