Sanary-sur-Mer is a fishing port and commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is located in coastal Provence on the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 8.1 miles (13 kilometres) from Toulon and 30 miles (49 kilometres) from Marseille. Sanaray-sur-Mer can also 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.
Archaeological evidenced unearthed in the cliffs of Gros-Brain and other areas dates Sanary-sur-Mer from the Neolithic Era. During the Roman Era in the 1st and 2nd centuries, agricultural land was cultivated in the region; wineries, olive groves and other growing areas, along with luxurious villas, were established. During the 3rd-5th centuries, pottery-making and ceramics began to flourish in areas like Portissol, Gorguette and nearby vicinities. The Middle Ages ushered in the construction of Sanary-sur-Mer's Tour Romaine, a 13th-century medieval Romanesque tower, and the homes and urban core developed around it in the 14th century. The 15th-century witnessed the erection of the Notre-Dame-de-Pitie Chapel, with the Eglise Saint Nazaire Church, beginning stages of the Sanary-sur-Mer Port, and a wide array of buildings in the Old Town constructed in the 16th century. This was followed by the expansion of Sanary-sur-Mer and emergence of other cities, including Ollioules and Six-Fours. During the 18th century, Sanary-sur-Mer endured threats of attacks by British forces, weather-related damage to agricultural areas, the plague and French Revolution. The mid-late-19th century ushered in rail transport and numerous hotels to accommodate an emerging tourism industry, and the city received its final name of Sanary on November 12, 1890. Subsequently, this thriving city survived the ravages of World War II, and benefited from a strong period of post-war reconstruction and growth in the 1980s.
The local economy of Sanary-sur-Mer is supported by fishing, boating, agriculture and a world-renowned winemaking region; among the finest in southeastern France. However, the abundant natural beauty of the city and its exquisite, diverse topography make Sanary-sur-Mer one of the most beautiful small ports on the French Riviera, and a popular tourist destination for outdoor and nature enthusiasts. Nestled between the sea and countryside, Sanary-sur-Mer's charm is authentically Provençal: shady pedestrian streets and squares with colourful facades bathed in sunshine and flowering terraces, charming cafés, traditional boats anchored in the harbour, the salty aroma of the sea, and festivals and events that punctuate the city throughout the year. Sanary-sur-Mer is also renowned for its exceptional climate, authentic Provençal countryside and five miles (eight kilometres) of lovely coastline highlighted by imposing cliffs, rocky points, intimate coves and beaches. Slightly more than half of the 4,870 acres (1971 hectares) that comprise Sanary-sur-Mer are forested, and kissed by spectacular natural parks and gardens such as the Cap Sicié, Jardin de Baudouvin, Domaine d'Orvès, and Parc Municipal du Mugel, among others. Crowning Sanary-sur-Mer is Le Massif Forestier du Gros Brain, a mountainous limestone ridge that borders the Ollioules-Sanary plain and separates the coast from the hinterland.
Sanary-sur-Mer offers ample opportunities to discover its splendid Provencal history, culture, architecture and charm. The city's evolution can be experienced during visits to the Tour Romaine, a 13th-century medieval Romanesque tower, Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Pitié, built in 1560 on a headland west of Sanary-sur-Mer, 16th-century Eglise Saint Nazaire Church, the winding streets of the medieval Old Town. A host of stunning churches, museums, and other lovely landmarks in Sanary-sur-Mer and the nearby towns of Bandol and Le Castellet round out a wonderful array of historical and architectural treasures to explore.
