La Garde-Freinet, hidden gem of Provence | EUROtoday

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The Guard-Freinet

In the hills of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, within the Var division, La Garde-Freinet is without doubt one of the prettiest little villages you doubtless by no means heard of. It is without doubt one of the well-known perched cities of this sun-kissed nook that represents the quintessence of the historical past, artwork and allure of previous Provence, the place steep cobbled streets and shaded squares are lined with flower-festooned stone homes, artists' galleries and welcoming eating places. , and the views over the Maures Mountains to the Mediterranean are merely elegant. This is a city that's properly price a detour from swanky Saint-Tropez, simply 21 km away.

What to see and do in La Garde-Freinet

A thousand years in the past there have been two distinct components to La Garde-Freinet – the highest of the hill the place the chateau as soon as sat with its commanding views and relative security from invaders, and the village beneath. But by the 13th century, the decrease village proved extra fashionable because it was simpler to succeed in and extra spacious. Today, the views from the hilltop ruins of Fort Freinet, a listed web site with a formidable 140m lengthy dry moat gouged into the cliff, are dazzling, searching over the panorama, the Pre-Alps, the Maures Massif and over to the bluest of seas, the Mediterranean, a soul inspiring panorama.

The enchanting city, reached by a winding highway, has an genuine Provencal vibe, a spot of tinkling fountains and pastel-coloured homes. Awarded the label 'village of character within the Var' and 'Remarkable Natural Site,' La Garde-Freinet has lengthy attracted artists, together with actors Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson whose dwelling, the Nid de Duc, was a magnet for the worldwide jet set. and artwork crowd in search of paradise in France. David Hockney was a frequent customer and, captivated by the nice and cozy mild and dramatic surroundings, featured their dwelling and the panorama in a lot of works, together with one in every of his most well-known: Pool with Two Figures. Christopher Tolkien, son of JRR Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame, had a house subsequent to the 17th century Chapel of Saint-Jean.

It's simple to see what attracts folks to this lovely village. Picturesque alleyways and slim passages, generally carved out of rock, result in hidden treasures, a spring water fountain, homes which might be minute architectural masterpieces, and historic monuments together with an historical washhouse and the 15th century church of St Clement. It is a village that feels as if time has stood nonetheless.

Sundays and Wednesdays are market days within the aptly named Place du Marché, and the sleepy village bursts into life, because the terraces of cafés and eating places fill with glad consumers having fun with the native produce.

La Garde-Freinet was a hub of chestnut manufacturing with centuries previous chestnut orchards. You can discover out extra on the Conservatoire du Freinet which promotes native manufacturing of silk, chestnut and cork farming with exhibitions. The Conservatoire additionally organises workshops for adults and kids, and guided excursions of the village and its environment. At the Ferme de Blandine, a household run, natural micro-farm near the city within the Massif des Maures, you may go to (ebook upfront) to seek out out extra about chestnut manufacturing. The household picks and kinds the fruit by hand, dry them over a wooden fireplace for a number of weeks and grinds them to make flour.

And in case you're fortunate sufficient to be on the town on the final two Sundays in October, be a part of within the enjoyable on the well-known Fête de la Châtaigne within the coronary heart of the village, the place you may style chestnut every part from ice cream to liqueur, muffins, bread, jam, and La Garde-Freinet's well-known marrons glacés!

For an uncommon go to, head to the Coudou Rossell workshop the place artisans Maxime and Benjamin create santons, small collectible figurines which function in nativity scenes – they're the right memento to take dwelling any time of the 12 months. And in case you're within the Gulf of St Tropez in winter, don't miss their unbelievable big crib with a number of thousand handmade santons (free entry).

In the night when the sunsets and the pink tiled roofs of the homes glow a deep ruby, you may hear the thwack of clashing balls from a recreation of petanque and the cicadas sing, sip a glass of native rosé. Famous for its pale blush – there’s nowhere extra lovely than this pickled up to now village within the hills of Saint-Tropez.

Push the boat out to Ultimate Provence, nestled within the vineyards that encompass La Garde-Freinet. The eating places are welcoming whether or not inside, on the sun-drenched rooftop terrace with views over the vineyards or absorbing the atmosphere poolside. Menus replicate native and seasonal produce and supply a real style of Provence from a superb chef. The critically glossy bar gives tastings of the estates personal fabulous wines; The bottles are artworks in themselves and make for excellent vases.

Listed on the unique, small luxurious lodges of the world checklist, the lodge gives new-wave Provencal lodging with old fashioned glamour, deeply restful, luxurious rooms with non-public terraces, a gleaming spa, beautiful gardens and a sports activities space together with a glass-walled badminton courtroom overlooking the vines.

Hiking heaven

Classified a 'Green Station' space (an eco-tourism label awarded to locations which protect nature, tradition and historic heritage), climbing right here is heavenly. Pop into the pleasant vacationer workplace situated within the Chapelle Saint-Jean, to seek out particulars of the 12 mapped walks that begin within the village, after which head out to take in the aroma of fig and chestnut bushes and benefit from the breath-taking views.

Find out extra concerning the Golfe Saint-Tropez and its many

La Garde-Freinet, hidden gem of Provence