Var (83630) Population: 1,796 Altitude: 500 m
Aups is a very pleasant small town, full of fountains and picturesque squares shaded with huge plane trees. The town forms an amphitheater walled by ramparts and crowned with the ruins of its feudal castle. Centrally located in the Var, between Draguignan and the Lac Sainte Croix, Aups is popular with cyclists, bikers and other people touring the region. Market day Wed, Sat.
The houses in the old center of Aups date back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, clustered inside the ancient medieval walls. The streets tend to be long and narrow, with buildings tinted in the typical Provencal pastel colors (but often a bit dingy on our many visits over the years.
Along with the tiny streets and ancient houses, there are plenty of shops and friendly terrace cafés. Aups is somewhat isolated in an area of fields, forests and hills, with a arc of popular but smaller villages to the south (Fox-Ampoux, Sillans-la-Cascade, Salernes, Villecroze, Tourtour and Ampus), so the Aups Saturday (and Wednesday) market is very busy.
There's a square lookout tower (beffroi) and an 18th century clock tower topped by the iron-caged bell tower. These wrought-iron belfries, called Campaniles de fer forgé, are one of the many wonderful sites of the Beyond region, and you could do a whole trip visiting just them.
We've been visiting Aups since even before our Beyond days.
We originally put this Aups page online in Beyond in October 1995, one of our first Beyond villages.
Some the interests we've built up over the years help us make new discoveries on every visit, such as the ancient sundial and the covered lavoir pictured here.
A couple of times we've taken a leisurely second breakfast at on of the terrace cafés on the Place Général Girad, shaded by a gigantic plane tree, "tinkled" by the sound of the old stone fountain.
We like to accompany our café au lait with the local fougasse à l'huile d'olive-citron, a large, round, thin tarte made with olive oil and lemon, with a distinct lemon smell and flavor.
They're fresh-baked from this great bakery just up the street.
Resisting Napoleon, & Executed Twice
In December 1851 Napoleon dissolved the Second Republic, in an effective coup d'etat. In this part of Provence, Aups was the center of the Republican insurrection against the coup, and the entire town participated in arming against the royalty, earning the nickname Center of the Red Var (according to Zola). When the Louis-Napoleon's troops arrived to put down the insurrection, the battle was rather lopsided, with fifty-some of the Republican Var troops killed versus only a single one of the Bonapartist soldiers.
An obelisque monument was erected in Aups in 1881 to commemorate all the victims of the battle. During the Second World War, Aups was a center of the Resistance, and victims of that conflict were later added to the memorial. A companion monument was erected in Barjols.
The obelisque is located at the south edge of town, in a small park at Place Martin Bidauré. It's named after the hero of that 19th-century rebellion — a twice-executed hero. During the insurrection, Martin Bidauré was stopped while carrying a message on the route to Tourtour, and was executed immediately by firing squad. He survived however, and managed to get to a local farm. He was denounced, though, recaptured, and executed again, but more successfully the second time.
History of Aups
First record, 11th century: Almis
Prehistoric: Natural iron deposits in the here made this an iron-age settlement, and bones have been found in the Plerimond caves, 8 km to the southeast.
Gallo-Roman: There was an oppidum (Roman fortified site), and there are Gallo-Roman vestiges at nearby Mousque, Plerimond and Raton.
Medieval: The area was ruled by the Seigneurie des Blacas. In 1574, the church was pillaged by the Huguenots, and in 1590 the Ligurians had their turn.
Market day: Wed, Sat.
Jan (End) - Journée de la truffe - Truffle Day, traditonal village festival
Mar - Carnaval
May (2nd Sun) - Féte
Aug (3rd Sun) - Féte
Nov-Feb - Truffle market (Thur mornings, late Nov-Feb)
• GPS: 43.626501, 6.22375
IGN (1/25,000) #3443 OT "Aups Salernes"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #25 "Maures Haut-Pays Varois"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #19 "Haute Provence Verdon"
The area around the village has many farms and vineyards, so cross-country hiking is limited.
A couple of trails follow the roads south and southeast out of the village and then go through lovely forests towards Salernes, Villacroze and Tourtour.
There are some nice loops hikes east of the village in the wooded Montagne des Espiguières, that get up to 834 m (and 880 m further east).
Northwest of Aups there are several forest roads in the beautiful La Colle and Les Cugulons hills (with forested peaks in the 800-950 m range). You can get to this area also by a trail that goes northwest from the D957 road 6 km north of Aups. This trail goes up the ridge of Les Cugulons about 6 km to where it joins the Grande Randonnée GR99, the trail that goes along the southern part of the Grand Canyon du Verdon.
- International Camping - tel: (33) 494 70 06 80; fax: (33) 494 70 10 51; Apr-Sept
- Les Prés - tel: (33) 494 70 00 93; permanent
- St-Lazare - tel: (33) 494 70 12 86; Apr-Sept
- Les Prés - tel: (33) 494 70 00 93; permanent
There are several café-restaurants and a couple of pretty good hotel-restaurants. Saturday and Wednesday are popular market days, and Sunday mid-day is busy (even in the winter). The restaurants can fill up fast, so either start early or phone ahead.
Aups has the Musée Simon Segal art museum (paintings), housed in what must have been an old church. It's a really fine old building, on one of the streets in the center of town.
Faykod Sculpture Park - Musée de Faykod
Location: Route de Tourtour
Mainline rail service, from Paris or Nice, is available to Les Arcs (station Draguignan-Les Arcs), Toulon and Brignols. The TGV from Paris also stops at Les Arcs. [map]
the nearest car rental is in Draguignan
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.)
Les Arcs - Draguignan - Salernes - Aups Bus 1201
- Var bus line 1201 connects Les Arcs (Gare SNCF/TGV), Draguignan, Flayosc, Villecroze, Salernes, Aups.
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 (1201) 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.)