At Essential Sailing, we love the history, culture and cuisine of the places we visit almost as much as the sailing to get there. Our Captain’s Blog brings you a taste of what to expect from our luxury crewed sailing holidays around the French and Italian Riviera. In this blog we admire the memorable views of the St.Tropez peninsula, Sainte Maxime and St. Raphaël
Sit back and be inspired.
Just a short distance inland lies the surprisingly undeveloped uncrowded St.Tropez peninsula splashed with wild flowers and vineyards.
In the midst of the St.Tropez peninsula, the ancient hilltop village of Gassin, once a Moorish stronghold, was built as a lookout point during the time of the Saracen invasions. Today it is a colourful village, blessed with more than its fair share of boutiques and restaurants thanks to its proximity to St. Tropez.
Neighbouring Ramatuelle was named ‘God’s Gift’ (Rahmatu’llah) by the Saracens and, together with Gassin, is one of the most fashionable places in the region to own a residence secondaire. Every summer the village hosts popular jazz and theatre festivals.
The countryside surrounding Ramatuelle is swathed in vines which produce some of Provence’s most coveted wines. On the road (D89) between Gassin and Ramatuelle, three ancient windmills, les Moulins de Paillas, offer memorable views of the coast and the surrounding countryside, notably the twin peaks la Sauvette (779m) and Notre-dame-des Anges (780m), the highest points in the Massif des Maures. To the south, la Croix-Valmeris surrounded by wild, rocky woodlands. It is said that when Emperor Constantine passed through with his troops on his way to battle in Rome to claim the Empire, he had a vision of a cross over the sea, with the words ‘in hoc signo vinces’ (‘In this sign you will conquer’), prophesying his conversion to Christianity, followed ultimately by all of Europe. A stone cross here commemorates the legend that gave the village its name.
Ste-Maxime, with its palm-lined promenade, its golden sandy beach, top water sports facilities, vibrant nightlife and popular casino, is the Riviera’s archetypal family resort. Admittedly, it lacks the glamour of neighbouring St. Tropez, but it does provide a boat service for star struck tourists wishing to cross the bay and, in exchange, it welcomes St. Tropez’ over flow of visitors to its glut of hotels and restaurants.
Napoléon put St-Raphaël on the map when he landed here on his return from Egypt in 1799. It developed in to a fashionable seaside resort in the 19th century. Unfortunately, many of the grand belle époque hotels were destroyed during World War II but it still remains popular with families, largely due to the sandy beach.