Sanary-sur-Mer is a French commune and resort located in the department of Var, in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is located in coastal Provence on the Mediterranean Sea 13 km (8.1 mi) from Toulon and 49 km (30 mi) from Marseille. It can be reached from Paris by TGV train in less than four hours. In high season there are direct flights to nearby Toulon from London, Oslo, Brussels and Rotterdam.
Sanary’s coastline has a number of small beaches and, unlike most small towns on the Mediterranean coast, it is an active village all year round. Sanary-sur-Mer is one of the sunniest places in France, with an average of only 61 days of rain, mostly in winter, and solar radiation (6156 MJ/m2/yr), comparable to Sicily. Sanary is regularly swept by the Mistral, a strong wind coming from the Rhone Valley, which brings low humidity around 20%, gusts up to 130 km/h (81 mph), cool temperatures, sun and deep blue skies. Wind is near gale force or higher on average 115 days per year, and storm force eight days per year, making Sanary a favorite destination for windsurfers.
The seafront location was part of the commune of Ollioules. In the 16th century the seigneur established a fishing village here, clustered around the medieval watchtower, under the protection of “Sanct Nazari” of Lérins Abbey. The port was constructed and the harbor deepened in the mid-16th century. The little fishing port known in the Provençal dialect of Occitan (or in Provençal if considered as a distinct language) as Sant Nazari, later Sant Nàri, contracted later on as Sanàri, was finally granted its independence from Ollioules by Louis XIV of France on 10 July 1688, and on 12 November 1890 officially received its Francized name, Sanary, which was formalized and distinguished as sur-Mer on 27 July 1923. As a tourist rendezvous, the village underwent a strong decade of growth in the 1980s.
Traces of Greek and Roman occupation have been found, notably in Portissol. Sanary is originally a small fishing port belonging to the town of Ollioules and composed of small wooden huts. It will be called the Gobran until the xvi th century, becoming Saint Nazaire. In the xii th century existed on the current port site a priory, dependent on the abbey of St. Victor in Marseille, dedicated to Saint Nazaire. At the end of xiii th century, as a defense system against raids Saracens, the building now known as the “Roman Tower” was constructed, which served as a watchtower.
In 1524 and 1536, it was attacked by Spanish galleys. Reporting to the origin of the territory of Ollioules, the Lord created there in the early xvi th century hamlet by the name of ” Sanct Nazari “, allowing some families to settle near an ancient medieval tower still visible. It was around the middle of the same century that the port was built to provide an outlet for trade in the region; it was dug to allow the anchorage of ships. It was not until 1688, after lengthy procedures, that Saint-Nazaire obtained from Louis XIV his separation from Ollioules.
Shortly before the French Revolution, unrest rose. In addition to the fiscal problems present for several years, the harvest of 1788 had been poor and the winter of 1788-89 very cold. The election of 1789 General States had been prepared by those of the States of Provence 1788 and January 1789, which had contributed to emphasize class political opposition and cause a stir. It was at the time of writing the notebooks of grievances, at the end of March, that an insurrectional wave shook Provence. A riot occurred in Saint-Nazaire on March 24 and 25. Peasants and the poor protest against the high cost of grain. The stake is sacrificed to appease the rioters. Initially, the reaction consists in gathering the strength of the constabulary on the spot. Then legal proceedings are taken, but do not succeed, the taking of the Bastille as the disturbances of the Great fear causing, by measure of appeasement, an amnesty in early August.
During the interwar period, after the seizure of power in Germany by the Nazis in 1933, the town became the place of exile for many German and Austrian intellectuals, fleeing Nazism.
During the Second World War, it was in Sanary-sur-Mer that the Nazis hid who was destined to become the famous oceanographer and inventor Jacques-Yves Cousteau. There, in his villa “Le Baobab”, the scientist kept safe from the occupants’ desires the deep-water breathing apparatus he had created. In 1943, with Philippe Tailliez, he undertook the first attempts to immerse in deep water in the neighboring town of Bandol.
