The Var region extends from the outskirts of Cannes in the East to Bandol in the West, 50km from Marseilles, at the Western end of the French Riviera, incorporating wild areas, agriculture as well as the famous resorts and St Tropez. Filled with ancient hilltop villages, forests, vineyards, stunning coastline and seaside resorts, its a perfect location for both the active holiday maker – the cyclist, nature walker and boater, and those who prefer the more hedonistic pursuits.
The Var is home to over 400 km of shoreline and beaches, with 230 coves. Do you prefer isolated little coves or large, family beaches? Pebbles, white sand, gray sand or red shingle? The Var’s beaches offer great facilities, access for the disabled and including all kinds of water sports and showers. Catering to every taste, some are tree-lined, some are sheltered from the Mistral wind, some are naturist and most are wild … Whatever your choice, you can be safe to find your dream beach in the Var, including numerous snorkeling and scuba diving spots.
The main resort in this part of the French riviera is Saint Tropez, perhaps the most famous of all Riviera resorts. Saint Tropez, an old Mediterranean seaport standing on the south shore of a very sheltered bay, the Gulf of Saint Tropez, has long been a classically chic Mediterranean resort, frequented by stars and Parisians. With its old port and its historic centre, it remains popular to this day with jet-setters, and offers an idyllic holiday environment with plenty of shops, hotels, beaches, cafés and restaurants as well as being served by Pampelonne Beach. A fishing village that has managed to maintain its charm in the face of swarms of tourism and wealth over the decades, St Tropez is a delight.
For those looking to burn off the calories from too many long lazy lunches we’d recommend the seven-mile walk round the headlands to the Pampelonne beaches. The track – called “le Sentier du Littoral” is quite wild in places, but well maintained and clearly signposted. At reasonable walking speed, it will take about three and a half hours, depending how far along Pampelonne beach you want to end up. This area is also popular with mountain bike cyclists.
En route, you’ll have stirring scenery, interesting coastal flora and the maritime cemetery where the film director Roger Vadim now rests. Brigitte Bardot’s modest place is also nearby, as are charming little beaches such as Plage Graniers, Plage des Canebiers, Plage de la Moutte and Plage des Salins.
Pick up the “Sentier du Littoral” brochure from the tourist office on Quai Jean-Jaurès, equip yourself with a bottle of water and a mobile phone and set off from La Ponche – once the fishermen’s quarter. The tight scrum of old buildings and the views make it St Tropez’s loveliest, most atmospheric mini-district.
Grimaud and Port Grimaud
Grimaud is a Medieval perched village overlooking the bright blue bay of the Golfe de Saint Tropez. Dominated by the striking ruins of the 11th-century chateau at the top, the village is large enough to offer a good number of streets for wandering and exploring, including some Medieval-narrow and some low vaulted passages.
Port Grimaud, located on the seaside 5km away from Grimaud is where Villa Port Grimaud is located and was developed in the 60s as a planned pedestrian and boat only village – in hindsight, an unparalleled success, consisting of 2,400 housings and 2,000 moorings harmoniously distributed over 12 islands connected with 14 bridges, 16 porches, 7 km of canals, and 14 km piers.
Ramatuelle is a lovely village presented in its original snail configuration and which overlooks the Pampelonne Beach restaurants a few kilometers away. The core village architecture is typical of Mediterranean villages, revealing porches, stairs, passages, squares, narrow streets paved with flowers, church and its bell tower. Ocher facades and pastel shutters are decorated with jasmine, honeysuckle and bougainvillea, a feast for our senses. Craftshops, painting, primitive art that open in old cellars dug into the rock every summer attracts many curious.
The Esterel coast
To the East, between Cannes and the Gulfe de Saint Tropez is the Esterel Coast. This part of the coast is less developed, mainly on account of the hills and forests that come almost to the water’s edge. Apart from Fréjus and Saint Raphaël, the resorts are small, offering a quieter holiday style. The dry and rocky Esterel hills, with their Mediterranean pine forests, are popular with hikers and walkers. The coastline between Miramar and Saint Raphaël is full of little coves, many of them only accessible by foot from the coastal road, the “Corniche de l’Esterel”, a scenic route offering magnificent views of the coastline and out to sea.
Île de Porquerolles
To the West lies Île de Porquerolles, well worth a visit for those with access to sailing or motorboats, or accessed via a 20 minute boat trip from Hyères down the coast. Though it has its own village and moorings, in 1971, the French state bought most of Porquerolles, protecting it against urbanisation by granting it national park status and designating it a conservation area during the Eighties. As a result, the island’s landscape resembles the French Riviera of centuries ago: oak forests, olive, fig, juniper and strawberry trees thrive, as do lavender, rosemary, rock rose, myrtle and other Mediterranean flora. Its a great spot for families with wonderful beaches and pearl-white sand.
The Var Details
Regional Features The Var is home to over 400 km of shoreline and beaches, with forests covering over 55% of the region Yachts each year the French Mediterranean coasts hosts 50% of the world’s super-yacht fleet. Climate 300 days of sunshine per year with the the average maximum daily temperature in August being 29.1 °C Cities and Towns Toulon, Frejus, Draguignan, Brignoles, Saint Maxime, Saint Raphael Featured Villages St. Tropez, Port Grimaud, Grimaud, Ramatoulle, Hyères, Le Lavandou
Charter a Motor Yacht
We can arrange a motor yacht and captain to take you wherever you want to go. As an example day out, depart Saint Tropez harbour and travel down the coast past the rugged Esterel coast stopping to enjoy the secluded bays and crystal clear water.
For lunch moor the yacht at the les Îles de Lérins, an island group off Cannes, the two largest islands in this group are the Île Sainte-Marguerite with its Fort Royal, which held the Man in the Iron mask in the 17th century or Île Saint-Honorat whose monastery dates from the 5th century and is still home to 30 Cistercian monks.
After enjoying lunch at La Guérite on Île Sainte-Marguerite or la Tonnelle on Île Saint-Honorat, stroll the warm pine scented forests of the islands which echo with cicadas or use the yacht as your swimming platform as you enjoy the islands before returning home at dusk.
In the Var, wine is a €300m industry and the majority is Rose production. Light, flavourful and easy drinking, it suits the long hot days and longer nights, making it the wine of choice in the Gulfe de Saint Tropez. You can visit a number of the the renowned estates during your stay, sample their offerings and pick up a case. Chateau des Marres is recommended.
The mix of sun, seabreezes and over-indulging on the finer things in life can play havoc with your skin and body. Refresh at La Reserve located in Ramatoulle and take in a Dream Day, comprising a full service spa and lunch at their Mitchellin star restaurant.