On a beautiful sunny autumn day, we decided to go for a walk in Saint-Mandrier and benefit from the peaceful atmosphere in the village. Its port, nesting in the Creux de Saint Georges, faces Toulon Bay and welcome many recreational boaters
An unusual and extraordinary site
Our first step was a tour of the Franco-Italian cemetery, perched on the village heights. This overlooked location is not only a place of remembrance. It looks more like a well-maintained luxuriant park – far from turmoil and ideal to take a moment to think. The site is divided into two parts, one set apart for Italian graves, the other for French ones. All of those buried here are soldiers fallen during the Second World War, and whose bodies were not claimed by their families. We were surprised by the presence of a few Russian, Greek and Russian graves in the French section. A central piece is the grave of Admiral de Latouche-Tréville, who was a great sailor, commander of the Hermione. It’s built as a pyramid with perfect architecture. What a surprising construction! And all that in a typical Var landscape setting! The panoramic view over Toulon Bay is magnificent. When the Mistral blows, you can even see the Hyères islands.
Walking through the Domaine de l’Ermitage
Walking down from the Franco-Italian cemetery, we stop at the Domaine de l’Ermitage, recently renovated by the city and the Coastal Conservatory. A former farm building, it is composed of a manor house and 5 hectares of forest and rock cliffs. The manor house, built in 1890, was reconverted into a heritage house. Part of the area’s collective memory is displayed on the ground floor, while the first floor hosts an eco-museum of fishing and temporary exhibitions.
The farming domain mainly grows olive trees and vine, but also some vegetables. Depending on the time of day, the shop opens and you can pick up a basket of freshly picked produce. Fruit, vegetables, and also eggs freshly laid by the domain’s hens. We also encountered two donkeys – strangely named Estelle and François – that will soon be joined by other species.
Paths between land and sea
The Domaine de l’Ermitage is a splendid place for leisurely walks. The paths are bordered with many different themed gardens. The Rose garden, the Aroma yard… and also the mysterious Fairy Yard and its species rumored to be magic. Do not hesitate to walk along the path or venture into the forest. There, you will find white benches of natural wood, where you can rest for a moment. Breathe! You are back in touch with Mother Nature! We loved the view on the La Coudoulière beach underneath. What magnificent colours !
The not-to-be-missed stroll around the port
We then leave the domain to walk around the village before going back home. Holiday-makers and locals alike get there on the sea ferry that crosses the bay. The sun bathes the sea with light and the reflection of masts could be the subject for an impressionist painting. On the wharf next to the town hall, traditional fishing boats have only just come back in. The nets are already cleaned and put away, and a fisherman displays the day’s results in the fish hall. The fish seem to call to us… we would love to eat a grilled sea-bream… and with the soothing sun and warmth, the restaurant terraces are certainly tempting… our trip back can wait, there’s a great meal to be had! After all, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the good things in life is there?