•Var (83690) • Population: 438 • Altitude: 383 m
Sillans-la-Cascade is small, old village in a lovely setting of forests and small river valley in the central Var. The attraction of Sillans-la-Cascade is the overall setting and the walk out to the nearby waterfall (la cascade).
The village itself is small, and it's all still the "old village" (veille-ville, without the addition of a "new" part of town that so often detracts from Medieval Provencal villages.
We enjoyed walking around the old streets and exploring the little nooks and crannys, but the village isn't big enough that you would want to come here just for that. We think the main interest here is the setting and the surroundings.
We did find that some of the old doorways, while less elaborate than many we've seen, were very interesting and picturesque.
The 17th-century Saint-Etienne church [Photo-16] sits at the edge of the village, rather than in the center as in most villages. The church is bordered by the cemetery and an expansive olive orchard. Photo-1 shows the church (in the center) across the olive grove, with the chateau at the left and the village clock tower behind the church.
There isn't much commerce in the village (nearby Salernes would be best for that), but there are the basics, and one very good bakery (boulangerie) on Rue du Four.
Waterfall Walk (La Cascade)
The walk out to the waterfall begins across the road in front of the large Chateau building, with Office de Tourisme (Syndicat d'Initiative). The walk is clearly marked, and indicates a distance of 1 km - we think it's a bit farther than that. The trip is worth it just for the walk, with the bonus of the falls at the end.
No swimming at the falls and access is not allowed to the water beneath the falls.
In years past it was popular to play around in the pools beneath the falls. Now, though, there are at least three huge rocks above which could fall at any time, causing a very serious accident. It's because of this the the local counsel (Consel Général) has put this area off limits.
The nearest swimming to Sillans-la-Cascade is at the village of Salernes, 7 km away.
Old Mill Ruins
Along the path to the waterfall are the ruins of an old mill. There's not much left now, except the walls of the main building sitting in the bushes, but with a bit of romantic imagination you have a brief view into the distant past.
Saint Laurent Chapel
This is a simple little chapel sitting in a clearing of the woods at the top of the hill just southwest of the village center. It's about a 15-minute walk up to the top, beginning at the far corner of the parking area across the road from the castle-corner of Sillans-la-Cascade. The path begins on a small road, then branches off to the left, marked by a faded signpost with a green-white blaze.
The little chapel is nicely restored, and has an open, wrought-iron belfry. A visit here would be mainly for the nice walk up the (fairly steep) path through the woods and the atmosphere. There is a good view out in some directions, but the village down below is barely visible through the trees.
The large, rectangular chateau is a plain looking building with a facade of windows and doorways, very similar to the chateau at Entrecasteaux, 15 km to the southeast.
You can see two photos of the chateau, [Photo-2] we took in the summer of 2001 and [Photo-3] we took in the winter of 2007/2008. The photos look different, but it's only the difference between cameras, processing and lighting. We compared the two carefully and found the facade patches and marks, and the same missing louvres in the shutters in both photos.
There chateau houses the Office de Tourisme, and includes a small museum [Photo-4] as well as an art museum (open April-Dec), with 1/3 permanent exhibits and 2/3 of the exhibits changing monthlly.
Train des Pignes
The Train des Pignes railway line between Meyrargues and Draguignan stopped at the Sillans-Aups station, now the "école maternelle" of Sillans-la-Cascade. The station was opened in August 1888. In 1913 the Decauville branch line was opened to serve the new bauxite mines of the domain of the Marquis de Castellane. In 1950 the Train des Pignes line was closed, and the station became the village school.
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History of Sillans-la-Cascade
First record, 11th century in villa Silans: The name may have derived from the Roman "Silius". Frédéric Mistral called it Silan, from a person's name Silanus. The 11th-century in villa Silans changed to Cilans in the 12th century, then to Sillans in 1477.
In the 11th century, the land including Sillans was given to the Abbey of Saint Victor. The place was ruled successively by the Baux, Blacas, Pontevès, Vintimille, d'Albert and Castellane. The Albert family owned the land until 1775. In 1781 the fief was sold to Antoine François de Rolland for 286,000 livres. After the Rvolution the granddaughter of Antoine François, Mlle Marie Antoinette de Rolland, gave the title "Lord of Sillans to her husband, Marquis Hippolyte de Castellane-Esparon.
In 1992, Count François de Castellane sold the Chateau, le Bastidon and a few hectares of land to the commune. Another part of the land, including the waterfalls, was given to the regional authorities (Conseil Général) in a tax deal.
Municipal swimming pool. On the eastern edge of the village.
• GPS: 43.568098, 6.180476
IGN (1/25,000) #3443 OT "Aups Salernes"
There are three places to eat in Sillans-la-Cascade. The Hotel-Restaurant "des Pins" in the center is also in the center of our [Photo-13], in the stone building. "La Cascade" restaurant in the center is at the left of our [Photo-13]. "La Cascade" also has a café with the excellent group of "Bistro de Pays" around the back [Photo-12].
Another restaurant, "Auberge du Grand Chêne" is located in a villa setting with a terrace about 2 km west of the center, on the D560 Route de Barjols.
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.)