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Secrets of cities in the Verdon

​Aiguines or memory of wood

On the slopes of the mountain of margins at the entrance to the parade of the gorges du Verdon, the territory of Aiguine is essentially covered forests and Moors.This rather poor agricultural environment allowed only the breeding of goats and sheep... Yet the inhabitants of Aiguines knew take advantage of their environment by developing wood and in particular of the turned wood crafts. Traditionally, found wood Turners in many villages, but Aiguines made this activity, attested from the 16th century, a real speciality, the hoisting in the 19th century to the rank of village industry. Numerous workshops and two factories at the beginning of the 20th century, employed several dozen people. The raw material was not lacking and cost little. Oak, beech and especially boxwood are here in abundance. In abundance... but not "at hand". Boxwood especially, the most sought after gasoline, which the very fine 'grain' allows a perfect polishing required know taking risks and venturing on the edge of the void. The exercise required sometimes to be buckled. In the village this hard won and brought back wood then turned into a quantity of everyday objects: tool handles, spoons, bar cPoils, boxes or bowling, women's game that is practiced in Provence.
But the reputation of Aiguines held mainly in the manufacture of the studded balls, ancestors of our balls of petanque and slightly larger. The heart of the ball, in rough-hewn boxwood, was covered with tight nails that gave him rounding and the strength necessary. The nailing operation was made at home by women, "ferrous". When it was fine, they settled outside her door and street sounded dry and repeated blows. From archives, interviews and passionate comments, Marie Wallet has traced the history of wood turned to Aiguines in a very comprehensive book which contains even of many technical boards for the manufacture of turned wooden objects; "The wood to Aiguines turners", éditions Jeanne Laffite; Marseille, 1983. In the village you can visit the Museum of the Dervishes, created from the workshop of the last craftsman who practised the art of woodworking in Aiguines and put his chisels in 1979.

The last witch of Aiguines

Mother Bousquet was the last witch in Provence. She lived in a provencal house ("mas") near Aiguines (" the Medecine farm"), where she prepared many secret potions and liqueurs with herbs picked from the tray of Canjuers and around the cliffs of the Verdon.
She knew all of them and knew when to pick them up: the season, the moon and even the time of collection were important.
Bramble for angina, lavender for insect bites or vipers, and many others.
No disease could resist the old "mask" and sometimes came from afar to see her.

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The fountain of Trigance

A generous child... In the centre of Trigance, on small shady square is a curious fountain, fountain Giraud, crenellated and right like a tower. It has the name of his generous contributor, a child of the country, which having made his fortune in Paris, donated to the municipality to finance a fountain. His money also financed a large tank, almost inexhaustible fountain for reserve since it could contain 500000 liters of water. After that the Trigancois were permanently protected from "scarcity of water" so feared in Provence.


It is not only the highest village of the Var, it is also one of "most beautiful villages in France", national recognition that it is not easy to obtain. This recognition, Bargème owes first to its exceptional site. The arrival on the village, some that are Vienna, is impressive. Hooked on the slopes of the mountain of Brouis, the village is dominated by the proud medieval castle of the family of the Pontevès, since the 12th century. But the centre of the village that can be reached by crossing one of the fortified gates, overlooking the Valley and farmland Bargème is impressive. The environment here reads open: bottom farmland and the hamlet of the Estang, protected on one side by the mountain and the other three nipples covered with forests and so-called greenhouses. Beyond the lands we read very well the development of terraces which depart at l'assaut Brouis, once planted cereal and almonds, peas and fruit, just before the heights peeled mountain, which were exploited intensively resources forest until early last century. Inside what remains of the medieval walls, the village has been completely restored and furnished in value. The Castle, whose high ruins differ from all the surrounding villages, still has four beautiful very slender round towers and two square towers.Inside, little evidence remain beautiful alleys paved, departure of vaults that bear witness to its occupation. But Bargème also has a very beautiful church dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Nearby the Castle, she fulfilled the functions of parish church. To the right of the entrance gate, there is still the bel unit of the walls of the private chapel of the Lords of Bargème. Outside the walls to the West of the Castle, a small chapel of the 17th reminds one of the most tragic events in the history of the village. The local Lord. Antoine de Pontevès was murdered in the Church in 1595. The Parliament of Aix rose against these little Christian practices and imposed on the population to build a chapel to atone for this outrage... which was made in 1607. The chapel was dedicated to our Lady of Sorrows.

