Though the coast of the St-Tropez peninsula sprouts second residences like a cabbage patch gone to seed, the interior is almost uninhabited, thanks to government intervention, complex ownerships and the value of some local wines. The best view of this richly green and flowering countryside is from the hilltop village of Gassin, its lower neighbour Ramatuelle, or the tiny road between them, the dramatic route des Moulins de Paillas, where three ruined windmills could once catch every wind.
GASSIN is the shape and size of a small ship perched on a summit; once an eighth-century Muslim stronghold, it is now, of course, highly chic. It's an excellent place for a blowout dinner, sitting outside by the village wall with a spectacular panorama east over the peninsula. Of the handful of restaurants, Bello Visto, 9 place des Barrys (tel 04.94.56.17.30, fax 04.94.43.45.36; closed Tues), has very acceptable Provençal specialities on a €24.50 menu, plus nine rooms at excellent prices for this brilliant setting (€5570).
RAMATUELLE is bigger than its neighbour, though just as old, and is surrounded by some of the best Côte de Provence vineyards. The twisting, arcaded streets are full of arts and crafts of dubious talent, but it's all very pleasant nonetheless. The most beautiful French actor ever to have appeared on screen, Gérard Philippe (192259), is buried in Ramatuelle's cemetery. His ivy-covered tomb, shaded by a rose bush, is set against the wall on the right as you look down. Hotels worth trying are Le Saint-Gilles, 31 rue Clemenceau (tel 04.94.79.20.46; €4055), and Lou Castellas, route des Moulins (tel 04.94.79.11.59, fax 04.94.79.20.67; €7085). For food, great pasta dishes are to be had at Au Fil à la Pâte, 27 rue Victor-Léon (tel 04.94.79.27.81; closed Wed), with good plats du jour at €13.