•Var (83570) • Population: 1,792 • Altitude: 260 m
The village of Cotignac sits in the trees at the base of its famous cliffs. At the top of the cliffs, a pair of square, medieval towers (the "sentinelles") have been standing guard over the cliffs, the town and the surrounding countryside since the 12th and 13th centuries.
Cotignac is located on the D13/D22 about 30 km west of Draguignan, 15 km south of Aups and 15 km east of Barjols.
The cliffs dominate the village and provide the key to Cotignac's protection and its existence. The cliffs are formed of tufa, a porous, calcium rock that's full of holes and caves. The caves have been used as shelter and refuge since before recorded history (by troglodytes), through invasions and epidemics, and through political wars and religious wars. Houses are built into the cliffs, expanding on the caves as places of protection and dwelling, and a few lower ones are still in use today.
You can visit the cliffs by going up to the end of the town behind the mairie. A wide, paved path passes in front of the large oil presses, and leads up to the old hospice de la Charité. From there, you can follow the narrow paths carved into the cliff face, protected by iron railings, to see what the cliffs and the cave look like up close, and have a view out over the village. For an even more spectacular view, you need to take the road out of town that circles around to the "sentinelles" at the top of the cliffs.
In the center of the village, a long, central "square", shaded by plane trees, is set about a meter above the street. The square is filled mainly with outdoor tables from the many cafés and restaurants, but there are also public benches.
If you're partial to waterfalls, drive north out of Cotignac 6 km to the village of Sillans-la-Cascade. There you'll find a 42-meter high waterfall (the Cascade de Sillans) in a beautiful setting.
High on a building wall of the narrow Grand'Rue are three wall-sculpture, called cariatides, dating from 1623. The sculptures, created nearly 400 years ago to exhibit the owner's grand wealth and status, are so high on the building they wouldn't be noticed unless you were looking for them.
Technically the term cariatide refers to statues of young women of Caryes used as supporting columns, in place of standard Greek pillars. In the Louvre in Paris, cariatides were used as supporting columns for a musiciens platform, built in 1550 in the Swiss Guards' Room (now called the Cariatides). The famous Wallace Fountains of Paris (and other towns) are designed after the model of cariatides.
The Wikipedia tells us "In modern times, the practice of integrating caryatids into building facades was revived in the 16th century and, from the examples engraved for Sebastiano Serlio's treatise on architecture, became a fixture in the decorative vocabulary ...". This fits in with the idea of wealthy local bourgeois flaunting their success on the front of thier buildings.
The three cariatides of Cotignac are modeled more on the likeness of Golums than on lovely young ladies of Caryes.
A very fine open-air theater behind the church, at the base of the cliffs, has concerts during the summer.
- Favorite sons of Cotignac include:
- Guillaume de Cotignac (1180-1245);
- troubadour Arnaud de Cotignac (1260);
- botanist Louis Gérard (1733-1819);
- Admiral Louis Figanière (born 1780).
- troubadour Arnaud de Cotignac (1260);
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History of Cotignac
First record, 1030 Cotinnacum
Gallo-Roman: There are a few Gallo-Roman remains at Nestuby, about 3 km south of the village.
Medieval: There was a large Jewish settlement here in the 6th century, indicated today by the "Quartier de la Synagogue" and the "rue de Jérusalem". In the 11th century, Cotignac was ruled first by the Lords of Castellane, then the Viscounts of Marseille and the Pontevès and Simiane families.
Tel : 04 94 04 61 87
June (2nd Sun) - Brocante-Puces (June-Aug/Sept)
Sep - Fete votive, Village Festival
Olive Oil Mills
We have 2 olive oil mills listed for Cotignac (click).
• GPS: 43.526631, 6.14956
IGN (1/25,000) #3443 OT "Aups Salernes"
IGN (1/25,000) #3444 OT "Brignoles Le Luc"
A very nice loop-hike from the village will take you past old chapels and through pretty woods. At the south edge of the village, cross the bridge just before the Office de Tourisme, and take the road angled up to the right. Following the road to the Nôtre-Dame de Grâce chapel. The trail curves around to the north to a second chapel and then northeast to an oratory at a small crossroads 1 km to the northwest. Take the northeast trail there out to the main road (less than a km), turn right and follow the trail to the waterfall. From the falls, a trail drops back down in to the west side of the village.
Again at the south edge of the village, cross the bridge just before the Office de Tourisme. This time turn right and follow the track up through the trees alongside the river toward the cascade. It's an easy hour's walk, round-trip, and very pleasant in the shade of the trees on a hot day. On a September day at the end of another very dry summer, the river was dry in many places (water going underground here and there?), and at the "falls", there wasn't much more than a trickle; still, the pool at the base was large and wet and the woods were thick and green.
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.)
- Cotignac hotels
- Aups hotels 10 km
- Barjols hotels 15 km
- Brignoles hotels 22 km
- Carcès hotels 7 km
- Celle hotels 24 km
- Draguignan hotels 35 km
- Entrecasteaux hotels 9 km
- Fox-Amphoux hotels 16 km
- Frejus hotels 91 km
- Moustiers-Sainte-Marie hotels 48 km
- Salernes hotels 12 km
- Toulon hotels 76 km
- Tourtour hotels 21 km
- Villecroze hotels 15 km