Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Views of Grimaud

Overlooking Grimaud from the château showing part of a restored round tower on the far left.
I have already written about Var’s ‘Little Venice’ - the modern 20th century town of Port Grimaud, but just a few kilometres further inland, is the original medieval town of Grimaud.
Framing the church of St Michel through a slit window.
This village is dominated by the 11th century Château de Grimaud, which originally had a round tower at each of the four corners of the fortifications.

The château was strategically situated above the narrow pass along the Garde river valley, which takes you across the Massif des Maures to inland Provence.
It is high enough to command marvellous views over the surrounding countryside and across to the Mediterranean.

Unfortunately, in the 17th century, the château was torn down on the orders of Cardinal Richlieu, and today only the ruins remain, dominating the town below.

It is not a difficult climb to the château and the effort is certainly worth it for the fantastic views.

Take time to wander through the ruins and try to imagine what it might have once looked like.
The views across the countryside from the slit openings in the towers are like paintings framed in stone.

The last surviving moulin beside the Garde river.
Fortunately part of the château has been rebuilt, including some of the towers, archways and walkways.
The château is surrounded by crenelated battlements that measure up to seven metres high, and were once part of a triple-walled enclosure.
There is a section along here where outdoor performances are held in summer.

From the château, you can look northwards towards the Maures and see below the last surviving 17th century windmill of St Roch, once called the Moulin de la Gardiolle. 

There were once a number of such mills built along the waterway.
The old stone tower and blades were renovated in the 1990s which today gives you a good idea of what the original string of windmills along the banks of the Garde river must have looked like.

If you climb high enough  on the other side of the château, you can take in the view over the terracotta-roofed town of Grimaud below, dominated by the 12th century church of St Michel with its square clock tower.

The crenelated battlements that surround the château with the blue Mediterranean in the distance.
Grimaud has some good restaurants, a bakery (the patissier used to live just a few doors down from us in Les Arcs), and some lovely streets to wander through and explore, including low vaulted passageways and extra-narrow medieval streets.
There are two ways to reach the town from Les Arcs-sur-Argens. You can travel to Grimaud from Ste Maxime around the gulf.
I prefer to go over the Maures from Les Arcs, via the beautiful little inland town of La Garde-Freinet, travelling high up along a winding road through the hills covered in cork oak, chestnut and pine trees.

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