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1 week in the Gorges du Verdon= 2 campsites to discover the richness of this incredible site

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Bas Verdon by bike

​The Verdon

An acute whistle rips the dawn...
Under the first rays of the Sun, three Bishoprics are a reddish adornment.
A second Marmot whistling, amplified by the echo again breaks the morning silence. As if by enchantment, noises until then felted, are more distinct.
In the meadow of Sestriere, quickly flooded with Provençal light, my story begins. After a few seeps, I decided to leave the high invigorating valleys of the Alps to irrigate the Provence.
Along the way, swelled by many tributaries, I become Emerald. Cascade cascading, I crossed the dams erected by men to mellowing me and operate my strength.
Light and stone me for this trip to the long course. Since the dawn of time, men are fierce polishing, cutting, to tame this material developed at high heat under Mediterranean climate.
The stone is, here, work of art to discover into the remotest sites, then carved marquee in religious buildings or carved into beautiful device for the stately homes and manor houses. The rough, the stone of Provence reached climax in the grand canyon including the vertiginous terrain and deep gorges of a rare beauty are the result of millions of years of erosion.
Here, the Sun, with a rare intensity, coloured landscapes of subtle nuances, penetrates into the heart of the canyons, but does not cross the threshold of the openings reduced homes to retain freshness.
After crossing chaotic trays, fractured, cracked and hacked that conceal their prerogative, I rubbed me between hills and Plains. There, a mosaic of villages with grace deploys their tangle of roofs from which springs the campanile wrought iron Recalling that time pace peasant life. Many castles remain almost by miracle after centuries of eventful, history to brandish their towers under a crystalline sky.
Traditions, customs and celebrations that mark the events of every day, will retain an authentic character.
My journey ends. After 170 kilometers of a course through this country of light, fragrant spices, paradise I find the Durance.
By chance, as the Phoenix my story is eternal... Larch, vaillant tree, King of the Alpine stage, waiting for me and will put on its finery of gold and saffron to the announcement of the shepherd who gathers his flock to regain the Valley.
Up there sounds hiss last... The mountain covers then a shade sail.


18 loop routes in the guide can be browsed separately. However the mesh formed by all these circuits offers also many possibilities of combinations and patterns for hikes from two to eight days.

Special Offers

Chalet on campsite at Castellane Mobile-home
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Camping pitches at Castellane Gorges du Verdon Pitches Gorges du Verdon
Starting from 18 €/Night


The period the more conducive to exploring this region runs from May to October. Some routes are indeed just passable due to snow in winter, or even in the spring.
Before leaving, it is wise to inquire about the State of the roads, the opening of passes and about the weather forecast (daily provided by regional stations).
It is useful to have a proper bicycle equipment:
•    a bike in size (seatpost and handlebar), equipped with a range of developments as wide as possible (small brackets) and an effective braking system.
•    a toolkit of troubleshooting containing the needed in the event of flat tire (tyre, glue, patches, pump). -suitable clothing including a hat, sunglasses, warm and waterproof clothing (watch out for sudden changes in weather conditions!).
•    To avoid the classic "craving" of the bicycle touring: drink regularly before thirst and eating before hunger (quickly assimilated energy foods).
•    Certain routes used in the absence of an important secondary road network, of the axes classified high-traffic or busy in the summer.

Circuit 1: Rians

Departure of Rians. 60 km loop. Passing by healthy-Paul-les-Durance, Jouques, Vauvenargues and return Rians.
•    Rians: a monumental Church Crown this quiet town camped on a small promontory.
•    Tower of the 12th century clock and campanile of 1792. Church rebuilt in the 19th century. At the foot of the village, remains of medieval walls: the Saint Jean door is equipped with a niche containing the statue of the Saint and a belfry built later.
•    3 km at the exit of Rians, at the entrance to a small parade, the road passes under the Arch of an aqueduct. Waters captured by the E.D.F. dams come from the Verdon. They borrow underground galleries as well as works of art and are intended for the supply of cities and irrigation of the Basse-Provence to the shore.
•    Saint-Paul-lez-Durance: modest village set on a terrace of tufa at the outlet of the Valley of the Albeou between the E channel.D.F. and the river. The Town Hall is a mansion of the 18th century.
•    On a few hundred metres along the Durance, long feared and devastating flooding River which has its source at the foot of the Montgenèvre on the Franco-Italian border. The spirited Durance, now tamed, plays a significant economic role at the regional level. The Canal de Provence society, created in 1959 by the departments of Var and Bouches as well as by the city of Marseille, manages facilities and daily ensures the provision of water household and farm of 116 communes including Marseille, Aix and Toulon, with 3 000 km of pipes.
•    Jouques: beautifully housed on a bow on the edge of the Real, river which fed until the end of the 19th century mills grain, oil, paper and thus brought an ease to the people as evidenced by the significant number of beautiful facades of buildings.
•    From East to West, at the top of the village triumph over the chapel of Romanesque origin of Notre-Dame de la Roque m.h. Portal of the speaker of the 13th century m.h. the clock tower, the portal to bosses of the 16th century of the Archbishopric (private).
•    A monumental Portal opens on a building two-body high in the 18th century.
•    To the West, beyond the door of balms Street, rises the Church Saint-Pierre of Roman Foundation, flat chevet, rebuilt in the 16th century.
•    From the street of balms: porte Saint-Pierre, a relic of the ramparts of the 16th century.
•    High Street: doors, architraves and facades of the 16th and 17th century.
•    In the former chapel of the Penitents.
At the exit of the village at the crossroads of the 561 D and D 11 large circular Dovecote.
After le Sambuc, the road sneaks into a rocky corridor, until the outlet of the Infernet Valley.
•    Vauvenargues: popular site of AIX at the foot of the Sainte-Victoire mountain, houses a vast Castle of the 16th and 17th s. flanked by two round towers. In (private) Park is the burial place of Picasso died in 1973. He had acquired the building in 1958. Several trails lead to the cross of Sainte-Victoire.

