•Var (83630) • Population: 221 • Altitude: 823 m
The village is located in a touristy, and beautiful region, and most people driving through are here for visiting the Gorges de Verdon. If you're driving through here, we advise you to stop and take the time for a visit. The village is very picturesque in its own right, and is also worth a visit for its magnificent view across the Lac de Sainte Croix to the Plateau de Valensole on the far side.
The commune of Aiguines covers a very wide area, including the Verdon National Park, much of the deep canyons of the Gorges de Verdon and the wide plains of Le Grand Plan de Canjuers. The Plan de Canjuers is a wide karstic plateau (an area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns). The entire area is full of "avens", caverns and sinkholes, some quite deep and well known.
Castle. At the western end of the village, seen as you arrive from Moustier-Sainte-Marie or from the Lac de Sainte Croix, is a 17th-century Renaissance-style castle with a round tower at each corner, and colorful enamel-tiled roofs on the towers. The chateau was restored in 1913. Beside the chateau is the 17th-century Eglise paroissiale Saint-Jean, built in 1653, with a romanesque clock tower.
The village houses are clustered tightly together on the side of the rocky hill, making a pretty image, especially viewed from the grounds of the chateau [photo]. The village houses are old, and most of them are nicely restored with the Provencal pastel colors and contrasting trim of window outlines and shutters. The village streets aren't very "medieval", but still worth a walk-around. The best walks are up to the Chapel Saint Pierre at the northern end, and across to the Chateau at the southern end.
The small chapel of Saint Pierre is perched above the village at the northern end. The short walk up to the chapel and the orientation table will give you a view down across the village rooftops and give you that magnificent view out across the Lac de Saint Croix. Even higher above the village is a single broken spire of an ancient watch tower.
The central square(s) of the village, the Place de la Fontaine and the Place du Barda (side-by-side, on two levels) is large and interesting. Lined with nicely decorated houses along one side, and the campanile bell tower at one end, with its modern looking clock just above a very ancient stone sundial (cadran solaire). In front of the bell tower, and in front of Le Vieux Chateau hotel-restaurant, is a white-marble "monumental" fountain, with a tall tower-like top and four face profiles for the water spouts.
The sundial (cadran solaire) is monochrome, engraved white marbel, possibly relocated to this tower. It's engraved "1785", and has a motto that we can't make out. The iron pointer (gnome) is an addition, mounted well below the stub of the original, and therefore not placed to be useful.
The hills and mountains are covered with beech and oak forests, and the box ("buis") grows nearby, including deep in the Gorges du Verdon. In the 18th and 19th centuries, box wood was used to make "boules" (the balls for petanque), chess pieces and other items turned on wood lathes. Because of this, Aiguines long ago developed a wood-turning industry, producing various articles, including "boules". The village still has wood turning on a small scale, as well as potters and santonniers.
DINING. Aiguines is an excellent place for dining, so you should consider planning a lunch or dinner stop here. We found a number of places open on a Saturday in February, and there would be even more possibilities during the summer. We had lunch in the Rive Gauche (the Left Bank) at the Place de la Fontaine. Charming decor, excellent ambience and service, and a delicious plat du jour for 11 euros.
Three km southwest of the village is the 18th-century Chateau de Chanterain, with the remains of a tower and a chapel. The GR99 trail passes beside, and an equisterian center is located there. About 5 km southeast of Aiguines, on the Plan de Canjuers, is the Ferme de La Médecine, said to have housed the last sorciere of Provence.
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History of Aiguines
First record, 1921 Aiguina, Aquina; Latin Castrum de Aguinia, Provençal Eyguinos.
Prehistoric: Some traces of prehistoric occupation, including silex.
Celto-Ligurian: A Gaulois oppidum was located south of the Marges hills, southeast of the village.
Gallo-Roman: A Roman road passed through here.
Medieval: Aiguines belonged to the Abbey Saint-Vicor in the 11th century. Succeeding feudal owners were the lords of Baux, then of Blacas, the Gauties and Sabran.
We followed signs for "musée" until we found ourselves in front of a small wooden door at the end of a run-down little alley [photo]. This little museum will hopefullly be open on a future visit, assuming that museums are like people: it's what's inside that counts. We understand that this is a museum of 18th and 19th century wood workers, with ancient lathes and other tools.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Chauvel Yves Mini Golf
- Location: quart Chabassole
- Tel: 0494 702 228
Water sports on the Lac de Sainte Croix. Potholing, rock climbing, deltaplaning and horseback riding.
• GPS: 43.775645, 6.243468
Excellent hiking here, with the GR99 (Grande Randonnée) trail passing through the village. To the southwest, the GR99 goes to Bauduen, either following along the shore of the lake or crossing the peninsula for a more direct route. To the southeast, the GR99 follows the ridge of the Grande Marges hills, then crosses them to the north to arrive at the Gorges de Verdon canyon.
Department 83, Var Buses
- See Beyond's Var Department Bus Schedules for downloading the Var bus-lines map [Plan du Reseau] and bus-line schedules [Horaires] (link for PDF files).
- Schedules for the Var bus lines are on the VarLib Horaires-Ligne page (http://www.varlib.fr/horaires_ligne/?rub_code=6") - type the line number in the Numéro ... ligne box to access the bus schedule PDF link. (Type a couple of digits in the box to get a list of route numbers.)