On November 13, 1942, Sanary-sur-Mer was occupied by the German army, which invaded the free zone. In June 1944, the Germans destroyed villas and hotels to clear shooting ranges, for a landing. Allied bombing increases the damage. In 1948, the city, which had paid a “heavy price in blood and destruction”, received on November 11, 1948 the Croix de guerre 1939-1945.
The city has experienced strong growth in tourism since the 1980s and 1990s.
Sanary itself as a pleasant, quiet and popular in the West Var, while still denying its rapprochement with the agglomeration Toulon Provence Méditerranée community but still accepting an indispensable intermunicipal cooperation as a Sivu with from the town of Bandol.
However, it joined the community of communes of Sud Sainte Baume in 2014, with its neighbor, allowing the intermunicipal group to transform into an agglomeration community if the member municipalities wish.
The town is also a member of the Provence-Mediterranean Territorial Coherence Scheme, as well as of the eponymous Var territory, whose headquarters are in Toulon.
Philippe Tailliez is considered to be the pioneer of the waters. He is the inventor of the dolphin swim and he is behind the name of “Mousquemers”. He was the first commander of the Gers and the diving school of the French Navy. Jacques –Yves Cousteau: legendary actor in the underwater world, he lived in Sanary. His villa “Le Baobab” is still inhabited by his son Jean Michel Cousteau, worthy successor of his father, through his activities devoted to scuba diving in the United States (Ocean Futures Society).
It was in Bandol that he tested for the first time with Dumas, Tailliez and friends, the regulator designed by Emile Gagnan in June 1943. Frédéric Dumas: it was in Sanary, in the bay of Portissol, that Frédéric Dumas did learning about the underwater world. Cousteau writes of “didi” that he is without doubt the best diver of the time. In Embiez, he meets Philippe Tailliez who introduces him to Jacques Yves Cousteau. At their beginnings, they explore the coasts between La Londe les Maures and Marseille, and shoot their underwater films, in 1942, at Brusc “Par 18 meters de fonds”, practically snorkeling. We owe him numerous works including “The world of silence”, “Ancient wrecks”, “30 centuries under the sea”…
Fountain of the Navy
Made under the mandate of Michel Pacha, it was built by the Marseille sculptor Aldebert. The fountain is made up of a basin surmounted by a statue representing a man and an anchor. It represents the glory of the Navy.
The Big Brain Mountain
The Gros-Cerveau… This rocky ridge bordering the plain of Ollioules-Sanary has always excited imaginations. This 300 meter high limestone mountain, stretching from east to west, limits two very distinct worlds: the coastal world and the hinterland. Its impressive mass contrasts with the coastal plain to the south and the Beausset basin to the north. Gustav Jung said that, from time immemorial, high places have known human anxieties. The Gros-Cerveau was no exception to the rule. In the 17th century, the witches who were chased took refuge there, and are said to have lived in the cave that today bears their name: the Cave of the Mascs (witches in Provençal). It is probably a confusion with the Mas, a name also given to Mont-Garou. 2 walking circuits to discover: The Red Circuit: From valleys to balconies by the Gros Cerveau fort and the La Pointe fort. Distance: 13 km, elevation gain: 700 m. Duration: 5:30. at 6 a.m. Departure from Sainte Trinide road, parking in front of the Garden of Olives, near the Zoa Animal Park. The Blue Circuit: Between Drailles and ridges. Family walk. Distance: 8 km, elevation gain: 300m.
Before 1855 in the village, water is taken from the fountain placed in front of the church and supplied by the source of Mortar known as the Mother fountain. Two terminals are also placed at each end of the port. The laundry is cleaned at the wash house and at the main drinking trough, built on the longline quay as well as at two other smaller wash houses: one at the end of rue de la Prud’homie, the other at the mouth Daumas valley. In 1855, a new larger and more beautiful washhouse, increased by a drinking trough, was erected. Demolished in 1865, it was replaced in 1867 by a new structure to which a roof was added in 1891. It was this wash house which in 1927 was transferred near the cemetery. His dryer was repaired in 1981.
