•Var (83119) • Population: 895 • Altitude: 254 m
An old Provencal village on a narrow river plain, in an area of vineyards and forests. Interesting parallel streets with a long and very wide "cours" between the narrow stone church and the 18th-century chateau.
- Notre-Dame Brue-Auriac
The streets of the old village are laid out in an interesting parallel pattern, not the narrow twisty streets common to Medieval Provencal villages. This "old" Brue-Auriac dates from 1840 when the communes of Brue and Auriac were joined, and M. Roux de Course built his "new" town after the plans of the Napoleonic ideas.
The remains of the previous villages sit on the wooded hilltops nearby, including a stone tower, donjon, walls and village remains of Brue to the northeast, and the remains of ancient Auriac's village and chateau.
The clock tower on the town-hall has an interesting campanile [Photo-03], with an iron surround that looks like a fence.
The 13-m wide Cours Roux de Corse [Photo-06] stretches from the street in front of the St-Georges church to the front of the somewhat modern-looking chateau. This will be a wonderfully shady place in the summer when the plain trees have spread out their leaves. Our photo is at the beginning of March, when the trees are still in their winter plumage.
There are several fountains in the village, including the 4-spigot on in the center [Photo-04].
Brue-Auriac's St-Georges church was built in 1857, when it was seen that the Chapelle du Cours was too small, and the Chapelle de Notre-Dame was too far away for easy walking. By 1898 the walls of the St-Georges church had deteriorated to an alarming degree and the church was closed. It was finally restored, and reopened in 1913.
The 18th-century Chapelle du Cours is located about half way down the Cours [Photo-07]. The tomb of Roux de Corse was installed here at his death. In the beginning of the 19th century, the chapel was converted to a private residence, and the remains of George Roux de Corse were moved to ancient Notre-Dame Chapel just outside the village.
Pigeonnier of Brue-Auriac
One of the most beautiful pigeonniers (dovecote) of Provence is located at Brue-Auriac. Located on the hillside at the northeast edge of town, this round tower was built in 1750 for the wife of Georges Roux who raised homing pigeons. The Pigeonnier of Brue-Auriac could hold over 1500 birds and was the largest listed in France in the 18th century.
The tower has 3 floors and contains 8100 nests. Access to the nests along the walls was via ladders that extended out from a central pivoting shaft.
Pigeonniers were a sign of "royal" power and wealth, as only lords and royalty were permitted to raise pigeons.
In building his new town, George Roux de Corse laid it out in a rectilinear pattern, and included a sewage system, Faience pottery, silk and cloth industries.
A Faience works was built here and production flourished in the years 1763-1774, 1838-1843 and 1843-1847. Some examples from Brue-Auriac are on display in the Musée de la Faïence in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
A Silk Industry began here in 1757 when Georges Roux de Corse built a silk thread factory with two mills. By 1766 it had expanded to 23 large mills, with a turnover of 360,000 livres, silk thread provided to Lyon weavers.
In this same period of the mid-18th century, Brue-Auriac had three tanneries, a large hat factory, a sheet factory (producing a rough wool sheet called a cadis), cotton cloth and handkerchief factories, a canvas workshop and a dyeing factory.
Notre-Dame Brue-Auriac Chapel
The really lovely Notre-Dame Brue-Auriac is an 11th-century chapel and priory, located 1 km south of Brue-Auriac village. It makes a nice walk out there and back, or you can drive out and park at the chapel.
The Tombereau Falls are located about 3 km south of Brue-Auriac. You can get there by takilng the D560 south from Brue-Auriac (direction Seillons); in 2 km turn left onto the D35, direction Bras. Three km down this road look for a very, very sharp turnoff to the left, marked Tombereau.
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History of Brue-Auriac
First record, 1033 Brusa and Auriacum
The hamlet of Brue belonged to Rainulfus until the 11th century; it was given to the Abbey Saint-Victor in 1075. In 1252 it became a fief of the Counts of Provence, controlled by the Pontevès.
In the 11th century, Brue, Auriac and Saint Esteve were separate communes. Brue was on the hilltop of Castellas, just to the east of the current Brue-Auriac. The original Auriac was on its hilltop (possibly the Bellone ruins, 2 km northeast ?). Saint Esteve is still there, 3 km southeast of Brue-Auriac, now officially a hamlet in the commune of Brue-Auriac.
At the beginning of the 14th century, Brue had 42 homes, Auriac had 4 and Saint Estephe had 41. By the end of the 14th century all three sites were deserted. When the area began being repopulated, families lived in dispersed bastides. Castellas had the role of the seigneurial chateau for the domain at least until the late 17th century.
In 1746 George Roux de Corse (George Roux of Corsica) bought the scattered lands of Brue, and in 1750 began creating a new town on the plain, the site of the current Brue-Auriac. By 1765 there were 832 inhabitants.
George Roux de Corse was an industrialist and ship owner from Marseille. His fleet was lost during the Seven Years War between France and England (1756-1763), and he was ruined. He died in 1793.
In 1840 the villages of Brue and Auriac were joined together by royal decree. Some time before that, Saint Esteve had been attached to Auriac.
• GPS: 43.529794, 5.939078
IGN (1/25,000) #3344 OT "St-Maximim - Barjols"
The GR99 (Grande Randonnée) passes through Brue-Auriac.
Northwest, the GR99 goes out a country road for about 1 km, then continues as a real hiking trail, through the hills to the village of Saint Martin and eventually to La Verdière.
South, the GR99 follows the roads out to the Notre-Dame chapel. Continuing southeast past the chapel, the GR99 crosses through the vineyards and woods and comes to the Pont de St-Sumian, said to be a Roman bridge. This is a bit over 2 km, and makes a great out-and-back hike from the Notre-Dame chapel (or even from Brue-Auriac).
Continuing south from the Pont de St-Sumian, the trail passes by the Tombereau waterfall and on to the village of Bras.
A little ways south of Notre-Dame chapel the short GR900 trail branches off to the right (southwest). This trail passes through the hamlet of Saint Estève, then crosses the D560 road to arrive at the Pont d'Argens and the source of the Argens river. About 4 km from the Notre-Dame chapel, this makes a good, short out-and-back hike.
Brue-Auriac has one small pizzeria-restaurant, on the corner of the Cours Roux de Corse, across the street from the church. We had a very reasonable lunch here, with the typical small-town good service. The menu has historical information pages about the local history, chapels and the pigeonnier.
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.)