The Gaoubi

The first fountain of Brenon lies by the roadside a few meters from a hamlet called the Henry and it is probably for this family Henry it was built. There is another fountain in Brenon but we must arm themselves with patience to discover. Or ask someone "Ia fountain of the Gaoubi". And you will be asked "do you know what does that mean Gaoubi? If you do not know, it can be that it does not tell it you. But conversely, if you answer that this word means "skill" in Provençal, you can also tell you that since you are so clever, you do only to find it all alone... Anyway it is dry...

The sawmill of the La Martre

Everyone remembers La Martre and yet they are less likely to have known it in operation. The most amazing is that almost nothing remains of the many buildings of the historic sawmill who operated for several decades of year Brouis mountain woods, populated by pine trees. The sawmill was closed in 1923 am fire. It employed up to 40 people.

Châteauvieux, double village

There are many villages that are are moved throughout their history. The history of Châteauvieux is complex, but its current feature is that both sites are still busy, a few meters from the other. At Châteauvieux, there are however precisely the highest village and the lower village. Each of them has a fountain and washhouse almost identical. On - very short - route that connects, a cross attempts to the junction.

The Church St-Thyrse of Robion

In the middle of the plain overlooking Robion, sweet and open as the Palm of a hand, stands the small bell tower of the Church of Saint Thyrsus. We know little of this tiny novel vessel, isolated and protecting the enclosure of the cemetery. Today simple Chapel, he formerly served as parish church in the village, today frazione of Castellane. Perhaps was it a Priory... The questions remain without taking anything away from the poetry of instead. The was probably built in the middle of the 12th century. The vaulted nave collapsed in the 18th century. Inside the outdoors, it presents bands lombes decor borrowed from the tradition of the high middle ages. It seems to be long perpetuated in Alpine areas where it is found often (especially on OWL, in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie). The chapel has undergone many repairs and numerous acts of vandalism and theft unfortunately. It remains however open and is now registered as a historic Monument.

Village of the Poil

Curious name village. Its origin comes from the Provençal lou little, the pile refers perhaps to the huge rocky outcrop that dominates the site. But more amazing year that the name, arrival at the village of Poil is striking. Lost among the rocks, the village crumbling evokes the solitude of the mountains. The last inhabitants left their homes in 1929. Yet in 1856 the village had 335 inhabitants. There were two coffees, several schools and a church. In 1900 they are more than 200, then 80 in 1914. Now the Poil is attached to the municipality of Senez. We measure the speed with which from the 20th century, the rural exodus is shot on these rural areas. Yet the village lands were not ungrateful. Traditional agriculture combined sheep and pigs, cultivation of wheat, vegetables and gathering lavender and honey in extra. But life was tough: "in these mountains, once winter arrived, a thick layer of snow cleared everything for three months or more: the shovel was over leaving the front of the House." We were cut off from everything. Poiled, early December, should have made allowances for all winter and the eight families in the village were preparing to live cut off from the world, to the slow rhythm of the off-season." "The lives of those with front" (memories of a simple peasant of the Vallée de L'asse) by Albert COTTE. Editions the Alps of light. 1990 in 150 moving pages, Albert Cotte remembers his childhood in the village of Poil, where he was born in 1907 and he left in 1922 to follow his parents in the Valley of Asse. It traces with an amazing memory, the work in the fields, transhumance, collection of lavender, and celebrations.

The child of Valensole

Valensole not only gave its name to the plateau that surrounds it; It has also left his mark in history, thanks to a child of the country, Moyeul (or Maieul) who headed the powerful Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy from 954 to 994. Coming from a wealthy family in Haute-Provence widely with Valensole, Moyeul (which is not of course that he was born in the town...) donated paternal possessions to his Abbey. A Priory dependent on Cluny and composed of a handful of Benedictines lasted Valensole until the French Revolution. You can still see the deanery Court, Center of the monastic community, near the parish church which overlooks the village of its mass. Moyeul is an important figure in the religious history of his time. Taken prisoner by the Saracens, he was released for ransom. As a result of this epic event, it is in his name that the Provençal drive out the invaders. After his death, he was quickly elevated to the rank of saint and his cult remains very fervent during the middle ages. In Valensole a chapel is dedicated to him. Don't be surprised if you encounter a boy called Moyeul first name is still prevalent on the plateau.

