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Best Beach: La Londe les Maures

AzurAlive.com: Miramar Beach in La Londe les Maures, French Riviera

What?

La Londe les Maures sits on the French Riviera by the sea, smack in the middle of Hyères and Bormes les Mimosas.

It may not have the old-town charm and history of its neighbors Hyères and Bormes les Mimosas. What it does have are boat-loads of summer-time activities from sailing to kayaking to fishing to discovering the golden islands of Hyères just ahead. Not to mention the interesting ornithological and botanical garden with its exotic birds. Plus many seaside restaurants by the port. That makes La Londe les Maures popular with families and the young & active crowd. And best of all... it offers a string of clean, wide sandy beaches. 

AzurAlive.com: Miramar Beach in La Londe les Maures

Why Best Beaches?

What we like about the La Londe les Maures beaches is the variety. Within walking distance of each other, you'll find four nice and wide beaches of golden sand. 

The Miramar Beach. Pictured above, the Miramar beach sits to the west of the Miramar port in La Londe les Maures. To reach it, when you walk toward the port facing the sea, head to the right (west) and continue along a pleasant port with its many restaurants. The beach begins where the port ends.

Miramar beach is very wide and convenient with restaurants and snacks just behind. In the summer, it sometimes sports inflatable slides and play area on the sand. The only hic is that it's not shaded. 

AzurAlive.com: Tamaris Beach in La Londe les Maures
Smaller and to the east of the Miramar port, you'll find the Tamaris Beach. To reach it from the port, walk over the pedestrian bridge heading east and you're there. We find it a little more crowded than Miramar and not as wide. 

AzurAlive: La Londe Argentiere

Continuing east, you reach the long stretch of the Argentière beach. All of the beach is public. You'll find no fancy restaurants on site, just a tiny snack as well as a couple of public bathrooms, three lifeguard surveillance towers and an area marked off for windsurfing boards and dinghies. 

AzurAlive.com: Argentiere Beach
With this minimal setting, you would expect few folks. Not so.

Many folks camp or stay in the area behind Argentière. They love this beach for its wide expansive feel, the view the Bregançon fort in the distance and the Islands of Hyères in front. The pine trees in the distance give it a tropical feel. And thus it's busy in the summer. However, the sandy beach is very long and wide and rarely feels compact. 

If you're like us and enjoy walking, you can even reach our favorite beach in the area: Pellegrin Beach. Just continue walking on l'Argentière heading east. Pellegrin sits in a little bay and is wilder than the above beaches closer to La Londe les Maures. It isn't supervised. You can also reach it by car (car park costs 6 euros as of 2012). 

And if you're a good walker and are equipped with enough drinking water, sun hat, sun protection, you could continue and reach another one of our favorites closer to Bormes les Mimosas: Plage de Cabasson

Tips?

If you're looking for a bit of a splurge, you can stay in an apartment on the grounds of a provençal winerie at the Chateau de la Pascalette. We're not affiliated with them, but have heard only good things from travellers who stayed there. 

Where?

You'll find the beaches on the below Google map.


View AzurAlive.com: Argentiere Beach, French Riviera in a lar

Interested in discovering the Western French Riviera on foot through short half-day hikes? Take a look at this hiking guide:

 


Fire by Roquebrune-sur-Argens

Fire by Roquebrune-sur-Argens

Just as we were warning about the risks of forest fires on very windy dry days like today, a couple of them started early afternoon today in Roquebrune-sur-Argens behind the Villepey Etangs. A flume of smoke rose above the grounds and spilled into the Villepey marshes. We could spot the smoke from the Fréjus and St Raphael beaches.

Despite the strong winds, two canadair fire planes came to the rescue and the smoke soon vanished from the skies. 

Yes, fire season has started. We have no idea yet how this one got started. We'll update the post when we hear more. 


Fire Risks on Fireworks Day

AzurAlive.com: Maures Mountains

July 14 means the national celebration of Bastille Day here in France, which means fireworks, firecrackers and risks of fire.

Even without the fireworks, the Estérel Mountains and the Maures Mountains of the French Riviera face the risks of fire during the dry season. As of July 14th, they are now in "Orange Zone" for fire risks. 

AzurAlive.com: Hiking the Maures Mountains

What does that mean?

Every day and based on local weather conditions, the préfecture local government decides if its forested areas face an elevated risk for fires. They're then assigned a Yellow (moderate risk), Orange (high risk), Red (very high risk) and Black (critical level of risk) statuses. 

