Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, French Riviera

The Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer is a French commune located in the department of Var in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The commune is made up of three distinct entities: from west to east, Pramousquier (straddling Lavandou), Canadel and Rayol.

Rayol-Canadel is part of the community of communes of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. Le Rayol-Canadel is located in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, south of the Var department. The town is located along the departmental coastal road 559, east-west axis between Marseille and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

On the cadastre of 1808, which can be consulted at the archives of the Var general council, the Rayol-Canadel territory is a forest of cork oaks and heather, comprising only a few huts for shepherds or cork operators (dismantling). It was not until around 1925 that the Rayol-Canadel seaside and climatic resort was created by the “Company of real estate companies for the development and extension of cities” on 300 hectares of the southern slopes of the seafront hills. of the town of La Môle.

This creation was facilitated by the line of Chemins de fer de Provence created in 1889 and linking Saint-Raphaël to Hyères. Significant development work was undertaken: 35 km of tracks, stairs, public gardens, several hotels, the Patec pergola, a pier on the beach, all organized around a “Provencal village”. The town of Rayol-Canadel was finally formed on August 30, 1949 by a division of the town of La Môle, taking note of the divergences of interests between the town of La Môle, which had a rather agricultural tradition at the time, and those of Rayol-Canadel resolutely oriented towards tourism.

On August 15, 1944, the beaches of the town were used for operation Anvil Dragoon during the landing in Provence. The first wave of African Commandoswas to land on Rayol beach (easily spotted thanks to the large staircase serving the east beach) but finally landed, following a navigation error, on Canadel beach. Two commemorative stelae have been erected at Canadel: the “Borne n ° 1” and the “Stele of the African Commandos”. Several streets in the town are named after soldiers or bodies that participated in the liberation (Colonel-Bouvet, Commandant-Rigaud, Captain-Thorel, Commandos-d’Afrique, Americans, etc.). The commemoration day of August 15 is often the occasion for parades of vintage military vehicles.

The station finally took off in the post-war years. Its calm and family character makes it a very popular holiday destination. In the years 1970-1980, the beaches, the tennis club run by the Auray family are places where vacationers meet. Personalities can spend their holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the media, such as Sacha Distel, Christian Lopez or Jacques Loussier, while nevertheless appreciating its proximity to Saint-Tropez.

Thanks to the respect of the original plan of the subdivision of the 1920s and the rules of town planning of the time, and despite some excesses, the town of Rayol-Canadel is today one of the most preserved areas of the French Mediterranean coast. The large Courmes, then Potez estate has become, since the early 1990s, property of the Conservatoire du littoral. Today it is known as Domaine du Rayol.

Nevertheless, and mainly because of the surge in property prices and the partially consecutive aging of the population, Rayol-Canadel is the commune of the Var department having lost, in proportion, the most population between the last two censuses (1999-2006: -17%).

Located at the extreme west of the coastline of the Massif des Maures, Rayol Canadel is not a village but a real garden, made up of 400 species imported from the four corners of the world and which represents 80% of the area of the town.

Facing the sea, Rayol Canadel is built in terraces with multiple staircases from which one can see magnificent Mediterranean-style properties. There are surprises in store for visitors that no one could imagine.

