Riviera towns

"Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far." Thomas Jefferson.


Caussol -*- Saint-Arnoux -*- Le Bar-sur-Loup -*- Tourette-sur-Loup

The river Loup and the valley it has carved out of the mountainous hinterland of the glamorous Côte d'Azur provide on of the most scenic pathways of the Riviera - a complete contrast to a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais .

The winding and hilly pathway takes you past the scattered villages which dot the landscape. And, if you're energetic enough, a climb up the majestic and desolate hillsides of Caussol is well worth the effort. Once you're 2,500 feet up, there's a rocky spur called the Gourdon la Sarrasine. From here you are rewarded with an eagle's eye view of the entire Loup gorges. Look out for the old houses with their red roofs scattered around the castle of the Counts of Provence, built in the 13th century on the ruins of a Saracen fort.

A small museum of medieval art has been established in the village, which because of its commanding views, has become a favourite abode for artists and craftsmen of all sorts.

Follow the road down toward the Saint-Arnoux hermitage and you pass the turbulent Courmes waterfall, all 45 feet of it, before reaching the Pont-du-Loup. This bridge was destroyed during the war by Allied bombing and has never been replaced. It now stands as a monument to the fact that in wartime nothing is sacred.

Continue down to the valley and you come to Le Bar-sur-Loup , a typical Provençal village, whose concentric narrow streets centre on a conical rocky spur. There you'll see a church built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the Gothic style two centuries later. It has a huge altar-piece designed by Luois Brèa, consisting of no less than fourteen panels. There are also everal stately 16th century towers which blend in with the ruins of the castle of the Counts of Grasse.

So long as you have prepared yourself for an aesthetic shock, you will undoubtedly enjoy the famous medieval village of Tourette-sur-Loup . Situated on a rocky plateau whose sheer sides fall away into the valley, Tourette-sur-Loup is perched 1,300 feet up and its narrow houses still form what was obviously at one time a powerful defensive rampart.

Entrance to the 3-towered church is through the fortified gate beneath a belfry. The two most spectacular features of this unique village are the 14th-century church, most noteworthy for its gilded altar-piece carved from a single piece of wood, and a stone slab belonging to a pagan sanctuary dedicated to Mercury. The slab itself dates from the first century AD.

This delightful, unspoiled village has attracted a host of artists and craftsmen, potters, weavers, engravers and sculptors, all doing their creative tasks in the shadow of the castle ruins built by the Lords of Villeneuve-Tourette. You can sample their wares in the many craft shops before settng off to nearby Vence or Saint Paul for yet more of the art, culture and tradition which is unique to the French Riviera.

Created, composed, and constructed by Virtual Riviera 1995