Tuesday 20 February 2018

Party over for St Tropez beach club adored by rich and famous

Henry Samuel in Paris

Champagne-spraying celebrities, from Paris Hilton to Bruce Willis, are to lose their favourite Riviera watering hole after authorities ordered the closure of a St Tropez beach club notorious for its excess.

La Voile Rouge is considered the birthplace of the beach club scene, but will be closed after repeatedly violating noise limits. For the past 45 years, the select stretch of sand on Pampelonne beach has been awash with beautiful people, actors and billionaires looking for summer fun.

Stars would have their Bugattis parked by valets as they dined or enjoyed a massage on a private lounger with their mega-yachts moored nearby.

Opened in 1966 by Paul Tomaselli, it was also the first beach club to have topless guests. The list of regular celebrity visitors includes Roger Moore, Cindy Crawford, Kate Hudson, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson. Calm early in the day, the ambience heated up by mid-afternoon with the Voile turning into a full-blown "nightclub" by early evening.

Among the high points was a chocolate cake and champagne fight between Sylvester Stallone and friends at the height of his fame in the 1980s. Willis arrived on a yacht in 1996, and started serving behind the bar. A few drinks later, he was dancing on the tables and has been a regular since.

The bills were not for the faint-hearted. "I once had a client who spent €250,000 in a day," one former employee said.

Last year Paris Hilton reportedly spent €300,000 in one afternoon of debauchery.

The club's owners have, for the past 11 years, been locked in a legal battle with the council of Ramatuelle, which has administrative control of Pampelonne beach. An application by the club to renew its lease was denied after a flurry of complaints from residents.

They said that the parties and incessant music were disturbing their peace, as was the constant whirr of helicopters flying in celebrities.

The club's founder issued several appeals, and was still fighting the order to leave at his death in 2005. His son Ange took up the battle until last year, when he handed the premises over to his brother Antoine.

On March 25, a Toulon court ordered it to close. Despite the ruling, it was business as usual this summer. On October 3, the family's final appeal failed and this week gendarmes started dismantling the club. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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