Le Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer

The history

Originally, Pramousquier, Canadel and Rayol formed the three sections of coastline within the municipality of La Môle, a very rural village inaccessible from the seaside until the 19th century.

Only a small, windy and poorly kept path traversing the Canadel mountain pass connected the village of La Môle to the seaside.

However, the introduction of trains changed everything, with the installation of a southern France line between Hyères and Saint-Raphaël providing access to the Corniche des Maures cliff.

Rayol developed from 1925 under the initiative of the company Entreprise immobilière, who transformed the area into a health and seaside resort. The site was regenerated while preserving the ancient schist stone staircase and Patec pergola. Many roads were also built to attract future rich buyers to the area.

Due to their increasingly divergent interests, La Môle, the rural area, and Le Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, the tourist destination, became independent municipalities on 30 August 1949.

Operation Dragon

A hugely significant event marked the history of Le Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer: Operation Dragon. On the evening of 14 August 1944, African commandos landed on Canadel Beach, the catalyst for the recapture of Provence from Nazi Germany. The first wave of African commandos were thought to land on Le Rayol Beach, which is easily noticeable thanks to the long ancient schist staircase running down to it, but they actually landed 2 km away on Canadel Beach.

Le Rayol-Candel-sur-Mer became one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Var coast shortly after the war, still maintaining its strong sense of community.


Many famous people have lived in the village or been or regular visitors:

  • Sir Henry Royce (1863-1933), a British mechanic, a pioneer in the history of the car industry, and co-founder of Rolls-Royce, spent many a winter in Le Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer (from 1911 to 1931) …,
  • Charles Koechlin (1867-1950) composer;
  • Paul Langevin (1872-1946), physician;
  • Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979), a philanthropist and art collecter who bought a villa in the village in 1925;
  • Jean-Jacques Pauvert (1926-2014), an editor and writer;
  • Sacha Distel (1933-2004), a jazz guitarist, composer and singer, lived in Le Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer with his family until his death;
  • Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), a poet, spent his holidays there with writer Raymond Radiguet (1903-1923);
  • Jacques Chirac (1932- 2019), President of France from 1995 to 2007, spent four years at the Rayol Estate during WWII. In fact, his father was the right-hand man of the aeronautical engineer Henry Potez, who bought the property. Jacques Chirac went to the village school and was confirmed at Le Rayol Church.
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