Le Lavandou, French Riviera

Le Lavandou is a commune in the Var department, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, on the shores of the Mediterranean facing the Golden Islands (Ile du Levant, Port-Cros and Ile de Bagaud) and at the foot of the Massif des Maures. It was born in 1913 from the split of the municipality of Bormes-les-Mimosas which adjoins it to the west. Hyères is 22 km west, Cavalaire 20 km east, by road.

Le Lavandou is a former small fishing port, which has become a seaside resort on the Var coast. Extending over more than twelve kilometers, the town has vast sandy beaches and small coves. It derives its name either from the flower lavender (lavanda in Provençal) that is prevalent in the area, or more prosaically from the local form of the Occitan name for lavoir, lavandor (for lavador, a public place for washing clothes).

Le Lavandou located in the “Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur” region south of the Varoise Côte d’Azur, is also called “La Cité des Dauphins”. Le Lavandou enjoys a mild and temperate climate, dry and hot summers.

On the sea side, the authentic fishing village is located on the shores of the Mediterranean. Facing the Levant and Port-Cros Islands, Le Lavandou stretches over 12 km of coastline with 12 magnificent beaches of fine sand, grain size and different colors. On the land side, Le Lavandou is nestled at the foot of the Massif des Maures. Lush Mediterranean vegetation and a protected environment.

The Lavandou did not have a long history. Its first inhabitants, Genoese and Catalan fishermen, founded the town of Lavandou, attracted by the lure of a particularly fishy sea. Le Lavandou, a small hamlet dependent on the village of Bormes-les-mimosas, was elevated to the rank of commune in 1913 while the village had only 776 inhabitants including 150 “Pescadous”.

Originally, Le Lavandou was only a district of the municipality of Bormes-les-Mimosas, but in 1909 it became opportune to claim its municipal autonomy. Thus, at the end of a long administrative process, the Government separated from the municipality of Bormes, a territory between the Pointe de Gouron to the west, the Fontalde ravine at Pramousquier to the east and the Môle river at north, approximately 2,975 hectares.

The Council of State adopted the bill establishing Le Lavandou as a commune by law, voted on March 27 by the Chamber of Deputies, adopted by the Senate on May 20, and promulgated by the President of the Republic Raymond Poincaré on May 25 1913.

Cultural heritage
Cultural and historical heritage of Lavandou, witness to the influence of the region through art, literature and architecture, the villa-workshop of Théo van Rysselberghe is on the way to becoming an exceptional Art Center. Visit between past and future

Villa Théo is the former home of the neo-impressionist painter Théo Van Rysselberghe 1862-1926. The villa built in 1910 is typical of the resort architecture of the Côte d’Azur in the early years of the 20th century. Many artists and writers – André Gide, Matisse, Jean Cocteau – stayed in this place where they enjoyed meeting their friend. Rehabilitation works have opened the villa to the public as a new art center. It will host various exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, throughout the year.

Places and monuments
The Saint-Louis church.
The chapel of Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation located on the hill of Vieille.
The church called Saint-Clair chapel, place of meditation of Saint Clair, patron of seamstresses.
The chapel on rue de la Chapelle.
The temple of Hercules at Cavalière.
House called Château and “Villa Louise”. This building became the tourist office in 2007 after some renovations.
House called Domaine du Layet, called Chapel of Layet.
The Domaine du Cap Nègre, where the Bruni family owns a property, is the current summer residence of former President of the French Republic Nicolas Sarkozy. Since summer 2008, it is forbidden to monitor and walk on its coastal path.
The monument to the dead.

The Provencal market
The Provencal market, a must in Lavandou, has become one of the symbols in the southern region. It is a significant event in the life of the village where everyone is both an actor and a spectator, a place of meeting with the locals, of sharing. Stroll through the markets of Provence. Let yourself be intoxicated by the scents of Provence, by the colors of the South of France.

You will find tomatoes, peppers, peaches, apricots, watermelon, strawberries, chestnuts, mushrooms.And many other seasonal fruits and vegetables. Each season colors the stalls of the Provencal market in a different way. All the scents of Provence are there. A picturesque atmosphere that awakens all your senses.

The restanques of Saint-Clair
The restanques of Saint-Clair is an exceptional place, a preserved heritage steeped in history. The dry stone walls called terraces or restanques in Provence, are an integral part of the history of Lavandou. At the end of the 19th century, Piedmontese earthworkers built the restanques of Saint-Clair for the cultivation of early vegetables and flowers.

