Belonging to the commune of Andon, Thorenc is made up of separate parts, including Thorenc-Station, Le Bas Thorenc, Lac de Thorenc and Haute Thorenc.
To the south, a long east-west ridge rises to a rocky crest, separating Thorenc from Andon and the open plain of Caille. Perched on the eastern end of this ridge is the prominent site of Castellaras, the ancient oppidum and Medieval castle that once defended the region.
Thorenc-Station is the "center" of Thorenc, with a grouping of a few shops, hotels, restaurants and cafés, along with a mairie annex, post office and a tourist office. Most of the habitation of Thorenc is located here at Thorenc-Station, including secondary residences, with the houses mostly hidden away in the surrounding trees.
Architecture has a 19th-century flavor with a vaguely Alpine accent. Once called "the Switzerland of Provence" (rather grandly), Thorenc was a popular retreat in the beginning of the 20th century for the wealthy families of Nice, including the "White Russians".
The stone church at Thorenc-Station is picturesque [Photo-01], but we haven't found any historical information about it.
Chateau des Quatre-Tours.
Other on-line sources talk about the "Chateau des Quatre-Tours" (the four-tower castle) of Thorenc-Station, but make no mention of what it is or why they've marked it out as a place of interest. Even after finding this on our IGN hiking map, it took us a while to track down this once-interesting site.
The "Chateau" is located about 1 km east of the center of Thorenc Station, a short walk out a dead-end road, the Chemin du Chateau des IV Tours. The road is marked with a panel for Le Relais Fleuri, a gite. There are no signs or fences around the Chateau des Quatre-Tours, but in spite of looking a bit run-down, it's obviously private and obviously lived-in. A Morris 1000 parked there is a sign of the nationality of the owners.
The Chateau des Quatre-Tours [Photo-09] is a provencal farmhouse, with a round tower at each corner of the main building. A second building has been extended out from the front of the main part, pretty much hiding the original 4-tower shape. It was evedently an important building at some point in the history of Thorenc.
The Lac de Thorenc is located on the south side of the D2 road, 600 m west of the junction to Thorenc-Station. The Lac de Thorenc is a fun/sports site, with camping, picnicking, some water sports, fishing, horseback and pony riding. In the winter there's cross-country skiing.
Le Bas Thorenc is on the north side of the D2 road, 2 km west of the junction to Thorenc-Station. Here there's a small scattering of house, a chapel, an ancient sanatorium and a few ruins.
Haut Thorenc is located on the north side of the D2 road, 2.5 km east of the junction to Thorenc-Station. This is now the site of the Animal Park, Reserve Biologique des Monts d'Azur, definitely worth a visit.
Getting to Thorenc
Thorenc is about 35 km north of Grasse and about 30 km south of Entrevaux or Puget-Théniers on the N202, although it's not easily accessible from the north.
From Grasse, take the N85 (Route Napoléon) to Saint Vallier-de-Thiey (12 km). Exiting Saint Vallier, turn right on the D5 (direction Caussols). Follow the D5 24 km, past the Col de la Sine) and the Pont-du-Loup junction, until it ends at the T-junction with the D2. Turn left (east) and go 2 km. The D502 turns off to the right (north) and winds through the pine forest to Thorenc-Station.
Both strawberries and raspberries grow wild all around the Thorenc area. A large painted sign on the front of one chalet has a map of Thorenc, showing the different areas where the strawberries and raspberries are to be found.
A raspberries festival is held every July in Thorenc-Station.
Tel (Mairie annexe de Thorenc ): 04 93 60 74 24
• GPS: 43.805269, 6.804448
IGN (1/25,000) #3542 ET "Haut Estéron"
A billboard map beside the post office shows 14 local hikes, both long and short, that you can take from Thorenc, into the Montagne de Bleine that rises to the north of the village.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Reserve Biologique des Monts d'Azur
- This 700 hectare animal park is home to a herd of European Bison, the Mongolian Wild Horse (Przewalski's Horse, Dzungarian Horse, Asian Wild Horse), deer and wild boar. Guided visits (safaris) are in small groups, either walking or by horse-drawn carriage (calèche). Snowshoe visits (safaris) are available in the winter.
- The site has a buffet and restaurant, and package prices are available for safari + dining. There are also rooms available, for overnight and two-night visits.
- Location: Domaine du Haut-Thorenc; 700 m east of the junction of the D5 (from Andon) with the D2 east-west road.
- Open: 1 March to the first weekend of January
- Closed: Jan - Feb
- Entry: Walking guided visits take 1h30, in groups of 8 to 12. 18 euros adults, 10 euros children. Horse carriage visits take 1h30, in groups of 10 to 12. 12 euros adults, 12 euros children.
- Tel: 0493 600 078; Fax: 0493 600 078
- Web: www.haut-thorenc.com/index.2.html
- The Reserve brought in their first European Bison (Bison bonasus) from Pologne in 2005 and 2006, and the herd has prospered and expanded here. In this thickly forested area, the bison create clearings that are great for biodiversity.
- Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) is a small, wild horse that once ranged over the plains and steppes of Europe and Asia. Over 600 cave drawings of the Przewalski's Horse date from 30'000 to 9'000 years ago. Modern times were unkind to the breed, and the race was reduced to official extinction (except for two captive populations in Munich and Prague zoos) in 1945. Careful breeding and repopulation of protected areas, such as the Reserve Biologique des Monts d'Azur, has raised the classification to "critically endangered".