In 1867 Marius Michel, known as Michel Pacha, mayor of the town, commissioned sculptor Emile Adalbert to make two allegorical fountains, one from Agriculture and the other from the Navy. He also leads the construction of the quay, to avoid houses having their feet in the water during “drops”. In 1996, the washhouse supplied by the Daumas valley was hardly used any more. A new life is given to him by the municipality which decides to restore it and to enhance it in the Jean-Cavet gardens, named after the president of the local committee of the Resistance and first mayor of the Liberation.
The oratories, small monuments that one meets in most of our regions by the roadsides, remain a heritage too little known to the public. True testimony to popular art, they generally have the shape of a massive pillar of assembled stones, with a roof with two slopes in flat tiles, comprising a round niche housing the statue of a Saint or a Virgin. Present in all French territories, it is nevertheless the Var which has the most (almost 800). Sanary has sixteen oratories, the hill path which leads to the Notre Dame de Pitié chapel has 4 oratories in particular, 3 of which appear on 18th century drawings: St Michael’s Oratory, St Joseph’s Oratory, Sacred Heart Oratory and the Oratory Our Lady.
The Notre-Dame de Pitié Chapel
This chapel was erected in 1560. It is the work of the inhabitants, in particular fishermen, of the village of Saint-Nazaire. From the outset, a hermit lodged there, maintained it and looked after the grain: it should ring the bell in bad weather, thunderstorms and fog in order to facilitate the return to port. It also warns of the arrival of enemy ships. In 1707, a guard post was established there: the Duke of Savoy was then feared. In 1720, an infirmary welcomed the plague victims. In 1870, it was used to rest the wounded of the Franco-Prussian war. Sold as national property in year II (1793), it was worshiped in 1805. It has belonged to the municipality since 1905. The narthex dates from the 19th century as well as the entrance gate on which the initials MP recall the invocation Mater Pietatis and perhaps also Michel Pacha mayor and benefactor of Sanary.
There is a very beautiful 17th century polychrome wooden pietà and some fine examples of votive offerings. Most relate to the sea, such as that which relates the combat of Chebec “la Normande” in 1809, others to tragic events, such as the explosion of the passenger train and ammunition on the bridge of Grand Vallat. Its restoration and embellishment completed in 2008, it was returned to worship in 2009. MESSES Every Saturday at 9 am
Fountain of Agriculture
Made under the mandate of Michel Pacha, it was built by the Marseille sculptor Aldebert. The fountain is made up of a basin surmounted by a statue. It symbolizes agriculture. To know that this fountain and that of the Navy represent economic and important fields of this time.
The City Gardens
Close to the port and its shops, come and change the air in the city’s gardens. You will admire: The 19th century wash-house The “Children of Izieu” garden The monument to the memory of Katyn Skate park.
The Sanctuary of Mercy
Said WHITE PENITENTS also called CHAPELLE DU COQUILLON. It was built between 1570 and 1580. From the start it served as a town house for the reunion of heads of families. In 1660, 135 families were represented, they occupied more than 250 houses and totaled 1,200 people. Until the Revolution, the elections of trustees and assemblies of heads of families were held in the chapel, as well as the parish worship in the event of work in Saint-Nazaire. It was there that the six representatives of the canton in the district of Toulon were elected on June 13, 1790. In place of the dissolved brotherhood, a Society of Friends of the Constitution, then the Supervisory Committee, met during the revolutionary period. Sold as national property, it was bought in 1825 by a new brotherhood of White Penitents which dissolved in 1867. It then becomes the chapel of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Visitation. The bell from 1657 is on display in the hall of the town hall.