Sanary-sur-Mer's location between the Mediterranean Sea and Provençal countryside is highlighted by a wide array of scenic and invigorating sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include bird-watching, walking and hiking treks, horseback-riding, canopy tours, and mountain-biking amidst the lush forested parks, hills and gardens of Sanary-sur-Mer, and tennis at the Tennis Club La Valeriane. A delightful array of bird, animal and wildlife species may also be observed at the Zoo du Mont Faron and Jardin Exotique - Zoo du Sanary. Fun-filled and memorable water-based excursions abound along Sanary-sur-Mer's coastal beaches, coves and waterways. Included are swimming, parasailing, jet-skiing, sea-kayaking, water-skiing, wind-surfing, and body-boarding at popular beaches such as Lido, Gourgette, Beaucours, Portissol, the Esplanade, Bonnegrace, La Cride, Beaucours, and Roc Amour. Endless sailing, boating, deep-sea fishing and catamaran excursions are available to capture the beauty of the coast and its denizens, including diverse bird species, whales, dolphins, tuna, and sunfish. Sanary is also a renowned diving hub with a rich history in this sport. Snorkelling, diving and underwater trails abound along its coastal waters, and showcase the rich undersea beauty of the Mediterranean; mostelles, brown meager, grouper, moray eels, congers, barracudas, sea fans, oysters, and other marine species can all be found here.
Due to its compact size, Sanary-sur-Mer can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Sanary-sur-Mer
The ship may be at anchor. Guests will tender ashore to the Office de Tourisme Pier. Sanary-sur-Mer's town centre is adjacent to the port area, and can be reached on-foot. Taxis are metred and available at the pier. Please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
Shopping opportunities in Sanary-sur-Mer include local specialities and wine, perfume, caftans, bikinis, clothing, accessories, shoes, jewellery, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Popular shopping destinations include a wide array of small shops in the city, the Provençal market, held daily under the plane trees with lots of fresh produce and the Grand Marche de Sanary-sur-Mer. Held every Wednesday in nearby Bandol, this large morning market offers everything from arts, crafts and textiles to clothing, food and more. Boutique shopping experiences in the city include Fée Follette on Boulevard Estienne d'Orves for bags, jewellery, clothes and home accessories; Plein Soleil on Rue Barthélemy de Don for its lovely pottery; Oasis on Rue Félix Pijeaud for more contemporary and eclectic items; and L'Echoppe, also on Rue Félix Pijeaud, for country-style home accessories, colourful Festin Coquin pottery and gifts. Other boutique shops include Rando; and Zen Attitude. Local specialities and wine can be found at Ma Provence, located approximately 200 yards (about 183 metres) from the pier and open from 10 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The local currency is the Euro.
Sanary is renowned for its traditional and regional French, Mediterranean, Italian, Tapas, Thai, Vietnamese, and international cuisine. Local specialties include bouillabaisse, or fish stew, tapenade, cade, ratatouille, and rillettes, along with fresh fish and shellfish. Popular restaurants offering traditional cuisine in-and-around Sanary include: Le Castel; Le Bard'Ô, Le Mas de la Frigoulette; La P'tite Cour; Aliette et son Assiette; A Table; Les Arcades, Restaurant du Théâtre; Le Grillon; Un Coin de; La Savane; Le Panoramic; Les Goûts et les Couleurs; L'Apparté; Muscade; Le National; Le Provençal, L'Esplanade; L'En K; Le Bard'ô; Café de Lyon; La P'tite Fabrik; Le Kouarter; O Petit Monde; Le Bon Abri; La Marine; and Harbour 464. Popular restaurants offering regional French cuisine include: Hôtel Restaurant de la Tour; L'Altruiste, Le Provençal; La Taverne du Soleil; La Rencontre; Pastis; and Les Saveurs de Suzon. Popular Sanary restaurants for exotic cuisine include: Alégia; Le Dragon d'Or; El Toro Loco; Le Mantra; La Plage Dorée; and Kima Plage. Popular hotels for dining include La Farandole.
