Top 7 Activities to Experience in Sanary-sur-Mer, France

The South of France is a paradise for beach and food lovers. While popular destinations like Cannes, Nice, and Antibes are always a hit on the French Riviera, there are off-the-beaten-track places that are equally charming and loved by the locals. These hidden gems are just a short drive away from our home near Toulon in southeastern France. They offer less-crowded beaches and a chance to experience the slow rhythms of Provençal life. In these places, you can wear flip-flops or Chanel slingbacks, and enjoy both Michelin-star dining and casual picnics with crusty baguettes and Camembert cheese while watching the sunset over the Mediterranean with a glass of rosé in hand. One such place is Sanary-sur-Mer, which is considered one of the most beautiful seaside towns in the region and is increasingly popular among retirees.

Sanary, as the locals call it, boasts an incredible farmer’s market along the port, which was named the most beautiful market in France in 2018. The entire city is pedestrian-friendly, and you can easily explore it on foot, visiting the market, bakeries, French delis, and wine shops. Here is a beginner’s guide to some of the top things to do in Sanary, whether you have a weekend or just a day to spare.

1. Explore the Provençal Market: The market in Sanary is a must-visit attraction. If you happen to be there on a Wednesday, you’re in for a treat. The market spans two city blocks and offers everything from fresh produce to wine tastings to Provençal tablecloths. Even on other days, the market is worth a visit, though it’s smaller and focused mainly on local food.

2. Take a Stroll Along the Port: The port of Sanary is a picturesque spot for a leisurely walk. Enjoy the colorful surroundings and soak up the South-of-France atmosphere. After exploring the market, you can stop at Bar du Sport for a café au lait and croissant, or indulge in artisanal gelato from one of the local shops.

3. Have a Seaside Picnic: Watching sailboats in the bay while enjoying a picnic is a delightful way to spend your time in Sanary. You can easily pick up everything you need at the market or local bakeries near the port. One popular spot for picnics is the beach adjacent to Sanary, called Bonnegrace. You might even get to witness some surfing or kite surfing if the wind is up.

4. Enjoy a Long Lunch at Crêperie Le Galion: Instead of a picnic, you can opt for a meal at one of the crêperies along the port. Try a savory crêpe or indulge in a bucket of moules-frites paired with a glass of rosé. There are also local wineries like Domaine Paternal, Ray Jane, L’Olivette, Tempier, and La Suffrene where you can sample some excellent wines.

5. Explore Boutique Shops: Sanary is home to many charming and chic boutiques. From kitchen tools to gourmet goodies, handcrafted jewelry to designer handbags, you’ll find a variety of unique items. Take a leisurely walk through the colorful streets behind the port to discover these hidden gems.

6. Take a Boat Ride to the Paul Ricard Islands: Embiez Island and Bendor Island, known as the Paul Ricard islands, are popular destinations off the coast of Sanary. You can take a boat ride from the port and explore these islands, which offer restaurants, cafés, art galleries, and even a boutique hotel complex for those who want to stay overnight.

7. Attend a Local Festival: Sanary hosts various festivals throughout the year, giving you the opportunity to experience Provençal traditions and mingle with the locals. From the Chocolate & Wine festival to the Fête des Voiles celebrating traditional sailboats, there’s always something happening in Sanary. The annual rosé wine festival, Just Rosé, is a highlight in May, with around 70 wineries offering tastings and activities for both adults and children.

Apart from these activities, you might stumble upon an impromptu antique fair near the market, offering a chance to pick up some unique souvenirs from your visit. Sanary-sur-Mer truly offers a delightful experience for visitors, with its beautiful market, charming port, and a variety of attractions to explore.

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