The olive tree

Characteristic tree of Provence and the Mediterranean belt, it requires a dry and bright, climate with mild winters.
The picking of the olives is made, depending on the varieties, from September to February and is often the object of happy groupings, where family and friends gather in the olivette to lend a hand to the owner because the pickup is particularly long. Large nets are extended on the ground and everyone moved on a step-ladder or jumps to the limbs of the tree to bring down fruits that are detached from the twig by hand or with pliers or of combs.
The harvest is then sent to the mill where the olives are successively crushed and then pressed. Some still use the traditional press. From grinding puree is distributed manually in the "scourtins" (kinds of circular cots in alfa, coconut or synthetic fibres) which are stacked and pressed.
On the occasion of each crop to mill, it was traditional that growers and Millers sample "new oil" that is served on toasted croutons of bread roasted and rubbed garlic: it was the "crisp".
Some varieties are well suited to the manufacture of oil, others are specifically used as candied table olives. They are then either Green, if they are harvested with maturity or black otherwise.
Symbol for peace, tree sacred among the ancient Greeks, eternal tree reborn from its own strain after the deadliest gels, the olive tree is part of the provencal landscape and remains the perennial witness of a civilization deeply marked by the Mediterranean tradition.
Provençal is attached to him by ties which go beyond economic issues and that reveal a unconditional fidelity to a millennial culture.

Circuit 2: Rians

At the beginning of Rians, loop 56km, average difficulty. Passage by Ginasservis, Saint-Julien, La Verdière, Esparron and return Rians.
After 7 km on the D 11, can be seen to the left in the hollow of a wooded valley, Cadarache CEN (Center of studies nuclear) facilities (not visit).
Research, testing and experimentation activities focus on controlled fusion, chemistry, genetics, the radiogronomie and the treatment of radioactive waste.
•    Ginasservis: pink and ochre roofs wrap around a truncated Ridge which was once the castle which some sections of walls and a ruiniform Tower remain.
•    Parish Church of the 17th century, restored in the 19th century. To the East of the village: Romanesque church. Pretty Bell Tower-wall two-Bay, very degraded.Campanile in the uncluttered look.
•    Saint-Julien-le-Montagnier: site in absolute perchement crowning a cliff. Panorama of Provence plans, succession of lean shrub vegetation covered trays.

Traditional architecture in a Provencal area

The villages of Provence cherish implantation pitched or hipped, legacy of a troubled period where habitat was defensive and a concern of cultivable space-saving. The Provençal House consisted of a basic volume to which, following the evolution of the means, have successively joined additional volumes. Houses open a main facade to the South. The North walls, exposed to the mistral, are blind or recently drilled. The facades are usually established under the lateral walls.
The Provence is the land of stone, widely used in the construction. Traditional architecture uses locally available materials: limestone rubble, Annot sandstone, Cobbles of the Valensole plateau. Plâtrières, lime kilns, tuileries locally meet the needs. This area of Latin civilisation construction favors longtime tiles cover canais (very locally in Slate) which imposes a slope between 18 and 39%. From the 17th century one or more ranks of Genoese protect the facades of the runoff. These could be complemented by bays, loggias (pountins) sheltered from the prevailing winds. Rectangular openings pierced at the top of the wall, under the roof, called the souleaires, allowed the drying of the crop.
In past centuries, the plastering of walls was carried out as soon as the owner had the means, only annexes or agricultural buildings were left stone. Today the Provencal fashion suggests the occupants of the houses of decrouter walls.
•    La Verdière: the old village is organized in a semi-circle on a dome where so is the Church and the Castle.
•    Church (M.H.): portal to originals and carved capitals. (Private) Castle: its current appearance is the result of changes made in the 18th century to allow its occupants, the family of Forbin, a comfortable social life. The lower parts of the building date back to the 12th century. Behind the Castle, the esplanade under the pine trees comes alive afternoon for the game of petanque (boules alley in the South of the France).
4 km from la Verdière on the 30 D right: tour donjon of the Château Notre-Dame (private). Chapel of the 15th century.
•    Esparron-de-Pallières: discreet village lurking in lush greenery at the foot of the Castle. Ample building without great character of the 14th-15th s. and XVIII centuries (private). In the Church of the 17th century: carved high altar and altarpiece.
500 m from the village, under a great oak, Church of our Lady of le Revest (M.H.): Romanesque building of the 11th s, with a single nave with 4 spans. Façade and apse in very neat device, steeple gate arches, 19th c. Beautiful studded door (keys to the Town Hall).
The road winds through the plateau of the landing that gave its name to the two villages built on his lapel.

