Var (83610) Population: 1,435 Altitude: 131 m
Collobrières looks like a little village when you arrive, and it's surely lost out here in the forests of the Maures. Walk around a bit, though, and you'll discover a sizeable town, with long streets between blocks of old buildings, painted in a variety of pastels, with contrasting colored shutters and some wrought-iron balconies. Market day Sun, Thur.
There are just a few of the necessary shops, but with a good selection of cafés, restaurants and hotels. The long, wide Bvd Lazare Carnol goes through the center, shaded by huge old plane trees, and at the center square there's a unique fountain with the statue of a little boy holding a big fish [photo-3]. Many other, smaller, fountains are scattered all about the town.
The river Réal Collobrier runs through town, with the central part of it like a canal along the edge of the buildings. At the north end of town, the road crosses the river on the Pont Raoul Calvi, a 12th-century stone bridge[photo-2]. Across the bridge is Chapelle Notre Dame de Pitié, and the Confiserie Azuréenne, makers of candied chestnuts (marrons glacés).
At the end of the long Place de Gaulle is the large, gothic Notre-Dame des Victoires church with its colorfully tiled steeple [photo-4]. The church is currently being restored (Spring, 1997).
History of Collobrières
First record, 11th century: Collubraira
Prehistoric: The area nearby dates way back in history, attested to by the menhirs on Plateau Lambert to the southeast [photo-6].
Gallo-Roman: Roman vestiges in the surrounding hills include mine galleries in the rock, at Baudisson, les Mouras, Valcros and Vaubarnier. In a ravine at Varoun, an inscription on the wall beside the road says that Claudius Vibius Varus buried his wife in the year 160.
Medieval: The commune of Collobrières was ruled by the viscounts of Marseilles. Louis II d'Anjou later bequeathed it to Jean de Laugiers. In 1470, it was a fief of the Glandevès and then of the Villeneuves. Aumerian returned here from Spain with the secrets of how to manipulate cork.
Market day: Sun, Thur. Sun is the main market day.
Aug - Aioli monstre; parade of the fountains
Oct (last 3 Sun) - Fetes de la Châtaigne - Chestnut Festival, Last 3 Sundays
Nov-Dec - Marché paysan (peasant's market), Nov-Dec Sat afternoons and Sun
Nov (1st) - Foire annuelle
• GPS: 43.23826, 6.30923
IGN (1/25,000) #3445 OT "Cuers, Pierrefeu-du-Var, Collobrières"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #25 "Maures Haut-Pays Varois"
There's excellent hiking here in the center of the Maures, with the mountains heavily forested in cork oak and Chataigniers. The three most-recommended hikes are to the Chartreuse de la Verne, the Plateau Lambert and Notre-Dame des Anges. The GR 90 (Grande Randonnée) goes to all three sites, as well as other places in the Maures, including connection with the GR 51.
• Plateau Lambert is an hour's hike southeast from the village. Take the GR 90 out of the town, up behind the Eglise St Pons ruins and into the woods. The trail has a steep climb (150 to 250 m) at first, then a steady gradual climb to about 450 m altitude before leveling off. At the end, the trail comes out on a forest road. The GR 90 continues to the right, and the two menhirs are only 100 m down the road, in the field to the left just before the pine woods. To the left the road goes to the Lambert farm, now the Garde Forstièrer. It would be polite to say hello to him (the forest ranger) before crossing the field to the menhirs.
• Chartreuse de la Verne is a Carthusian monastery, about 40 km east of Collobrières. Follow the GR 90 southeast from town to the Plateau Lambert (see above). At the junction to the right, past the menhir and the eucalyptus woods, follow the GR 90 Vte to the left (northeast).
• Notre-Dame des Anges is on a peak (767 m) about 25 km north-northwest of Collobrières. The peak, with its communications mast, is visible far across the countryside in all directions. Take the GR 90 out the north side of town and follow it all the way.
• GR 90 signposts at Plateau Lambert are marked:
- Baraque de Bargean (N98) 2h30
- Col de Gratteloup (GR91-N98) 5h15
- Bormes-les-Mimosas, 7h
Collobrières seems a favorite passage for cyclists. The D14 road to Grimaud (22 km east) and the D41 to Bormes-les-Mimosas (west 2 km, then south 19 km) are twisty and very scenic.
There's no train out here in the middle of the Maures, and limited bus service, so you'll need a car (or bicycle).
Air: Toulon-Hyères airport, (30 km)
Bus: There are two buses a day between Collobrières and Toulon: one about 6h00 and one about noon.
Rail: Toulon (44 km), Hyères (32 km)
Road: Autoroute A57 (Toulon-Le Luc), exit 10 "Cuers" (22 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.)