Var (83120) Population: 12,000 Altitude: 15 m
Sainte Maxime is a Mediterranean seaside town located 5 km north of St Tropez, across the Gulf of St Tropez; 15 km southwest of Fréjus.
The town is well situated, with white sandy beaches along the coast, and the forested hills of the Maures providing protection from the winds and wonderful areas for walking and hiking. Market day Daily.
The fires of 2003 devastated large areas of these beautiful hills, and reforestation will take many years. It was a bad year for fires, in the South of France, Italy and other European countries, Austalia and Southern California.
Sainte Maxime is a dynamic town, with a large indigenous population that's augmented every summer with visitors from around the world. The town center and the immediate surrounding area has plenty of lodging and dining available. Shopping ranges from small Provençal markets in the center to large modern shopping centers.
Some of the medieval aspects of Sainte Maxime have been retained. The town hall (mairie) is still visibly a 15th-c chateau, and the defensive Tour Carrée dates from the 16th century.
History of Sainte Maxime
First record, 11th century Sancta Maxima
Prehistoric: The most ancient signs of habitation around here are prehistoric. There are said to be 2 dolmens at San-Sebastien and one at Haute -Suzanne (2 km west), and a granite menhir, called La Mère (mother?), with a horizontal line engraved on one face.
Celto-Ligurian: The remains of a Ligurian castrum are located at St-Pierre-de-Miramas, at the San Peyre mountain about 6 km west of the center.
Gallo-Roman: The Phocaeans trading post of Calidianisi was located here, collecting the local wine, olives and oil. Remains of the Roman thermal baths and a stele were found at La Nartelle (3 km northeast on the coast).
Medieval: From the early middle ages, following the Romans, Calidianisi maintained a semblance of order and prosperity through the Barbarian era. The Saracens invaded and controlled the area from the 7th century until 973.
In 1000, the Lerins Islands monks fortified the site and built the monastery of Ste Maxime, established peace and evangelized the locals. The commune of the Middle Ages had three centers: Le Revest and St Pierre-de-Mirames in the hills and Ste Maxime on the coast. Following the rule of the Monks of Lerins, the commune was ruled by the Bishop of Fréjus and then the Abbey of Thoronet.
The Lerins Monks built the Tour Carrée (previously known at the Tour Seigneuriale) which, along with the Tour du Portalet of Saint Tropez, protected the Gulf from invaders. Later, a battery of cannons would be added .
More Recently: At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon ordered the restoration of the battery. On 15 August 1944, the allied forced debarked here.
Market day: Daily. Covered Market (marché couvert), Rue Fernand Bessy, near the Market place (not Mon in winter)
Marché aux Puces, all day: 2nd Sat
Marché aux Puces, all day: 4th Sat
Marché Forain: Place Jean Mermoz, a large mixed market.: Every Fri
Place des Sarrazins (center). Regional produce, fruit and vegetables.: Every Thur
The "Capet" food market, ave George Clemenceau.: Every Mon
Feb (Beg) - Grand Corso du Mimosa
• GPS: 43.307209, 6.641323
IGN (1/25,000) #3545 OT "St. Tropez, Ste. Maxime, Massif des Maures"
The GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) crosses the D25 highway at St Donat, 10 north of the town. The GR51 then curves around to the west, and south to Grimaud and Cogolin.
The GR9 trail starts by Port-Grimaud, 6 km southwest of Ste Maxime, and heads northwest into the Maures, crossing the GR51 and heading towards La Garde-Freinet.
The surrounding hills also have a fair number of small trails and forestry roads.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
• An aqua-parc, located at Les Bosquets, on the D25 road (towards the A8) just north of town.
Aquland Sainte Maxime
The most recent of the Aqualands, at the doors of the Gulf of Saint Tropez.
• Location: Route Plan de la Tour
• Tel: 0494 555 454; Fax: 04.94.55.54.55
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Web: www.aqualand.fr/les-parcs,sainte_maxime.html
Just about every kind of sport you can imagine (excepting winter sports) is available here. The seaside provides everything from swimming and sailing to scuba diving and water skiing. The surrounding hills provide walking and hiking trails, mountain biking and horseback riding. There's a clay pigeon shooting place north of the town, and of course tennis and several golf courses.
Cyclilng. There's a cycling path along a good part of the coast along here, along side the busy road; St Tropez, Port Grimaud, towards Ste Maxime, but we haven't checked it out all the way.
Botanical Gardens of Ste Maxime
Also called "Parc Botanique des Myrtes"
- Location: 1 km southwest of Ste Maxime center, beside the N98, opposite the beach just past "Le Croissette" plage.
- Open: 8h00 - 17h00
- Entry: Free
- This large, shady botanical park is very quiet, although just a few steps across from the busy and noisy beaches. Informational plaques are posted around the park for the regional trees and bushes, making a nice walk to explore them. There are log park benches for resting, a kiddie's playground area, and space for picnicking.
Transportation Sainte Maxime
- Boat service from Ste Maxime crosses the bay to Saint Tropez.
From St Tropez you can get boats further southwest, including Cavalaire-sur-Mer and Le Lavandou.
From Cavalaire or Le Lavandou there are boats to the Hyères Islands.
From Ste Maxime you can also get a boat northeast to Cannes .
- For Saint Maxime area bus lines, see Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 16: Var Department for downloading Var bus-lines map and schedules (link for PDF files).
Bus lines serving Saint Maxime:
Line 2701 - Sainte Maxime, Le Muy, La Motte, Trans-en-Provence, Draguignan
Line 7201 - Sainte Maxime, Plan-de-la-Tour, Les Arcs-sur-Argens (Les Arcs is on the main rail line Nice-Aix-Paris)
Line 7601 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Saint Aygulf, Les Issambres, Sainte Maxime, Saint Pons, La Foux, Saint Tropez
Line 7702 - Sainte Maxime, Saint Pons, Grimaud, La Foux
Connections to the Line 20 (LER) bus (Nice airport, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille) can be made at Fréjus, Le Muy, Les Arcs)
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).
- 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 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.)