Saint-Tropez’s Low Key Little Sister Sainte-Maxime, France

Sainte-Maxime is a commune and city in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region on the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) in southeastern France 90 km (56 mi) west from Nice and 130 km (81 mi) east from Marseille. The town faces south on the northern shore of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. In the north, the Massif des Maures mountain range protects it from the cold winds of the Mistral. Sainte Maxime was founded around 1000 AD by monks from the Lerins islands outside Cannes. They built a monastery and named the village after Saint Maxime. Fishing was the economic mainstay for the inhabitants, but during the early 19th century increasing amounts of lumber, cork, olive oil and wine were shipped to Marseilles and Italy. The village grew and in the 20th century began to attract artists, poets and writers who enjoyed the climate, the beautiful surroundings and the azure blue water. In front of the old town, you find the characteristic tower – La Tour Carrée – built by the monks in the early 16th century to protect the village from invaders. With an addition of a battery of cannons and with the Tour du Portalet in Saint Tropez, the whole bay was protected. Tourism is nowadays the largest source of revenue for Sainte Maxime. There is the old town with shops, markets, restaurants, bars and cafés, opposite the harbour. On the pier are marine shops and an upscale restaurant, and also fast boat transportation with Les Bateaux Verts to Les Issambres, St Tropez and Port Grimaud. There is a shoreline promenade with parks, pine trees, boulodrome Prince Bertil, the tourist office and the city beaches, as well as a casino with its piece of white sand. In addition to the city beaches, there are the Blue Flag supervised ones. On the west side, The Croisette has a sailing school. On the east side of the town are La Nartelle, La Plage des Eléphants and La Garonette (also called Val D’Esquieres), which all provide water-skiing and Jet-ski activities. Also, there are several smaller beaches that are unsupervised. All are adding up to 10 km of publicly accessible shoreline. There are eight golf courses within 30 minutes radius by car.

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