Sanary-sur-Mer part 2

Last week we gave some pictures and text about our visit to Sanary-sur-Mer, and focused specifically on the seafront. That, however is not the limit of Sanary’s charms. There are, for example, some charming side streets and small shops, which appear to be selling the sort of things ordinary people buy as opposed to the €10,000 watches and €5,000 dresses that you find in the shops of St Tropez. There also seemed to be a number of restaurants which didn’t immediately have you gasping at the prices. It certainly has what is clearly a very popular bakery. We haven’t seen queues like this outside a bakery since some of the days of heavy fighting in Beirut. Here, however the motive seemed to be the pursuit of quality rather than simply getting bread to eat.

There are three striking buildings on the seafront and one abomination. The first striking building is the very Mediterrean maire (town hall) in coral pink.

The second striking building is the church of St Nazaire, which particularly remarkable because of its modern frescos: sufficiently recent to include Mother Theresa but done in a distinctly un-French and more modern Greek Orthodox style. One of the pleasing features of this church is the fact that – unlike most large French churches – it doesn’t major on gloom and shadows .

The third striking building is the rather remarkable tower, which apparently until a few centuries ago, was actually in the sea. It is now part of a museum for underwater archaeology, but its chief attraction is that you can actually climb up to the roof on a succession of interesting stairways. They are sufficiently demanding that in Britain that would be banned to all but professional gymnasts. But here in France there didn’t even seem to be a warning. There are great views from the top.

view from the top of the tower

The abomination is the hotel and other buildings that manage to obscure the lower two-thirds of the tower. There must be a very strong suspicion that one of southern France’s notorious “curious planning decisions” was responsible.

Finally, on the west edge of the bay, are a number of elegant houses (and less than elegant blocks of flats). But fans of Mediterranean architecture will find much to charm them.

You will have gathered that we enjoyed Sanary and wouldn’t mind escaping down there off season in winter while the cold weather lashes the lands to the north. And, to end on a meteorological note, we finally had a day of rain this week after three dry months. On Monday the temperature was around 30°C, Tuesday when the rain came it was barely 13°C at the most and then on Wednesday it had bounced back to something like 28°C . It was something of a shock.

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