•Var (83820) • Population: 871 • Altitude: 70 m
Rayol-Canadel is a pair of tiny villages, co-joined in a single commune, nestled in the pine forests against the edge of the Mediterranean. Each part has a nice sandy beach, and many fine residences hidden in the trees, but there's no real village here for exploring. In fact, driving along the coastal D599 road between Bormes-les-Mimosas/Le Lavandou and Saint-Tropez, you could easily miss Rayol-Canadel if you weren't paying attention.
Le Rayol, the eastern part of this village pair, does have a small commercial collection straddling the main road, including an Office de Tourisme with convient parking area. Commerce includes a small grocery store (Alimentation), butcher, boulangerie-patisserie, hair dresser, a largish Casino grocery store and a pharmacy. Adding to its identity as a real village is a post office, a tabac-librarie, and an excellent bar-restaurant.
Both "villages" have lovely sandy beaches tucked into the rocky cliffs of the Corniche des Maures, both protected from westerly winds by the jutting Cap Nègre.
Canadel-sur-Mer's Plage du Canadel is the easiest to walk to from the main road, but parking isn't easy. It's even difficult to get off the main coast road here.
At Le Rayol, the Plage du Rayol is a 10-15 minute walk down from the main road. There is a parking area right at the beach, but it's likely to be full in the summer unless you get there bright and early.
Domaine du Rayol
The Domaine du Rayol is a large botanical garden located beside the Mediterranean just to the southeast of Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. This beautiful area of trees, bushes and flowers is divided into different botanical regions of the world, including of course Le Jardin de la Méditerranée.
It takes about one and a half hours to follow the marked, 2 km itinerary, but you should plan on a half-day for a leisurley tour, exploration and photography. It's just a couple minutes drive down from Le Rayol, and there's parking at the entrance.
Entry is 8 € adults, 5 € kids.
Route de Mimosas
Rayol-Canadel is on the Route de Mimosas, a January itinerary you can follow to see the finest of the region's colorful yellow mimosa in bloom. The route is a 130-km drive beginning in Bormes-les-Mimosas, passing through Rayol Canadel, Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Raphaël, Mandelieu-La Napoule, Tanneron, Pégomas and finishing in Grasse.
History of Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer
Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer was part of the commune of La Môle until 1949.
More Recently: At midnight, 14 August 1944, French commandos of Colonel Bouvet's African Army, landed at the the Canadel beach, part of the U.S. 7th Army invasion of Provence.
Place Michel Goy, on the D559 at Le Rayol.
Tel : 0494 056 569
Open all year; closed Sunday in the winter.
Department 83, Var Buses
See Beyond's Var Department Bus Schedules for downloading the Var bus-lines map [Plan du Reseau] and bus-line schedules [Horaires] (link for PDF files).
Hyères Airport - St-Tropez Bus 7803
Var bus line 7803 connects the Toulon-Hyères Airport with all the towns along the coast to Saint Tropez.
Toulon - Le Lavandou - St-Tropez Bus 7801
Var bus line 7801 connects the Toulon with all the towns along the coast to Saint Tropez (but not the airport).
- For the Toulon-Hyères Airport, transfer at La Londe-les-Maures to line 7803.
- For Grimaud, St Maximin, Fréjus, transfer at St Tropez to line 7601.
The complete route for bus line 7801 is: Toulon, La Valette, La Garde, La Crau, Hyères (center), La Londe-les-Maures, Bormes-les-Mimosas, Le Lavandou, Le Rayol-Canadel, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, La Croix-Valmer, Gassin, La Foux, St Tropez.
Schedules for the Var bus lines are on the VarLib Horaires-Ligne page (http://www.varlib.fr/horaires_ligne/?rub_code=6") - type the line number (7801) in the Numéro ... ligne box to access the bus schedule PDF link. (Type a couple of digits in the box to get a list of route numbers.)
The main road access is along the D559 coast road between Port-Grimaud/Saint-Tropez and Bormes-les-Mimosas/Le Lavandou. This is a very pretty drive, but in the Summer months you'll need a flexible schedule and lots of patience.
There's a handy north-south road across the hills, joining the east-west N98 highway directly with Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. The northern end is beside the little village of La Môle, turning off at La Môle's "international" airport. This road is a very lovely drive through the forested hills and over the Col du Canadel, but it is very, very narrow for its whole length of 11 km, so not for the timid — and patience could be required here is well.
Sign-posted beside the Office de Tourisme:
Tel: 0609 324 862; 0603 299 092
• Latitude, Longitude: 43.163114, 6.479653
IGN (1/25,000) #3545 OT "St. Tropez, Ste. Maxime, Massif des Maures"
The coast is not great for hiking; the area is very built-up and the seaside cliffs are steep.
In the hills just to the north, though, on the tiny road up to the Col du Canadel, you'll join the GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur). From the "col", the GR51 goes west through the forest all the way past Bormes-les-Mimosas before hitting civilization. To the northeast, you'll have 10-15 km of lovely hiking before arriving at the busy area around Cogolin - Port-Grimaud.
There's at least one restaurant at each tiny center, Le Canadel and Le Rayol, with the one at Le Rayol including a good café.