Category Archives: Provence Historical Facts

Provence Historical Facts

Sanary-sur-mer: Land for Refugees

Residences of German and Austrian intellectuals exiled in Sanary-sur-mer (1933-1945)

View German and Austrian intellectuals in Sanary-sur-mer in a larger map

South of France Insolite : Elephants in Sanary Bay

Sanary Bay… 1967

A summer afternoon in Sanary bay in the 60’s: elephants from the  visiting circus cooling down.

#PlageBonnegrace #BaiedeSanary #SouthofFrance

Elephants from circus relaxing in the sea
Elephants from circus relaxing in the sea – Source: National geographic, June  1967 – French Riviera: Storied Playground on the Azure Coast


EXPO in Toulon : The French navy in the Provence landing

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the landing in Provence, the History Department of Defense offers a major exhibition entitled ” the French navy in the landing in Provence ” from  August 18th to December 19 2014.

This exhibit will show archives ( including photos and maps ) , weapons and uniforms to explain the role of the French Navy in the preparation and execution of the landing in Provence .

WHERE : Service historique de la Défense, dans la Corderie royale, -Bibliothèque et service d’archives- passage de la Corderie (accross Place d’Armes), Toulon.

FREE : Free for all .

Possibility of guided tours by appointment. For more information call or

Historical Facts

Greek and Roman trade in Provence

  • Wreck and archeological sites in Les Embiez Island and around Provence Coast
  • Roman ruins in Provence: Port-Issol (Sanary-sur-mer, Provence)
Archeological site in Port-Issol, Sanary/mer (France)

Romanesque and Medieval Period


Intellectuals exiled in Sanary/mer in the 30’s

Residences of German and Austrian intellectuals exiled in Sanary-sur-mer (1933-1945)

Lumiere Brothers – Train arriving in La Ciotat station

Sanary-sur-Mer and Ollioules

Larger View of Sanary-sur-Mer and Ollioules Area


An unique place on the Provence coast, is the little fishing town of Sanary-sur-mer. Its climate, location, history, culture and lifestyle make it an ideal choice to start discovering the coast of Provence.

Sanary – Facts of interest

  • Greeks and romans had trading posts in the gulfs around Sanary-sur-mer. The surrounding beaches are rich in archeological vestiges and ruins (i.e:Port Issol)
  • Intellectual and artists took refuge in Sanary-sur-mer between 1st and 2nd world wars – B. Brecht, T. Mann… lived in still existing houses in Sanary-sur-mer. Other famous anglo-saxon writers have spent time in Sanary. Amoung them, Aldous Huxley who wrote Brave New World (1932) in 4 months in La Gorguette area in Sanary-sur-mer
  • Sanary is considered as the birth place of modern scuba diving and underwater movies. F. Dumas, P. Tailliez and J.Y Cousteau, also known as 'Mousquemers', experimented modern scuba diving equipment and made famous underwater movies in the sea around Sanary-sur-mer (Port Issol, Bandol bay).
  • Sanary-sur-mer is known for its unique wooden fishing boats
  • Some of the eldest wineyeards (dating from roman empire) can be found in Bandol, Le Beausset, … few miles west of Sanary-sur-mer.

Sanary-sur-mer Resources

Official site of the city of Sanary-sur-mer (French)
Tourist and general information (French)
Sanary-sur-mer local information (French)
Sanary-sur-mer history (French)
Frederic Dumas Historical Diving Museum 
Fontvive – Village of bungalows in Sanary
Sanary-sur-mer accommodations
Sanary-sur-mer restaurants and cafes

Sanary-sur-mer Local Links

AGORA community organization (French)
Sanary Hand Ball (French)
“Le Rosaire” Tennis Club (French)


Ollioules web portal (French)
Ollioules official website

Sanary-sur-mer: Historical City of Diving

Jacques Cousteau, Frederic Dumas and Phillipe Thailliez have been the pioneers of modern diving and they started and developed their technics and skills in the waters of Sanary-sur-mer and Bandol. The Frédéric Dumas International Diving Museum in Sanary-sur-mer contains unique collection of original diving equipments used in the adventure of modern diving

Diving Links

Sanary sur Mer

Port Issol Bay Underwater


La Seyne sur Mer

Diving Sites – Islands

  • Bendor Island – Off Bandol Coast This small island, 7 minutes by boat from Bandol, is the hosting place of the smallest harbor on the Mediterranean.
  • Embiez Island The Embiez archipelago is a jewel of the Mediterranean with 95 ha of forest, vineyards, 'garrigue' and gardens. It is located 10 minutes by boat ride from Le Brusc harbor in Six-Fours-les-Plages, and 20 minutes from Sanary.
  • Port-Cros, Le Levant and Porquerolles

Additional Information