Circuit 3: Barjols

Departing from Barjols, 47km from by Brue-Auriac, Seillons-Source-D'argens loop, Saint-Martin-de-Pallières, Varages and return Barjols. Easy.
•    Barjols: picturesque town tucked away in a circus of porous rock. Clear and abundant water springs from the many fountains. Rue de la République: Church several times rebuilt in the 13th s. and XVIth century.
•    Behind the Church: renaissance of the Hôtel de Pontevès (M.H.) Portal. The Real neighborhood: waterfalls and impeller of a former paper mill. A staircase leads to the tower. Bird's eye view over the rooftops. Barjols was an important centre of tanning until 1960. Workshops of craftsmen in ancient tanneries.
•    Factory galoubets and tambourines.
•    Barjols is famous for the Tripettes Festival which takes place in Saint Marcel (mid-January). Every 4 years, a Bull is sacrificed then roasted before being distributed to the population. This event perpetuates the memory of a bovid belonging discovered during a State of siege while the city was on the brink of famine.
•    Brue-Auriac: village built at the foot of an escarpment, in the margins of his viticultural terroir. It owes its name to the meeting of two formerly separate villages.The octagonal layout of the streets is the work of a shipowner Marseillais, Georges Roux, who made a fortune in the 17th century and created a working-class city then drew industries (tanneries, silk, pottery). Ephemeral prosperity shaken by the Revolution.
•    Parish Church: Medieval and 18th s. The round pigeon House features décor by pilasters supporting and framing roofs terraced. Yet seen the Garland of glazed tiles which prevented access to the Chamber of the pigeons to rodents. South of the village on a nipple, the Romanesque chapel

Bell towers

For centuries, the steeples stone bravely opposed the mistral wind that put them to the test. An employee (Campania) was, in the 17th and the 18th century. assigned to the ringing of the bells. According to a precise code, he had to report to the population the important events.
In the 18th century the popularization of iron production porta a fatal blow to these valiant limestone spires of Provence. The bells were then suspended in sturdy cages wrought iron.
Modest, elaborate, stout or slender, they are all different. Each walk will allow the discovery of these bell towers, functional structures more refined as in Saint-Julien-le-Montagnier or Vinon, more ornate as Flayosc or Aups.
•    Our Lady of Brue (M.H.) presents a portal semicircular large voussoirs. The character carved on the lintel could date back to the 16th century.
•    Seillons-Source-d ' Argens: built in terraces oriented at noon, on a plateau embracing the Valley of Argens. This river flows into the Mediterranean near Fréjus after 116 km of a hesitant and tortuous course. Château Grimaldi (private): the 18th century bastide. To the North: areas to beat wheat even in parts caladees.Before the square, Gothic Chapel in ruins.
Winding road through the woods of holm oaks and junipers fleurant good thyme until Saint-Martin.
•    Saint-Martin-de-Pallières: villagers all wisely clustered in the shade of a majestic remains medieval.
•    (Private) Castle: great building flanked by massive towers of angles. Built in the 12th century, it was damaged during the Revolution. Park created in the 18th century, wing and Tower is built around 1865.
•    In the 1920s, Central and midi towers plastered since their restoration were pickled, loopholes and windows of 13th century updated and maintained with care.
•    Church built by the Castellan in 1690.
•    Leaving Saint-Martin, on the left in the descent, lavoir formerly hosted by the wives.
We leave wide depression where the vineyards alongside crops and grasslands to follow the Vallot Grand ravine.
•    Varages: established on a plateau on the edge of a cliff, Varages, was famous at the end of the 17th century for its earthenware. This manufacturing collapsed with the advent of big industry. A single pottery remains. Museum of ceramics (open in summer).
•    Church of the 17th century in the Gothic style (M.H.) equipped with a Bell Tower covered with polychrome glazed tiles. Altar to Saint-Claude, patron of faïence

Tour 4: Barjols

At the beginning of Barjols, loop Cotignac 55.5 km, passing through Châteauvert, Correns, Montfort-sur-Argens, Sillans-la-Cascade, Fox-Amphoux and return Barjols. Fix average.
•    Chandra: at the entrance to the parade of Argens. Of the medieval village, it remains that parts of walls on the Hill. Beyond the bridge: remains of the Church of the 17th century, Watchtower adjacent to the cemetery.
The road crosses the "Vallon Sourn gorges' (dark) where you can see the caves that served as a refuge at the time of the wars of religion.
•    Correns: the village is consolidated in the circumference of a Knoll where stands the Tower of the fort Gibran. There is a medieval island near the parish church of 18th century Porte Saint-Germain to Harrow of 13th century (M.H.). Old bridge on the Argens.
•    Montfort-sur-Argens: homes overlook the vineyard which is the prosperity of the village. At the entrance: birthplace of Joseph Lambot who invented the cement reinforced in 1840. Castle rebuilt in the 15th century on the foundations of a feudal Castle from the 12th century as a count of Provence ceded to the Knights Templar. Around 1430, it became commandery of the Hospitallers who razed and rebuilt it to the taste of the day.
•    Montfort was residence of the Knights of Malta until the 18th century. In 1793, the Castle (private) became a revolutionary prison, which saved him from destruction. Remains of fortifications: a door to Harrow's 13th century lanes caladees, doors carved in the street of the House. Chapel of Saint Blaise of the 12th century and 15th centuries at the top of the village. Road through the vineyards and olive groves.

