I’m sure you’ve been wondering where exactly I’ve been during my vacation. I’ve been going here for at least 10 days each year since 2009, where my French family has been returning since the early 1960s. This lovely seaside town is Cavalaire-Sur-Mer (Cavalaire on the sea), but everyone just calls it Cavalaire.
Located between St. Tropez and Lavandou, Cavalaire has 4km (2.4 miles) of beaches and creeks with rock faced cliffs east of the Cape. Cavalaire is thought to have been settled by the Phoenicians and inhabited by ancient Romans. The name is thought to have come from old Greek Heracles Caccabaria. In more recent ages, Cavalaire was a part of a town called Gassin, but detached forming its own village in 1929. Until the mid-20th century, Cavalaire was a fishing village where locals would fish in the Bay of Cavalaire and the deeper Mediterranean.
In 1944, Cavalaire was chosen by the WWII Allies as an operation point during the Allied landings that occurred along France’s southern coasts. On August 15th, 1944, in an operation called Operation Dragoon, American troops made their way by sea onto France’s Provencal coasts. The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division landed on Cavalaire’s beaches. This successful campaign chased away German forces and liberated the ports. Since then, locals have been celebrating this important day in history with an annual parade, a mock military camp, and fireworks display.
Today, there are approximately over seven thousand inhabitants and the town is surrounded by no more than a dozen other seaside villages and cities, who, along with Cavalaire, enjoy the chief business of tourism. Thousands of tourists come each year with their families for a variety of water activities: swimming, diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and motor boating. The Port of Cavalaire houses hundreds of boats and features restaurants, shops, nightclubs where families of all ages can find something to do. Every week, there is a farmer’s market where locals can find fresh fruits and vegetables and where tourists can pay way too much for clothes and souvenirs. Within the last few years, the City of Cavalaire sponsors free concerts of all genres open to the public.
Each year since the 1960s, my French family has been returning to their beach homes for a summer of sun, sand, and sea. My in-laws’ parents knew each other and spent summers just kilometers apart. It wasn’t until an arranged meeting by their parents at St. Tropez’s now uber famous Papagayo that my in-laws actually met each as potential mates. From four months of age, Mr J spent all of his childhood summers here with his family and grew up with other kids whose families continue to come back each year. He continued the tradition with me because what adult, after all, doesn’t enjoy a free vacation with their parents? So, since getting married, we’ve continued a fifty year family tradition by going back to Cavalaire. It’s sunny, warm, and a delightful place for families and it’s fun to see familiar faces each year.