Sunday, 7 May 2017

Our next-door village


The ancient double arched bridge that crosses the Nartuby River and links both side of the village.
I have written before about Trans-en-Provence, its puits arien and some general views over the town.
Fountain in the main square.
Located just five kilometres north of Les Arcs, it is perfectly walkable, if you don’t mind hills! In any case, it’s just a short bus-ride halfway to Draguignan.
But unless you turn into the town itself, you will miss a real gem. Trans-en-Provence is divided – twice. Firstly it is bisected by the busy D555 road from the autoroute to Draguignan and secondly by the Nartuby River that flows down from the north along steep gorges cut into the softer limestone rock.

It is here, beside the river that the town takes its shape, and presumably originated as there are old mills located along its shores, mostly as ruins.

In summer, the river is a fast-flowing, but softer, gurgling stream that refreshes. There is nothing nicer that to find a space on the wall beside the stream shaded by of one of the larger trees and watch a relaxed game of p├ętanque played on the beaten earth courts that run alongside the river.

The memorial to those who died - one name missing.
Looking towards the single-arched bridge in the distance.
But the river can also prove a threat to the town as in June 2010 when steady, heavy rain filled the narrow gorges and swept down like a raging torrent, killing almost 30 people – five in Trans-en-Provence alone – and creating millions of euros’ worth of damage to the towns and villages along the way.

Les Arcs-sur-Argens’ bill for the grande inondation came to €5 million alone and reparations are still being undertaken in the village.
There are few marks remaining on the town itself, but a sign recognises the flood – and a previous one on July 6, 1827 – both floods occurring in the stormy early summer months.

The river glides away further south in the gorge far below the village.
But strolling through Trans-en Provence is an eye-opener. The town does not look particularly spectacular from first view, so you have to make an effort to come in close. When you do, you are well rewarded with lovely little alleyways and impasses, the grand river that tumbles over rocks through the town, then falls steeply into a valley over a series of cascades to the river valley below.
There are a few cafes, but they are set on streets so narrow that your only views are parked cars. The main street is one-way. There is definitely no room for two cars to pass here – there is barely enough room for the bus as it lumbers along. I truly admire the way the drivers are able to negotiate the turns and badly parked cars without hitting anything.
Trans-en-Provence is located near a commercial hub about 500 metres north of the town, where there are giant stores like Carrefours, Maison du Monde (my favourite) and Mr Bricolage, as well a ‘Bio’ store that sells organic food – and a few too many car showrooms!
Although there is not a lot to ‘do’ in Trans, there is a feast of things to ‘see’ so it is an ideal half-day stop to see how this village has grown up around a natural feature such as this amazing river with its spectacular rocks, ruins and drop down to a leafy green river valley.