The wines of Provence

The Var produces white, red wines and roses elevated to the rank of appellation Contrôlée (A.O.C.) for the Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d'Aix, and delimited wine of superior quality (V.D.Q.S.) for the Coteaux Varois. Next to these wines are a multitude of wines.
A Côtes de Provence road meanders through the vineyard varois, of areas within castles, wine cooperatives in cellars of producer-Harvester.
The circuits of this guide borrow it Cotignac in Montfort-sur-Argens and d'Entrecasteaux in Lorgues. More than 2000 years of history mark the varois vineyards.Archaeological excavations at sites of construction in the cities of Toulon,
Hyères and Marseille, allowed to exhume wrecks of boats loaded with amphorae to transport wine. In the middle ages, iconographies deliver harvest scenes. In the 18th and 19th century the Vineyard has suffered from damage caused by pests (powdery mildew in 1846, mildew in 1878 and especially phylloxera from 1864). The vine then fell to disappear from the rural landscape.
After the second world war, noble grapes were replanted and the Var is directed towards a quality production. Today the wines varois, worthy to accompany the finest dishes, are present on the best tables.
•    1.5 km before Cotignac on a hillock, Chapel our Lady of Graces. Founded in 1519, become the seat of the first settlement of congregation of the Oratory in 1586. Its Foundation relates to an apparition of the Virgin.
•    Ex-votos offered by Louis XIV, during his visit to the shrine in 1660, in the memory of the wish black marble made by his parents before his birth. These despairing for many years to have a child one day.
•    Cotignac: The village, plated at the cliff of Tuff honeycomb of caves, offers a picturesque disorder of roofs. The Center is occupied by a shaded course. At its end, in the direction of the cliffs, beautiful Fountain with marble heads carved symbolising the four seasons.
•    In the high street: Church of the 13th s. repeatedly reworked. Walkways, streets caladees leading to the old part of the town. Town Hall installed in a building from the 18th century pyramidal Campanile. Remains of an oil press. Random path there's houses of the 16th and 17th s. and 18th century.
At the exit on the left (1 km): 2 square towers, ruins of the medieval castle.
2 km on the left after Cotignac: Prieuré Saint-Martin, roman building on the site of the original village.
•    Sillans-la-Cascade: medieval walls with latest crenellated towers. The castle is a construction of strict composition. (Pay visits, exhibitions) A signposted dirt road (800 m) leads to a waterfall. Bresque (45 m) waterfall, eroding banks of Tuff and form mirrors of water structures. Unexpected Equatorial atmosphere in Provence due to the high humidity of the air and the tangle of vines and Ivies.
3 km left after Sillans: chapel Saint-Barnabé (1882).
•    Fox-Amphoux: her thin figure emerges from a sea of oak. Charming site suspended out of time. Place planted Hackberry: closest to the Church would have been planted in 1638 in accordance with the rules laid down by Sully, Minister of Henri IV, who had given the order to plant a tree on the square of all the parishes of France. Formerly used for the production of hay forks, the Hackberry is still used today for the sleeves of whips and tools.
•    Restored Romanesque church. Steeple, campanile. Narrow alleys, houses of 17th century and 18th s. dated lintels.
•    Birthplace of Barras who contributed to the fall of Robespierre in 1794. In the presbytery, ex-voto of the captain Barras. His ship 'La Sardine' had blocked access to the port of Marseille following a wrong maneuver during a storm. The mishap barras feeds a legend in which one joking saying that in Marseille a sardine is able to block the port.
Northwest, in a cave: Chapel Notre-Dame de Bon Secours.
•    Pontevès: village clinging to a shoulder of the mountain of the small Bessillon. Ruined towers of Château de Pontevès, powerful family who played an important role in Provence, especially at the time of the wars of religion.
Place: Church of 17th century recently renovated and equipped with a pretty pink plaster. Octagonal tower topped by a Bell Tower of the 18th century.
Tour 5: Gréoux-les-Bains
At the start of Gréoux-les-Bains 67km loop through Esparron-de-Verdon, Quinson, Montmeyan, Vinon-sur-Verdon and return to Gréoux-les-Bains. Way.
•    Gréoux-les-Bains: spa town dominated by the boot of his castle. The renovated former core, with the exception of the rue du Vieil Horloge unfolds in a semi-circle at the foot of the Castle. An avenue bordered by chestnut trees leads to the thermal baths hotels. Portal of the old clock and Tower truncated to the first enclosure (12th - 13th s.). Rue des Remparts: vestige of the second city. Castle of the Knights Templar (M.H.): Tower of the 12th century, flanked to a rectangular building elongated South (13th - 14th century) which houses a courtyard reserved and Gallery. Round tower: addition of the 17th century. The Castle has been widely modernized to 18th century owned by the municipality since 1977, it is being restored. (Concerts in the courtyard in summer.)
•    Church of Notre Dame des Ormeaux: nave of Romanesque origin to lateral extensions of the 14th s. and XVIIth century.
•    The spa was already used by the Romans. A stele, exposed in the hotel thermal, dedicated to the «nymphis griselicis» (nymphs of Gréoux) certifies this occupation and provides information on the etymology of the city. The sulphurous waters used to treat rheumatism, the models and the affections of the respiratory tract attract more than 30,000 patients per year and deeply influence the local economy.

The Templars in Greoux?