Black zones can't be penetrated by motorized vehicles (aside from authorized fire-fighting ones, of course) and pedestrians alike. On site, they're marked by a red circle on a white background. It's rare that a zone is declared a Back Zone, but it means stay out. 

Red zones are also marked by a red circle sign. You can't drive through them while they have this status. And it's highly recommended you do not hike through them or in them either. 

When zones are declared Orange comes the gray area, so to speak. It is recommended you restrain from entering the area, but you're not forbidden to do so. The safest course is clearly not to enter. Under these conditions, the weather is usually too hot to hike anyway. Do stick to the coastal path if open!

Yellow zone are fine. Caution is advised, as fire risks are never null around forests, especially after a dry spell. 

AzurAlive.com: Esterel Mountains

How do I know the status of the Esterel and Maures?

You can check out the Var's Map of Fire Risks anytime online. Or call the local Office Du Tourisme.

Hiking is a great way to discover a region, and the French Riviera is a perfect example of this. If you're keen on discovering how gorgeous St Tropez is, for example, try its coastal path!  By all means, go prepared (see our articles on this), check out weather conditions and fire restrictions and you'll have a great time.


Book: Le Massif des Maures

Our hiking group recently handed me a present as we wrapped up our hiking around the French Riviera for the season. It's a book. Actually, it's a jewel.

I noticed it at the library shortly after its publication in 2007, but now I can ponder over its gorgeous photography while the Mistral wind howls too much for us to ramble. I'll share a few of its photos (all by Jean-Marc Fichaux) below:

The book includes a dash of text at the beginning of each chapter. It talks about the Chartreuse de La Verne charterhouse, the coast by the Maures, vineyards, olive trees, cork oaks, and the destructive blood-red flames of forest fires.

All writing is in French, but the photography speaks for itself. Makes a great present to those who love this lesser-known area of the French Riviera.


Beach: Plages du Midi, Golfe-Juan Beaches

AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan

They're popular in the summer. After October, they hibernate. They're warm as the bay that hosts them is shielded from most winds, tucked behind the Antibes cape to the East and the Sainte-Marguerite island to the South-West. They're the sandy beaches of Golfe-Juan. 

Golfe-Juan sports a stretch of 3 kilometers of sand. Not a large stretch, mind you. And that's my main issue with the Golfe-Juan beaches. They're OK, but narrow, squeezed between the Mediterranean Sea and the railroad tracks. This crowds them to tears during the peak season mid-July to mid-August.
Plus they don't have the charm of smaller (still crowded) beaches of Antibes or Beaulieu, for example. That has kept them off our "Best Beaches" of the French Riviera list. 

But... we're willing to make an exception after a repeated positive experience with a slice of beach.

AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan

Why? 

The Golfe-Juan Plage du Midi beach makes an elbow as it reaches the side of Camille Rayon Port. That beach feels roomier. From the angle, you see the coast covered with bright beach umbrellas and towels. You're not necessarily crammed into this one and you get a nice view too.

And since a good beach day means a good overall experience, we think some of the restaurants are good to great. Not all of them are worth a review, but we're partial to the Bistro du Port for their excellent fish. Try their Plat du Jour daily selection for around 15€ at lunch (summer 2012 prices). They're a little further out in the old port. And right on the beach, Passoa Beach is also good. 

As with most beaches on the French Riviera, the beaches of Golfe-Juan are parcelled out into private and public sections. The private sections of beach rent out lounge chairs with plush mats and umbrellas for a half-day or day. At the edge of the Camille Rayon Port, you'll find chairs and mats for rent at the Le Vieux Rocher restaurant and lounge and at the So... Beach or at the Passoa Beach. This 2012 Summer, they rent for about 14€. But you can also place your beach towel on a free piece of public beach to the side. 

AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan

We would not drive out of the way to reach them, but if you're in the area, try the beach out for a day to recharge those batteries. 

Where?

At the eastern edge of the new port of Golfe-Juan, the Camille Rayon port.


View AzurAlive.com: Plage du Midi, Golfe-Juan in a larger map


St Tropez: Stars in Full Daylight

STTROPEZ_CR

Stars love to drop by St Tropez when the weather is balmy. This week, we spotted soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo (aka CR7) on St Tropez' Pampelonne beach. The Club 55 boat whisked him away from his yacht to the beach where he spent the afternoon with cute son Cristiano Ronaldo Junior who turned two yesterday. 

If you're into star gazing, you're bound to spot one shooting across the St Tropez skies this summer.