•Alpes-Maritimes (06260) • Population: 145 • Altitude: 800 m
La Penne is a small and simple little village. It's main attraction (for us) is its idyllic, pastoral setting, with forested hills just behind and a beautiful panorama of fields and hills stretching out in front.
About all that remains of the medieval heritage is the square donjon tower standing above the village.
There's no commerce in the village. There is one restaurant (L'auberge de la Penne); the menu looks very good, but it's a bit pricey for a casual lunch-time meal.
The 13th-century Saint-Roch church, sitting across the fields just below the village, has a tall clock tower (still chiming the hours and half-hours) with a pyrmidal varnished-tile roof [Photo 9]. The cemetery here has the two Roman steles.
La Penne is one of 11 communes located in the valley between the Clue de St Auban and eastward to Ascros, south of Touët-sur-Var and north of Roquesteron. In October 2007, these communes (Briançonnet, Gars, Amirat, Les Mujouls, La Rochette, Sallagriffon, Saint Pierre, La Penne, Saint Antonin and Ascros) proposed a communal grouping into Le Val de Chanan as a means of developing tourisme in the area, somewhat lost in the beautiful but remote mountains of the Alpes-Maritiems
History of La Penne
First record, 11th century Penna de Cannan. The château des Glandevès was listed in 1079.
Gallo-Roman: There are two Roman steles at the cemetery, one at the entrance, and there are Roman tombs at the hamlet of Besseuges, 4 km west of the village.
Medieval: La Penne was a medieval fortress controlling access to the Var valley. It was ruled first by the lords of Thorame-Glandevès, then by the of Authier in the 17th century, and by the Durands in 1778.
• GPS: 43.928102, 6.947219
IGN (1/25,000) #3641 OT "Moyenne Var"
Hiking is good here, with a number of trails crossing the village.
The GR510 grande randonnée goes northwest from La Penne, up over the Col de Besseuges (1056 m) and down into the valley at Puget-Théniers.
Just north of the village, from the D2211a road, there's a short loop hike up across the top of the ridge, or a longer loop hike out towards the east and the Champ de Toudon, returning via Le Pin-de-Noguiet and the GR510.
The GR510 grande randonnée southeast of La Penne passes Le Pin-de-Noguiet and then Saint Antonin, about 4 km away.
L'Auberge de la Penne
We noted above that the menu was a bit pricy for a casual lunch-time meal. We usually look for something simple mid-day, so we can spend our time exploring rather than sitting and enjoying French cuisine.
If you're after quality rather than speed, this auberge changes its menu every day, uses only fresh produce, some from their own organic farm. Everything except the bread and wine is home made, including the pasts and ice cream. And the dining room has a marvelous, panoramic view.