All about Port Grimaud, Provence’s very own Venice

port grimaud

Seemingly floating on the water of the Gulf of Saint Tropez is the picturesque “living harbour” of Port Grimaud. Here’s everything you need to know about this friendly Provençal town. 

Often called the “Little Venice of Provence”, Port Grimaud might have been inspired by its more famous and historic Italian counterpart, but it has its own character, despite having only been built in the 1960s. 

The concept of a seemingly floating village on the water’s edge was dreamt up by French architect François Spoerry, who had an all-encompassing vision for the place, from the different colours of the façades of the buildings to the names of the streets and the details and frescoes that await visitors around each corner.  

A history

Spoerry, originally from the Alsace region of France, bought this stretch of marshland in 1964 and immediately set about the lengthy process of getting building permission and winning over those who didn’t support the project.  

The best ways to get around Port Grimaud are on foot or by boat. Photo by Monaco Life

The first steps towards land reclamation and eventual construction were laid in 1966, but works still continued until the turn of the millennium, several years after the death of the town’s “creator”.

In Port Grimaud’s design, Spoerry plumped for a “soft style of architecture” with curving canals, buildings resembling those in other French Riviera fishing towns along the coast and open public spaces to facilitate gatherings and events. It was a well-chosen approach that has seen the town evolve into a community of around 2,4000 homes.  

One million visitors a year

Roughly 300 people live here year-round, but that number swells to an estimated 18,000 in the height of summer. Port Grimaud is believed to attract one million tourists each year. 

There are 2,000 moorings available for boats, almost all of them just outside the front door of the owners’ properties. The town is also home to 12 islands, which are connected up by 14 bridges. There’s a church, several lovely fountains, a Tour des Célibataires or Singles’ Towers that used to house the seasonal workers of the town, and many restaurants offering varying takes on local and Mediterranean cuisine.  

The pretty streets and canals attract as many as one million visitors a year. Photo by Monaco Life

Cars and other road vehicles are near banned in Port Grimaud – only a select few residents are allowed to use them – so the best ways to get about are on foot and, of course, by boat. There are lots of solar-powered and electric water taxis available, so hail one down or book a longer trip in advance with one of the many local companies in and around the town.  

There is less “to do” in Port Grimaud than in its neighbours as it’s lacking the “history” of a destination such as Saint Tropez, Gassin, La Garde-Freinet or even its parent town of Grimaud, but it should still be high on your list of future day trips, even if just to wander along its pretty canals and enjoy the tranquility of this purpose-made place.  


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Photos by Monaco Life