Var (83520) Population: 10,389 Altitude: 13 m
Roquebrune-sur-Argens, "Cité Millénaire", is an ancient town sitting amidst bunches of new villas that seem to grow so well in this climate. Looking beyond the newness, Roquebrune is located in an expansive pine forest, accentuated by the beautiful red cliffs of the Rocher de Roquebrune (photo, left) and cooled by the Argens river.
The ancient village was built on a rocky peak around the year 975, when the Saracens de Fraxinet were thrown out. Just about everything was destroyed in 1592 during the Wars of Religion; only one old tower remains today. From the village there's a panoramic view out across the Argens plain to the north, with low mountains in the distance.
Even with the modernization of the village (which is tastefully done), Roquebrune has retained a lot of charm. One entrance into the old part of the village is through an archway at the base of a 16th-century watch tower, with the campanile belfry at the top. Narrow old streets run between the old buildings and past the 16th century church. One building on the little square behind the church has a lovely sundial on the wall (up the stairs).
Les Issambres is a seaside residential community. It's located 17 km to the southeast, half way between Fréjus and Sainte Maxime, but belongs to the commune of Roquebrune.
Les Issambres was created in 1930. In 1944, the Americans landed here, on the beaches between Val-d'Esquières and Nartelle. In the Baie de Bougnon, between Les Issambres and Sainte Maxime, there's a Plage des Elephants, making us wonder about the origin of the name: did Hannibal (from Carthage - Tunisia) land here?
No, reader R. della Valle, Sept 2002, told us: Plage des éléphants takes her name from a Belgian illustrator called Jean de Brunhoff who has created "Babar". Do you know Babar's story ? Babar is an élephant and you can read his story at http://www.wantree.com.au/~rabbit/babar.htm. Jean de Brunhoff was coming in this place in the twenties or thirties.
Flood June 2010
The town suffered severe damage, with several deaths, from a flood on Tuesday 15 June 2010. With a rainstorm of unprecedented size in the Var hills, the worst flood in two centuries crashed through several towns in the local river valleys (Var floods 2010 map).
At least 25 people were killed through the region, with 13 still missing (as of 19 June).
History of Roquebrune-sur-Argens
First record, 1084 Roca Bruna (in an official paper of Pope Gregory VII).
Prehistoric: There are many signs of paleolithic and neolithic habitation in the region, including a menhir, a dolmen and Protohistoric walls.
Gallo-Roman: Numerous Gallo-Roman traces can be found throughout the area, especially at the top of the Rocher. There's a sarcophage at the Col de Bougnon and a Gallo-Roman aquaduct, both near Les Issambres (below).
Ruled successively by the vicomptes de Marseille, the bishop of Fréjus, the abbeys of Saint-Victor, Montmajour and Thoronet, and the order of Malta. According to Nostradamus, two sorceres were burnt here in 1428. During a siege in Feb 1592 by the Duke de La Valette, the Duke was killed, along with half the population, and many of the houses were destroyed.
From the 14th to 16th century, Roquebrune was a main wheat growing area. The rich river plain produced up to 10 times more than other areas.
Tel : 0494 45 72 70
Market day: Tue, Fri. Village market Tue, Fri; Issambres market Mon.
Marché à la Brocante: 2nd Fri
May - Fête Provençale St Pons
• GPS: 43.442466, 6.634601
IGN (1/25,000) #3544 OT "le Muy, Lorgues, Mont Roquebrune, Maures"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #25 "Maures Haut-Pays Varois"
Roquebrune-sur-Argens is on the northeastern edge of the Massif des Maures mountains, and there is plenty of good hiking. The GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) runs through the town. Much of the nearby hiking is through forests of low oak and high brush, without much shade to protect you during midday in the summer.
• South and southwest of town, the GR51 and other trails offer hiking in the nearby Maures. The GR51 goes southwest past La Garde-Freinet, and other connecting trails, including the GR9, go out to the coast at Ste Maxime and the Golfe de St Tropez.
• 6-hour Loop Hike. This loop starts at about 15 m altitude, goes up to 400 m (with only one short steep part), then gradually back down again. Take the GR51 goes southeast from town, then follow it south for about two hours. The GR51 turns northwest to the Col de Valdingard (400 m), at a junction on a paved road. Branch northwest off the main GR51, onto the GR51 variant, and follow it, curving north and then northwest back to town. The trail is generally on forestry roads, through low cork-oak forests and a mimosa forest. Small streams run along side the trail on a couple of different parts of the loop.
• Northwest of town, the GR51 goes along the southern edge of the beautiful red rocks of the Rocher de Roquebrun, then crosses the autoroute at Le Muy and goes up into the forested hills around the Gorges de Blavet and Bagnols-en-Forêt.
Centre d'Exposition Archeologique, Prehistoire et Histoire de Roquebrune
Chapelle Saint-Jacques (in the village)
tel: (33) 494 45 34 28
Hours 10-12:00; 14-18:00
Open 1 June - 30 Sept: Tue-Sat
Open 1 Oct - 31 May: Thur, Sat
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.)