Var (83120) Population: 1,991
Plan-de-la-Tour is a small village in the Massif des Maures hills, about 15 km northwest of St Tropez and Ste Maxime on the coast. The village of la Garde-Freinet is 10 km southwest, along a twisty little road through the woods. It's a rather plain little town, not obviously picturesque and not terribly active. Market day Thur.
We last visited here on a Thursday mid-morning in early March, and the place was decidely "quiet". It's an attractive little town, though, in its quiet way. The houses and buildings in the town are all well-kept and most are nicely painted in the colorful Provençal pastels and ocres.
The town is rather spread out, without a clearly defined center. Or rather, there are two or three centers. The town map shows a tight group of old streets surrounding the "Eglise" and the "Ancien Presbytère", but it's not so obvious when you're wander around on a discovery walk. There are many modern houses growing now from the village, but the center is still "authentic", including a 16th-century tower and vaulted passages. There are also a number of ruined mills nearby
Wandering the narrow streets around the center of the town we didn't find any sites really outstanding, but there are enough little nooks, pretty doorways and other little sites to make a short stroll interesting. A line of low hills form a backdrop to the northeast of town, quite pretty when there's a deep blue sky behind them.
We found only a couple of cafés open on a sunny weekday in the winter. Both were on the "basic" side, small, noisy and smokey, but of course the service was fast and polite and the clientel were talkative and friendly.
No supermarkets in sight (thank goodness), but Plan-de-la-Tour does have all the necessary shops, such as butcher, baker, groceries, hair dressing and everything else needed to support the inhabitants and the visitors. We also visited a shop claiming to have 'a bit of everything' (named appropriately Un Peu de Tout), and it really did. Inside the aisles were narrow and the shelves were high, and packed with anything and everything you could imagine, from household, to hardware, to sports, toys, gifts and things we couldn't identify.
There's a second little "old village" about a 10-minute walk north of the town center. From the top of the main street (Ave Général Leclerc), turn right in front of the old "Foyer des Campagnes" building and go out the Bvd Maréchal Joffre, which is also the D44 in the direction of Le Muy. When you get to the edge of town, where the little stream "Ruisseau d'Emponse" crosses the road, you'll find a collection of old houses and tiny little streets clustered tightly together.
The village is located in an oasis of cleared farms and vineyards in the midst of the Maures forests of pine, pubescent oak, cork oak and olive trees. Corks from the numerous cork oaks are one of the local products - along with Côte de Provence wines, olives, red and yellow marble and pewter.
Color is added in the first few months of the year with mimosa growing thickly, in peoples gardens, on the hillsides along the northwest part of town and along the roads and lanes nearby. On the D44 towards Le Muy, just a few kilometers from Plan-de-la-Tour we saw forests of the bright yellow shrubs. Just east of town, where the D74 heads out across the farmlands towards Sainte Maxime, there's a forest of umbrella pine (pin parasole).
History of Plan-de-la-Tour
First record, 12th century Castrum de Planaturris
The earliest official record of the village is the name Castrum de Planaturris from the 12th century, but the earliest real record of local habitation goes back to prehistoric times: a menhir, 3 dolmens and related artifacts dating to the Bronze Age are located at Reverti, 5 km south of the current village. Celtic-Ligurian sites have been located nearby, and there are vestiges of various Roman sites.
Market day: Thur. Market is Thurs mornings, summer and winter, on the south side of town. It isn't a huge market, but there's pretty much a stand for everything: fishmonger, fruits and local produce, 'terroir' products such as local wines, honey, patés and cheeses, some clothes, roasted chicken, and so on.
Sep - Fete de la Vigne et du Vin - Roman Era Grape& Wine Festival
• GPS: 43.339663, 6.547435
The GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) trail passes less than 1000 meters south of the town center.
To go northeast, the GR51 goes due west about 3 kms, then goes north across the hills and finally northeast through the Maures, via Roquebrune-sur-Argens and points east.
Westward: the GR51 goes almost due south from Plan-de-la-Tour, through Grimaud and Cogolin towards the Mediterranean. It then curves westward, following along the top of the hills just above the coast, passing along north of Bormes-les-Mimosas before turning northwest towards Pierrefeu-du-Var.
The GR9 trail comes north from Port Grimaud, joins for a while with the GR51, then (about 3 km south of Plan-de-la-Tour) heads west past La Garde-Freinet and on through the Maures. We once hiked this trail from Port Grimaud to Aix-en-Provence — good fun but not to be done mid-summer.
For short hikes, you can use part of the GR51 and follow the numerous forestry roads and trails through the hills.
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.)