Welcome to Agay


Introduction

Agay is a pleasant little village on the Cotes d'Azur, placed in a beautiful natural bay surrounded by the Esterel Mountains. The bay is about 1 km wide:

On the east side you find the little Antheor Mountain:

On the west side we have Le Dramont with the Semaphore (a military weather station) on the top:

Agay has two wonderful sandy beaches. In the eastern end you find Plage la Baumette:

In the middle of the bay we have the long Agay Plage:


Today Agay is a lovely little place, popular among tourist from most of Europe but still with it's own quiet atmosphere. You find many great beaches, restaurants, camping sites, hotels and nice local shops.

Every Wednesday we have a local market in the center of the town and in the evenings in the summer months there is a big antique market.


Plage de la Baumette

Agay is situated between Cannes (20 km) and Saint-Raphäel (10 km) on RN98 (Route National 98).

Corniche d'Esterel

There is a railway station with hourly connections to Cannes, Nice, Menton and Ventimille as well as Saint-Raphäel, Draguignan (35 km), Toulon (140 km), Aix (95 km) and Marseille (160 km).


History

It is presumed that Greek sailors founded Agay some 500 B.C. A great heritage of remains from Greek, Etruscans and Carthaginian maritime traders have been found by Submarine archeological researchers in the water around Agay and Le Dramont.

There have been people living on the Cotes d'Azur for thousands of years. A few menhirs show the presence of prehistoric settlements near the Agay Bay.

Neolithic menhir at Veyssières

The oldest human remains in Provence are from 30.000 B.C. when Europe was connected to Africa.

Year 4000 B.C. people from the Chaseen civilisation lived in Provence. These people, raising livestock and cultivating the land founded the first villages in the region.

Around 2000 B.C. the Calchalitic civilisation.

Around 550 B.C. Marseille was founded by Phoecian (Greek) sailors. At this time the native people was the Cavares, the celtic-ligurian people who founded towns like Avignon and Cavaillon.

Agay was known in the ancient times as Agathon Portus which means "Good Port" in an unusual constellation of one Greek and one Roman word.


The Roman time

Today the most remarkable are the remains from the Roman culture. Provence was colonized by the Romans from 200 B.C. up to 400 A.D. In 121 B.C. Provence became the first Roman province (Gallia Trans Alpina) north of the Alps.

The Emperor Augustus placed Roman legionnaires with their families in all Provence. To make them feel like at home, miniature replicas of Roman institutions was built (arenas, baths, forums, temples and theaters), which still can be seen all over Provence.

Roman Aquaduct in Frejus

Julius Cesar founded Frejus in 49 B.C. where you still find the Roman Arena (which seated 12.000 persons) as well as the remains of a huge aquaduct (more than 30 km long) which brought water from the Siagnole, an affluent of the Siagne, to the town. There are many Roman ruins in this area!

Wealthy Roman families built huge villas in the commune - one where the Casino today is, in Saint-Raphäel, with a big terrace facing Saint-Aygulf. It held a vivarium (a basin to keep live fish), thermes (a public bath with hot water) and lovely mosaics.

Frejus

Also several agricultural farms from the Roman time have been located. In Veyssières (4 km from Agay) there was a huge Roman agricultural farm.

One imagines the Roman children passing the Menhirs, as we do to today, on their way down the valley to the Agay beach. Two other big farms were located in the area. One in Rouissiveau just north of Agay, today absorbed by the Foret d'Esterel, and another in Suveret between Valescure and Saint-Raphäel.

In Les Caseaux (between Saint-Raphäel and Boulouris) a fresh-water reservoir has been found, measuring 4 x 12 x 28 meters and built with meter-thick walls.

The Roman highway voie Aurélienne (constructed during Augustus) passed north of Agay parallel to today's RN7. This was the main highway from Rome to Spain!

In the museum of Saint-Raphäel you can see a Roman milestone (borne) taken from Cap Roux just near Agay. The Romans cut stones for all their buildings between Dramont and the neighboring Boulouris.

Today the beautiful Valescure behind Agay is dominated by golf resorts, but the romans it was Vallis Curans - the "healing valley".

In the sea around Le Dramont several of Roman wrecks have been found. Findings are shown at the archeological museum of Saint-Raphäel (in the old Temple Rider Church).


Saint-Baume

In the beginning of the 5th century the hermit monk Saint Honorats lived in a cave (grotte) in Cap Roux (Saint-Baume) near Agay.

Honoratius was born around 350. Together with his brother Venantius he converted to Christianity. The two brothers sought spiritual guidance from a holy man called Caprasius, and the three of them left Marseille in 368 on a pilgrim tour for the Holy Land. However, Venantius died and the two other travelers returned to bury him in France. The traveled through Italy and Honoratius ended up in Frejus, where the bishop Leontius told him to seek meditation in solitude.

Honoratius walked east out of Frejus came to Agay. Here prayed for guidance. Suddenly he saw a white wolf with it's kids and following it through the forest, he found the cave near Cap Roux where a kilde gave him fresh water. Here he stayed for years.

Frejus

Later Honoratius moved to the isles of Lérins near Cannes, where he founded a monastery, which later became very prominent. Honoratius died i 429 in Arles, where he had become Archbishop.

After the Romans

In the 5th century the Roman Empire fell apart. Read a little more about the history of Provence here.



The Esterel Mountains

The Esterel Mountains are famous for their red rocks. Behind Agay you find Foret d'Esterel which is a national forest of 100 square kilometers.

L'Ile d'Or Outside Le Dramont we have the little island called l'Ile d'Or, on which a strange tower is placed. The tower was build by the eccentric Dr. Auguste Lutaud. In 1913 he proclaimed himself King Auguste 1st of the autonome kingdom of l'Isle d'Or.

Later the tower gave Hergé inspiration to Tintin and the Mystical Island:


The climate

Agay is very pleasant. The Mediterranean Sea never gets much below 14 centigrade, and this keeps Agay mild in the wintertime. You seldom find day temperatures below 10 centigrade in this sub-tropical area.

Sometime we have the Mistral. It is a wind coming from the Rhone Valley. For 1-3 days it can be very windy. It comes quite often September - November.

The Mistral gives some very beautiful sunsets:


How to find Agay

Agay is 12 km east of Saint-Raphäel and 20 km west of La Napoule/Mandelieu (near Cannes). The main road going through Agay is the RN (Route Nationale) 98, which runs along all the Cotes d'Azur.

Agay is a part of the Saint-Raphäel commune. It only has a few hundred permanent citizens, but in the vacations we have lots of visitors coming to stay in the many appartments, hotels and camping sites.

Up through the centuries Agay was only to be reached by sea. No road ran along the Corniche d'Or until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1900-1903 the road RN98 and the railway from Saint-Raphäel to Cannes were built.

It was a great engineering task and opened for a golden age of high society tourism in Saint-Raphäel in the years up to WW2. Saint-Raphäel became a famous health resort.


Saint-Raphäel

The original Provence today consists of the départements Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritime, Hautes-Alpes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse. Together they form the region Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur (PACA).

This region covers 31.400 square km and has around 4,5 million citizens. The population is from ancient times and still today very multicultural.

Today Saint-Raphäel and it's twin town Frejus a dynamic centre og 70.000 inhabitants. Agay is a part of the Saint-Raphäel commune.

Here is Saint-Raphäel "by night":

Post cards from the 1920'ies:


Copyright Michael Karbo and www.karbosguide.com 2000 - 2013


Links

  • Official page of Saint-Raphäel
  • Dutch page about Agay