Their presence in Gréoux is very hypothetical. A canopy at the beginning of the 18th s. and a physician half a century later note in their logbooks a trip "to the land of the Knights Templar".
"Any documentary evidence confirms the occupation of the Templars" specifies the Société scientifique et Littéraire des Basses-Alpes (in bulletin No. 285; pp 159-170). The documents describe only that the castle was managed by the College Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem of 1307-1319-22. Gréoux dam: retained Earth on the Verdon of 260 m thick at the base. Built in 1967, it retains 85 million m3 of water and feeds Vinon plant and the canal de Provence.
•    Esparron-de-Verdon: old village cut in two by the ravine of the Sorbiou. Modest but homogeneous village architecture. The Castle Dungeon: powerful and elegant quadrangular Tower of the XII-XIV e s. m.h. pierced with slits (slits specifically designed for shooting archery and crossbow) on 3 levels.
•    Several main buildings arranged around a narrow courtyard of the 16th-17th s. (private). Side wing of the 17th century, resumed work in 1780. Church of St. Andrew: stripped CA. 1710 houses with Gothic elements. Bell Tower of the 17th century.
•    Since the water of the dam in 1967, Esparron became a popular tourist resort.
•    Quinson: on the edge of the artificial lake, the village has preserved its ancient architecture circumscribed inside the remains of the enclosure. Two square towers overcome XIV e s 2 portals. One offers 2 parallel round arches and opens onto the main street. The other a broken arc and one of semicircular arches. Church of our Lady of the Plan on a shaded plot. Restored in the 19th century. The pressed against the walls date from the 14th century covered passageways.Fountains and lavoirs outside the enclosure. Quinson dam, which began in 1972, fits into the vast complex of deductions on the Verdon and the Durance.
•    It is one of the centerpieces of the hydro-electric production in the region.
Five dams were erected on the Verdon. The eldest is that of Castillon, the cadet is that of Sainte-Croix. The water supply that they store are for the expansion of urbanization on the var coast.
•    Montmeyan: stretched on a lookout, the village emerges from a cresting hills individualized between the cultivated Plains. Rounds: legacy of the fortifications.Streets in stairs, walkways.
•    Romanesque church recorded in the 17th century and restored in 1880.
•    Vinon-sur-Verdon: primitive village originally perched on a Knoll at the mouth of the Verdon. The Verdon dammed at the beginning of the 19th century allowed urbanization in right bank and plain. Large shaded square where once gathered the herds that rode spend the summer in Alpine. Plane trees were planted by the shepherds of Arles. Church Saint-Sauveur restored in 1854. The clock tower of the 17th century, enough of a campanile. Streets in slopes, modest remains of the fortifications. Crops vegetable to supply urban markets. We grow «coco» de Viñón, clans used bean soup with pesto.

Les Charbonnières

The manufacture of charcoal was an activity common in Provence. After the first world war the consumption was dropped in favor of black coal balls.
The ancient technique of manufacture of charcoal was very painful.
Charbonnier or "Samuel", often of Piedmontese origin or Italian, first overwhelmed a platform, then piled wood around a fireplace. The wheel was then covered with Earth and then detonated.
Carbonization lasted several days and required constant monitoring.
Even today the traces of this activity marked the landscape on the edge of the roads of Western Haut-Var and the Valensole plateau: the piles of blocks of stone, roughly placed in a circle.

Circuit 6: Valensole

Departure of Valensole, 39km, easy, loop through Allemagne-en-Provence, Saint-Martin-de-Brômes, Gréoux-les-Bains and return Valensole.
•    Allemagne-en-Provence: Village with houses built of pebbles, nestles at the bottom of a drained by the Colostre depression. Campanile over the Town Hall.Church: choir flat chevet, chocher-arcade of 13th century aisle of the XVIth century.
•    Castle of the late 15th-early 16th century (open summer, temporary exhibitions). It has a square shape. The North-South oriented body is flanked by two round towers. Devastated and pillaged during the revolution, and then transformed into a Hay loft. Very degraded in 1882, it was restored and rebuilt in full in the upper part in Louis XII style with windows at gables carved seated Lions. Aliasing dates from this time. Planted course of exotic species.
•    Saint-Martin of brominated: at the bedside of the imposing keep, the village sprawls following the contour lines in a mess of roofs in the vein of the Provençal tradition. Church (M.H.) low and massive dates back to the 10th-12th s. second nave added in the 16th century on the southern flank. Arches fall on carved brackets. Bell Tower with pyramidal arrow. Dungeon (M.H.): Tower of the 14th century with machicolation, lightweight boss unit. On the ground floor: Museum housing a beautiful Gallo-Roman collection. Given the time of construction of the Tower, it is improper to assign it to the Templars: their order, in fact, was dissolved at the beginning of the 14th century. Narrow passages in stair glide under vaults. In the main street: geminate Bay House.
•    Bel-Air: several distilleries installed on the edge of the plain.

The traditional architecture of the Valensole plateau

Lack of available on-site (quarries, rubble...) building stones, the villages of the Valensole plateau are built with these beautiful patina mealy, Golden rollers. Alumni have demonstrated creativity and local expertise in implementing these dull pebbles related to fat lime. Only the most sensitive parts (angles chains, frames) were treated with stronger and more expensive materials: brick or cut stone.

Circuit 7: Valensole

At the beginning of Valensole, loop 57 km, medium, passing by Brunet, La Bégude Blanche, as post and return Valensole.
•    Valensole: develops on the slopes of a depression, protected from the mistral, in a tangle of roofs. A contrast between the frame of the lower marked town of urbanity (heights and arrangements of the coated facades, doorways) and the houses erected at the top of the village which denote an architecture linked to agricultural activity (houses walk-in or on a floor, great discounts, rollers and related masonry Portal) are "intramural" observed.
•    Church of St. Blaise: the flat chevet of the 14th century choir soars majestically. It is lighted by six lancets forming glass windows, while in Provence bedside tables are usually obscure. Nave of the 19th century in its present appearance. Campanile of 18th century Crown of a wrought iron railing. Place Thiers: Stone fountain, of the 17th century (M.H.).
•    Place called "Bars", one can see the Valley of the Durance and the northern foothills of the Luberon. The road climbs the Valley Asse, flat-bottomed cultivated and forested rectilinear slopes. The capricious torrent ASSE hack the Valensole plateau.
•    Brunet: village mid-slope. Beautiful glance from the road. Remains of a feudal Castle. Church rebuilt in the 19th century.
•    Bras d'asse: for lovers of old stones, the rise of the old village book the ruins of flanked castle towers, a wall of enclosure and housing. In the village: classical Church of s. 17th and 19th century.
•    La Bégude-Blanche: linear hamlet.
The laces of the ramp that are staked saving sources. To the post of such: panorama 360 °, from the Alps to the coastal ranges. On the plateau, we cross again some trunks tormented almond. The huge grain silo bears witness to the transformation of cropping patterns.

