In the bustling and glamorous atmosphere of Saint-Tropez in summer, the discreet street entrance of the Pan Deï Palais is totally unassuming. Yet, behind the heavy wooden door is a three-storey exclusive and intimate hotel with an colonial feel and a wonderful history.
Saint-Tropez residents love telling the romantic story of General Jean-François Allard. Born in Saint-Tropez, the General served in the Napoleon army and fought in the Battle of Waterloo. Forced into exile after Napoleon’s downfall, he served under Maharajah Ranjit Singh in Punjab, India, where he felt deeply in love with and married Princess Bannu Pan Deï. They went on to have seven children. On the family’s return to Saint-Tropez in 1835, the General had the oriental-inspired Pan Deï Palais built as a token of his love for his wife. The General later returned to India as French Ambassador and Princess Bannu stayed behind in Saint-Tropez. The General feared that, if they were both in India when he died, she may have to endure the rite of sati whereby widows are burnt alive with their deceased husbands. Three years later, the General passed away in Peshawar. Princess Bannu and her children remained in the beautiful Saint-Tropez palais until her death in 1884.
We spend many an evening at the Pan Deï Palais in Saint-Tropez during our long summers in the South of France. As we turn into Rue Gambetta and stop by the General’s home, the parking valet, elegantly dressed in Indian attire, is the first member of staff we meet. Obliging and welcoming, he keeps a watchful eye over our Batmobile parked right in front of the entrance.
A Relais & Châteaux property, the boutique hotel feels like a colonial home. The delightful hostess greets us by name and walks us through the stunning lobby with its Indian antiques and Asian furnishings, past the library with its imposing family portraits of General Allard and Princess Bannu Pan Deï.
A garden courtyard with a mosaic pool exudes elegant serenity. In the evening, it becomes a chic lounge bar with wonderful live music, and an intimate restaurant with just a few tables covered in white tablecloths and brightly coloured glasses.
We love to sit by the banana trees and the pool, sipping the cocktail du soir, a concoction created earlier in the day by the barman or one of his acolytes, before moving to the restaurant area for a menu reflecting Provence influences. Another favorite way to spend the evening is to stay at the bar and sample delicious servings of marinated salmon, nems, truffle pizza – or the truffle croque-monsieur which is to die for…
Esteban Slosse and his team work efficiently and discreetly to make guests feel welcome and well looked after. They succeed in offering the kind of highly personalized service that we appreciate and that keeps us returning again and again.
The Pan Deï Palais is a hidden haven of elegant peace in the heart of Saint-Tropez. She-colibri
Pan Deï Palais | 52 rue Gambetta | 83990 Saint-Tropez | France | pandei.com