Saint-Raphael travel guide

Photo of Saint-Raphael

Visit Saint-Raphael (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France)

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Saint-Raphael is a seaside resort a few kilometres south-east of Frejus on the French Riviera. The town is one of the oldest resorts on the coast - there is evidence that wealthy Romans used to pass their summers here 2000 years ago!

Explore Saint-Raphael

France This Way review: despite this long period of Roman occupation there is not a great deal in Saint-Raphael to recall the history - but no matter, it is a lively and popular resort with a nice beach in the town centre!

Nowadays Saint-Raphael is one of the calmer resorts on the French Riviera, standing in the shadow of the rugged Massif de l'Esterel. It is a very clean, well maintained resort with a small harbour, and beaches to either side of the harbour. It is one of our favourite resorts on this part of the Cote d'Azur.

cafes near the beach in Saint-Raphael

The more eastern of the beaches is backed by grand regency era hotels, now with cafes to the front.

Saint-Raphael also has a large number of cafes and shops in the area around the harbour, again all very clean and modern where you can escape from the sunshine. Behind the harbour there is a colourful old town, quite small but pleasant and with narrow streets to explore, which has a daily fruit and vegetable market.

One of the oldest buildings here is the Church of Saint-Raphael (Eglise San Rafeu), towards the north of the centre of the town and dating from the 12th century (although expanded in the 18th century) and with a watchtower which you climb for lovely views across the town. Another imposing building in the centre of Saint-Raphael is the byzantine style basilica, built in the 19th century.


To the south of the harbour is a large public garden called the Jardin Bonaparte where photo exhibitions are sometimes held, which also contains a large children's play area. If you head east along the sea front from the centre of Saint-Raphael you reach another harbour area called Saint Lucia. You can then follow the coast path to Boulouris and a selection of smaller beaches.

As well as the Romans, there are also traces of both prehistoric and ancient Greek occupation in the area: visit the Archaeology Museum in the presbytery of the old church to learn more. In more recent years it was Napoleon who brought Saint-Raphael to the public gaze when he landed here after his Egypt 'adventure', and set off from Saint-Raphael when he was first sent into exile, an event commemorated in a small memorial in the port area.

The port in Saint-Raphael

Places to visit near Saint Raphael

Deep-sea diving and walking along the coastal path are among the most popular activities in and near Saint-Raphael. The surrounding coastline (more than 30km of coastline is found here) and the Massif de l'Esterel together represent a protected and carefully maintained environment, including restrictions on new developments along the coast.

The beaches and rocky section of coast are characterised by the red rock, as found in the Massif de l'Esterel and best seen by following the coast road east via Agay to Theoule-sur-Mer.

Saint-Raphael is also on the popular 'garden route' called the Route des Mimosas.

See more seaside resorts in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Var guide and the Provence guide.

See also: 

Photos of Saint-Raphael

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Visit near Saint-Raphael with France This Way reviews



Among other historic sites, the town of Frejus has one of the best ancient baptisteries in France

Frejus guide


Agay is a very small Riviera resort to the south of the Massif d'Esterel

Agay guide
Massif de l'Esterel

Massif de l'Esterel

The Massif d'Esterel is a substantial region of countryside on the riviera with hiking trails through the red-rock scenery

Massif de l'Esterel guide


Roquebrune-sur-Argens combines a traditional Provencal village, a beach resort...and a great chocolate shop!

Roquebrune-sur-Argens guide


Bagnols-en-Foret is a pleasant town close to the popular Gorges of the Blavet River

Bagnols-en-Foret guide


The resort at Theoule-sur-Mer is on the coast near Cannes, and is a cheaper alternative to staying at Cannes or Nice

Theoule-sur-Mer guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Var

Address: Saint-Raphaël, Draguignan, Provence, 83700, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 43.4253, longitude 6.76833

Plan your visit to Saint-Raphael, Var

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Eglise de St Raphaël (Saint-Raphael): religious monument
  • Frejus Cathedral cloisters: national monument (2 km)
  • Frejus: town of art and history (2 km)
  • Cathédrale Saint Léonce (Frejus): religious monument (3 km)
  • Parc zoologique de Fréjus: zoo or wildlife park (6 km)
  • Parc du château de la Napoule: remarkable garden (18 km)
  • Abbaye de Lerins (Cannes): religious monument (24 km)
  • Cannes: ville fleurie 4* (24 km)
  • Seillans: most beautiful village (25 km)
  • Grimaud: recommended detour (26 km)
  • Grottes de Saint-Cezaire: site of natural beauty (26 km)
  • Gassin: most beautiful village (26 km)

Market days in Saint-Raphael, France

Regular market(s) are held in Saint-Raphael each Tuesday & Monday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Saint-Raphael (Francais)