Var (83230) Population: 5,083 Altitude: 150 m
The old village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, sitting on a the flank of the forested Maures mountains, is well decorated with mimosa (of course) and has a lot of cactus growing along the rock walls around the village. The commune of Bormes-les-Mimosas includes a marina (Port de Bormes), the new town (which you will drive through) and the old village (which you will drive to). Market day Tue, Wed.
The commune of Bormes-les-Mimosas is located on the Mediterranean coast, east of Toulon, and stretches some 15 km into the Maures hills. The commune has a small port and yacht harbor, and some nice coastline, but the Bormes-les-Mimosas village is located in the hills about 4 km north of the port.
The old village is actually rather nice, in spite of being somewhat touristy. The upper part (above the restaurants and the Office de Tourisme) is so thoroughly restored that it's "pretty". The lower part of Bormes-les-Mimosas old village fairly large, with narrow streets between old houses, and more reminiscent of the medieval villages further back in Beyond.
The central part of Bormes-les-Mimosas old village at Place Gambetta has some nice shops and some terrace restaurants and cafés. The adjacent Place Saint-François hosts the village market and other events on non-market days. From this central area, Rue Carnot descends along a gentle slope past many more picturesque shops and restaurants, and some pretty buildings.
Visiting the rest of Bormes-les-Mimosas old village, though, requires strong legs.
This is a real hillside old village: the streets are very steep, and many of them are all steps.
The street in this photo is an example; this is the aptly named, "Break Ass Street" (Rue Rompi Cuou), descending from Rue Carnot down into the lower part of the old village.
The narrow and steep of streets are lovely, though, with many houses in bright Provencal pastels, cobblestone streets, and some lovely little squares to discover.
With the old village of Bormes-les-Mimosas isolated in the hills away from the coastal road, it's nice to know that there's good parking right at the village. Also, the parking is free, except on the annual Corso day. Like the old village, the parking is hillside, which means trudging up a steep access road or long steps to the village after you've parked. It's common for drivers to drop of their passengers at the top before driving down into the parking lots.
The Namesake Mimosa
Bormes has attached the Mimosa to its name, evoking the colorful yellow tree that blooms all along the north Mediterranean coast every winter. This colorful tree is actually the Accia dealbata, in English the Silver Wattle. With a height to 30 m, this tree is also native in SE Australia and Tasmania, as pointed out forcefully by our Australian friend and visitor.
Every February, when the bright yellow mimosa blooms, Bormes-les-Mimosas celebrates the start of Spring with its annual Corso Fleuri, the Cote d'Azur's oldest flower parade event. The only Corso still using only fresh flowers, the Bormes flower floats parade through the narrow streets amidst the spectators, without separating barriers, a real "participation" event.
Route du Mimosa
The Route du Mimosa is an annual inter-village celebration of 8 villages along a 130-km route. The towns and villages are:
A walk up to the top of the village will take you to the "ruins" of the 13th-century chateau. The ruins are so neat, they look like they were built exactly like that, and they're private property. They're shaded by huge pins parasols, though, and there's a tiny park with lawn, benches, and a nice view to reward your walk.
Chapelle Notre Dame de Constance
The 13th-century Romanesque chapel sits on the top of the hill (315 m), above the village. From the chateau ruins, continue up the hill on Chemin de Constance, following the red-white marks of the Grande Randonnée. It's about a half-hour climb up through the forest of cork oak, to the chapel and observation table at the top. The view is fabulous from the top. The forested hills of the Maures stretch out to the west and climb away to the east. Across the plains below, beyond Bormes-les-Mimosas and Le Lavandou, the Hyères Islands (Iles d'Hyères) stretch across the sea from left to right.
History of Bormes-les-Mimosas
First record, Borma: 1056. Bormes became Bormes-les-Mimosas in 1968.
Celto-Ligurian: The original Celtic-Ligurian people here, from around 400 BC, were the Bormani. The port of Brégançon on the west side of Cap Bénat, handled Mediterranian traffic during Antiquity, exporting lead and granit from local mines during Greek occupation; the plain of Bormes was probably a commercial center.
