•Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04120) • Population: 1,539 • Altitude: 724 m
Castellane, which dates back to the sixteenth century, is located at the cross-roads of the Route Napoléon and the Upper Verdon road.
Castellane is the opposite of a perched village. Tucked down in the throat of the steep Grand Canyon du Verdon, the town is invisible from a distance as you approach, except for a tall rock jutting straight up out of the valley, with a stone chapel (from 1703) perched on top.
The Chapel Nôtre-Dame-du-Rock perched high above Castellane (small photo-4 10k) is built on the site of a Roman fort and the ancient Roman town of Petra Castellana.
The Romanesque Eglise St-Victor dating back to the 11th century, was built by the monks of the Abbey of St-Victor of Marseilles. The aisles of this parish church were built in the 16th and 17th centuries.
It wasn't until the 14th century that the inhabitants of Castellane moved completely down off the rock and into the lower town.
Castellane is pretty much a Summertime Town. Its 1500 plus population expands to about 20'000 during July and August. During the winter, there is life here, but it resembles a ghost town compared to the summertime activity. In the off-season we've had trouble finding a place to eat lunch, but it is possible. During the summer, if there's any problem for dining, it's more about finding an available table at one of the many terrace restaurants.
In the "Modes" hat shop they are serious about their hats, and have been for a very, very long time. The lady who looks after the shop sometimes to help out her friend is 87 years old . The proprietor is responsible for the design or purchase of everything she sells, and is knowledgeable and proud of her wares; she's 102 years old.
[Sept 1999] The proprietor is now 105 years old. She's relaxed her work to only half-days now, attending her shop only in the afternoons, and she no longer makes her own hats. She does, however, personally select all wares that are offered for sale (and there's a great selection, including some for hiking and strolling). During the mornings, you'll find her granddaughter looking after the shop, maintaining the family's friendly service.
History of Castellane
First record, 965: Petra Castellana; earlier called Salinae because of two salt-water springs.
Celto-Ligurian: The ancient Ligurian village of the Suetrii tribe, then a Gallo-Roman town.
Gallo-Roman: Vestiges remain of the Roman town, including tombs, funerary stela and medals. A knowledgeable friend has shown us the route of the Roman road west of the town, and we've hiked part of it in the hills down towards the Gorges du Verdon, just a few km away.
Tel (V.A.): 04 92 83 61 14; Fax: 04 92 83 76 89
Market day: Sat, Wed
Aug - Festival d'arts traditionnels "folklore"
- Art et Traditions Populaires
- Association Petra Castellana
- Ancienne Sous-Préfecture
- 34, rue Nationale
- tel: (33) 492 83 71 80; or 92 83 61 14 (Office de Tourisme)
- Ancienne Sous-Préfecture
Maison des Sirènes et Siréniens
- Location: Place Marcel-Sauvaire
- Open: 9-12h, 14-18h
May-Sept: 7 days; Oct-Apr: closed weekends and holidays
- Tel: 0492 831 923; Fax: 0492 83 19 27
- Email: email@example.com
- The House of Mermaids and Sirenians, and the Valley of Fossil sirens is about the myth of mermaids, with many "supporting" fossils.
Stage 17 of the 2015 cycling Tour de France passed through Castellane.
Swimming. Castellane has a public swimming pool located on the Verdon river, and many (17) nearby camp sites. There are several hiking trails climbing the nearby hills surrounding the town. There are many sports and leisure activities available in and around Castellane, including: horseback riding and kayaking.
• GPS: 43.847781, 6.511688
IGN (1/25,000) #3542 OT "Castellane, Lac de Castillon"
There are many hiking trails in and around Castellane well marked by wooden sign posts at the starting points and junctions, as well as the standard paint marks along the trails.
• The GR4 Hiking Trail goes through Castellane, with Entrevaux to the northeast and the Grand Canyon du Verdon to the southwest. The hike through the Grand Canyon du Verdon is famous, and beautiful.
• Northwest out of town you can hike up to the Col des Leques, or you can pick up trails out of town or at the Col itself. From the Col des Leques, the N85 winds down through the Clue de Taulanne, a really gorgeous gorge.
• South of the town, several loop hikes go to and around the Montagne de Robion (1660 m) and Destourbes (1543 m), or to the little villages in the next valley.
A couple of good guidebooks are the Guides IGN: Ubaye-Verdon and the FFRP Tope Guide: GR4 - Ref. 401 (Guidebooks and Maps).
Bus service is provided once a day, every day (including Sundays) between Castellane, Grasse and Nice. The schedule is subject to change; verify the times with the Office de Tourisme.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. One bus a week (Saturday) connects Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
From Nice, take the A8 autoroute west (direction "Aix/Pce") and exit at Cannes. From the Cannes-exit roundabout, follow the signs for Grasse, taking the limited-access road. From Grasse, take the N85 Route Napoleon. It's a nice drive with some great scenery, and a bit twisty in places.
Department 04, Alpes-de-Haute Provence Buses
- See Beyond's Alpes-de-Haute Provence (04) Bus Schedules for downloading Alpes-de-Haute Provence bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
Marseille - Gréoux - Riez - Castellane Bus FH-27
- LER line 27 (part A): 3 buses/day, between Marseille and Riez, trip time 2 hrs. Stops: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Venelles, Meyrargues, Peyrolles, Pont Mirabeau, St Paul-lez-Durance, Vinon, Gréoux-les-Bains, St Martin-de-Bromes, Allemagne-en-Provence, Riez.
LER line 27 (part B): 1 bus a day between Riez and Castellane (via the Gorges-de-Verdon), trip time 1h30. Stops: Riez, Roumoules, Moustiers-Ste-Marie, Lapalud, Rougon, Pont de Soleil, Castellane.
On the LER website (http://www.info-ler.fr/fr/lignes-horaires/carte-et-fiches-horaires-n287. , select Ligne 27: Marseille / Greoux / Castellane to display the bus schedule PDF.