The rehabilitation of the ancient noria was launched in June 2018. This hydraulic structure of yesteryear will be fully restored to working order. The Noria, which dates from 1850, is a hydraulic machine used to raise water using mechanical energy by a current.

The gardeners of the city’s Green Spaces service maintain the restanques of Saint-Clair all year round. Over the seasons, they cultivate different fruits and vegetables in an organic vegetable garden in permaculture intended for the preparation of meals in the municipal restaurant. Flowers are also used for local purposes. During the flower parade, the worries of the terraces are stuck on the chariot of the city, and in summer, the sunflowers are offered to the elderly, benefiting from the portage of meals at home.

Le Lavandou, an authentic fishing village and seaside resort on the Var Côte d’Azur at the foot of the Massif des Maures, offers 12 kilometers of coastline and 12 sandy beaches. From the Anglade to the Pramousquier district, 12 different fine sand beaches await you in Le Lavandou. Under the sun of the Var coast, discover hidden or steep coves, but also equipped beaches, all invite you to laze or to aquatic, nautical and underwater activities. So come quickly and enjoy the beach in idleness mode with your towel on the sand, or in sport mode by playing ball, rackets, paddle etc

12 sandy beaches mark out the 12 km of this part of the Var Riviera:

Anglade beach
Anglade beach is a beautiful sandy beach called “la Branchée”. The beach of Anglade in Lavandou, called “The Hype” is a beautiful sandy beach near the Lavandou city center.

The beach in downtown Lavandou
The beach in downtown Lavandou, is a large sandy beach lined with palm trees. The large Lavandou beach, or beach in the city center, called “The family” is a large sandy beach in the heart of the village.

Saint-Clair beach
Saint-Clair beach, called “la Perle” is a magnificent sandy beach 1.5 km from the city center. From sunrise to sunset, Saint-Clair beach is the ideal place to spend a day with family, friends, or lovers.

Aiguebelle beach
Aiguebelle beach, called “la Charmeuse” is a pretty beach of fine sand and discreet coves 4 km from downtown Lavandou.

La Fossette beach
La Fossette beach, called “La Souriante” is a very beautiful sandy beach 3 km from the city center. So here it is! The Fossette beach bordered by fine sand invites you to relax in its turquoise setting and its green setting.

Jean Blanc beach
Jean Blanc beach called “The silver case” is a magnificent white sand beach.

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Rossignol beach
Rossignol beach, called “la secrète” is a pretty cove 6 km from the city center.

The elephant beach
The elephant beach is a wild beach, hence its name “the wild”. The range of the elephant is about 5.5 km from the city center Lavandou, nicknamed the “savage”.

Layet beach
Layet beach called “l’Anse du Boucanier” is 6 km from downtown Lavandou.

The beach of Cap Nègre
The beach of Cap Nègre, called “La calme” is 7 km from the city center of Le Lavandou. This beach is located at the foot of Cap Nègre, hence its name the beach of “Cap Nègre”.

Cavalière beach
Cavalière beach, called “la sportive” is 7 km from downtown Lavandou. Cavalière beach is a magnificent large sandy beach. It is also called “La Sportive”.

Pramousquier beach
The Pramousquier beach, which is shared with the neighboring town of Rayol-Canadel, is the easternmost district of the town of Lavandou. Pramousquier would be a deformation of the old Provençal which would mean “pèr lou monastié”. According to Emmanuel Davin, this is the formula that the Carthusian coming from the Charterhouse of La Verne, on which Pramousquier then depended, would have invoked to claim the annual tax from the few inhabitants of the place. A safer etymology from one of the first systematic maps of the Var coast, the Cassini map (18th century), names the place “Plage de Port-Mousquier”.

More prosaically Pramousquier comes from pra and mousquié formerly Prémousquié. This corresponds well to the micro-estuary of the Fontalde ravine (Fontlade after E. Danvin), a stream often dry, but sometimes torrential, which serves as the administrative boundary between the municipalities of Lavandou and that of Rayol-Canadel. This micro estuary is one of the rare survivors of the land cultivated between two cornices on the coast of the Massif des Maures, since some vines are still cultivated there. One can guess on the slopes that dominate Pramousquier the relief of the old terraces of flower crops and early vegetables that were still there before the war.

The border between the municipalities of Lavandou and Rayol-Canadel coincided with that between the cantons of Collobrières and Saint-Tropez. However, the redistribution of the cantons of Var in 2014 saw not only these cantons disappear, but also it attached the municipalities of Lavandou and Rayol-Canadel to the same canton of La Crau. Pramousquier therefore lost its border status with another canton.