Gallo-Roman: Numerous artifacts discovered here show a clear Roman presence.
Medieval: Bormes has had a difficult history. The village was first sacked by the Saracens in 730, and they returned occasionally until 1539. The Spanish attacked in 1362 and the Corsaires sacked the village in 1393. The plague decimated the population in 1482, until it was stopped by the monk Francesco Martotillo, who became Saint François de Paul and the patron saint of the village. Bormes was put to flame in 1529 by the Maures ("Africans"). The village was ravaged in 1539 by the Génois of Andrea Doria, and in 1579 by the Wars of Religion, directed by the Count of Carcès. Various Lords ruled in succession, until Lenfant made Bormes a barony in 1750; this was one of the rare examples of a self-ruled commune prior to the Revoluton.
More Recently: Bormes was set up as a resort town in 1890. In 1913, part of the territory was detached to form the commune of Le Lavandou.
Market day: Tue, Wed.
Marché aux Puces - Flea market: 1st, 3rd Sat
Feb - Grand Corso du Mimosa: parades, floats
• GPS: 43.142008, 6.338347
IGN (1/25,000) #3446 ET "Le Lavandou, Parc Nat. Port-Cros, Corniche Maures"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #25 "Maures Haut-Pays Varois"
The Massif des Maures is full of great hiking trails, including the long-distance Grandes Randonnées GR 51 and GR 90, local trails and many possible loop hikes.
• The GR 90 starts on the road between Le Lavandou and Bormes-les-Mimosas. It passes through the village, up the hill to the Chapelle Notre Dame de Constance and then up into the Maures to the north. It passes Collobrières (about 15 km) before joining the east-west GR 9. A good hiking guidebook is the "FFRP - Massifs Provencaux (ref. 906)".
• The GR 51 (The Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) crosses through the Maures just beyond the chapel above the village. To join the GR 51, you can hike north from the chapel, or follow a trail northeast from the village, past the Pierre d'Avenon (443 m).
• A coastal hiking path goes south, past Port de Bormes and around the Cap Bénat. To the east, this path follows the coast past Cavalière and around the Cap Nègre.
• There are loop hiking trails around two of the Hyères islands. Porquerolles is the largest; Port-Cros is more hilly and forested.
- Toulon-Hyères Airport (25 km)
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.)
Hyères Airport - St-Tropez Bus 7803
- Var bus line 7803 connects the Toulon-Hyères Airport with all the towns along the coast to Saint Tropez.
- For Hyères or Toulon, transfer (at any of the stops) to line 7801.
- For Grimaud, St Maximin, Fréjus, transfer at St Tropez to line 7601.
The complete route for bus line 7803 is: Hyères Les Palmiers airport, La Londe-les-Maures, Bormes-les-Mimosas, Le Lavandou, Le Rayol-Canadel, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, La Croix-Valmer, Gassin, La Foux, St Tropez.
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 (7803) 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.)
Toulon - Le Lavandou - St-Tropez Bus 7801
- Var bus line 7801 connects the Toulon with all the towns along the coast to Saint Tropez (but not the airport).
- For the Toulon-Hyères Airport, transfer at La Londe-les-Maures to line 7803.
- For Grimaud, St Maximin, Fréjus, transfer at St Tropez to line 7601.
The complete route for bus line 7801 is: Toulon, La Valette, La Garde, La Crau, Hyères (center), La Londe-les-Maures, Bormes-les-Mimosas, Le Lavandou, Le Rayol-Canadel, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, La Croix-Valmer, Gassin, La Foux, St Tropez.
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 (7801) 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.)
- Gare SNCF, Toulon (42 km)
Bateau Taxi "Tonton Winger"
- To: Iles d'Or
- Location: 1568, route de Margegasse; 83230 Bormes-les-Mimosas
- Tel: 0494 712 857
- To: Corsica, Sardinia
- Location: 49 Ave Infanterie de Marine; 83000 Toulon
- Tel: 0494 166 660
Vedettes les Iles d'Or
- To: Iles d'Or
- Location: 15, Quai Gabriel Péri; 83980 Le Lavandou
- Tel: 0494 710 102