Sanary-sur-Mer is one of the most beautiful small ports on the French Riviera, with traditional wooden fishing boats and small, colourful sailing vessels filling most of the slips. The Gothic Revival Eglise Saint Nazaire Church is the iconic sight of the small natural harbour, and its interior walls are adorned with beautiful frescoes. Not far from town is the 15th century Notre-Dame-de-Pitie Chapel, with its pieta and great views of the sea and port. The ruins of Tour Romaine, a medieval tower, are at the centre of the area's museum. The museum displays shipwreck treasures and artefacts discovered by Jacques Cousteau, who developed the technology he used in his explorations whilst residing in Sanary. However, the most appealing thing about this small historic port may very well be its serene atmosphere and lovely cafe culture. While the rest of the Cote d'Azur lives at a speedboat pace, Sanary sails calmly on a light Mediterranean breeze.
The Old Town of Sanary consists of a medieval area with intertwined, winding streets and an adjacent 'new' area; dating from the 16th century, it follows a grid pattern. Both are thickly populated with bars, restaurants, and the usual souvenir and craft shops. Of special note here is the Chapelle des Penitents Blancs, with its reliquaries, and busts of Saint Nazaire and Saint Peter.
Eglise Saint Nazaire
Originally built in the 16th century and fully-renovated in the late-19th century in the Gothic Revival style, the Eglise Saint Nazaire is located in the heart of Sanary, on the main square in the port. The city and its activities evolve around the church, a unique experience to visit, sit on a public bench on the square and watch the local fishing boats pass by, or simply walk past during a stroll along the port. A must-see venue in the heart of the Provence Coast in the South of France.
The Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Pitié was built in 1560 on a headland west of Sanary-sur-Mer. During its storied legacy, the chapel served as a church, guardhouse, hospital, and monitoring point for bad weather or invading ships. The chapel offers a spectacular panoramic view over the Bay of Sanary, and abounds with votive offerings. Along the pleasant path leading up to the chapel are four of the town's many shrines.
Beaches at Sanary-sur-Mer
Several lovely beaches can be found in-and-around Sanary-sur-Mer, some sandy and some rocky. To the west of Sanary are the beaches of Lido, Gourgette and Beaucours, The beaches of Portissol and the Esplanade are centrally-located, and the beach at Bonnegrace is located southeast of Sanary-sur-Mer. Although small, the Esplanade Beach gets very busy due to its proximity to the town centre, whilst the beaches of Lido, Bonnegrace and Portissol, Sanary's nicest, are the most popular with families. La Cride, Beaucours and Roc Amour are smaller, pebble beaches.
Frédéric Dumas International Diving Museum
Sanary is a key diving centre on this stretch of the Mediterranean coast. The Frédéric Dumas International Diving Museum is dedicated to the local diving legend, a tireless inventor of homemade diving equipment, friend of Jacques Cousteau and holder of a world-record deep-sea dive in 1943. Tucked away on the ground floor of a house down a side-street off the port, the museum a must-visit for diving fans. Its collection of ingenious devices includes wooden goggles and leather flippers, as well as a diving mask made by Dumas in the 1930s out of the air chamber of a tire, which inspired the ground-breaking 'squale' diving mask.
Located approximately 7.4 miles (12 kilometres) from Sanary-sur-Mer, the beautiful and majestic Mont Faron is perched 1,900 feet (579 metres) above Toulon, and accessible via a panoramic cable-car-ride from the Old Town. Mont Faron offers dramatic views of the sea and surrounding areas, along with a memorial to the 1944 Allied landings in Provence, the delightful Zoo du Mont Faron and convenient access to area wineries.
The Tour Romaine, a 13th-century medieval Romanesque tower, guards the west side of the Port of Sanary and is the emblem on Sanary's coat-of-arms. Inside is a collection of Roman amphoras and other archaeological objects of interest salvaged by Jacques Cousteau and his team from the Grand Congloué, as well as other shipwrecks in the area. At the top of the tower, a terrace affords splendid views across the bay, town and the surrounding countryside.
Located approximately 3.7 miles (about six kilometres) from Sanary-sur-Mer, Bandol is a beach resort town that has long attracted tourists to its beautiful sandy waterfronts. The town's name is derived from the Bandol wines, which are renowned for their reds. The sheltered topography of Bandol has provided ideal winemaking conditions since 600 B.C., and this is arguably the most famous wine region of southern France. You can taste the offerings from 29 regional producers at the Maison des Vins du Bandol.
