When I spent my childhood vacations in Sanary/mer, in Provence Coast region – located along the Mediterranean Sea between Marseille and East of Toulon – days were filled with swimming and playing on the nearby beaches, hanging on the local fishing harbor watching the wooden fishermen boats returning from the day catch, filling up shopping baskets with local produces at the daily market, enjoying evening walks in the narrow streets bordered by scented Mediterranean plants, watching over and over the sunset beyond the “Grande Bleue”. For the several weeks of holidays spent in this part of the country, life was as simple as it can be and days were passing by far too fast doing nothing.
Decades later, nothing has changed! Nothing? Almost… Sanary/mer has now grown in reputation not only for its unique fishing harbor and its “Pointus” (traditional wooden boats) but also for its rich history in diving. In sites near Sanary-sur-mer and places along Provence Coast, J-Y Cousteau, P. Thailliez and F. Dumas, AKA ‘Mousquemers” pioneered modern diving. The Historical Diving Museum in Sanary-sur-mer displays unique collections of these first modern diving gears, underwater cameras, scubas, etc. as well as a large number of antique pieces from Roman and Greek wreck ships and ancient harbors found along Provence Coast.
Diving is of course a very attracting activity when visiting Provence Coast region. Local diving centers offer varieties of dives including training, snorkeling and discovery of the sea world, wrecks diving and sub-aquatic archeology. Besides offering touristic interest, diving activity is also at the core of programs for educating visitors and locals on the vulnerability of the sea and the urgency to protect it.
- Centre de Plongee de Sanary (French)
- Frédéric Dumas International Diving Museum – Video
- Frédéric Dumas Museum Blog (French)
Port-Issol Bay underwater pictures and videos
More about Snorkeling at Passion Snorkeling(French)
Diving Sites – Islands
- Bendor Island – Off Bandol CoastThis small island, 7 minutes by boat from Bandol, is the hosting place of the smallest harbor on the Mediterranean.International Diving Center
- Embiez IslandThe 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 (French)
Education and protection of the sea world
2000 Regards Sous la Mer (French)
- Frederic Dumas Historical Diving Museum – Video
- Map of residences of German and Austrian artists and intellectual exiled (1933-1945)
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.
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 restaurants and cafes
Sanary-sur-mer Local Links