SAINTE-MAXIME - Sainte-Maxime is a charming seaside town in the department of the Var on the French Riviera just 90 km from Nice and 130 km from Marseille. It faces south at the northern shore of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and is well protected from the cold winds of the Mistral by the mountain range known as the Massif des Maures.
The town was founded around 1000 AD by the Monks from the Lérins Islands off Cannes who built a monastery there. At the front of the old town is the characteristic tower - La Tour Carrée - built by the monks in the early 16th century to protect the village and the Bay of St Tropez from invaders.
Fishing was the mainstay for the inhabitants but during the early 19th century increasing amounts of lumber, cork, olive oil and wine were shipped from Sainte-Maxime to Marseilles and to Italy.
The village grew and in the 20th century it started to attract artists, poets and writers who enjoyed the climate, the beautiful surroundings and the azure blue water.
In August 1944, the beaches of Sainte Maxime were at the centre of Operation Dragoon designed to liberate Southern France from the Nazis. There was house to house fighting before the Germans were decimated and eventually gave up. On the harbour pier and by La Garonette beach there are memorials at the landing places honouring the US troops involved in that action.
Today tourism has overtaken agriculture as the largest source of revenue for Sainte Maxime and the town is very much alive all year round with its Old Town, with shops, markets, restaurants, bars and cafés and a bustling harbour with fast boats available to take you to Les Issambres, St Tropez and Port Grimaud. In addition to the town’s sandy beaches there are the Blue Flag supervised ones, a sailing school, water-skiing and jet-ski activities.
In total St Maxime offers 10 km of public accessible shoreline, and there are 8 golf courses within 30 minutes by car. Property in Sainte-Maxime is sought after and there are charming town-houses, modern villas with spectacular views, and holiday apartments to tempt investors of all persuasions.