•Alpes-Maritimes (06710) • Population: 342 • Altitude: 350 m
Touët-sur-Var is a picturesque Medieval village perched on a rock-step of the mountains overlooking the Var river, about 50 km north of Nice. The station for the Train des Pignes is below the village. Two km west of Touët the Gorges du Cians goes north, between the Plateau de Dina to the west and the Giraud les Rocchaudes behind Touët.
This is a layered village, with a village "center" along the main road, a Medieval old village along the top side of the road, and an even older Medieval village perched further up the steep mountain-side. A residential layer is located below it all, between the road and the river.
The old parts of the village have very narrow streets winding steeply between the tall, old buildings, which enclose both house and barn. Many of the tiny streets go beneath vaulted passages or are completely covered.
The lower "old-village" is typical Medieval, with very narrow streets between high-walled building, many vaulted passage, interesting old doorways and other similar items of interest. The upper "old-village is the truly perched-village part. The houses are more colorfully painted and the view is, of course, better. A very tall waterfall comes down over the rocks into a small pool at the top of the upper old-village before dropping into tunnels to pass down through (or under) the village to the river.
Among the many historical sites is a completely restored 12th-century Romanesque church. There's also a colorful gite in what must have once been a chapel in the upper village.
Along the main road there's enough commerce to serve visitors, including the many people heading up into, or returning from, the back country mountains and the winter ski stations.
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History of Touet-sur-Var
First record, 12th century Castellum Toeti. The ancient fortified village (castrum) was mentioned in 1252. Later called Touêt-de-Beuil. The name is from "Tob", from the Ligurian "Teba".
Gallo-Roman: The vestiges of a Roman village are on the Plateau de Paillèes overlooking Touët from the northwest.
Medieval: Seigneurie (domain) of Grimaldi de Beuil; 1634: feudatory to Claretti.
• GPS: 43.947686, 7.00611
IGN (1/25,000) #3641 OT "Moyenne Var"
Touët-Thiéry (2+ hrs). The trail goes north out of Touët (320 m) to the Baisse de Thiéry (861 m), and is clearly marked with yellow and sign-posted at junctions. This is a very steep climb up out of Touët, up the left side of the canyon, and you reach 500 m altitude in the first half hour. The climb slackens off somewhat, but it's still steadily uphill. You pass through a pine forest, with a fair amount of oak and juniper, alongside a small river. From the station to the Baisse de Thiéry takes 1.5 hr.
From there the trail goes northeast, with a much more gradual ascent, passing through a beautiful forest for the remaining journey to Thiéry.
Touët-Thiéry-Villars (7 hrs). You take the trail to the Baisse de Thiéry and on to Thiéry (see above).
From Thiéry (1042 m), follow the GR510 northeast in the direction of the Pointe de Chavanette, taking the left branch to pass around the west and north of Les Blaches. The trail climbs gradually through a shady forest of Scots pine, giving way to tall, grey-trunked larch at about 1200 m. The Villa Souberré (1348 m) is an open pass with a magnificent view, 1 hr from Thiéry (3.5 hr total).
The GR continues toward the Pointe de Chavanette another 200 m (1370 m alt.) before branching off to the right and curving around to the east and then south. Going across the open ground you should see eagles and large hawks up in the pass.
It's about an hour's hike (4.5 total) to the trail-road junction of Bagon (1109 m), near the old Chapelle Ste. Madeleine. The GR goes southwest from there, and then south, past the Pointe de la Gardette to the junction for the Chapelle St. Jean (3.5 hr from Thiéry, 6 hr total). You'll need another half hour to reach the village of Villars, and another for the hike down from the village to the station.
Touët-Villars (2-3 hrs). There's a short hike you can take from the train station of Touët to the station at Villars. Take the road up from the station, go straight across the main road and up through the village (following the yellow marks). The trail goes up, past the Gîte d'Etape, and then left. Go through the "place" and out the west end, looking for the signpost to Baisse de Thiéry. Follow the trail to the Baisse de Thiéry (see Touët-Thiéry, above).
From the Baisse de Thiéry you turn off to the east, following the trail along the flank of the Giraud les Rocchaudes, to the chapelle St. Antoine. The trail drops southeast to the village of Narboins at the Var river, and it's another 2 km to the station at Villars.
South of Touët. At the river just southeast of Narboins, a trail crosses the Var on a footbridge at Ste. Pétronille. (The trails down past the tracks are sound-softened by moss and fallen needles and oak leaves, making it easy to hear the river and the birds.) From the footbridge, trails follow the south bank of the river to the east, or loop up into the hills to the west where you can hike back to Touët. The yellow mark on the left side of the bridge (in the photo) is the trail marker.
From Touët you can hike north to Thiéry (via the Baisse de Thiéry) and from there continue on various other trails, including a longer loop back to Villars.
Bus Nice - Gap
There are two buses a day between Nice and Gap, with the route Nice - Digne-les-Bains - Sisteron, and Sisteron - Gap.
- Northbound: Nice 7h00, Digne 10h10, Sisteron 11h00, Gap 11h45.
- Nice 14h50, Digne 17h40, Sisteron 18h45, Gap 19h40.
- Southbound: Gap 8h05, Sisteron 9h10, Digne 9h50, Nice 12h40
- Gap 15h28, Sisteron 16h30, Digne 17h25, Nice 2030
The Nice - Gap bus route is:
- Nice, Plan-du-Var, Touet-sur-Var, Puget-Thenier, Entreveaux, Annot-Scaffarel, Rouaine, Saint Julien, St André-les-Alpes, Moriez, Barreme, Norante, Chateau-Redon, Digne-les-Bains, Mallemoisson, Malijai, Chateau-Arnoux, Volonne, Peipin, Bons Enfants, Sisteron, Le Poet, Rourebeau, Beynon, Valenty, Monetier-Allemont, Le Vivas, La Saulce, Tallard, Chateauvieux, La Tourronde, Gap.
- The route and schedule is available on the SCAL-Autocars website (link below); select Nice / Gap and click on one symbol to view the route map, click on the other symbol for the schedule. (Schedule link http://www.scal-amv-voyages.com/horaires/circuit9.htm)
- At Nice, the bus terminal is at 16 ave des Diables Bleus (Tramway stop Palais des Expositions)
- Web: www.scal-amv-voyages.com/ligne.htm