Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer, French Riviera

Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer is a town in the Var located on the Saint-Mandrier peninsula, forming the southern part of the small harbor of Toulon. It is linked to the Cap-Sicié massif by the Les Sablettes isthmus. Situated on the Isle de Sépet, a Phoenician tower once stood on the island, while the area was cleared for farming in the 6th century. The Phoenician tower was converted to a Christian chapel in 566 and the church of Saint-Honorat was built in 1020. Until a causeway was constructed between 1630 and 1657, what is now the town shows evidence of long habitation. It is a member of the Toulon Provence Mediterranean metropolis.

Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer used to be home to a French Naval Air station, its location near the homeport of the French Navy at Toulon has meant that the military has played a huge economic role in the life of the town. Increasingly, Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer is focused on the tourist industry.

Closing the famous harbor, like a lock, the peninsula of Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer, in the earliest times, was made up of three closely spaced islands which centuries “Isle of Sepet”. The Phoenicians, Rhodians, Ligurians, Celto-Ligurians, Massadians, Romans stopped there. Thus, the bay of Creux Saint-Georges sheltered many navigators and some huts appeared on the shore.

The origin of the name of the town dates back to the 6th century when Manrianus and Flavianus, two illustrious Saxon soldiers from the Ostrogoth army, baptized by Saint-Cyprien priest of Toulon, came to take refuge on “Isle of Sepet” where they lived until their death. Six-Fours, La Seyne, Ile de Cépet then formed only one territory. From the VI th to the XI th century, this island was only a set of farms. Its fame came from the presence on its land of a Marseille tower transformed into a chapel in 566 and the Saint-Honorat chapel with its priory, dating from 1020.

In 1657, La Seyne obtained its municipal independence with the demarcation of land extending to the Sépet peninsula, because our island had become a peninsula between 1630 and 1657 thanks to the formation of the Sablettes isthmus. The village, also called “Cros Saint-Georges” begins to take shape and then becomes a section of the mother commune La Seyne. On the same date (1657), in order to protect countries against the spread of contagious diseases, a lazaretto was created where ships from suspicious places were quarantined.

In 1670, the “Infirmerie Royale Saint-Louis” was built, replaced in 1818 by the Maritime Hospital Saint-Mandrier. Throughout the 18th century, life in Saint-Mandrier was intimately linked to events taking place in the harbor.

The causeway to the mainland (the isthme des Sablettes) not only led to the creation of an independent town, but the use of the area as a battery station for the heavily fortified port of Toulon. Fishing and naval work dominated the town, with the construction of the “Infirmerie Royale Saint-Louis” naval hospital, becoming the 1818 the “Hôpital Maritime Saint-Mandrier” in 1818. In the 19th century, Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer also was home to sailmaking. Naval aviation and the Fleet Mechanics and Pilots School (école des Mécaniciens et Chauffeurs de la flotte – GEM) were located in the town in the 1930s.

Wars, maritime disasters will put the hospital at the forefront of the news. it closed in 1936 to make way for the School of Fleet Mechanics and Drivers (GEM).

In World War II, Saint-Mandrier was fortified with two turrets, each mounting a pair of 340mm naval guns taken the French battleship Provence. This fortress controlled the approaches to Toulon, and the range and power of these guns was such that a considerable Allied naval force was required to destroy them. Part of the fleet, and the first to engage the battery, was the Free French battleship Lorraine, sister ship to the Provence and mounting the same type of gun. The Allies termed the battery ‘Big Willie’, and dedicated a battleship or heavy cruiser to shelling it every day; eventually USS Nevada silenced the guns on 23 August 1944, although the fortress would not be taken until 28th.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the inhabitants led a peaceful life. The village will see the creation of the Creusot Establishment, the Aviation on the square, then the construction of oil tanks at the lazaret which had stopped working since 1909. We will witness the installation of the Batteries of 340 and especially at development of the different schools and establishments of the Navy: the GEM, which later became the GEEM, the Diving School, the Hubert commandos, the semaphorists, the gunners, the CIN, the BAN…

In 1950, the independence of the town will be the most important event thanks to Louis Clément, its first mayor. Max Juvenal will succeed him, then Joseph Quilgars and finally Guy Moine.

Since 1995, Gilles Vincent, young dynamic mayor, thanks to numerous works, renovates the village in order to adapt it to modern life and allow it to calmly face the new millennium. This small hamlet, trading port, important fishing center that has become a modern marina that many summer visitors appreciate every year, three-quarters occupied by the French Navy, will henceforth be known for the presence on its land of the large schools that our brave sailors, pride of our nation.