Located approximately 8.7 miles (about 14 kilometres) from Sanary Sanary-sur-Mer, Le Castellet is a beautiful, quaint, medieval walled village, perched on a hill via a scenic 30-minute scenic drive through Sanary and the Bandol vineyards. The village offers exquisite views of the surrounding countryside and vineyards, and across the valley to La Cadiere d'Azur. Le Castellet retains its fortified look; there are still sections of the ancient ramparts remaining, along with a couple of the old, fortified 'portes'. The winding cobblestone streets are lined with narrow little houses, often with pots of flowers hanging from their balconies. In addition to its picturesque views and atmosphere, Le Castellet offers many interesting craft shops to browse around, along with numerous bars and restaurants.
Located approximately 20.5 miles (33-kilometre) from Sanary, between Toulon and Marseilles, is the famous coastal resort town of Cassis. This small, ancient port, for which the finest white wines of Provence are named, features a lovely waterfront and beautiful, soft-sand beaches. Between Cassis and Marseilles is the famous Calanques, a limestone coastal formation that is similar to a fjord. The scenery in this area is stunning, with jagged and knife-like rock formations arising from narrow coves.
Located approximately 36 miles (about 58 kilometres) from Sanary-sur-Mer, Marseilles is the largest and most historic city in Provence, and at the centre of the region's culture. The iconic symbol of the city is the Byzantine-styled Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica, which overlooks the city from a hill to the east. The attractive, compact Old Port is lined with cafés overlooking the water from all sides. Other sites worth visiting include the Phare de Sainte Marie Lighthouse, Abbey of St. Victor, one of the oldest Christian worship sites in Europe, and the huge Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure, rebuilt in the Romano-Byzantine style in the late-19th century. The city has significant museums, including the Musee Cantini (modern art), Musee de la Mode (fashion), Musee d'Histoire (Marseilles history), and Musee de Beaux-Artes (Art). The most popular shopping area is Centre Bourse, just two blocks from the Old Port.
Jardin Exotique - Zoo de Sanary
The delightful Jardin Exotique - Zoo de Sanary is a combination of a zoo, or 'parc animalier', and exotic garden, or 'parc extique'. This Mediterranean garden and small zoo features meerkats, monkeys, wallabies, kangaroos, Senegalese pygmy goats, other small mammals, and a host of tropical bird species. A pleasant stroll through the peaceful garden and zoo offers plenty of benches, picnic areas, shade trees, and benches to relax and observe the animals. An onsite gift shop also sells snacks and beverages.
Sanary-sur-Mer offers a wide array of scenic and invigorating sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include bird-watching, walking and hiking treks, horseback-riding, canopy tours, and mountain-biking amidst the lush forested parks, hills and gardens of Sanary-sur-Mer, and tennis at the Tennis Club La Valeriane. A delightful array of bird, animal and wildlife species may also be observed at the Zoo du Mont Faron and Jardin Exotique - Zoo du Sanary. Fun-filled and memorable water-based excursions abound along Sanary-sur-Mer's coastal beaches, coves and waterways. Included are swimming, parasailing, jet-skiing, sea-kayaking, water-skiing, wind-surfing, and body-boarding at popular beaches such as Lido, Gourgette, Beaucours, Portissol, the Esplanade, Bonnegrace, La Cride, Beaucours, and Roc Amour. Endless sailing, boating, deep-sea fishing and catamaran excursions are available to capture the beauty of the coast and its denizens, including diverse bird species, whales, dolphins, tuna, and sunfish. Sanary is also a renowned diving hub with a rich history in this sport. Snorkelling, diving and underwater trails abound along its coastal waters, and showcase the rich undersea beauty of the Mediterranean; mostelles, brown meager, groupers, moray eels, conger, barracudas, sea fans, oysters, and other marine species can all be found here.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.