Culture heritage

Civil and military heritage
Monuments and steles in memory of the African Commandos, landed on the night of August 14 to 15, 1944.
National Necropolis of Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer
Patec round pergola and large flowery staircase (the Degrees), listed as historic monuments by decree of 14 December 1989. This set was restored during the 2000s. Note that Germont and certain articles in tourist magazines describe the Patec pergola as an ancient grain threshing floor, which is historical nonsense (the pergola and the stairs of the center result from a seaside creation of the end of the 1920s) and geographic (such a threshing floor could only be explained by grain fields, which never existed in the town).
The Degrees of the Sea then the Degrees of the Center, staircase which connects the west beach of Rayol to the “Flag”, the highest point of the town at 315.6 m. If the first portions are completely masonry, an upper part of the staircase was in logs. Successive restoration campaigns during the 2010s have made it possible to restore this complex recently to the summit where a metal flag is installed. In 2017, new campaigns created masonry steps in the last sections of the route, as close as possible to the forest track.
Large access staircase to the beach is from Rayol. Was to serve as a landmark for the Landing of Provence.
Sarrazine Tower, also called Tour des Sarrazins or Tour Malpagne or Tour Malpeigne Private ruins. Can not be visited but they are visible however from the sea. The tradition, reinforced by the domiciliation (path of the Sarrazins’ tower) makes these ruins go up, like most of the undated old constructions in the Moors, at the time of the Saracens. In reality, no scientific and archaeological study having been carried out, it is difficult to pronounce. The oldest archives mentioning it date from 1714.
The town has a renowned botanical garden, Domaine du Rayol, property of the Conservatoire du littoral.

The Sir Henry Royce Commemorative Plate. The commemorative plaque SIR Henry Royce was deposited in memory of his stay in the town from 1911 to 1931.
The National Necropolis. The national necropolis where African commandos are buried.
The Stele Of The Commandos Of Africa. The stele was built in memory of the troops of the African commandos who landed in the night of August 14 to 15, 1944 to liberate Provence.

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Religious heritage
Sainte-Thérèse-de-l’Enfant-Jésus Church (Marcel Guesnot, architect), very early 1930s, at Rayol.
Notre-Dame du Rosaire chapel, at Canadel (Delrue, architect). Erected in 1962 on the site of the small Canadel station. Commemorative marble plaques inside remind the Commandos of Africa and the recognition of the town for having been preserved from the very violent forest fires of August 1965. A large mural, signed by Wolf, has adorned the choir since 1981.

The church was completed in 1932.
The Canadel Chapel built to commemorate the landing was built in 1962.

Rayol Beach
Canadel Beach
Pramousquier beach

Domaine du Rayol
The Jardin des Méditerranées, is a botanical garden and arboretum located on the Avenue des Belges, Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. It is listed as a Remarkable Garden of France by the Committee of Parks and Gardens of the Ministry of Culture of France. It is open to the public, with an admission fee.

In 1974, the Domaine du Rayol passed into the hands of an insurance company, was no longer maintained and assumed the appearance of a “vast maquis dotted with exotic trees”. There followed a period of real estate speculation. A subdivision project was born. Local associations, in particular the Association of Friends of Rayol, mobilized and ended up making the project fail by requesting the Conservatory of Coastal Space and Lake Shores. At the beginning of the 1980s, the DDE du Var, the DRAE PACA (ex-Diren) and its associated landscape geographer, and the coastal conservatory jointly undertook a garden protection operation. The DDE led the POS to review the municipality to replace the existing NA ZAC zone on the garden and its surroundings with a natural zone with classified wooded areas on the garden. The completed revision gave the conservatory time to acquire the 20ha of the garden and the DRAE to obtain the classification.

It was in 1989 that the Conservatoire de l’Espace Littoral et des Rivages Lacustres acquired the Domaine du Rayol with the aim of preserving the natural riches of this part of the Var coast, called Corniche des Maures. The Domaine du Rayol will therefore be permanently protected.

The rehabilitation of the site was entrusted to landscaper Gilles Clément. He completely redesigned the garden, in accordance with his principle of the planetary garden. In this privileged space, he developed a patchwork of Mediterranean-type gardens: Californian (cacti, etc.), South African, Australian (eucalyptus, etc.), New Zealand (tree ferns, etc.), Chilean (cacti, etc.).

The Jardin des Méditerranées presents over 7 hectares of protected natural areas, these landscapes of the globe which share the same climate. Open year-round to all types of public, it is part of educational establishments’ awareness and training programs.

The Baie du Figuier, a protected area located below the Domaine du Rayol, is the starting point for aquatic walks during the summer season. This discovery of the marine environment also raises public awareness of the preservation of the richness of the underwater flora and fauna.

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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