Var (83136) Population: 3,047 Altitude: 370 m
Rocbaron has only a small "old village center" amidst a widening area of residential villas and houses. There's no vieille ville for exploring, but the communal life is active and the Office de Tourism is friendly and helpful about local history.
At the village center, beside the large parking area, is the clearly marked Médiathèque (library) that includes the Office de Tourisme. This is a good place to start your visit: get a map of the village and find out a bit about local history and nearby walks.
Just north of the Médiathèque is the Mairie (town hall). One block north of the Mairie, a street to the left, Rue Fernand Gueit, has the Epicerie Chez Tante Anélie where you can get bread and groceries.
A second short block north of the Mairie, on Rue des Faysonnes to the right, is La Terrace, the local café and restaurant.
The "commercial center" of Rocbaron is at the northwest edge of the commune, at the junction of the D81 and D43 roads. Here you'll find things like bakery, hair dressers, fruit and vegetable market, flower shop and a big supermarket.
Two ancient stone ovens are located at La Verrerie, an area just over 1 km north of Rocbaron center, to the right (east) of the D12.
A Four à Cade (cade oven) was used to produce cade oil from the cade (prickly juniper) bush. Used from the beginning of the 20th century up until the 1950's, the simple stone cade ovens produced the oil by burning the wood from the bush in the upper part of the oven and extracting the oil from the bottom part.
Cade oil has been popular for its medicinal healing properties and for beauty products. It's considered very good as an antiseptic and disinfectant, and is used in face and hair products.
Nearby is a Four à Chaux (lime kiln). This ancient oven, also from the beginning of the 19th century, was used to convert the natural chalk into lime. With the local hills full of chalk, the fours à chaux were found throughout the region.
St Sauveur Ruins
About 10 minutes up the trail are the ruins of the ancient chapel. Really just the stone walls of the old building sitting in the trees at the edge of a small clearing. Interesting, but the real ruins are another 10-15 minutes up to the peak.
At the extreme top of the hill sit the stone ruins of 12th-century Saint Sauveur Castle. Enough of the castle walls remain on the eagles-nest site to give a Medieval feeling about it. Across the hills to the northeast, the castle ruins of Forcalqueiret are clearly visible.
Written history of the castle is rather scarce. Study of the stone defenses indicates 11th century, and possibly 10th century. The story of the castle's demise is also verbal and variable. One theory is that the castle was destroyed during local wars. Another, possibly more plausible, is that the isolated site was abandoned for the newer and more accessible castle of Forcalqueiret.
Marcel JEAN's Bakery
A very nice little booklet from the Office de Tourisme tells the story of Marcel JEAN, Boulanger. This excellent baker took over the Rocbaron bakery in 1975. this master baker provided the village with excellent bread from then until sometime after 2006, when our [Photo-06] was taken.
M. Jean's passion for his work can be seen in the decoration of the shop, and the detail of the windmill iconary in the grill [Photo-08].
Today (January 2010) the old bakery has been transformed into an épicerie, but still sells bread.
History of Rocbaron
First record, 1019 De Rocabarone (probably the name of a Lord Rocca de Baron)
Prehistoric: Remains of protohistoric walls at Tèmes (the peak 1 km east-southeast).
Gallo-Roman: Roman tombs with headstones at the "Camps de La Caouillade et de Catèu".
Medieval: Domain of the Viscounts of Marseille, then successively of the d'Agoult, Vins, Forbin and Villeneuve.
• GPS: 43.304175, 6.091139
IGN (1/25,000) #3445 OT "Cuers, Pierrefeu-du-Var, Collobrières"
The GR9 (Grande Randonnée) hiking trail passes through Rocbaron, at the eastern edge of the center.
Northeast the GR9 goes up into the forest and follows the ridge east to Carnoules (about 10 km).
Southwest the GR9 follows roads about 3 kms to the Col de la Bigue, a junction of roads and the trails GR9 and GR51.
A hike up to the St-Sauveur ruins southeast of the center is less than an hour, out and back, including time to explore the old sites and enjoy the magnificent view.
There are a variety of loop hikes south and east of Rocbaron, including segments of the GR9 and GR51 trails and PR (Petite Randonée) hiking trails. We drove part way out the D12 towards Puget-Ville and did a short loop hike that passed by the wonderful 12th-century Chapelle Sainte-Philomène.
Rocbaron is served by the VAR bus:
- 4408: Brignoles, Forcalqueiret, Garéoult, Rocbaron, Néoules, Méounes-lès-Montrieux, La Roquebrussanne.
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.)
Six Gîtes and Chambres d'hôtes are available in Rocbaron; a list is available from the Office de Tourisme.