As a result of being a coastal town and needing to protect itself from attack, St Tropez became well-fortified early on in its history. You can now visit three towers scattered across the city's coastline.
Originally, four towers were built to protect the coast and the port: Tour du Portalet, Tour la Vieille, Tour de Suffren, now lost, and the Tour Jarlier.
The Tour du Portalet and the Tour la Vieille, or Old Tower, look right out over the sea and are situated on either side of a cove called La Glaye, watching the entrance to the town from the Mediterranean. These two towers date from the 15th century and are situated in the historical fishermen quarter of La Ponche.
The last tower, and the most central one, is to be found on Rue Jarlier. This structure, built a little later than the others, dates from the 16th century. It confers a tranquillity and charm upon a street which is of considerable architectural interest.
The Tour Suffren bore the name of the ancient lords of Saint Tropez. Even if the tower is now lost, you can see the castle which they turned into their family home in the 18th century, in Saint Tropez's main square. It cannot be visited, but you can see its imposing stone exterior.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).