Exploring  French Villages. 

My journey through some more of the villages of this Var region continues with my No 1 driver Margaret.

This time we headed north and then west. Check it out on the map from the last blog.

I’m always excited to be heading to new villages. Will they contain a surprise? Will they move me in some way? Or will they be too touristy?

So as we drove along I thought of the features that make these villages so………French.

We headed out on road D 22 toward Sillans. Or it’s full name Sillans la Cascade. It’s a pretty drive and you come upon it quite quickly,  around a bend and you have to stop at the traffic light. These lights only allow one way traffic through the narrow part of the village. This is where we came for the Saffron Festival. It’s reached by walking up a little hill which circles the area containing the cafes. It’s not a ‘Place’ like the ones found in many other villages,  so this one is slightly different.

Sillans has little winding streets, a bell tower and some colourful pots on doorstepS and at windows. And lots of stone walls.

Further down the D22 we reached Aups. I’ve been here before. It has a lovely entrance and lots of winding  streets and it has the beautiful clock tower with its campanile. It has a rather large memorial to those lost in the war. It was a stronghold of the French resistance. It is also well known as a truffle centre.

On we went along the D9 to Moissac- Bellevue, a hill town. There aren’t as many hill towns in this area so this stands out. It’s beautiful colours – all muted pinks and terracotta and as you wind up you arrive at a little Place ( or piazza as they are called in Italy). It has a very large fountain, another feature of all French villages.


This fountain dominates the small Place

It’s clock tower and campanile is once again beautiful and as we sat we heard its bells.


The bell tower in Moissac

I’m becoming a little addicted to the iron work on these bell towers. Such a feature in each village as we arrive. This village is small and very well looked after. There would only be about 200 occupants and they look after it well. It was very quiet as we walked the few little streets that make up the village.


Only the birds to keep us company in Moissac

We had a cafe creme  in the only little restaurant in the village and there was only one other little business which was also the Office de Tourism.

The view from the lookout near the fountain across the bouleadrome, was wonderful


The War Memorial,  with its small list of names,  sat proudly with a bird sitting on the cock at the top. Quite a sight.

Along the D271 and five km later we entered Regusse. It’s little Grand Rue was lined with about 4 cafes. There were shady trees and a great view of the church, the Notre Dame de la Misericorde with its glazed bell tower.

Once again the clock tower and its iron work bell tower is lovely.

We wandered the streets and saw some children enjoying a game.

We saw a man working on his jeep and it reminded me of Steve and his jeep.

We continued west and drove slowly through Tavernes. Not the prettiest of villages but it had the features I’ve been talking about.

The campanile was lovely.

We arrived at Varages and parked  near the Domaine Huile which we visited and spoke to the beautiful young girl who was reading an English book. The olive oil products were many and varied and showed how important olive trees are in this area.

This village is not  touristy,  so it had a very local feel. People stopping for their bread – double parking,  while they run returning with a baguette under their arm. Waving to or double kissing their friends in greeting.

Another thing  that distinguishes a French village. The boulangerie.

Off to the Cafe for a cool drink and to watch the locals interact. The campanile rang out 12 bells and the businesses started to close.

The florist came over to the fountain and submerged a big potted fern and carried it back to his shop.

The memorial stood tall and acted as a roundabout. Part of everyday life. Yet a constant reminder.

The heat of the day slowed people down.

What would they be doing during the siesta?

So ….. What are the features that are common to all the villages I have been:

A campanile with beautiful iron work

A main fountain and lots of little fountains.

A war Memorial

Blue shutters

Colourful potted plants

A boulangerie – often with a queue.

Pretty cafes with coloured umbrellas.

A bouleadrome

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