The chapel houses several Baroque religious paintings as well as two reliquary busts, a pieta, a processional cross from the early twentieth century and two statues typical of Saint Sulpician art in plasterboard.
The Provençal trays called “pointed” are Latin sailing and rowing boats. From very ancient origins (Provençal, Catalan, Sicilian, or even Ligurian), they were used for trammel fishing (net) or longline fishing (bottom line). These boats are classified as Historic Monuments and boats that have received the “Boats of Patrimonial Interest” label from the Maritime and Fluvial Heritage Foundation. The BIP label represents, an official recognition of the heritage interest of a ship. In Sanary, there are more than 35 Heritage Interest Boats and 3 boats classified as Historic Monuments. During the flagship events of the city, the association of Pointus de Sanary takes you on board these small boats for a visit to the bay!
The Olive Garden
Listen, watch, touch, feel, taste, manipulate, exchange…! To prepare your visit, please contact the scientific manager of the garden: Discover a typical site of Provencal agriculture with its traditional oil mill, its dry stone restanques, its noria and many other treasures, witnesses of an ancestral way of life and know-how. A veritable olive tree conservatory, the garden houses an olive grove of more than 500 olive trees of 113 different varieties dotted with multiple traditional cultures. Lavender, Narcissus, Immortelle, Iris rub shoulders and permeate the garden with their scents and colors… Through the seasons the garden will reveal all its secrets from harvest to transformation of products typical of Provencal agriculture. Come and experience the production of olive oil, wood-fired bread or the traditional harvest with us! The Garden of Olives is an educational site for the transmission of traditional Provencal methods and know-how. It is open to all curious enthusiasts of history and nature.
The Work of the Cape Point
In 1873 he was chosen to establish a simple entrenched post on the Gros Cerveau massif, armed with long-range artillery pieces. In 1890, two fortified structures were built: the Pointe structure and the Gros Cerveau structure. These buildings have a similar architectural organization, with the following artillery positions: 4 cannons of 155 mm long, 4 cannons of 120 mm, 4 cannons of 95 mm and 2 mortars. Equipped with a light enclosure preceded by a ditch, the locations for cannons are cut directly from the rock and connected by underground galleries. The barracks are equipped with a rainwater tank and can contain 160 m3. The work of the Big Brain received a garrison of 250 men from the 2nd battalion of the 115th territorial infantry regiment and 260 men from the 7th battery and the 13th battery on foot from artillery. The two barracks at the Pointe work were capable of each accommodating an officer and 108 men.
Places and monuments
Church Saint-Nazaire St Celsus: built 1891-1892 in Romanesque Revival by Michel Pacha, replacing the old church of the xvi th century and its bell from 1734, restored in October 2015 by the group Bodet. The Saint-Nazaire-Saint-Celse church was painted in the 2000s with frescoes of Byzantine inspiration. The organ was built in 2009 by organ builder Pascal Quoirin.
The Romanesque Tower: It was built in the 13th century (1266-1296) by Lord Ollioules. In 1436, King René had a ditch and a protective boulevard dug and installed a small garrison there. On the top floor is a dovecote, manifestation of the existence of a seigneurial privilege. The tower lost its defensive role during the 16th century but remained armed and was used as a prison and a granary. The ditch was filled in 1704 and the constructions were based on the tower now enclosed in a group of buildings. it measures 21 meters high and 8 meters wide at its base. The original entrance faced the sea on the first floor level. Since 1798, the entrance has been through the ground floor through a semicircular opening. A stone staircase leads to the first floor. The second floor and the terrace are accessible today by an iron staircase.Embiez archipelago
Since 1990 it has housed the Frédéric-Dumas museum, dedicated to underwater archeology and the history of scuba diving equipment, especially those linked to the progress made in the field of scuba diving. The museum has occupied premises in the Romanesque tower since 1994 and also in rue Lauzet-Aîné since 2006.
