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Cavalaire-sur-Mer is the most southerly coastal resort of the Var department in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Located behind a magnificent beach which boasts 3 kilometres of fine white sand and azure blue waters, it enjoys an exceptional climate with 300 days of sunshine per year and is a popular family destination. Framed by Cap Cavalaire to the west and Cap Lardier to the east with the green Pradels Mountains in the distance, this is one of the most picturesque towns on the Riviera coast. There are approximately 6,500 residents in this charming old fishing town famous for its Provençal traditions and busy marina.
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Cavalaire was a Roman settlement and excavations have revealed evidence of several sites dating from the 1st century BC – one of which was once a grand villa near the beach.
The beach was also an important location for the Allied landings during World War II when the 3rd Division of the American infantry disembarked here on 16th August 1944. Every year there is a parade of military vehicles along the coast and a reconstruction of a military camp.
This is a relatively new town, founded in 1929 and classified as a tourist resort in 1956. It was awarded Station Nautique (nautical resort) status in 2008 and Famille Plus in 2009 which recognises the district’s services and facilities specifically designed to give families with children the best amenities in a safe environment.
Cavalaire-sur-Mer is renowned for its water sports including water skiing, sailing, windsurfing and jet skiing. It plays host to the ‘Jet Game’ competition in September every year. The quality of its beaches and the cleanliness of the water make this a very attractive place for swimming and the bay is also an excellent spot for scuba diving. Sports tuition courses are available for beginners and there is also a supervised gym. To the south west of the main bay, Le Dattier is a small beach and there are also several coves along the coast which provide a quieter spot for sunbathers away from motorboats and noisier leisure activities.
The port of Cavalaire is one of the most sheltered and best-equipped of the Côte d’Azur which attracts an increasing number of visitors. It has mooring for 1,000 boats and there is also a fleet of traditional fishing boats known as ‘pointus’ which go out every day from the harbour. Day boat trips to the nearby Hyères Islands to view the stunningly scenic islands of Port-Cros, Porquerolles and Le Levant are an ideal way to spend an afternoon.
Away from the beach, taking a walk or cycling towards the low mountains of the Massif des Maures will lead you to the pretty villages of Gassin and Ramatuelle. Alternatively, following the Fenouillet footpath along the coast towards Cap Camarat takes you through a nature reserve which is a favoured route for wildlife enthusiasts. There are several ‘discovery trails’ to explore but, owing to the heat of the summer, these walks are best enjoyed in the cool of the evening or the more gentle weather of spring and autumn.
A colourful market is held every Wednesday morning on the Place Jean Moulin which offers a huge variety of regional produce including honey from the forest, olives, olive oil, locally made saucisson and naturally, the local rosé wine. There are good shops and lots of cafés in the town providing a welcome respite from the beach. Free entertainment and festivals are organised by local people for visitors throughout the summer months celebrating the Provençal way of life.
Cavalaire-sur-Mer has an interesting cultural heritage including the Mont-Jean Oppidum (a ‘monument historique’), the Pardigon site with its archaeological excavations and the Domain Foncin bastide. All well worth a visit.
Accommodation & Restaurants
Lying in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, Cavalaire-sur-Mer has wonderful views across the bay. Many of the places to stay have balconies and terraces from which you can soak up the beauty of this exceptional resort. Les Residences du Soleil – Hôtel de la Calanque is a luxurious seafront hotel with a superb swimming pool looking out over the Mediterranean. The restaurant serves freshly caught fish, lobsters and the house speciality, bouillabaisse A stone’s throw away from the beach and the attractions of St. Tropez, this is a haven of tranquillity and an ideal holiday destination.
Hôtel Les Alizés is positioned in the town centre near Plaisance Harbour. It has a panoramic restaurant bar and a small boutique. The restaurant serves traditional French cuisine and guests are invited to dine on the terrace all year round. The hotel also has a bar/tea room with views of Cavalaire Bay. Hôtel Villa Provençal offers a warm family environment in a enchanting property with a beautiful garden to relax in. The yacht marina is 600m from the hotel and the long white sandy beach with all the available water sports are just nearby. The restaurant serves delicious Provençal cuisine and you can look out over the restful palm trees whilst sipping a well-earned glass of wine.
Restaurants are plentiful along the coastline catering for every taste. La Créperie Bretonne is always good value as is Le Yams, famous for its seafood. Le Pizzaiole restaurant on the front is very popular with an excellent menu including foie gras de canard maison, linguine with clams, Charolais beef steaks and a huge variety of appetising salads. Restaurant L’Emeraude located on the new port promenade specialises in ‘fruits de mer’ (shellfish) and various local fish dishes.
Cavalaire-sur-Mer is buzzing with lively bars and cafés. An excellent way to wind down after a day on the beach, wander along by the port and enjoy a sundowner at Bar du Port, Bar Les Palmiers, Caffé Romain or Chez Carmelo. Le Bahia Club is a new, chic night club with a discotheque and a great atmosphere. Alternatively, Casino de Cavalaire offers good cocktails, a restaurant and gaming tables.
By car: From UK take a ferry to Calais, then the motorway to Cavalaire about 1,000 miles. A long drive !
By air: The closest local airport is Hyeres-Toulon (32km) which is about 45-60 minutes driving or 40km by airport bus. International airports: Nice Airport is 78km; Marseille Airport is 111km or Avignon Airport 155km. Nice and Marseille are approximately 2 hours driving to Cavalaire-sur-Mer.
By Rail: The nearest rail connection is either St. Raphael (approx. 30kms) or Toulon (approx 60km). Trains from London St. Pancras International (Eurostar & TGV) go via Paris or Lille to Toulon, Marseille or to St. Raphael. There is a direct bus to Cavalaire from Toulon (Route St. Tropez).