Before the arrival of the line of the Var metric coastline, between Hyères and Saint-Raphaël, in 1890, Pramousquier was inhabited only seasonally and hardly accessible other than by sea, like all the rest of the Var coast between Le Lavandou and Cavalaire. From this date, the small beach will then be entitled to a railway stop which will make it known to tourists, lovers of discretion and seaside relaxation…

The Pramousquier district is formed by a circus dominated to the north by the crest of the Massif des Maures peaking at around 350 meters. Its sandy beach stretches for about 300 meters between Cape Nègre to the west and the cliffs of the Rayol-Canadel coastline. At each of these ends you can see under the eastern cliff a recently renovated fisherman’s hut and on the western side, more discreet under Cape Nègre, the remains of two casemates built by the German occupation army in 1943.

Several national and international personalities frequented Pramousquier in the interwar period. Among them is the art collector and philanthropist Peggy Guggenheim. Which hosted a famous American anarchist Emma Goldman. At the same time, it was Jean Cocteau who spent his vacation there with Raymond Radiguet in 1922. And it was in Pramousquier that the two wrote Thomas the impostor for the first and Le Bal du comte d’Orgel for the second. Cocteau later received the young actor Jean Marais there in 1938.

This site was transformed in August 1944 into a battlefield since it was one of the objectives of the African commandos who, on the night of August 14 to 15, climbed Cape Negro to destroy the German coastal batteries which dominated on both sides. ‘other of the cape the beach of Pramousquier and that of Cavalière. In the following days, American and French troops used Pramousquer beach as an annex landing site.

Pramousquier is at the eastern limit of the development (asphalt coating) of the cycle path starting at Toulon (Green Lane). It extends over the right-of-way of the former railway line of the Var coastline in the east to Saint-Tropez, but it is not developed on the part of the territory of the municipality of Rayol-Canadel nor on that of Domaine du Rayol further east.

Traditional festival
Imagine for a moment, the rays of the sun caressing your face. You are facing the sea. Let yourself be lulled by the sound of the waves. Admire the sea. Hear the cicadas sing during a nap in the shade of a plane tree. But Provence also brings to mind traditions, rich in symbols and emotions. These traditions often give a very special meaning to the celebration.

Christmas party
Here in Provence, everything begins on December 4, Sainte Barbe day, the start of the so-called “calendar” period, which will only end on a candlelight on February 2.

The Corso Fleuri
This celebration takes place in March at the arrival of spring. The Corso Fleuri has become a tradition for lavandourains, lavandouaines, but for a good number of tourists too, who travel from all over France on purpose. The work begins very early with the construction of the carcass, where welders, designers, handymen work in the evening to prepare this future tank which will be adorned with thousands of fresh flowers.

Saint-Pierre festival!
This traditional festival where fishermen celebrate the sea and ask the patron saint of fishermen, Saint-Pierre, that fishing be fruitful all year round. It is an opportunity to share a moment with the locals. And to meet these “pescadous”. The fishermen, they all have a story to tell, an anecdote, a cooking tip

The Romérage
In September, generally the second weekend of September, the appointment is given for the feast of Romérage. This festival highly regarded by locals, lavandourains and lavandourainnes is also very popular with tourists. The Romérage comes from the Latin ROMERERE which means “to make noise in procession”. The feast of romerage is punctuated by trombonnades, songs and dances, the procession leads the participants from the Church of Saint-Louis to the square of the Saint-Clair chapel (2km). Three sketches, performed on the Place du Romérage conclude this procession before making way for folk dances.

French Riviera
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean. Riviera is an Italian word that corresponds to the ancient Ligurian territory, wedged between the Var and Magra rivers.

The climate of the Côte d’Azur is temperate Mediterranean with mountain influences on the northern parts of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. It is characterized by dry summers and mild winters which help reduce the likelihood of freezing. The Côte d’Azur enjoys significant sunshine in mainland France for 300 days a year.

This coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it also played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon,h Wharton, Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans. After World War II, it became a popular tourist destination and convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.

The eastern part (maralpine) of the Côte d’Azur has been largely transformed by the concreting of the coast linked to the tourist development of foreigners from North Europe and the French,. The Var part is better preserved from urbanization with the exception of the agglomeration of Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël affected by the demographic growth of the maralpin coast and the agglomeration of Toulon which has been marked by urban sprawl on its part West and by a spread of industrial and commercial areas (Grand Var).

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