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Sanary Sur Mer

Photo of Sanary Sur Mer

About Sanary Sur Mer

A picturesque Provencal seaside town with a lot of soul, Sanary-sur-Mer is the quintessential holiday destination for families looking to soak up some sunshine and French culture. Surrounded by some of Europe's oldest vineyards, boasting glittering golden beaches and teeming with medieval sites, Sanary is a place where time stands still. Yet there's plenty to do here from scuba diving in the lovely azure waters, exploring ancient chapels or eating freshly-caught fish at one of the many restaurant. Our collection of the best places to stay in Sanary-sur-Mer benefit are ideally located to explore this charming town.

Upon entering Sanary, you first encounter its medieval harbour. Built in the 16th-century, you can see the colourful little "pointus" - traditional wooden fishing boats - bobbing up and down in the water, and their owners hauling the catch-of-the-day to send to nearby restaurants. The town itself is extremely pretty. The terraces of its pastel-coloured houses are shaded by palm trees and the air smells of flowers and fish, owing in part to the daily flower market held outside the town hall. Be sure to visit the weekly farmers' market, held every Wednesday, and sample the sumptuous fresh produce hailing from the outlying farms.

Standing tall against the skyline is a great medieval tower, built in the 13th-century to defend the villagers from invaders. Luckily for tourists, piratical raids on the villages of the Provencal coast have somewhat declined in recent years and so now the tower houses a scuba diving museum. Scuba diving and Sanary have historically gone hand-in-hand and the village is considered to be the birthplace of modern scuba diving, with big names like Jacques Cousteau and Frederic Dumas beginning there. There are countless diving instructors working in the village, and trying your hand at scuba diving is a must-do activity.

Before the 19th-century and the rise of the French Riviera, Sanary-sur-Mer was just a sleepy fishing village. Indeed, during the Roman Empire, settlements and trading posts sprawled along the coast, as shown by the archaeological remains found on the beaches. Aside from the medieval tower and churches like the Chapel of Notre-Dame de Pitie, few large old sites exist. But a spate of tourism from wealthy and influential Europeans put it on everyone's map. Aldous Huxley, for example, wrote his magnum opus - Brave New World - near La Gorguette, the restaurant of Hostellerie la Farandole. A plaque in the centre of Sanary hauntingly commemorates a group of exiled German authors who were interned there as enemy aliens during WWII: one of these men was Bertolt Brecht.

What not to miss

  • Lounge at one of Sanary's amazing beaches, be it the Lido, Portissol or the Bonnegrace.
  • Sample fresh produce at the farmers' market on Wednesday.
  • Go scuba diving with an instructor - Sanary is after all the birthplace of modern scuba diving.
  • Visit the 13th-century medieval tower and enjoy the panoramic views of the sea and town.
  • Take a guided tour around some of Europe's oldest vineyards - dating back to the Romans - like that of Domaine Terrebrune Estate.
  • Eat some traditional Provencal dishes like bouillabaisse.
  • For some serenity, check out the Chapel of Notre Dame de Pitie, built in the 16th-century.

Ideal for a seaside family holiday, this is a popular summer destination, so to ensure a room at one of the best places to stay in Sanary-sur-Mer we recommend booking well in advance.

The best places to stay in Sanary-sur-Mer

Minimalist chic

  • Hostellerie la Farandole: a few steps from the beach and boasting gorgeous views of the sea, this effortlessly cool hotel offers everything from a swimming pool, cocktail bar, simple but elegant rooms and a hammam. The restaurant, La Gorguette, speaks for itself.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • Fly to Marseilles, 49km away from Sanary, and get a taxi to the town.
  • If you want to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.
  • With 280 days of sunshine a year, Sanary enjoys more sun than possibly anywhere else in France. The best time to go is during the summer when the temperature ranges between 17 and 29 degrees.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Sanary Sur Mer

  • Hostellerie la Farandole 27 rooms from ¬£147

    Sanary Sur Mer

    A great find with an outstanding location. Rooms are simple, modern and elegant; lots of white and glass so as not to deter from the stunning views. Laze by the pool, step out onto the beach, have a dip in the hammam or head to the cocktail bar for sundowners overlooking the Med.

    Views  -  Stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea
    Sights nearby  -  Embiez Island (3km away), a natural gem strictly protected, with secluded beaches, lush pine forests and mature vineyards
    Local markets  -  March√© de Sanary
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor
    Check prices