Var (83560) Population: 1,297 Altitude: 578 m
Saint Julien-le-Montagnier is a picturesque village perched along a ridge in the hills of the northwest Var department, by the Verdon river. Featuring an old windmill and a half, a beautiful 11th-century Romanesque church, ancient stone walls and ramparts, and a magnificent view.
Officially the name of the commune is simply "Saint Julien", but there are several of those in France, so the unofficial "-le-Montagnier" is a useful appendage. It also has historical credence, following from the first recorded name of Sanctus Julianus Montanarius from the 12th century.
The first "Lord" of Saint Julien-le-Montagnier was actually a Lady: Laure de Saint-Julien (1178), a beauty celebrated at least by the troubadour Folquet de Marseille. A lady leader was very rare in those days, as Medieval gender equality had a long, long way to go.
The commune of Saint Julien-le-Montagnier is a collection of 28 hamlets, including Saint Pierre, just below the old village to the northeast, and stretches north as far as the Verdon river and the Lac d'Esparron.
The best of the remaining Medieval ramparts is at the western end of the old village. The 12th-century portail de Gourdane [Photo-06], with the entrance port, tower and wall protected the village, but workers at the mills had to scurry inside when trouble came.
Our [Photo-07] shows the same portail tower and wall viewed from the windmills area.
The top of Saint Julien-le-Montagnier's 578 m hill provides a view over the countryside in all directions. The village has taken the novel approach of building a belvedere on top of a low water tower at the very top of the village, beside the church and the castle ruins, that provides a complete 360-degree view out across several departments.
The orientation table (table d'orientation) is built in a ring around the periphery of the large observation point [Photo-05] to help you identify far distant (and sometimes out-of-sight) places. In Mike Gilbert's photo here, for example, Gréoux-les-Bains is over the first forested hill straight ahead, and the Lac d'Esparron is over the hill at the right.
History of Saint Julien-le-Montagnier
First record, 1182 Sanctus Julianus Montanarius. Successive names were Saint-Julien-le-Montagnier, then Saint-Julien-la-Montagne.
Prehistoric: Prehistoric habitation was located at Les Pignolets, 2 km southeast of the village.
Celto-Ligurian: Traces of Celtic-Ligurian occumpation were found at Gourdane.
Gallo-Roman: Remains of several Gallo-Roman sites have been discovered around Saint Julien-le-Montagnier, including an important Roman station at Saint Plume and others at Malaurie (3 km northwest), Sainte-Anne (1 km east) and Saint-Julien itself.
Medieval: The first ruler was the celebrated beauty Laure de Saint-Julien (1178). Successive rulers were Vicomtes de Marseille d'Arnaud de Triano, followed by the Castellanes and the Forbins.
• GPS: 43.690042, 5.907698
IGN (1/25,000) #3343 OT "Greoux-les-Bains, Rians"
There are no marked hiking trails shown on the IGN map in close proximity to the old village of Saint Julien-le-Montagnier.
The GR99 (Grande Randonnée) trail passes just 3 km to the east, and still in the commune. Eastward the GR99 goes to the banks of the Verdon close to Quinson, then continues to Artignosc-sur-Verdon and points east. In the other direction the GR99 goes south to La Verdière and then southwest towards Saint Martin and Esparron.
The IGN map 3343 OT shows a lot of forestry tracks and trails in the expanse of woods all around the village, including the hilly area towards the lac d'Esparron. We don't know how much of it is accessible but it looks great for exploring.
The village's main (and only) café-restaurant is the Auberge du Montagnier [Photo-08]. We're not sure if they're open off-season, but in the summer the terrace tables under the shade trees surrounding the petanque players [Photo-09] is a delight.
Transportation Saint Julien-le-Montagnier
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.)