Blog Archives

Visions des Voyages en Provence

Restaurant in Centre Ville Bormes les Mimosas

Fort at Six-Fours-le-Plages

An Evening in Bandol

Chateau at Sollies-Pont

La Cure Gourmande Candy Store

Inside Fort Saint-Andre at Villeneuve-les-Avignon

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Visions of Architectural Beauty and Nature

Chateau de la Barben

Bougainvillea in Bandol

The “eglise neuve” built in 1870 in Bonnieux

The hilltop village of Callian

Le Grand Hotel in Bormes les Mimosas

Visions of Medieval Villages and Chateaux in Provence

Ruins in Villeneuve-les-Avignon

Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Another view of the Chateau in Tarascon

Village house in Grimaud

View from the hilltop of Greoux-les-Bains

Tour de l’horloge of Saint-Martin-de-Bromes

Visions of the Loveliness of Provence

Chateau in Saint-Martin

Lavender shop in Le Castellet

Pink flowers at La Citadelle in Saint-Tropez

Hilltop church in Saint Martin de Bromes

Storm day on the Mediterranean Sea at La Ciotat

Visions of the Beauty of Provence

Colza Field (aka Canola or Rapeseed) near Allemagne-en-Provence

 

Chateau du Tarascon

Ochre Fields in Roussillon

View from Saturnin-les-Apt

 

French Pastries in a Boulangerie in Sanary-sur-Mer

 

Visions of Provence

Hotel L’Orangeraie in La Croix-Valmer

La Rotonde in Aix en Provence

Window Decor in the village of Rougiers

Villeneuve-les-Avignon

Rougiers

Les Calanques near Cassis

Views From The Remnants of Le Chateau de Giens

In the VAR department of Provence there is a little village called Giens or Presqu’ile de Giens. At one time a chateau stood atop the village, but barely anything is left now. The villagers have turned the area into a beautiful little garden and what still remains offers the most spectacular views.

To one side are the Mediterranean and the iles-de-Porquerolles.

Directly on the other side are an inlet, where kite surfing and parasailing reign supreme, and a view of the surrounding hills of Provence.

The little garden is quaint and lovely, and this time of year the flowers are all in bloom.

It is neatly manicured and also houses an artist’ shop. The artist happened to be holding an exposition on this day. His does beautiful artwork, by the way. If his shop is open, feel free to browse. He allows pictures to be taken, as well.

Just above his art work that was hanging on the stone wall, you will find a plaque giving details of what transpired during history to this chateau.

To see the views you must access some steps to a balcony (which I assume was probably the ground floor of the chateau). On a clear day, the views are exceptional and this day happened to be fairly good weather wise. From this point you can also see the entire garden.

It such a peaceful place and I always enjoy seeing people out and about appreciating the beauty that these little villages have to offer. I also appreciate it when these little villages value their history enough to keep it alive for others to share and enjoy.

Le Château du Castellas

Our first outing of the season (not officially spring, yet, but it sure feels like it) was to the Château du Castellas which is located in the hills above the town of Forcalquiert.

The chateau was built in the thirteenth century and was modified in the fifteenth century before being abandoned for good in the seventeenth century. Though it was one of the strongest medieval fortresses in the Var, little is known of the goings on at this château. The history seems to be short and not very much information was documented.

From the information I found it seems that it was originally built for the Viscount de Marseille and then the following three centuries remained in the Agoult family. After going through many architectural changes it became the property of Pontevès and then Lord Hubert de Vins du Garde who was said to have massacred hundreds of villagers during the religious wars that plagued the country towards the end sixteenth century.

It was altogether abandoned during the seventeenth century as more peaceful times came upon the region and the villagers began moving down into the valley below to farm and grow crops. This area is the current site of the city of Forcalquiert.

Since 1978 the château has belonged to the community and has been the site of numerous archeological excavations. Just outside the château walls was found the remains of buildings including what seems to be a chapel.

The hike to the château is not long at all. Parking is located at the base of the hill just next to the road. Follow the dirt path (which becomes paved) up the hill. Once to the top, go left and you will see a sign that says the ruins are dangerous and access is forbidden.

Even thought it states not to enter, you can go up and see the ruins. The sign is there to let people know that they visit the site at their own risk as there is a good chance of falling rock.