Genesis of the Valensole plateau

At the end of the tertiary era, Alpine breakouts formed mountain ranges, which have been eroded by the action of a torrential regime. Pebbles coming down from the Alps were rolled and dull before you settle on the huge fan of the region of Valensole. To measure the accumulation of pebbles, Sands and clays, reception basin sagged under their weight. They called this knot: the puddingstone. The maximum thickness of this deposit can reach 1300 m.

The Valensole plateau

This vast plateau of about 800 km2 presents a monotonous model brunifie ground. The great affluent valleys of the Durance, Rencure-Bléone, Asse and Verdon cut up in large tables, inclined towards the Southwest and more or less dissected.
This monotony of terrain exacerbates colors, aromas of almond trees crying in myriads of petals white, stormy purples of lavender, wheat curled obediently downwind.Each season is a delight. This space largely turned to agriculture is the favorite cereal, lavender and bee-keeping. The walls of the rectilinear slopes are dressed to a thick copses consisting primarily of oak. A program of irrigation will be progressively implemented and will result in a change in the landscape.
Term 4 000 ha. cultivable will be equipped. The grouping of agricultural development (GDA) plant experimental orchards, which prove to be promising. The objective is to propose a few years on the European market of quality fruit, as for example: "mountain potato", a golden pink-faced, pistol (variety of plum that was dried... and highly appreciated by the Chinese Mandarins in the last century). Traditional crops such as almonds and truffle will be developed.

Circuit 8: Riez

At the beginning of Riez, loop 41km, easy, passing through Roumoules, Puimoisson, Valensole and return Riez.
•    Riez: endearing town of Provencal look headed by Hill Saint-Maxime. The town retains traces of its former splendour. A careful visit through the centuries is highly recommended. A Roman colony was established in the plain on the edge of the Colostre. Four Corinthian columns in grey granite planted in the fields involve the visitor. With the architrave in limestone they support, they could be the remains of a part of a temple dedicated to Apollo. (Their bases and their capitals are marble.)
•    Gallo-Roman collections are grouped at the Museum opened lapidary in the baptistery (ME.), which is one of the few early Christian remains (life-VIIe s.) of Gaul (visit: addressing the O.)T.). octagonal in plan, it houses a baptismal pool in its chorus. It is topped with a dome of the 12th century that builds on eight columns of granite with capitals for re-use (taken from a Roman monument). Saint-Sol North holder and Ayguiere in the levant: remains of the fortifications of s XIV.
•    In the high street: hotel of Mazan, architectural jewel of 16th century mullioned windows with wide stairs to gypsery. The vaults, cross of pending key edges, are based on twisted balusters. The hotel acquired by the Ministry of Culture will soon host an archaeological museum and the lapidary Museum. In the high street: two houses with medieval facades and a large house Oriel.
•    Cathedral: erected 1490 in 1524, repeatedly repaired. Little interest if (an organ from 1847) furniture and tables.
•    At the Town Hall, old episcopal Palace of the 15th c., embellished in the 17th - 18th s.: Museum Nature in Provence. Chapelle Saint - Maxime (M.H.) of 17th century with ancient columns in reinvestment.
At the exit of Riez: campaign Castle (private) from the family of Clerissy from its origins. Faïence Moustiers, they showed the latitude for the use of earthenware on the polychrome tiles in autumnal shades that cover the side pavilions.
•    Roumoules: like Rome, the village is surrounded by seven hills. Restaurant in a building from the turn of the 17th - 18th s. Architecture domestic roofs tight, safe from which the plums dried in the «soleilhas.
•    Puimoisson: witness of the village architecture favouring the masses horizontal rather than vertical to minimize the right-of-way to the mistral.
•    Church Saint-Michel in 1496. Around 1120, the Bishop of Riez gave it to the Hospitallers of Saint - John of Jerusalem. Building his possessions, the commandery became one of the most powerful order had in Provence. Gothic portal blazing frame of high pinnacles in florets. The look of the portal is stunted if compared to the works of the North of the France, but with that of the Church of Aups, they represent the only memories in Provence of Mannerist art.
•    Nave of 3 bays on vaulting. Steeple de1741. The two fortified gates testify to the presence of the Castle destroyed in the Revolution.

Lavender and lavandin

The Romans already pedicure bath with Lavender but also used it to the wounds of war. The flower of lavender has long picked in the Provencal Garrigue before becoming a plant grown in the 20th century.
The flower of lavender is recognizable by its very camphoraceous odor. The harvest took place in July-August. It takes 300 kg of flower to get a litre of gasoline.
All production is not distilled. There are bags of dried flowers.
Lavender has many medicinal properties. Its essence as well as fine Lavender are appreciated for luxury perfumery.
But culture is in decline due to competition from synthetic products and imports from Europe East and, in particular, Bulgaria.
In the 1930s has spread the cultivation of lavender. It is a hybrid that offers yields approximately two times higher than the lavender. He replaced it in areas of average mountain and more particularly on the Valensole plateau. Although its essence is of a lower quality, it is used in the cosmetic industry.
Bees get drunk this blue flower pollen and produce a honey lavender and lavandin much appreciated.

