Friday, 14 December 2012

The Most Beautiful Places in Provence and Lorgues

The small Provencal town of  Lorgues is situated about 13 kms from Draguignon, about an hour’s drive from Cannes or a little less from StTropez.  It is situated in the Var, a wine producing region of Provence and is a pretty town with lots of history, ranging back to medieval times and with some earlier Roman influences.

Basically it is an old fortified town, with a great number of old buildings, with vaulted tiny streets and arch ways all joined together but often painted different colours, most with the typical Provencal shutters painted in pastel colors. The Church of St Martin dominates the central part of the town and is one of the largest in the war. Lorgues has over 20 historical moments, most of which can be seen if you take the well marked walking tour set up by the tourist office.

The walk takes you through leafy squares and streets, mostly sun dappled and protected by the huge Plane trees that predominate.  Many of the buildings date from as far back as the 12th century,  with the clock tower and bell of the 12th century being well worth a look.  There is the Fountain of  nuts with its distinctive dolphin statues and plaques commemorating events in Lorgues history going back to the 13th century and also showing the Lorgues coat of arms, a dog and a lion denoting strength and fidelity.

There are a couple of notable sundials in the town, one of which is opposite the huge St Martin church so is subsequently in shade for much of the time, a slight design fault there then!. There is also some history of the nights Templars being active in the town for those interested in such events.

The Tour De France came through Lorgues in 2009 and cycling and walking remain very popular pastimes for the local and tourists.  The surrounding countryside which is typical Provence, is stunning and from the mountains behind the town it is possible to see down to the sea. There is also tennis and a swimming pool for those that do not have access to Private Villa facilities.
Apart from the famous rose wines of the area, olive trees make up a good part of the landscape and olive oil has been produced in the area since Roman times, so a great many old olive trees can be seen.  Some of these are thousands of years old, and you can sometimes see them for sale in garden centres, but the cost is staggering, you can pay over 3000 euros for a specimen of over 1000 years old.

St Tropez is easily reachable as a day trip, as is Cannes, but beware traffic at peak times.  It is probably best to have access to a car whilst staying in the area as public transport is not very well developed in this comparatively sparsely populated area.  It is also advisable to look to rent a villa in the area, as the hotels are not always up to the international standards wanted by the modern tourists.  Although many can be charming, the ability to sink into ones private swimming pool after a long day exploring or at the beach is something worth paying for.  There are a number of companies locally that specialise in rentals, best to find an English speaking agency otherwise, unless your french is really good you can run into trouble with the rental contract.

Getting to Lorgues is reasonably simple, it is signposted from the A8motorway which runs along the coast.  The nearest airport is Nice International airport which serves a number of UK airports including all 4 in London, Liverpool, East Midlands, Bristol and Manchester can also be reached daily, and there are also regular flights to New York, Montreal, even Moscow and Dubai.