History of Valensole

The history of the Valensole plateau was marked by the Roman presence from the first century of our era. Several Roman roads crossed, including linking Fréjus in Sisteron. At the intersection of these roads, the Romans developed the ancient capital of the QEII, Aboriginal tribe, to make it a city of latin law. Of this glorious period, Riez (pronounced RieS) kept 4 columns, remains of a temple, now isolated out of the city, in the middle of a meadow. In the spring, surrounded by sheep, they evoke more Greece than Rome. In the city and the surrounding area, traces of that time are many: milestones *, stone carved graves, mosaics and movable objects. But the history of the city did not stop there. As early as the 5th century, the city is the seat of a bishopric. Not far from the columns lie the remains of the Cathedral of that time the baptistery *, isolated building which there are few examples in France. Then the inhabitants took refuge on the hill that dominates, before descending to its current location to the ' ove century. Beautiful Renaissance houses, including the hotel de Mazan and Ferrier, decorated with gypsery, are a sign of a significant economic and cultural development. The visit of the old town provides a strange feeling, of poetry. It feels sometimes like the first to browse these small medieval streets which communicate with each other by many passages, the androns. Today laugh, its shops and its two weekly markets attract many tourists. On the road of Quinson, a high silo concrete in the 1930s, still in activity, reminds us of the agricultural vocation of the region.Between the four Roman columns and this silo, Riez has 2000 years of continuous history.


Guillestre which takes its name from the Latin Guil extra (outside the Guil and its flood basin ), is located at the gates of Queyras . Inhabited since ancient times , the site appears for the first time in history in 1118 , in a bull of Pope Gelasius II. Possession of the Archbishop of Embrun from 1147 Guillestre remained until the Revolution. From 1150 , a castle was built on the hill overlooking the town, occasional residence of the Archbishops of Embrun. The construction of walls, the barris is undertaken in 1392 during the Hundred Years War , to defend the city against the ravages of the Great Companies : he remains the Eygliers towers and ramparts and gates such as St. Catherine. In the fifteenth century , Guillestre obtained franchises for its fairs - that of St. Luke still stands in October. It is at the end of the Middle Ages what the reconstructed Church of Our Lady of the north , to replace the eleventh century ; a local pink marble , marble Guillestre said , is one of the materials used ; the two central columns of the porch, protected by a real, based on crouching lions, guardians very meek ​​: dog rests his head on one of the legs of the lion ; the door has a lock wrought iron which contains the face of the Archbishop of Embrun , lord of Guillestre framed by those of an alderman and a city judge , and two birds. The square tower of three floors, is surmounted by an octagonal spire . In 1515 , the city sees passing troops of Francis I , en route to Italy and immortal victories. During the Wars of Religion , remained Catholic , Guillestre resists twice, in 1586 and 1587 , the troops of the Duke of Lesdiguières . During the last wars of Italy, Louis XIII and Richelieu which stop in the city. In 1692 , during the War of the League of Augsburg is Guillestre troops of Count Schomberg join at the end of July , those of the Duke of Savoy. This army of thirty thousand men puts the country with fire and sword , burning , by the way , Castle Guillestre which the town is vested after three days of siege. Louis XIV immediately decided a revision of frontier towns , and it is Guillestre that feed the troops and provide lumber for the construction of Mont- Dauphin. On arrival at Guillestre road just Eygliers by a narrow pass between high limestone walls . This narrow pass wears a strange name : street of Masks.

Masks Street

Masks Street had a bad reputation . Strange lights blazed and its walls resounded mysterious voice that spoke in an unknown language. It was frequented by mascs , wizzards ... Christmas night at the stroke of midnight , the rock opened into a cave filled with gold to close at the stroke . A resident `s Eygliers had lost her husband to the Americas where he had gone to seek his fortune . Penniless , poor woman , her child in her arms, was in the night of December 25 rue des Masques . The cave was opened , but the time to get a basket, it closed ; imprisoning the child. Mad with grief , the poor woman returned every night but could not find his treasure , his son , that the following Christmas he waited smiling, sitting on gold wizards .

Teachers of Barcelonnette: one feather, two feather ...

The mountains of Haute-Provence were among the most literate regions of France; they sent their rulers and their teachers to the less favored regions. At Barcelonnette, from the thirteenth century, three-quarters of the male population can read and write. In the eighteenth century, this city is famous for its fair to teachers, which takes place on September 30 of each year. That day, candidates are offering their services for schools that open their doors for the duration of winter. Attributes of their hat express their skills: with a quill pen, the applicant is able to teach reading and writing; with two feathers, it can add the calculation, and three, some grammar and Latin.

