Var (83830) Population: 1,276 Altitude: 398 m
Callas village is perched on a sharp ridge, with the ruins of the old 13th-century chateau, including walls and donjon, lurking above, although more visible approaching the village than from within.
Wandering around on a chilly winter Sunday, with the minimum of village activity, Callas still felt interesting, with lots of colorful buildings, some ancient stone walls and step-streets, and a fair amount of activity. Market day Sat, Tue.
A beautiful old Mairie in the center has a 1623 lookout belltower (beffroi) with its rather plain wrought-iron belfry (campanile de fer forgé). Sitting even higher, the Notre Dame church is the most prominent building in the village, its white-stone bell tower and high pointed peak visible above everything else.
With a population of around 1300, Callas is large enough to spread up the hillside, with many squares and even more fountains. The medieval streets are sometimes wide, stone step-streets and sometimes narrow, arched passages beneath the buildings. A more modern, bright touch, is the dark-lavender color of the street lamps and trash bins, the later in the shape of small amphorae were made by a local artisan. There is also a health club gym, rare in the Beyond region villages.
Sometime in the past the railway went through Callas (and through nearby Claviers), and the old tunnel passes through the hill beneath the center of the village. The entrance to this long tunnel is mostly covered by a curtain of hanging ivy, giving the it a prehistoric look [photo-11]. We haven't yet taken the time to explore into the darkness.
A large "lavoir" on the main street in the lower village is in a two-story building with a pillared facade. The upper part of the building, on the right side, is still labeled "DOUCHES", from when this was the public baths (or showers) for Callas [photo-1].
Just below the village is an ancient olive mill (moulin à huile) that now doubles as a gift shop. In addition to olive oil, you can find olive-wood items and pottery. The old water wheel is no longer working, but the metal frame is nicely painted and the old wooden slats are still in place.
History of Callas
First record, 1030 Calars
Gallo-Roman: An important Gallo-Roman establishment was located at the Trinité area at the western edge of the village. A villa and a ruined temple ("petit sanctuaire"), with pottery, inscription and a makeup box. The only Roman mausoleum in a wide area is under the villa. Other Roman-era churches, chapels and ruins are located all around this area
Medieval: part of the fief of the Pontevès family during the 15th and 16th centuries. The commune purchased the village in 1579, after Jean-Baptiste de Pontevès was killed by the population. It then became a royal village.
Market day: Sat, Tue.
May (1st Sun) - Saint Ampile fete
Aug (3rd weekend) - Saint Laurent village fete
Aug - Foire artisanale (15 Aug)
• GPS: 43.594047, 6.539019
IGN (1/25,000) #3543 OT "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.)
Draguignan - Fayence Bus
- Bus line 3201 connects Draguignan, Figanières (Quatre Chemins), Callas (Quatre Chemins), Seillans, and Fayence.