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Sanary sur Mer

Yesterday I led the National Rust party to Sanary, a small town on the sea between the two great ports of Toulon and Marseilles. It was colonised by Aldous Huxley and Cyril Connolly and Cybille Bedford who wrote a rather good memoir of her upbringing there called Jigsaw.

We decided to take the train from Nice for two reasons. Firstly to experience SNCF the French state railway and secondly to enjoy a journey that hugs the sea. I was impressed by both. A first class ticket was 20 euros far cheaper than the UK.

TGVThe seats were comfortable and the train a TGV – translated as high speed train. This speed did not prevent us enjoying a sea view from Nice to Frejus where the train turned inland but there was still a dramatic landscape of red rocks. At Toulon we changed to a local train for the 8 minute journey to Sanary.

The only drawback was an old lady behind me who spent the entire journey talking to herself until her neighbour asked her to be quiet. When I left she peered at me intensely as if she knew me. Ahead was a young man with noisy music in his head phones so the idyll of the journey was somewhat spoiled by both. The group conclusion was a terrible error was made in the UK to nationalise the railways.

BanadolThe hotel we booked was a modern construction with commanding views over the bay that separates Sanary and Bandol. We decided to visit Bandol, a place I only knew for its wine but it was a pleasant sea side town with pretty shops and a port.

A feature of such seaside towns is a casino which brings money to the area. Sanary is apparently applying for one.

We all dined in the hotel. I will leave Daffers to review it but I thought it very good with the added attraction of watching the sun set over the bay. Once again I reaffirm a much-stated view of the South of France that its a coastline rich in character and easy to access. I have the feeling that Bandol and Cassis being near to Marseilles attract the rich from there and the more international tourist settles somewhere between St Tropez and Menton. This if anything adds to its allure as you feel you are more in a French lifestyle.

About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts