We know the beautiful city of Saint-Tropez for of its shady squares and its typically Provençal alleys. We also know the magical beaches that dot the Gulf and the mimosa flowers that are just opening with the warm mildness of early spring. But, did you know that during the eighteenth century, the port was one of the most important on the Mediterranean? That seamen set off to explore the entire Ottoman Empire as their wives waited here for them to return? It’s an epic story best told by the Maritime History Museum.
In 2013, the Maritime History Museum moved into the newly renovated dungeon of the Citadel that overlooks the city. The construction of the Citadel began in 1602 when Henry IV ordered the fortification of the Mediterranean coast to counter any Spanish attacks. Consisting of a large hexagonal tower surrounded by several levels of ramparts, it was used as a fort until the late nineteenth century. In 1993, it was acquired by the town and rehabilitated following a major course of renovation work.
Ex-votos, scale models, maps, sextants, spotting scopes and cannons can all be seen at this unique museum as we delve into the daily lives of fishermen and sailors in not so long-ago Saint-Tropez. One might alternately be transported aboard a proud sailboat at the beginning of the 20th century or shivering through the icy latitudes of Cape Horn. We are welcomed into the living quarters of a captain of the long court filled with memories or invited to listen to a fisherman's tale rich in anecdotes or moved to admire the ex-votos placed by the women who remained in port. We dream of adventures on the high seas as we imagine a ship, holds full and ready to sail. Here, the greatness of history is marked by the "small" who shaped it in a warm and original scenography.