Lovely Le Lavandou in the French Riviera

Renowned American author Willa Cather was 28 years old in 1902 when she left her Midwest prairie home to travel to England and France. On this trip, she found her favorite place, and it was Le Lavandou.

“No books have ever been written about Lavandou, no music or pictures ever came from here, but I know well enough that I shall yearn for it long after I have forgotten London and Paris,” she wrote.

In one way, Cather was wrong: this pretty French hamlet has been a magnet for artists who drew inspiration from its idyllic seaside setting, capturing it in poems, songs, and paintings. She was also right: Le Lavandou, set at the foot of the Massif des Maures, looking out to the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, has hard-to-forget allure.

The welcoming city, located between Toulon and Saint-Tropez in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, hugs over 7 miles of coastline. It’s best known for its 12 beautiful beaches and family-friendly activities. You could be non-stop busy here, snorkeling, scuba diving, sport fishing, and sailing during the day followed by a buzzing nightlife at beachside bars and restaurants. But you’d miss some of lovely Le Lavandou’s slow-paced charms. Here’s another way to enjoy a day in Le Lavandou.

Morning in Le Lavandou

Grab a quick cappuccino and pastry at La Petite Cantine before heading to Fishermen’s Wharf to see the pescadous bringing in their catch of the day. Le Lavandou was once a thriving fishing village, and this small fleet of traditional fishing boats carries on the tradition. It’s a riot of color and conversation. Ask one of the captains about his luck out at sea and you may hear a few tall fish stories. The fish market, with stalls of just-caught rock fish, John Dorys, sea perch, and more, is right next door. A traditional Provençal market is also held every Thursday on the Place du Marché in the nearby town center.

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Diane Bair and Pamela Wright are a well-known travel writing team and authors of more than 30 guidebooks. Their work has appeared in a variety of publications including USA Today, Porthole Cruise Magazine, Yankee, National Geographic Traveler and the Boston Globe. They have traveled extensively, but their favorite vacation spot is home. Diane lives with her husband on Cape Cod, and Pam lives with her husband on the seacoast of New Hampshire.