The very name of Le Lavandou evokes the idea of scent and flowers and Spring is a fine time to visit here, especially in March when the villagers celebrate their town with a carnival of flowers. The name does not derive from “lavender” as is often thought, as the lavender species indigenous here is called queirélé and the inhabitants would have spoken only Provencal until about 60 years ago and not known the word “lavande”. It seems more likely the name comes from “lavoir” – the place where the women traditionally washed their linen.
Le Lavandou began life as a fishing port, and despite its subsequent development as a seaside resort, there are still fishermen here today. If you get up early enough you can still see them bringing their catch to shore – and if not, you can always sample the fish for dinner, in a pungent fish soup, or full scale bouillabaisse. Apart from fishing boats, the harbour now shelters many yachts, and you can take ferries to the Iles d’Hyères.
The quai side promenade, Gabriel Peri, has colourful cafes, a boules court and a grand villa, now a restaurant, which was built in the 19th century by a herbalist from Toulon who used to search for medicinal plants in the surrounding maquis. Beyond the quai, the old village rises up several steep streets lined with craft shops and cafes, where there are resort hotels and villas. The main square is named after composer and music critic, Ernest Reyer, and opens onto the promenade which fronts the main beach.
Le Lavandou boasts twelve beaches strung out along the Corniche des Maures to the east. Development has been restricted here and there are several beautiful pine-shaded coves, each of them with different coloured sand. Each has a variety of different facilities with watersports from wind-surfing and fishing to diving and canoeing - and nudist beaches at Rossignol and Le Layet. There is a beach train all the way from the port to Cap Negre and Pramousquier, both key points for the 1944 Allied Landings.
There is a lively market every Thursday morning on Place du Marché.
Copyright © 2011 Rosemary Bailey
Copyright Images : Informationfrance 2011