St. Tropez survival guide

With the season in full swing, here's everything you need to know about summering in the South of France.

By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's hard to say why one small town on the edge of the Côte d'Azur is the place to be during the month of July, but it is nevertheless a top draw for celebrities, models and moguls alike.

Everyone from Beyonce to the Beckhams flocks to St. Tropez in the summer for hot parties and chilled champagne. But before you pack up your beach bag and jump on a jet, here's a guide to help you get by.

Cocktails on the coast
hotel_byblos.jpg
Les Caves du Roy is St. Tropez's most popular nightclub.
hotel_pool.jpg
Château de la Messardière

A stay in St. Tropez is neither cheap nor chill, so be prepared to spend some cash and dance until dawn.

A good day in St. Tropez is largely spent lounging at a beach club on Pampelonne beach, which overlooks the beautiful blue waters of the eponymous gulf.

And there's no better way to kick off the festivities than on a plush chaise at Nikki Beach (Route de Epi Ramatuelle), where waiters in white keep the alcohol flowing, and the drink of choice is champagne. But hitting the beach amongst the jet set is, well, no day at the beach. Nikki Beach and the other desirable beach clubs all require reservations that must be made weeks in advance.

"These places are always full," according to Franck Pizza, head concierge at Château de la Messardière, one of the town's most popular resorts.

Even a reservation doesn't guarantee admission. "There is still a selection at the door," Pizza says. That's when looking the part becomes key. "It's not formal, you just have to be sexy." Bikinis and beachwear are a must, just as long as you wear it well.

And if you do get in, bring your Black Card. "Drinks are totally overpriced," warned Peter Frank, editor in chief of Concierge.com. A basic bottle of bubbly starts at $300 -- while Cristal will set you back $800.

On St. Tropez, there are of course parties day and night, and the first round of revelry generally kicks into gear on the beach sometime after 4 pm. At that point, there is often more champagne sprayed than swallowed.

And nowhere is the beach-party scene more legendary than at la Voile Rouge (Moorea Beach), a beachfront club where securing a table is be close to impossible. But that's OK since most people prefer to stand and be seen anyway.

There's even a makeshift catwalk that runs down the center of Voile Rouge where people can vogue while "women in sexy thongs and spiked heels dance on tables," said Frank.

Once you're warmed up, it's time for a (very) late lunch. Slide into a white banquette at Cinquante Cinq (Boulevard Patch) and sample the grilled fish and chilled rosé. "It is the place to go for lunch," according to luxury guru Lorre White, which is generally served late in the day. Also known as Club 55, Jay-Z recently stopped by for cheeseburger and fries, according to Page Six.

Languishing late night

After lunch, a nap is in order to refuel for a very long night of partying. St Tropez's nightlife doesn't even get going until 11:00pm.

"In the evenings it's all about the private parties," according to White. But if you're not on a list, all is not lost. Head to the hotel bar at Byblos, order another glass of champagne and assimilate.

Your best bet at securing admission to the city's most popular nightclub - Les Caves du Roy (Avenue Paul Signac) - located underneath the hotel Byblos, is to look like you belong.

"If you have an expensive watch on your arm or the right pair of heels, then you can talk your way in," Frank said.

And forget about greasing the bouncer's palm, "it doesn't work that way," according to Pizza. "It's more about your look and how much money you are going to spend."

Which can be almost limitless. Table service for four people runs upwards of $3,000. Drinks flow until early in the morning, while DJ Jack E. spins a loud mix of house and classics.

Even more exclusive is the VIP Room (Résidences du Nouveau Port) where Eva Longoria and Tony Parker recently kicked off the season with a "Love is the air" party they hosted just days before their Paris wedding. Paris Hilton, Kid Rock and Sean Combs have all been spotted here as well.

But if you're looking for something more mellow, consider L'Octave (place de la Garonne). The piano bar is a good choice for those who prefer jazz to house.

Sweet slumber

As dawn breaks, all that's left to do is fall into a bed dressed in 1,000 thread count sheets. At the Hotel Byblos (Avenue Paul Signac) the rooms are small and the bill will be large, but it's the place to stay in St Tropez.

The Provençal palace is also the perfect place to recover after a very late night of partying. Breakfast is served until 1pm, at which point you can secure a lounger by the pool or visit the on-site spa for a steam bath or a "Repairing Massage" for about $200.

You may also want to consider the Château de la Messardière (Route de Tahiti) according to White. All of the hotel's 75 rooms have balconies or private terraces with views of the Bay of Saint-Tropez, Pampelonne beaches and Ramatuelle vineyards.

Breakfast is served 24 hours a day, and Concierge Pizza is at the ready to help coordinate all of your plans so you can do it all again the next day. Top of page