The views from the top are magnificent and it is very obvious that this place was one of the most beautifully built fortresses by the large amounts of gorgeous cut stone , which has a lovely pink tint to it. There is a court yard in the middle of the ruins and several different doorways in which you can go inside to see some of the different rooms.

One area appears to be either a church or a large kitchen. There is a huge steel beam running across the top in order to reinforce the structure and the remains of what was once an enormous fireplace sits at the head of the room.

In another area there is a small alcove with a fire place and two stone cut seats near a window.

The third doorway seems to be a room with a reservoir for holding water. You have to crawl a little ways into a hole in the wall to see the room, which is full of water, and to see the hole in the roof for the rain to fall through. There is a large window in the room and a staircase that leads out and down around the outside of the château.

Traveling back through the doorway you can make your way to the left where there is a small doorway and a ledge. From up on the ledge you get a beautiful view of the town of Forcalquiert. Turn around and look up and you will definitely marvel at how the stone wall is still standing. The enormous wall has rocks that are just loosely seated and look as if a small breeze could topple them. This area is very dangerous to be in due to the falling rock so make sure you pay attention at all times and it might be wise to take a quick peak but not linger long.

Once back in the court yard, cross to the other side and make your way up an old staircase that is now in total ruins. There are two alcoves with windows that give you a terrific view of the valley below.  Just above these alcoves are the remains of a second and third story that is still standing, but just barely. This is another area that is very dangerous due to falling rock. I found it unbelievable at that height that what was left of the walls were actually still there. Due to the high winds in this area, it’s amazing that anything is left of the top stories.

Upon exiting, go straight and you will descend into an area that is flat and grassy. This could have possibly been a garden, but nothing remains there now except some of the rampart walls. Again you have a tremendous view from this point.

When leaving the château, travel back down the dirt path that you arrived on. Before descending all the way you can take a short path to the left that will bring you around the side of the château so you are able to see the ramparts and walls from a different perspective. From below looking up, you really get the sense of how grand this place must have been. It surely must have given the villagers a sense of awe when looking up at the hill on which it sits. When completely intact it must have been monumental and most likely an oppressive sign to the villagers.

It is a shame that not more of the château remains today. Over time with the towns people looting the fortress to make homes for themselves out of the rock, the weather and the wind have all taken their toll. What remains today is still very impressive and the beauty and color of the cut stone reminds you of how once an opulent place it truly was.

 

If you want to see more photos of the Château du Castellas they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

Solliès-Pont Chateau

While out and about one day we happened upon a chateau in the village of Solliès-Pont which is located near Toulon.

This chateau is actually easy to miss if your happen to not be looking out your side window (as I was) while driving by. In this modern day it’s surrounded by commerce, apartments and houses.

I love to go chateau hunting. It happens to fill me with the greatest excitement ever. It’s history happening right before my eyes and all other things around me just disappear. When I find a chateau or the ruins of one, I study everything about it. I love to walk around and touch the walls and feel every part of it. I will literally close my eyes and image what it was like to be there when it was in all its glory hundreds of years ago. I can visualize the people, the furnishings, the surrounding area and I marvel that such a thing could still be present even if it’s just the remains that are left.

On this day and with this chateau, I was able to see it as it almost was when it was built in the 16th century by the Forbin family. People like Charles IX, Catherine de Medicis and Louis XIV (who I am quite fascinated with) graced their presents here. Granted the chateau is not in the exact state it was when it was built. It had to be rebuilt after local citizens and others from Marseille set fire to it in 1792. After that, it was left in a state of disrepair. Of course today the chateau one sees has been modernized and is constantly maintained.

Nevertheless, it has stood the test of time and has its stories to tell. Whenever I have the chance to visit sites like this I really do wish walls could talk so they would tell me all that they have seen and the history that has transpired.

In April 1998, the community of Solliès-Pont purchased the chateau and park. Nowadays the chateau is host to the Office of Tourism, the police station and an art exhibition gallery amongst other things. During the month of July it is host to many outdoor concerts as it is situated on a beautiful park of several hectares. There is also a nice pond towards the back of the park that you can leisurely stroll around.

If you happen to be in the area, stop by for a visit. There is a terrific spot at the backside of the chateau to have an afternoon picnic on the lawn. This is by far the best view as you get to see the chateau, the park full of beautiful trees and the pond.

It’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family and friends and to show off the fact that you get to live in a country that has something like this!

If you want to see more photos of the Solliès-Pont Chateau they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

 

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

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