|RAYOL CANADEL SUR MER,
At the heart of the coastal stretch of the Maures mountains, the seaside village of Le Rayol-Canadel features spectacular, panoramic views of the Islands of Hyeres. In a landscape punctuated by a multitude of cuttings, where small streams pour downwards to beaches sparkling with mica schist, a varied and highly colourful flora generates and regenerates along with the changing seasons.
The tree-filled sloping landscapes – home to many traditional villas – reach their highest point at the Tricolour flag, planted amongst rocky outcrops 316m above the beach.
At the end of the 19th century, the almost deserted areas known as Canadel (litterally: a dell of bamboo canes) and Rayol (Lou Rayoul – where many streams flow), were far from their rural community centre in La Mole, linked only by a sinuous footpath, in poor repair, winding over the Col du Canadel.
The southern French railways finally opened the coast up to the first hints of tourism – initially of the winter kind, in Canadel. Before the First World War, two Parisian architects, Albert Sélonier and Albert Saint-Blancard, created a housing zone and built their own respective villas, as well as a Grand Hotel. The Rolls Royce Company followed, building 4 villas for their engineers and particularly, for Henry Royce – who stayed several times between 1911 and 1931 – with the intention of maintaining his good health.
These founding fathers of Canadel paved the way for artists, writers, scientists and industrialists, mostly from Parisian society, who all contributed to the rise of the seaside hamlet as a tourist destination.
To commemorate the landing of allied troops with the "Commandos d' Afrique" on the night of August 15th, 1944, a memorial pillar lies at the foot of what was previously the property of Henry Royce and a small chapel was built where the railway station once stood. Thirteen tombs also lie nearby to remind those who pass of these historic events.
The early developers of Le Rayol had already launched "Hossegor" - on the coast of the Landes - before turning their attention to their new 300 hectare project here in the province of Var. Their goal was to place walkers in a landscape in which they could participate hence, the large monumental stairway in stone leading from the beach upwards towards the "Patec" and originally, onwards towards the tricolor flag. Punctuated by balconies featuring elegant terracotta vases full of flowers and shrubs, the stairway is amongst the features that gave its letters of noblesse to the seaside village after the war.