Thursday, September 12, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 107

 Saint Tropez, Côte d'Azur, France


About 100 years ago Saint-Tropez in Southern France looked as it does on this week’s postcard.  The local shipyards built these tartanes or small three-masted ships that could carry 1,000 to 12,000 barrels of goods.  It is possible to see how large these barrels were by comparing them and the people on the dock in the photograph on the card.  The town trade included fishing, cork, wine, and wood.   Today the primary industry is tourism as the town is located in what is commonly referred to as the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) and very popular with vacationers from all over the globe. 

The photograph was taken by Yvon of Paris and is one of his La Douce France or Sweet France series.  It shows part of the port of Saint-Tropez from the water looking up toward the street and buildings.  The card has a divided back and is unused.  

Two more recent photographs appear in the Wikipedia article about the town and are used here to show the view from the town looking out to the harbor and a panoramic view of the harbor as it is today.  Notice all the pleasure boats in place of the working boats seen on the card.  Also note that the church remains prominent on the horizon today as it did 100 years ago. 



There are colorful stories about the town.  One says that the town took its name from a martyr named Saint Torpes.  According to what I read the legend says that “he was beheaded at Pisa during the reign of Nero, and his body was placed in a rotten boat along with a rooster and a dog.”  The body landed where the town is now.  Another says that after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 9th century pirates repeatedly attacked the area for the next 100 years.  The town changed hands several times and eventually became a small Republic with its own army and fleet.  Two large towers were built as protection.  These towers are still standing today.  In 1558 the city resisted attacks by the Turks and Spaniards.  Eventually, under the rule of Louis XIV, Saint-Tropez became part of France.  

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