Vittoriosa to twin with St Tropez


Former French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot may not have descended on Vittoriosa in the 1960s, elevating it to an upmarket destination as the icon had done in St Tropez. But one of the Three Cities is benefitting from her celebrity influence many years down the line.

The French Riviera port in the south of France, associated with famous and wealthy guests, may appear to be worlds apart from Vittoriosa but the two cities are about to be twinned and the latter stands to benefit from the link to the exclusive St Tropez brand.

For the first time, the Côte d’Azur destination, often referred to as the “playground” of jet-setters, models and millionaires, has decided to twin with another port and chose the once neglected but recently regenerated Vittoriosa over others in Europe.

For its mayor, John Boxall, the twinning between the “smallest island in the middle of the Mediterranean, the smallest country in the EU, and one of France’s richest cities means a lot”.

Vittoriosa, he maintained, would automatically experience a quality leap in terms of popularity and the link was expected to “boost Birgu”, leaving an impact on its tourism, with the arrival of more superyachts in the marina serving to strengthen its economy.

“The yachting industry is big business,” Mr Boxall acknowledged, adding it led to even more regeneration. He was convinced the town, which already hosts luxury yachts and was still being upgraded, should benefit from the connection with the internationally known seaside resort and so should the country.

The twinning idea was born a couple of years ago through former Maltese Ambassador to France, Mark Miggiani, and Ambassador Pierre Clive Agius has continued in his predecessor’s footsteps.

The hook has been the prestigious regatta Trophée Bailli de Suffren from St Tropez to Malta, which has, since this year, ended at the Vittoriosa Waterfront and should be the yearly finishing line.

Although the two ports would not appear to have much in common, French Admiral Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez (1729–1788), who served with the Knights of the Order of St John, is a common denominator that has been capitalised on.

Thanks to the regatta and the consequent twinning, the two ports could take advantage of each others’ potential, be it history, or tourism, Mr Boxall said.

“Big names have already started arriving in Vittoriosa, thanks to the regatta, and more are expected in the future,” he continued.

While St Tropez enjoyed celebrity status, Vittoriosa – “the cradle of Maltese civilisation” – boasted the history, Mr Boxall pointed out. He was recently invited by St Tropez mayor Jean-Pierre Tuveri for the start of the regatta and to lay wreaths at the admiral’s monument.

The plan is to sign the twinning agreement in the fitting and newly renovated Auberge de France during Birgufest in October, which includes the Birgu by Candlelight event.

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