Nestled around its port, Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer has preserved its maritime heritage (traditional boats – the sharp ones – are next to pleasure boats) and retains its soul as a fishing village. Closing the harbor of Toulon, like a lock, the peninsula of Saint Mandrier sur Mer, in the earliest times, was made up of three closely spaced islands which had become “Isle of Sepet” over the centuries.

With a microclimate, it shelters natural beaches and green spaces marked out by the coastal path. Many events linked to the sea and imprints of Provencal traditions, enliven it all year round.

Culture heritage

Pyramidal tomb of vice admiral de Latouche Tréville
At the entrance to the Franco-Italian cemetery, on a hill, rises a 7.25 m high pyramid which contains the mortal remains of Admiral Latouche-Treville considered at the time…

Saint Louis Chapel known as the Mechanics
The St Louis chapel placed mid-flank of the hill of Cépet is listed in the Additional Inventory of Historical Monuments.

Sarcophagus cover
Two sarcophagus covers, exhumed in 1816 at the priory of Saint-Mandrier and stored at the Sainte-Anne hospital, have been returned to the town of origin.

Parish church
In 1845 a small chapel was built in the hollow of Saint Georges, at the bottom of the port. The same year, it was erected as a parish church.

Franco-Italian cemetery
Franco-Italian cemetery Between the maritime hospital and the Croix des Signaux, the national cemetery where the dead of the First World War are buried

Hermitage Estate
The Domaine de l’Ermitage is an old farm dating from the end of the 19th century.

Religious heritage:

Saint-Mandrier Church
The chapels:
The chapel of the South Naval Training Center.
The Forcat chapel of the North Naval Training Center (Ex. GEEM).
The Saint-Louis chapel (or “Chapel of the Mechanics”, or even “Chapel of the old hospital”, designed in 1827 by the engineer Honoré Bernard, was consecrated in 1840 and “Chapel of the Bagnards”) dating from the first half of the xix th century was included in the protection of historic monuments theMay 10, 1990.
The chapel of the ex-BAN marine activity park.
The Saint-Joseph chapel of Pin Rolland.
The war memorial.
Franco-Italian military cemetery.

Natural and landscape heritage:

Customs Trail.
Various views of Mont Faron, the harbor of Toulon, the Mediterranean Sea.
Sandy beaches (Pin Rolland, La Vieille, Saint-Asile, Touring, Canon) or pebbles (Coudoulière, Grave).
The Marine Botanical Garden in Saint-Mandrier, now extinct. This garden, created in Toulon in 1786 on the site of the current Jardin Alexandre-1er, was transferred to Saint-Mandrier in 1850. One of its directors was Justin-Benjamin Chabaud who introduced numerous palm trees and cycads there. This garden ceased to exist in 1884 and the plants were transferred to the Porte de France in Toulon.

Other heritages:
Saint-Louis Hospital called Saint Mandrier Hospital
Dock and Saint-Louis hospital in Saint-Mandrier.

Pinède Saint Asile
Pine grove of centenary trees which extends over 3000 m. in the Pin-Rolland district.
On the edge of Sainte-Asile beach, holidaymakers can relax, picnic and admire the new Mediterranean plantings: pine trees, Aleppo pines, thyme, rosemary and other plants resistant to sea spray.

Ports of St Mandrier
Closing the famous harbor, like a lock, the peninsula of Saint Mandrier sur Mer, in the earliest times, was formed by three close islands which had become over the centuries “Isle of Sepet”. The Phoenicians, the Rhodians, the Ligurians, the Celto-Ligurians, the Massadians, the Romans stopped there. Thus, the bay of Creux Saint-Georges sheltered many navigators and some huts appeared on the shore. Saint Mandrier sur Mer has preserved its maritime heritage (many traditional “sharp” boats are next to pleasure boats) and retains its soul as a
fishing village.

La vieille beach
Sandy beach, located at the entrance to the port, you can admire the boats in the “little harbor” of Toulon.

Touring Beach
Small sandy beach from where you can admire the city of Toulon, its port, its harbor and the mountains which overhang it.

Canon Beach
Located at the entrance to the port, pleasant little sandy beach.

Cavalas Beach
On the coastal path route, between the Franco-Italian cemetery and Coudoulière beach is Cavalas beach more commonly known as Grave beach by the locals. This pebble beach faces south on the open sea, which gives exceptional clarity to its bathing waters.

La Coudoulière Beach
Facing south, about 800 meters from the heart of the village, La Coudoulière beach, which owes its name to its “coudoulets”, stones rounded by the movement of the waves, overlooks the open sea which gives it crystal clear bathing water.

Sainte Asile Beach
In the Pin-Rolland district, a fine sandy beach bordered by a pine forest of centenary trees and planted with Mediterranean plants: pine trees, Aleppo pines, thyme, rosemary and other plants resistant to sea spray.

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).