Truffles or rabasse

The truffle is traditionally harvested in the Provence and the Var departments that produce about a dozen tonnes per year. They are mostly marketed under the name "Perigord Truffles.
The truffle is an ascomycete fungus fruiting bodies that we consume have the appearance of tubers.
They formed underground, between 10 and 20 cm deep, usually in the vicinity of the roots of oak or Hazel.
Particular climatic conditions increase the production (summer rains and mild winter).
"Lou rabassié" harvest the truffles helped a hog or truffle dog, which thanks to its sense of smell detects the fungus in the soil.

Circuit 9: Aups

At the beginning of Aups, 63 km loop, average, passing through Salernes, Villecroze, Entrecasteaux, Lorgues, Flayosc, Tourtour and return Aups.
•    AUPs: nestles at the foot of the slopes of the mountain of the Espiguieres basin of reception which feeds springs and fountains singing in the town.
•    Remains of the fortifications of the 12th century and 16th s.: door of the areas to the North, the clock tower (M.H.) surmounted by a Bell Tower wrought iron balustrade, Watchtower so-called Saracen Tower.
•    Narrow streets lined by high façades retain the freshness.
•    Church Saint - Pancrace (M.H.) in provencal Gothic style of the 15th-16th century s. Portal to large framed eardrum with a low bow. Gables in florets trimmed foliage. Church square: a fountain bears a pyramid high in memory of the fallen Republicans in 1851, with the buttonhole one sprig of thyme or farigoule, emblem of the mountain. Var railed during the coup d ' état of Napoléon III in 1851. The insurrection was crushed in Aups, where there were dozens of dead.
•    Salernes: the village develops tentaculairement at the foot of the ruins of a feudal Castle.
•    Romanesque church of 13th century, enlarged in the 16th s. and 17th s. beautiful facade in stone. Two bell towers including a shield surmounted by a cosmological campanile in iron balls. Old picturesque streets that good Fisch cuisine at spices around noon. Revolution Square: large octagonal pool fountain) Street J - J. Rousseau: Chapel of the 17th s. recessed between two houses. Walks on the wooded pines and majestic Oaks hillside.
Villecroze, it may shorten the circuit to join Tourtour and Aups.
•    Villecroze: A church arises in the heart of a combe wooded hacking a cliff of Tuff. Beautiful park of 2 ha. A cascade forming concretions tumbles nearly 40 m. managed caves (visit in summer) by warlords in the 16th century, remains of windows to cross to mullions on the rock wall.
•    Parish Church of the 18th century clock tower: former Dungeon next to the Castle. Narrow streets in stairs. Vaulted passages, fountains.
400 m in the direction of Salerno, a beautiful Romanesque church redesigned is adjacent to the cemetery.
•    Entrecasteaux: old village set on a promontory in an elbow of the Bresque. The castle: vast building elongated overlooking the village goes back beyond the 17th century in its present appearance. It is based on medieval foundations. Wrought iron balconies of 18th century beautiful ordering of window with small tiles.Access by a cobblestone ramp.
•    French garden designed by architect ours: alleys of boxwood in double row, chestnut, Hackberry and pièce d'eau.
•    The partly Romanesque Saint-Sauveur Church keeps track of its fortifications: machicolations of three Ravens double roller on the Western side. The only collateral is based on an arch over the street. The Bell Tower bears an inscription dated 1682.
•    Village at the old narrow streets. Lintels to coat of arms. Town Hall in a chapel of the white Penitents of the 17th century. Two 17th century bridges cross the Bresque.
In the direction of Saint-Antonin: terraces of culture where to remain still a few olive trees under the pine trees.
•    Saint-Antonin: village erupted in hamlets. Largely restored chapel, three-Bay arcades and balusters gemelled away from large oaks.
•    Our Lady of Benva: Provençal "good way". The porch spanned the path of d'Entrecasteaux. Naive frescoes of the 16th century, which represents St. Christopher, patron of travellers. Can be seen through the window in illuminating an electric torch.
•    Lorgues: big village located in hillside, in the heart of a rich agricultural and wine-growing terroir. Collégiale Saint - Martin (M.H.) of the 18th century (open all year). Inside: choir decorated with woodwork, owns "piéta" marble which allegedly was carried out by Pierre Puget. Rich furnishings. Doors (Trebarry and Sarrasine): remains of the likely speaker of the 14th s. and not 12th s. as assert some works.
•    Belfry or tower of the clock at the campanile dated 1623. In the old centre: fountains and houses in the old architectural elements; lintels, arches, irons forged;communal bread oven; oil mill, remnant of a lapsed activity, transformed into art gallery (open to public).
•    Old courthouse erected in 1768, at the Louis XV gate.
•    On the course: Carrara marble fountain from the nut of the 18th century.
•    At the top of the course: City Hall, classical façade to the pediment bearing the coat of arms of the city.
•    Flayosc: the terraced facades of the old buildings form wall and enclose an Acropolis.
•    The Church mentioned from the 11th century dates from the 16th and 17th s... The unit stone disappeared under the plaster. Large canvas of the 18th century in the bedside. Square Tower of the Bell Tower with a campanile in cage very slightly ornate bulbee (late 18th century). Remains of the fortifications of the 14th century: Paris porte to the corridor Oriel on its inner face. Fountains on the places of the Republic and the Reinesse.
•    Tourtour: village perched overlooking a hilly landscape, appears as a ship of the stone afloat on a sea of pine trees and olive groves. Church Saint-Denis at the top of the rocky spur: original Romanesque, in the 14th century and 20th s. Castle of 16th c. equipped with large round towers. It houses the Town Hall, the post and the school. Elm trees that have been planted on order of Sully in 1638. Chapel of the 17th century, with a porch that crosses the road and a Bell Tower-mitre. Narrow streets, vaulted passages. A "most beautiful villages of France".
•    Frames, chains of angles in Tuff, carved lintels. Old restored (private) Castle and remains of the ramparts. Remains of a mill to oil out of the village.
•    Tour of the Grimaud (12th century) at 800 m in the direction of Ampus.


