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.
Route de Mimosa |
Bagnols-en-Foret 21 km |
Cannes 40 km |
Draguignan 32 km |
Fayence 33 km |
Frejus 3 km (adjacent) |
Garde-Freinet 45 km |
title="Villages section index" 13 km |
Saint Paul-en-Foret 27 km |
Saint Tropez 37 km |
Sainte Maxime 14 km |
Hotels near Saint Raphaël: |
Saint Raphaël |
3 km (adjacent) Frejus |
14 km Sainte Maxime |
32 km Draguignan |
33 km Fayence |
37 km Saint Tropez |
40 km Cannes |
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.
260 av Gén Leclerc
Tel: 0494 536 599; Fax: 04 94 53 87 24
First record, 1703 Sanctus Raphaël
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.
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.
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.
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
Museums & Sites
Museum of Prehistory and Underwater Archaeology
Located in the presbytery of the former San Raféu church. It houses local heritage collections. The great prehistoric periods are represented by rare objects fouond in recent excavations. The museum also has a large collecion of antique amphora and furnisings discovered during underwater excavations.
Place de la Vieille Eglise
Open: Tue-Sat, 9h-12h30, 14h-17h30
Closed: November; bank holidays
Tel: 0494 192 575
Transportation Saint Raphaël
Department 83, Var Buses
See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 16: Var Department for downloading Var bus-lines map [Plan du Reseau] and bus-line schedules [Horaires] (link for PDF files).
Nice, Aix, Marseille RN7 Bus
The LER-20 (Ligne Express Regionales) bus line is a daily service between Nice, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 16: Var Department for downloading the latest schedules (link for PDF files).
• Line 20 (LER) - Nice (gare routiere), Nice (airport T1), Le Cannet (office de tourisme), Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Fréjus [beside St Raphaël], Puget-sur-Argens, Le Muy, Vidauban, Le Luc, Falssans-sur-Issole, Brignoles, Tourves, Saint Maximin, Pourcieux, Chateaneuf, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille.
Saint Raphaël Area Buses
Saint Raphaël and Fréjus have excellent bus service with other towns and village in the Var, as well as service to Nice and Mandelieu-la-Napoule in the Alpes-Maritimes.
See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 16: Var Department for downloading Var bus-lines map and schedules (link for PDF files).
• Line 2601 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Le Muy, Trans-en-Provence, Draguignan
• Line 2602 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Puget-sur-Argens, Le Muy, La Motte, Trans-en-Provence, Draguignan
• Line 2603 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Puget-sur-Argens, La Bouverie, Roquebrune-sur-Argens, Les Issambres, Saint Aygulf
• Line 3603 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Les Adrets-de-l'Estérel
• Line 3003 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Nice (airport T1 & T2) - 4 buses a day, 1hr10 journey.
• Line 3601 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Tourettes-sur-Var, Fayence, Seillans
• Line 3602 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Tourettes-sur-Var
• Line 7601 - Saint Raphaël, Fréjus, Saint Aygulf, Les Issambres, Sainte Maxime, Saint Pons, La Foux, Saint Tropez
Saint Raphaël/Fréjus is on the main rail line [rail map], for service between Paris, Lyon, the Riviera and Italy, including the high-speed TGV train. Saint Raphaël/Fréjus is also, along with Nice, a "Train-Auto Accompagné" station, for travelling with your car between the Riviera and Paris.
260 av Gén Leclerc
Tel: 0494 536 599; Fax: 04 94 53 87 24
Club Sous L'Eau
Nouveau Port Santa Lucia
Tel: 0407 690 382
port Santa Lucia, av Raymond Poincaré
Tel: 0494 836 665
Tel: 0494 827 656
Golf et Tennis Club de Valescure
av Paul L'Hermite
Tel: 0494 824 046; Fax: 04 94 82 41 42
Latitudes Valescure - golf de l'Esterel
134 av Golf de Valescure
Tel: 0494 824 788; Fax: 04 94 44 63 58
Lodging - Hotels