Saint Raphaël photo straphael0060s.jpg (7 k) Saint Raphaël is a large seaside town, nestled up beside Fréjus, and located half way between Cannes and St Tropez. Saint Raphaël has sandy beaches, marinas, good shopping, and lots of dining and lodging possibilities. The town is also easy to get to, being close to the A8 autoroute, and the local railway station is a stop on the TGV line between Paris and Nice.

location map for Saint Raphaël area map
Dept: Var (83)

Also:  | Route de Mimosa |

Nearby: | Bagnols-en-Foret 21 km | Cannes, France 40 km | Draguignan 32 km | Fayence 33 km | Frejus 3 km (adjacent) | La Garde-Freinet 45 km | Malpasset Dam 13 km | Saint Paul-en-Foret 27 km | Saint Tropez 37 km | Sainte Maxime 14 km |

Saint Raphaël isn't very picturesque, being more of a resort destination than photogenic village. There is an old town, here called the "village district", and there are a fair number of interesting things to see by wandering the streets.

The town is full of fine old villas from the 18th and 19th centuries, with many of the Palladian style, and others evoking the Belle Epoque. The Office de Tourisme has a list of the villas with a map.



First record, 1703 Sanctus Raphaël

Prehistoric: Traces of prehistoric habitation have been found in many places in and arouond the commune of St Raphaël, most especially in the nearest part of the Masif de l'Estérel, where over a hundred archeological sites have been located. Many Stone-Age megaliths and dolmens remain from the paleolithic and neolithic [History-Geology].

The dolmens de Suveret can be seen north of the center, at Valescure, near the hotel Latitudes and the Golf de Valescure. There's a menhir to the east of there, at the entrance to the Parc de Veissieres. A more ornate example is the "Pierre Levée" (or "Pierre Guérisseuse") in the area of Les Ferrières: it's an elipitical megalith about 2 metres high, with 219 small cavities.

Gallo-Roman: During the Roman period, the area now occupied by St Raphaël was popular for the wealthy families [patriciennes de Forum Julii], where they built their Gallo-Roman villas. One example was located at the site of the town's casino, where it had a view across the bay towards Saint Aygulf. Excavation showed this villa was decorated with mosaics, had a vivarium to stock live fish, and have thermal baths.

The area at the north of the current town, Valescure, was named Vallis Curans for the curative properties of the climate, and many wealthy families built their villas there. The ruins of one are at the site of the Golf de l'Estérel club house.

Medieval: The current town was established in the 11th century by the Monks of the Lérins Islands, and In the 12th century the Templiers established and important commanderie.

More Recently: Saint Raphaël was a fishing port from the 15th to the 19th century, as it is to a much lesser extent today.

The towns popularity as a tourist destination began at the end of the 19th century: the writer Alphonse Karr, who moved from Paris to Nice in 1855, visited St Raphaël often, along with other writers and artists, includingGeorges Sand, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Frédéric Mistral and Guy de Maupassant. Karr died here in 1890.

In 1799 an even more important Frenchman put St Raphaël on the map a bit earlier, when Napoleon Banaparte landed here on his return from Egypt. The "conqueror of the pyramids" passed through town in the other direction on 28 April 1814, debarking for Elba Island as a prisoner.

On 15 August 1944, the allied troups landed at Dramont beach, 5 km east of the center, beginning the debarquement of operation "Camel-Green".

Office de Tourisme

Located just in front of the railway station, angled to your left as you exit.

Tel : 04 94 19 52 52; Fax: 04 94 83 85 40


The St-Raphael website


Transportation Saint Raphaël



Lodging - Hotels