Sedimentary rock which marks the surrounding landscape, it owes its name of the "Leases" place near Arles in the chain of the Alpilles where it was discovered in 1821. Formed in the secondary era by alteration of argillaceous rocks under a tropical climate, its mineralogical components are mainly carbohydrates alumina, silica and iron oxide.
The Var produces the Red bauxite base aluminum metallurgy. F. Berthier, french chemist found the interest of bauxite, highlighting its alumina content.
4 tons of bauxite are needed to produce one tonne of aluminum. French deposits occupying the first worldwide until 1914 represent now 5% of world production of which more than half is extracted in the Var.

Circuit 10: Aups

•    Moissac-Bellevue: village moored on a hillside. Streets in stairs, walkways. Areas to tread at the top of the village. The clock tower with a Bell Tower in the 19th century the 1838 octagonal Bell Tower adjoins the parish church restored in the 17th century former seigneurial Dovecote and noble residence of the 18th century neglected.
•    Régusse: a maze of old houses is agglutinates on an eminence above the agricultural plain and vineyards. Vestiges of the ramparts and Castle North of the village.Church of the 17th century belfry in glazed tiles. Tower of the clock of the 16th century and the 18th century Town Hall square campanile: nice frame with a hairy head stone. Two windmills ruined on the 260 CD.
•    Saint-Laurent-du-Verdon: village nestled in a plain corrugated with a few strides of his wooded hillside. Traces of the castle in reinvestment in homes. Under the Town Hall: the wash water flows into a Gargoyle current between two walls of enclosures. Houses from the eighteenth s. Rue du portail: indoor alley. Church of the 19th century Château de Castellane (late 17th-early 18th century): austere quad with 4 rounds of angles. Door arches framed by pilasters with a horizontal entablature. Converted hostellerie. Dovecotes in the Castle and the village.
•    Artignosc: stands on the lapel of a slope delivering the bluish horizon hills of the Haut-Var. Church mentioned in 1034, dates in its present state in the 17th and 19th century. Behind the Church: huge loft. A wide stone overhanging serves for the walk and the flight of pigeons. Chateau classic facade where sits the Town Hall. Access by a wide flight of steps. An angle was hollowed in ship's prow to facilitate the transition from the carts.
•    Walkway to the West of the Castle. In the maze of alleys paved: several types of lintels or frames, materials and different eras. A lintel monolithic stone is engraved a blacksmith bellows. The fountain farm: Court closed a portal arch to transom and limited by two pavilions. The nearest road retains a headband of glazed tiles. To the right of the road: fountain and pools.
•    Baudinard: village which continues on its Cardo Maximus, transverse axis (usually the only one of the ancient cities and by extension of the medieval towns).Alleys and side breakthroughs allow exchanges.
•    Street of the past: an androne rushes under a House and leads to the rue des Jardins, jealously enclosed by walls. Vestiges of the donjon of the 15th c. Church of 17th century beautiful view from the chapel Notre-Dame located on the Hill.

Sainte-Croix dam

Downstream of the restraint, the Verdon sneaks into the gorges of Baudinard. The Arch of pont Saint-Sylvestre connects the Var and the Alpes de Haute-Provence.Sainte-Croix dam, put water in 1973 is a work of type thin arch. It creates a restraint with an area of approximately 2200 ha, roughly equivalent to that of Lake Annecy. The Lake is the essential element of the waterpower development of the Verdon. It serves as the water supply to the cities of Marseille, Toulon, Hyères thanks to the facilities of the Provence canal which originates downstream Greoux les Bains basin.
The water allows many nautical activities.
Bauduen: old built fabric picked up away from the cliff. Castle: great parallelepiped of 17th century disguised by plane trees. Transformed into a family holiday home.Capped or vaulted, passages arranged under the procession of facades of the foot of town leading to the heart of Bauduen.
Beautiful unit of architecture: roof lean-to (in a single pan) with dryers: the famous Provençal soleilhas, today closed by doors.
Access to the Church by a calade in donkeys no: building mainly of the 16th and 17th s. apse in oven ass earlier. Square belfry.

The terraces of dry stone or restanques

There are still terraces or "bancau" as they are called in Provence, land of the stone, there where urban sprawl or vice versa the exodus and the abandonment of the land do not have trained their destruction. The terraces hold the Earth in a steep area, they allow the creation of horizontal tables and increase the cultivable surface.Their implementation requires a lot of penalty and requires compliance with rules of construction that the elders passed to each generation.
They are the result of a careful removal of the fields. This stone clutters plots, interfere with cultivation: also two solutions are available to the user: either the store and him summarily wholesale piling heap "rabbit hutches" or "little" or use it in the construction of terraces, solution when land is scarce or promising of a good report.
The terraces of culture correspond to a period of agricultural growth in the 18th century and early 19th century. There are terraces well kept and maintained in the vineyards of coteaux. They create a reshaping of slopes, protect the vineyards from the winds and allow good drainage of the soil without causing gully erosion.
We talk about dry stone terraces in the case where the terraces of culture are exclusively built stone without the use of binder or mortar.

Annot's streets
Annot's streets

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