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Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume - between the Alps and the sea

The town of St Maximin la Ste Baume lies in sunny Provence, mid-way between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. Known for its association with the legend of Mary Magdalene, the town is a real mix of ancient and modern, with a cosmopolitan buzz and a thriving economy, yet being full of traditional buildings, ancient streets and having a distinctly relaxing Provençal ambience. St Maximin is surrounded by the lovely and productive vineyards of the region, and has a stunning backdrop consisting of three mountain ranges.

Rich history

St Maximin la Ste Baume is a town with a rich and interesting history, and this is evident in the old parts of town. The Jewish quarter is beautiful and fascinating to explore, as is the old city. Its Basilica, with many wonderful features, is the largest Gothic building in southern France, and it took almost three centuries to complete.

And a touch of mystery - the legend of Mary Magdalene

The mystery comes hand in hand with the legend of Mary Magdalene, mother of Jesus. Mary is said to have lived in the town, bringing the gospel of Jesus and converting many to Christianity. She is said to have finally retired to live in a cave (which can be visited) in the mountains that form the dramatic backdrop to St Maximin. ("Baume" means cave in the Provençal tongue.) It is believed that the remains of Mary were found here, and this has made the town a centre for pilgrims.

Shopping and dining

The town has a lively heart despite its ancient charm, and like most good sized towns in Provence it provides all the possible amenities that you could want. Great for shopping, with everything from a traditional street market to designer boutiques, St Maximin also offers a large choice of excellent restaurants, many of which specialise in the delicious Provençal cuisine. Dine on dishes bursting with the flavours of Provence: olives, tomatoes, courgettes, fish and honey, and wash it all down with a wine that has been produced right on the doorstep. It doesn't get better than this!

Around and about

The situation of St Maximin makes it perfect for exploring the region, as both the Alps and the coast are equally accessible. Of course, in between these two extremes lie a million other possibilities for exploration and enjoyment. Provence has many delightful villages and landscapes with which to fall in love, as well as sophisticated towns and cities where you can access culture and history. Take a look at Toulon and Marseille, enjoy the ambience and beauty of Aix en Provence, or have a day at the seaside and see the amazing "calanques" at Cassis.

Great for golfers and other sportsmen

Golfers will find themselves in seventh heaven here as there are a number of excellent courses accessible from St Maximin. The course at nearby Nan les Pins is one you really must play! Of course, golf isn't the only sport available locally. You will also be able to play tennis, go horse-riding, walking, cycling, swimming and fishing all very close to the town.

How to get there

It's easy to reach this popular spot from the UK. There are a good number of airports within reach, including Toulon (Ryanair), Marseille (British Airways, Aer Lingus, easyJet, Ryanair), Avignon (flybe), and Nice (Air France, British Airways, Aer Lingus, bmi, flybe, easyJet and Jet2). The TGV can take you to Marseille, making rail travel another good option. If you are driving you will find the town from the A8 motorway.

Property prices and availability in and around Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume

Provence is noted for being expensive when it comes to property, as the region is beloved of many nationalities and is well established on the global real estate map. The upside to this is that rental values and possibilities are excellent.

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Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume?

Saint Maximin la Baume is situated in the south-east of France, a short way inland from the Mediterranean coast. It lies in the west of the Var department.

Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume Property Map


Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Guide

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Property Map


Var Guide

  Var Map

Population: 12,402

Access: By air: Fly to Toulon, Nice, Avignon or Marseille with a variety of airlines. By rail: Take a TGV to Marseille from Paris. By road: Saint Maximin lies near the A8 motorway.

Economy: The economy is thriving and dynamic, blending modern enterprise with wine production and tourism. It is also a pilgrim centre.

Interesting fact: Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume takes its name from the legend that says that Mary Magdalene finally retired to live in a cave just outside this town.

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