Notre-Dame-de-Pitié chapel: from this chapel, built in 1560 on a hill, to the west of the city, we discover a pretty view of Sanary bay, with the hills of Toulon in the background, and the coast to the Embiez archipelago, behind which stand the heights of Cape Sicié. It was in this chapel that Nicolas-Vimar was baptized. The chapel of 1560 contains beautiful votive offerings.
Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes de la Vernette.
Chapel of the White Penitents, Notre-Dame de Consolation
The Battery Cride: fortification of the xvii th century, located on the tip of the Cride.
Commemorative plaque church.
Commemorative plaque to the tourist office, in memory of German and Austrian writers.
Botanical garden called exotic garden
The port and the harbor office
The town of Sanary sur Mer is located north of the bay of the same name. The marina is nestled in the heart of the city. It is a typical Provencal port as there are no longer many on the Var coast. It shelters a small flotilla of sharp Provencal that the fishermen use to practice artisanal fishing. They sell the product of their catch every day on the quay as soon as they return to the port. The port is sheltered from any wind except that of the Southwest, which generates a strong swell in the port. Daytime access presents no difficulty.
Sanary-sur-Mer is certified for the management of the quality of bathing water. The five bathing areas are regularly checked from April to September by the Regional Health Agency (ARS). The management of the quality of bathing water ensures swimming in the best sanitary conditions. The beaches can be preventively closed for suspected pollution (information at the aid stations, at the reception of the Town Hall, at the Tourist Office and on the City and Tourist Office websites).
“Tobacco-free” beach Since 2018, Levant beach has been classified as “excellent quality”. Levant Beach is a small beach located in the city center. Close to shops Parking nearby Equipment: first aid and information station, showers (+ WC in the car park) During the municipal council meeting on 25 February 2015, the municipality undertook to certify the quality management of bathing water to guarantee the sanitary conditions for bathing beach users. Following the first audit carried out in July 2015, confirmed by that of 2016, the Municipality obtained its certification for the management of the quality of bathing water.
Tobacco-free beach. Since 2018, the “de la Gorguette” beach has been classified as “excellent quality”. La Gorguette beach is located below the Hôtel de la Farandole. Small sandy beach, it offers a beautiful view of the bay of Bandol and the island of Bendor. About 10 free parking spaces above the beach During the municipal council meeting of February 25, 2015, the municipality undertook to certify the management of the quality of bathing water in order to guarantee the sanitary conditions for bathing users of beaches. Following the first audit carried out in July 2015, confirmed by that of 2016, the Municipality obtained its certification for the management of the quality of bathing water.
The Golden Beach
“No Tobacco” beach. Since 2018, the Golden beach has been classified as “excellent quality”. The Dorée beach is a continuation of the Lido beach. Both form the largest beach in Sanary. You will find places along the road to Bandol overlooking the beaches. During the municipal council of February 25, 2015, the municipality undertook to certify the management of the quality of bathing water in order to guarantee the sanitary conditions for bathing beach users. Following the first audit carried out in July 2015, confirmed by that of 2016, the Municipality obtained its certification for the management of the quality of bathing water.
Handiplage level 3. Beach “No Tobacco”. Since 2018, Portissol beach has been classified as “good quality”. Portissol Beach is one of the city’s beaches, the most coveted by the local population and by tourists. Sandy beach, 200m long, it has a first aid station and toilets (suitable for people with reduced mobility). It enjoys a magnificent setting and has 3 restaurants around its bay. You will find a parking lot above the beach and access for people with reduced mobility. It is in July 2016 that Portissol beach was labeled Level 3 “Handiplage”. It is equipped with amenities allowing people with various disabilities to enjoy the pleasures of the seaside and swimming. These include reserved parking spaces, access mats to the sea, launching armchairs (tiralo and seahorse), as well as adapted showers and toilets at their disposal.