Hawkers ... until Mexico !

In the eighteenth century , the inhabitants of Ubaye become peddlers roamed Europe to sell the productions of local factories wool fabric and silk son . In 1814 , Joseph- Antoine Couttolenc was the first " Barcelonnette " from Mexico to seek his fortune . He was eighteen years old. It was followed in 1821 by Arnaud brothers Jausiers , which transited through New Orleans before joining Mexico, where they opened a fabric store with the sign " el cajon ropa de las siete puertas ." Around 1830 , they sent three of their former employees including two returned home , fifteen years later, with a jackpot of two hundred and fifty thousand gold francs each. That's when the rush to Mexico in the early twentieth century, five thousand families of Barcelonnettes are set from commercial fabrics retail at wholesale and textile industry. A group buys London, Mexico and South America Bank beats currency for all Mexico . Nearly ninety percent of emigrants remained in Mexico and became Mexican : today , the number of descendants of Barcelonnettes is estimated at fifty thousand resident , mostly in Mexico . Among those who returned home , some did so " sewn gold " and placed their money in stone, it is one of their sumptuous villas or their tombs ! Most of these villas were built between 1880 and 1930. One of the first , La Sapinière belonged to Alexandre Reynaud , father of the statesman Paul Reynaud . Few references to Mexico in the architectural treatment of these villas : only a few of their names evoke what was for their owners the land of plenty : Puebla, Tapatia , Morelia ...

Colmars -les-Alpes

Colmars -les-Alpes is the " Mars Hill " of Romans. At the confluence of the Lance and Verdon , the limits of the county of Provence , caparisoned fortifications, it formed three centuries an outpost facing the French Savoy, the potential enemy within ten kilometers Allos occupied since 1388 . the present town owes Francis the layout of its streets and the appearance of its walls, survivors of different fires that had to suffer the city. The construction of the church of St. Martin dates from the same time, leaning against the wall. In 1690, the Duke of Savoy declared war on France and its troops under the Marquis of Parelli , blazed Villars -Colmars , without being able to invest the city. Vauban intervened and two redoubts in northern Fort Saint- Martin called from Fort Savoy, and south of Calvary now very strong in France, both connected to the city by caponiers ( of capon , chicken ) or protected communication . Vauban not directly followed the work and expressed loud disagreement on the achievement of certain parties. In fact, these fortifications never served since 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht gave Ubaye and Upper Verdon in France .
Bonaparte, in 1793 made ​​a long step in the city before embarking on his Italian campaign . He entrusted the custody of Fort Desaix Savoie and Fort de France to Soult. In the newfound peace after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht , Colmars was deemed to be a time for its production of draperies and the secret of blue vegetable dye . The cascade of Lance, upstream of the river, is a refreshing break in a circus black and white rocks. South of Colmars , leading Beauvezer , gorges of St. Peter are not popular , they are named after the hermit who once took refuge . A dizzying path carved into the rock , winding cliff to cliff .

The "maker of gold" of Palud-sur-Verdon

M. De l'Isle lived at la Palud-sur-Verdon. Besides his occupation blacksmith armourer, he indulged in the transmutation of iron into gold. This fact might make some people smile, yet many people of the time have testified. The news spread at the speed of lightning to the ears of the king who he sent for him on the spot! Our man, suspicious, would not leave his village. The riders had to bring him to the king bound hand and foot. The king received him very courteously, but De l'Isle refuse to operate in front of him, convinced that the abuse received were due to the king's orders. King, disappointed, did not press him and get him his freedom. One of his ministers, knowing the case, imprisoned him our "gold-maker" making a thousand promises if he would work for him. Isle refuses and died under torture, taking his secret with him.

The cliff of the Escalès

It is claimed that in the Middle Ages already, the lords of Trigance, wanting to attack the inhabitants of La Palud-sur-Verdon, have crossed the great cliff of the Escalès in a place where rock bar drops to 60m. Dangerous ploy indeed ... but with cross boxwood planted in the rock, they have managed to overcome the obstacle. A way for them to make "the artif." The dreaded cliff kept the name of these rudimentary bars: "lou Escalès" meaning "scale" in Provençal.

paddle boat in the Lake Sainte-Croix
Climbing tree
Pont de Galetas
Pont du Roc

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