Le golfe de St-Tropez Pays des Maures
Former maritime trading post founded by the Greeks in the heart of a magnificent Bay or "Golfe", Saint-Tropez benefits from a privileged location on the Mediterranean coast. In the early 20th century, many celebrated artists and writers described the beauty and quality of light of this small fishing port, so launching Saint-Tropez's exceptionally famous name-a name that still resounds the world over. Coveted today by the international elite and a major tourist destination, Saint-Tropez remains a beautiful site set against the unspoiled and extremely peaceful landscapes of the Maures hills.
What to see: SAINT-TROPEZ
Saint Tropez owes its name to one of Neron's former officers "Torpes". After converting to Christianity, he was persecuted and his body was washed up on the shores of the Bay. The town's history is fascinating and complex. Battles, economic difficulties and upturns marked the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Saint-Tropez then began to attract numerous artists, such as Signac, who contributed largely to its international renown. The inter-was period then the 50's and 60's brought celebrities from the world of culture, literature and cinema to the town. These famous names anchored Saint-Tropez's legendary reputation as a place for both quality of life and partying and turned it into the major tourist destination we know today.
SAINT-TROPEZ PENINSULA AND ITS VILLAGES
Vineyards are everywhere, adding to the beauty of the little villages spread throughout the "Presqu'ile de Saint-Tropez"; all famous for their delicious Cotes de Provence wines. Set inland, away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches, their picturesque charm makes for delightful excursions. Places to visit include Ramatuelle, a small and typically Provencal village, Gassin, an ancient fortified village with its age-old nettle trees, La Croix-Valmer overlooking the Bay of, Cavalaire and Grimaud, with its feudal castle.
Locally referred to as "Little Venice", this small and unusual village of Grimaud is a maze of canals, tiny streets and bridges. Built in 1966 on ancient marshes, the owner's of its delightful Provencal-style houses can moor their boats right in front of their windows. The port can be visited on foot or by boat.
L'Esterel Pays de Fayence
The huge volcanic range known as the Esterel plunges its giant blocks of red rock into the Mediterranean Sea. Located on the aptly named "Corniche d'Or", or Golden Coast Road, Saint-Raphael is a large and world-renowned seaside resort. Just down the road, Frejus shimmers with the splendour of its rich Roman, Mediaeval and Episcopal past. Set on the foothills of the Southern Alps, the Fayence area of "Pays de Fayance" is composed of small villages clinging to the mountain faces; their ancient city walls and fortified castles, some of which are still visable, were formerly used to protect them from invaders coming from the sea.
What to see: FREJUS
Roman City. Set on a sandstone rock overlooking Argens plateau, the ancient Roman city of Forum Julii was a busy urban center. Located on the ancient Roman Road or "Voie Aurelienne" leading from Rome to Narbonne, Frejus occupied an important economic and military position in the "Provincia Romana". Not to be missed: Amphitheatre, Threatre, Roman Gate, Aqueduct, Roman Walls, Archaeological museum. Bullfighting is held every year in the arena.
Episcopal City. The Bishopric was first set up in Frejus in around 370. The Episcopal buildings comprise the Cloister, built in the 11th and 12th centuries, the Provost's house, the Cathedral (11th century) erected on the site of the former Merovingian building, the Baptistery built in the 5th century and the Episcopal Palace built in the early 14th century.
The town has always been renowned for its quality of life. In the 19th century, the brilliant civil engineer Felix Martin took advantage of the railway line installed in 1864 to turn Saint-Raphael into a coveted resort. Frequented by many artists, the town became the favourite model of Eugene Fromentin and also welcomed such prestigious guests as Picasso, Ziem, Apollinaire and St-Exupery. Not to be missed: Church of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon (12th century), archaeological museum, Belle Epoque villas on the seat front.
THE HILLTOP VILLAGES OF THE FAYENCE AREA
From time immemorial, man has sought refuge on the rocky spurs of the Fayence area. The area's many fortified villages provided very efficient protection against invaders. Remains of the ancient city walls and fortified gates can still be seen in Fayence. The villages of Callian, Montauroux, Mons and Bagnols-en-Foret have preserved all their former charm and offer an extremely rich cultural and historical heritage. The ochre-coloured houses of Seillans, classified as one of Fayence's villages, are a delight. Dame de l'Ormeau well worth a visit.