COGOLIN, the town just south of Grimaud, is remarkable for its combination of tourism with traditional craft manufacturing reeds for wind instruments, pipes for smoking, wrought-iron furniture, silk yarn and knotted wool carpets. These are all serious businesses for the one-off, made-to-order, high-quality and high-cost Côte d'Azur market. As a consequence Cogolin is fairly animated all year round.
Visits to some of the craft factories can be arranged and are free. The helpful tourist office on place de la République (July & Aug MonSat 9am12.30pm & 2.307pm, Sun 9.30am12.30pm; SeptJune MonFri 9amnoon & 2.306.30pm, Sat 9amnoon; tel 04.94.55.01.10, www.cogolin-provence.com) will provide you with a complete list of addresses and times, and help with making appointments. Or you can just wander down avenue Georges-Clemenceau and pop into the retail outlets. Pipes made from briar wood are on show in Courrieu, at no. 58; the Manufacture de Tapis, just off the avenue on boulevard Louis-Blanc, recreates designs by famous artists such as Léger and Mondrian (exhibition room open MonFri 9amnoon & 26pm); and world-famous musicians get their reeds from Rigotti, on rue Barbusse.
From place Bellevue, at the top of the town away from the bustling centre, you can see across the St-Tropez peninsula, to Gassin, Ramatuelle and St-Tropez itself. Having taken in that view and seen enough of Cogolin's manufacturing businesses, the one thing left to do is try the local wines: the Cave des Vignerons is on rue Marceau, just before the junction with the N98 heading westwards (closed Sun out of season). There are a couple of reasonably inexpensive hotels in Cogolin that make viable bases for trips into congested St-Tropez: the amiable, comfortable Coq Hôtel, place de la Mairie (tel 04.94.54.13.71, fax 04.94.54.03.06; €5570); and the Clemenceau, next door at 1 rue Carnot (tel 04.94.54.15.17, fax 04.94.54.42.78; €4055).