An Insider’s Guide to Sanary-sur-Mer

I’m thrilled to present a guest post this week about one of the “hidden gems” of the Var department: Sanary-sur-Mer. Not only do we try to visit this picture-perfect seaside town as often as possible, we also dream of buying a cozy pied-à-terre there. Well, with an apartment to call all her own in the center of town, Sue Aitken is certainly living the “le rêve Sanary”. Please enjoy her highly informative insider’s look at Sanary “must-dos”:


Sanary-sur-Mer, on the coast between Marseille and Toulon, is a lively and picturesque fishing port. Often overlooked by visitors to this part of Provence, to my mind it’s got far more character and is much more authentic than its more glamorous and better-known neighbour Bandol. The best time to visit Sanary is in May, June or September as it gets very busy with visiting Parisians during July and August. After Bastille Day, the population swells to about twice or three times its normal size, and to my mind it all gets a bit crowded. There’s a colourful daily food market, and on Wednesday morning a larger market with a variety of stalls – everything from cutlery to cheap clothes and shoes. Don’t expect lots of local crafts at the Wednesday market – it’s mainly for the locals looking for a bargain! A couple of stalls on the food market that are worth mentioning…right at the end of the market is a stall selling Corsican specialities whose “rillettes d’oie” are to die for! And one of the cheese/olive stalls has about 20 different goat’s cheeses – from very mild through to strong.

Sanary Market

Sanary is simply brimming with good restaurants…L’Altruiste on rue Siat Marcellin has quite a creative menu – kind of “French Fusion” cuisine. For delicious fish and seafood, you can’t get much better than the restaurant at Hotel de la Tour, plonk on the port and a wonderfully atmospheric place for dinner – although it’s fairly pricey. One of their specialities is locally caught fish baked in salt. Serving the fish is quite a production number…the platter containing the fish is brought to the table, the salt crust is broken with a bit of a fanfare, and then the fish is expertly filleted beside your table. But beware, the fish is priced per 100g – and it can all mount up!

Le Provençal on rue Jean Jaurès facing the port is a friendly, traditional type restaurant run by the Ranucci family, and serves a range of delicious provençal specialities. If you have room for dessert, I strongly recommend their fabulous chocolate mousse. If you’re in the mood for something a bit spicy, there’s a great Moroccan restaurant opposite the cinema on avenue Gallieni – Ô Sud. Run by an ex-professional footballer who loves to chat, they do a great couscous Royal. I always visit when I’m in Sanary.. 


Sanary is a great place for people-watching with a number of lively cafes and restaurants opposite the port. My favourite spot is the terrace at Bar du Sport – excellent rosé and delicious olives!

Now for shopping…there’s a variety of boutiques selling just about everything. Most of the clothes shops focus on holiday wear, so unless you’re in the market for a caftan or a bikini, you can give them a miss. But there are a number of really lovely home and gift shops. By far my favourite is la Fée Follette on boulevard Estienne d’Orves, just across the road from the daily food market. Mathilde Chétrit, a talented artist, sells a wide range of unusual items – bags, jewellery, clothes and home accessories. She also takes commissions on fantastic mosaic items such as mirrors and tables. Other favourites include Plein Soleil on rue Barthélemy de Don for its range of pretty pottery and a couple of gift shops located opposite each other on rue Félix Pijeaud – Oasis for more modern and funky items, and L’Echoppe for country style home accessories and gifts. L’Echoppe has a small range of the gorgeously colourful Festin Coquin pottery that we sell on the website.

Sanary Port

A bit further afield…

If you’re in the area for a few days, it would definitely be worth visiting Le Castellet. It’s a beautifully quaint little medieval village, perched on a hill about a 30 minute scenic drive from Sanary, through the Bandol vineyards. (And if you’re travelling to Le Castellet from Bandol, you’ll go right past my favourite wine producer Domaine Le Galantin in Plan du Castellet!) There are fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and across the valley to its better-known rival La Cadiere d’Azur. The village retains its fortified look – there are still sections of the ancient ramparts remaining, along with a couple of the old fortified “portes“. The winding streets are all cobblestone and the narrow little houses often have pots of flowers hanging from the balconies. Apart from the views and the attractive atmosphere, there are a number of interesting crafty shops to browse around and numerous bars and restaurants, including a crêperie if you’re looking for a light lunch. Le Castellet was the set for the cult film “La femme du boulanger” directed by the famous writer/director Marcel Pagnol.


A very sincere merci to Sue for this beautiful and very informative article about Sanary-sur-Mer.



6 thoughts on “An Insider’s Guide to Sanary-sur-Mer”

  1. I have never been to this part of France, but your descriptions make me want to hop on a plane right now and disappear there for a few days (weeks!). 🙂


  2. My husband and I stumbled across this little gem last year while touring France in our camping car. We stayed for 3 days, enjoyed one of the biggest nocturnal markets of our journey with some amazing unusual things for sale. It is a beautiful friendly little place which welcomes motorhomes and for that area is quite unusual.
    We will return maybe this summer


  3. I really want to get to Sanary-sur-Mer or I should say spend time wandering around town. I did a quick drive through town along the water after spending a full day in Bandol but didn’t have time to stop and intended to come back later in the week but have not done so yet. The pictures are beautiful and just remind me how much I liked the little bit I saw that day. Have a great week.


  4. Sanary is definitely one of the best sea-side towns in the Var. I think it’s far more pleasant to stroll through than Bandol, and certainly than la Seyne! 🙂 Even further up in the hills away from the center, its got its charm.


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