Beaches are a big attraction at Sanary sur Mer and, while they don't enjoy the loveliest locations on this coast, they're well maintained and excellent for snorkelling and scuba diving.
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Lifeguards are on duty at Sanary's five main beaches (the Plages Levant, Portissol, Cousse, Gorguette and Dorée) during the daytime in summer and a green-yellow-red system of flags indicates whether it's safe to bathe. These beaches are also equipped with showers and toilets.
Unlike the beaches at nearby Six Fours les Plages, the beaches of Sanary do not boast the Blue Flag mark of environmental quality. However the water is regularly monitored and has an official "A" rating, and the beaches themselves are relatively clean.
In an effort to reduce cigarette butts, Sanary gives out free pocket ashtrays at its lifeguard stations, the Harbour Master's Office (La Capitainerie) the Tourist Office and at the town hall reception desk.
Dogs are not permitted on any of these beaches, and there is no nudist beach in Sanary; the closest ones are in Bandol and La Seyne sur Mer.
This guide covers the beaches within the municipality of Sanary sur Mer, starting from the Plage du Levant in the middle of town and working west- and northwards along the coast towards Bandol. Click on the map to enlarge the image.
The most convenient beach, just a short walk from the town centre, is the Plage du Levant, also known as the Plage de l'Esplanade, though to be honest it has a bit of a nerve calling itself a beach at all: it's really just a tiny patch of sand surrounded by rocks and pebbles.
However it does offer one of the town's better restaurants, L'Esplanade, with a superb sea view and slightly pricey, fish-dominated menu. Another huge plus for handicapped visitors is sea access via special marine wheelchairs available at the lifeguard station (lifeguards can also offer assistance to disabled bathers).
Located in a residential suburb around 15 minutes' walk from the harbour, it's a large crescent-shaped, mainly sand beach fringed by tamarisk trees and sheltered from the wind. Access is by steps or a ramp. It has several restaurants and a snack bar, plus a children's play area and sunshade and sun-bed hire.
An "underwater trail" starts here. Armed with masks and snorkels (included in the charge for the tour), swimmers are taken around points of interest by a guide. The trail takes about two hours and is suitable for children accompanied by a adult. More details of the underwater trail in Sanary sur Mer (in French). Portissol is also favoured by scuba divers.
The other beaches are mostly a mix of sand and pebble or rock and are rather further out of town. They all have very limited parking space, but at the same time are too far to walk in the summer heat.
However you could try your chances with the local bus (nos 8805 or 8806) operated by Varlib. Click here for the bus timetables. Type in the number of your chosen route in the box marked "numéro ou nom de ligne" to view the current timetable Or take a taxi.
The Kima is a private beach annexed to the restaurant of the same name, while, just at the point where the coast loops north towards Bandol, the most beautiful beach in Sanary is Plage de la Cride, a small, wild rock and pebble beach with difficult access.
All the above beaches face south. The beaches further towards Bandol, in the Bay of Bandol, have a west-facing aspect. The next large one is the Baie de Cousse, also called the Plage de Beaucours, set near a small pine wood popular with camper van vacationers.
A rather grubby sand and pebble beach, the Port de la Gorguette has several upscale restaurants with terraces. The writer Aldous Huxley frequented this beach while he was staying in Sanary and writing his dystopian novel Brave New World (1931).
On the side nearest the town, access to the Port de la Gorguette is down a steep, narrow path with steps, but you can drive right up to it from the further side. Parking is very limited here, however.
Living up to its name (Golden Beach), the Plage Dorée, pictured, consists predominantly of fine sand. With its gently sloping coastline, it's ideal for families with small children. It has restaurants and sun-beds for hire and is part-public and part-private (the private section belongs to a restaurant, also called La Plage Dorée).
The main downsides are that it's close to the noisy, busy coastal road and, again, has very little parking; what limited space there is on the main road must be claimed early in the morning. Towards Bandol, the Plage Dorée continues on into two differently named beaches, the Plage de la Roche Taillée and the Plage du Lido.
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