•Var (83330) • Population: 3,080 • Altitude: 300 m
Le Castellet is a lovely little village perched above the plains of the Var. Arriving on the little road from La Cadiére-d'Azur you get a good view of Le Castellet, as the road across the countryside and vineyards pretty much circles the village before finally climbing up to the center.
The "center" of Le Castellet is at (or close to) the top of the village, contrary to many Provencal villages where the center is on the slope and the top has only a lonely old church or castle. The village retains its fortified look, with sections of the ancient ramparts still there, along with a couple of the old fortified "portes". The streets are cobblestone and the houses are old and interesting. The chateau was last rebuilt in the 15th century, and has an imposing defensive feel about it.
Le Castellet is also a surprisingly active village. On a sunny sunday in the winter (February), the shops were open and there was a lively business at the terrace restaurants in the Place de la Fontaine [photo-2] and at the edge of the village overlooking the Mediterranean coast. By sunday afternoon the place was packed.
It's obviously a very popular weekend retreat in the region, and there are a lot of art galleries and numerous gift/souvenir shops. You should plan on timing your visit to Le Castellet to include lunch, and then take the time for an after-lunch stroll on the little roads through the surrounding farmland.
History of Le Castellet
First record, 1030 Castellarium
This hilltop location was a strategic site for just about forever.
Prehistoric: Neolithic remains, including pottery, were found in a shelter beneath the "Roche-Ronde.
Celto-Ligurian: Castellet was also a fortified Celtic-Ligurian town and later a Gallo-Roman site.
Gallo-Roman: Roman remains were abundant on the plains around the hill and at the Camp de la Figuière.
Medieval: La Castellet was a fortified medieval town, once belonging to the Baux and King René. It was ruled by the Lords and Bishops of Marseille and later by the Lords of Castillon.
Jan - Fête and foire
July - Fête
Aug - Fête (about the 25th)
Sep - Fête (about the 8th)
The Paul Ricard race track, 10 km north, is world famous. Once the location of the F1 Grand Prix of France, it's used nowdays for the international "Bol d'Or" motorcycle race, historic car races and other similar events.
• GPS: 43.202463, 5.77721
IGN (1/25,000) #3346 OT "Toulon, Le Gro Cerveau, Mont Faron"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #24 "Collines Provençales"
The land directly surrounding Le Castellet is mostly farmland, with tiny villages and residential areas. The village falls at the junction of the three IGN maps (above), but that detail isn't really needed for the local terrain.
• The #24 map shows a loop hike, about 10-12 km, from Le Castellet to Le Beausset, then looping up to the north and back to the village, mostly following country lanes. We haven't tried this one, but we did wander some of the little roads without a map, and had a very pleasant time.
• The GR51 (Grande Randonnée) passes by between La Cadière-d'Azur and Saint Cyr-sur-Mer, about 4 km to the southeast.
Transportation Le Castellet
The local airfield at the Paul Ricard track has a 1200 m runway. It's used for private planes and has a flying school.
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.)