Var (83390) Population: 4,040 Altitude: 150 m
Pierrefeu-du-Var sits on a hill, a bit to the north of the Maures, dominating the flat lands of vineyards spread across the lands below. The old village is on the flanks of the hillside, with chapel Ste-Croix and an excellent view, on a rocky peak just above [photo-2], and the expanded village of newer housing mostly on the southern base of the hill. Market day 4th Sat.
The village isn't spectacular, but it's nice and it's natural without being overly "prettified" for the tourists. The trompe-l'oeil mural in the center of the village [our photo-1, left] is really grand. The old village has a "Sarrasin" quarter, narrow old streets and an occasional vaulted passage. The St-Jacques church was restored at the end of the 18th century, and is topped with a square bell tower and campanile.
The main D14 road runs north-south through the center of the village [map, photo-7], with a tee-branch going down the hill to the east. It's down here a bit (to the east) where you'll find a small square with the Mairie and the post office. Across the road from there is the Place Gambetta with the village market, a bit smaller than normal in the winter time [photo-3].
Just a few steps to the south is the picturesque little Place de la Concorde, with a "fire-symbol" fountain [photo-4] and benches beneath what would be summer-time shady plane trees (platanes).
We did a half-day photo-visit of Pierrefeu in January (2001), so the trees look more barren than they normally would. Pierrefeu-du-Var is a "village fleuri" and, even with the winter-time lack of flowers, there was some color and a lot of green, especially on the small streets between the main road and the top of the hill.
We spoke with the man (and his wife) at #26 about plants and flowers, and he pointed out the plaque on the front of his house awarding him first prize for the "maison fleurie". We'll be going back in the Spring to get some pictures of his gardens in bloom.
History of Pierrefeu-du-Var
First record, 10th century Petrafoc.
Prehistoric: Traces of protohistoric dwellings have been discovered in the areas of Peyrols, David, Castellas. David is "Les Davids", 2 km northeast where the interesting "Coloniel" house is located, and just beside the GR51.
Medieval: Pierrefeu was a "Seigneurie" of the Vicomtes de Marseille, upped to a Marquisat in 1682 in favor of Pierre Dedons. There's also an old story of the "Savage of Pierrefeu" who lived 6 years in the forest, eating only plants (we don't know the date of this).
• GPS: 43.227159, 6.143172
IGN (1/25,000) #3445 OT "Cuers, Pierrefeu-du-Var, Collobrières"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #25 "Maures Haut-Pays Varois"
The hills to the east are alive with hiking trails: the forested Maures have lots of trails, including many loop possibilities, and they are, for the most part, not too steep.
The GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) passes by a couple of km northeas of Pierrefeu-du-Var, going between Puget-Ville and Bormes-les-Mimosas, past the hamlet of La Portanière. Some of the trails can take you to Collobrières, about 20 hiking km to the east.
La Grignotière This is a very nice restaurant on the Espace Bouchonniere, a short walk from the center (tel/fax 0494 481 919; www.lagrignotiere.com). Their menu has some classic dishes and some special ones, all very good, and portions for hungry people. We paid 400 F for two, a-la-carte, with two "entrées", two "plats", half-bottle of blanc-de-blanc, bottled water and coffees.
The Salade de Chèvre Chaud (au Bacon) is a good but classical dish, but with several thick slices of ham-bacon. My Mille Feuilles de Saumon Fumé Florentine was really special: a flakey pastry enclosing excellent smoked salmon and spinache - outstanding. The main dishes of noix de coquilles Saint-Jacques and poireaux (leeks) and Lotte au Curry were both excellent.
Presentation was mouth-watering, and you'll find photos of the dishes in the Gastronomy section, Special Dishes.
There are also some smaller pizzaria-restaurants and cafés in the center of the village.
Pierrefeu-du-Var is probably the most famous name of the Côte de Provence wines, and there are several well-known wineries right at the edges of the village. (see Provence Wines)
Chateau de l'Aumerade Santon Museum - Musée du Santon Santon
Chateau de l'Aumerade winery has a Santon Museum with 1800 santons, a private collection of M. Henri Fabre, the owner of the Chateau.
Location: Route de Puget-Ville
Open: All year, 8h30-12h30, 13h30-17h30 (winter), -18h00 summer, -19h00 July-Aug.
Tel: 0494 282 031
The method for public transport for Marseille to Pierrefeu would be: - shuttle bus (navette) from the airport to the train station - train to Toulon - bus to Pierrefeu. From my schedules, however, it looks like the last train from Marseille is 22h13, and then you would probably be way too late for any bus from Toulon. I'll call tomorrow, anyway, to see if I can get bus times from Toulon, but I think you're getting in too late to make it feasible
Driving from Nice/Grasse is about 1h30 via the autoroute: - take the A8 autoroute, direction Aix/Pce. - 1hr, exit onto the A57 autoroute, direction Toulon. - 29 km, immediately after the toll-booth (peage, 53F), exit #10 (Cuers). - the D14 east to Pierrefeu-du-Var (6 km) is clearly marked.
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.)