|Looking across the new marina at Saint Raphael.|
That is not an original headline, but as a former sub-editor, I wish it were. It appeared in our daily newspaper – the Var-Matin.
I am probably digressing here, but the Var-Matin brings news of not only the Var department, France, and the world; it also has very local news, depending on where you live.
The summer lift-out, ‘Le Jounal de l’été’ contains lists of festivals, music concerts, art exhibitions, theatrical performances and leisure activities in the Var for its holidaymakers.
And the headline above announced a feature on Saint Raphaël.
The main beach is sandy – and while it can get pretty crowded at the height of the summer season, there is always the possibility of walking further around the coast – east towards the Estérel and its tiny, rocky bays – or west towards Fréjus plage (beach at Fréjus).
I love the partly faded elegance of Saint Raphaël. It was once the sojourn of choice for writers and artists of the immediate post-World War One period of the 1920s – think Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. You can see the grand old decorative seafront hotels still holding their own among the newer holiday apartments.
|Aerial photograph of the town showing beachfront and marina. From Var-Matin.|
Not being one for diving myself, I prefer to visit the ‘l’histoire sous-marin’ (underwater history) museum – called the Musée archéologique (Archeology Museum) – where some amazing antiquities have been brought to the surface from the many ancient shipwrecks that occurred on the rocks just offshore.
|An ancient anchor from one of the shipwrecks.|
Another part of the museum is dedicated to the pioneers of deep sea diving, and includes the first heavy independent diving suit that was constructed at Saint Raphaël in 1928.
It is also at this museum where you can climb the 129 steps to the top of a fortified tower and look out over not only Saint Raphaël itself, but the panoramic view back east to the red rocks of the Estérel mountains, and west towards Fréjus and the coastline that takes you past the coastal towns of St Aygulf and Les Issambres to Sainte Maxime and the Maures mountains below Les Arcs.