Riez photo riez001s.jpg (12 k) Riez is in the rich Colostre valley, where the Auvestre river joins the Colostre. The rivers might be small, but the valley is wide, and runs southwest to join the lower Verdon and Durance rivers. Riez is the "Capitale de la Lavande", and there are huge lavender fields throughout the surrounding countryside.

Also:  | Aix Verdon Itinerary |

Nearby: | Allemagne-en-Provence 8 km | Aups 43 km | Bauduen 24 km | Gréoux-les-Bains 20 km | Manosque 34 km | Moustiers-Sainte-Marie 15 km | Quinson 21 km | Roumoules 4 km | Sainte Croix Lake 11 km | Valensole 14 km | Verdon Gorges 25 km |

This ancient village, dating from the 1st century, sits in a tight oval shape, with the domed hill of "Mont St. Maxime" behind. On each side of the village, an ancient "porte" still gives access into the medieval interior: the Porte Aiguiere (Porto Aiguiero) on the east side and the Porte St-Sols on the west side. Beside the Porte Aiguiere (E) is a long, curved "lavoir" and the "column" fountain (photo-1). Beside the Porte St-Sols (W) is a smaller fountain and lavoir.

The village is very active, with its inhabitants and visitors benefiting from a variety of festivities and events.

Out across a large grassy field between village and river are the four Roman columns.

On the "Mont St. Maxime" hill, chapel, oak-truffles, lavender fields, honey beehives.

Mont St. Maxime

This "mountain" is only a 120 m higher than the village, but has a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. While the lower village only goes back a couple of thousand years, this was the ancient hillfort capital of the Reii, a Celto-Ligurian tribe. Today the hilltop has a park under huge trees, with a great view, and the 17th-century Chapelle St. Maxime with its 20th-century nuns in residence. A small river flows past the front of the village, with a small, ancient double-arched bridge.

History

Name

First record, 1st century Alebaece Reiorum; then Reii Appolinares (from the temple of Apollo); Regium (to the 8th-c); Regina (to the 11th-c).

Celto-Ligurian: The Celto-Ligurian tribe of Reii had their hillfort capital on top of the Mon St. Maxime hill overlooking the current village.

Gallo-Roman: When the Romans conquered the place, they established the town of Colonia Julia Augusta Apollinaris Reiorum on the valley floor below the hill. Excavations have revealing richly decorated buildings indicate a prosperous town during the early Empire. The southern part of the town, where the four columns of the Temple of Apollo stand, was covered by thick deposits of alluvium, and only a fraction has been excavated. The soil could be covering the remains of an amphitheater, among other things.

The four slender Corithian columns are 6-m tall polished granit pillars, with fine marble capitals and architrave. The pillars belonged to the Temple of Apollo, a large complex with healing baths, probably linked to the baptistery. Inscriptions at the nearby spring are a dedication to Aesculapius, the son of Apollo and the greatest of the classical healing gods.

The baptistery, about 100 m southeast of the temple columns, was built in the 5th century, and is one of the earliest known baptisteries in France. A large baptismal pool was in the middle, and Riez had the status of a healing town, even into the 19th century.

An old cathedral, located in the axis of the baptistery, was destroyed at the end of the 15th century. Excavations revealed a 5th-century structure in the field across the road east of the baptistery. The cathedral had been constructed on top of a much larger public building from the 1st-2nd century.

Medieval: In the early Middle Ages, the town moved gradually from the junction adjacent to the rivers to slightly higher ground because of a rising river. During the Barbarian and Saracen raids of the 6th century, the Bishop and the townspeople moved up to the top of Mont St. Maxime. During the 14th century, bands of Spanish "Routiers" devastated the region. Riez was sacked several times during the Wars of Religion, alternately by the Huguenots and the Catholics.

Office de Tourisme

Tel : 04 92 77 99 09; Fax: 04 92 77 99 07

Web: www.ville-riez.fr

Email: tourisme.riez@wanadoo.fr

4 Allées Louis Gardiol Marie - tel (33) 04 92 77 80 21 (closed Monday) Amis du Vieux Riez - tel (33) 04 92 77 80 45; Hotel de Ville

Dates

Wed and Sat mornings - Marché Provençal
Thur, July-Aug - Evening Market, 18h-24h, ambience musical and festive.
1st Sun - Puces and artisanat
Every Pentecôte - Fete de Pentecôte (Whit Monday)
Every May - Foire de Printemps
End June - Fete de la Transhumance
Every Aug - Fete de la Colonne 15 Aug
Every Sep - Foire d'Automne
Every Oct - Foire aux Vins et aux Fromages
Every Wed Nov - Truffle market Wed from 25 Nov to 31 Mar

Other

Transportation Riez

Public transport would be by train to Manosque (Marseille-Gap-Briançon line), then bus to Riez.

Bus


Sports

Fishing

Hiking

Maps

IGN (1/25,000) #3342 ET "Plateau de Valensole"

Didier Richard (1/50,000) #19 "Haute Provence Verdon"

The GR 4 (Grande Randonnée) passes through Riez.
• To the east, the GR 4 goes around the northern edge of the Lac de Ste. Croix, beside Moustiers-Ste-Marie, and then along the northern side of the Grand Canyon du Verdon.
• To the east and southeast, the GR 4 follows the forested hills past Allemagne-en-Provence to St-Martin-de-Brômes and Gréoux-les-Bains.
• Several other trails to the north of Riez will take you through woods and fields to Puimoisson or northwest to Valensole.
• A trail following country roads south goes to Montagnac and then to the shore of Lac de Ste. Croix, eventually joining the GR 99 that passes along the southern shore to the Gorges du Verdon.

Lodging - Hotels