Level 3 handicapping – “Plage sans Tabac” Since 2018, the Lido beach has been classified as excellent. Lido beach is a continuation of Dorée beach. Both form the largest beach in Sanary. You will find places along the road to Bandol overlooking the beaches as well as a Stand Up Paddle rental company, which will allow you to ride on the water in peace. After Portissol beach, the Lido was labeled “Handiplage” in June 2017. This layout is intended to promote the integration of people with reduced mobility through the leisure and pleasures of the beach. The label translates concretely into adapted equipment: – Installation of a reception point for disabled people – Reserved and adapted parking spaces – Water access mat – Launching chairs (tiralo and seahorse) – Adapted showers and toilets In addition, an aid station officer is available to facilitate the launching.
Cousse Bay Beach
“Tobacco-free” beach. Since 2018 “the Bay of Cousse beach” has been classified as “excellent quality”. The bay of Cousse beach is a pebble beach. It is located in the Beaucours district. 5 minutes by car from the city center, you will meet fewer people than on the nearby beaches. During the municipal council of February 25, 2015, the municipality undertook to certify the management of the quality of bathing water in order to guarantee the sanitary conditions for bathing beach users. Following the first audit carried out in July 2015, confirmed by that of 2016, the Municipality obtained its certification for the management of the quality of bathing water. ”
World Diving City
If a few names immediately come to mind when we talk about the first strokes of fins given under the surface of the sea, we ignore dozens of others. In France, from the 1930s, men like Jean Painlevé and Yves Le Prieur, then in the 1940s, Louis De Corlieu and Georges Commeinhes, were the first popularizers of underwater incursions.
It was from 1943 that Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Philippe Tailliez and Frédéric Dumas brought scuba diving into the modern era. They will become “Les Mousquemers” term created by Philippe Tailliez in 1975. Before being divers, the vast majority of diving pioneers were spearfishermen. Armed with a simple harpoon or a rudimentary crossbow, the hunter went underwater with the naked body, without palm, wearing simple binocular glasses. At that time, in Nice, Antibes, Marseille, Sanary, inventors, hunters, simple curious people were trying to discover the seabed. One of the most famous was Frédéric DUMAS in Sanary. He then participated in the Scuba dive tests developed by Cdt Cousteau and the engineer Gagnan.
It was to show as many people as possible the beginnings of diving and to pay homage to this famous Sanaryen, who was therefore one of the most brilliant pioneers of hunting and diving that was created in Sanary, the Frédéric Dumas Museum. The treasures it conceals are exposed to a few palm shots from historic places that have made “Sanary the historic city of scuba diving.”
Sanary in Literary
With the rise of Nazism in the early 1930s, a great number of German writers and intellectuals left Germany and settled here: the playwright Bertold Brecht, Egon Erwin Kisch, Thomas Mann, Ludwig Marcuse, Joseph Roth, Franz Werfel and his wife Alma Mahler widow of Gustav Mahler at Le Moulin Gris (near the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Pitié), Lion Feuchtwanger at Villa Lazare then at Villa Valmer, and Arnold Zweig. Patronised by Jean Cocteau and his coterie, Sanary had already drawn Aldous Huxley, who wrote Brave New World at Villa Huley, and his wife, Maria; they attracted other English visitors, such as D. H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda; Julian Huxley and his wife, Juliette; and others.
The German expatriates clustered around Thomas Mann and his large family, his brother Heinrich and his wife (the model for Blue Angel), the writers Stefan Zweig and Arnold Zweig, the art critic Julius Meier-Graefe, and the artist René Schickele. Sybille von Schoenebeck (later, as Sybille Bedford, the author of A Legacy) lived here with her mother. Ludwig Marcuse in his book “Mein Zwanzigstes Jahrhundert” (p. 160) wrote about Sanary: “Wir wohnten im Paradies – notgedrungen” – we lived in paradise, against our will.
“If one lives in exile,” wrote Hermann Kesten, “The café becomes at once the family home, the nation, church and parliament, a desert and a place of pilgrimage, cradle of illusions and their cemetery… In exile, the café is the one place where life goes on.”