Head to the west, the road is windy and along the coast revealing an escape on the gulf after each bend. Opposite the peninsula, opposite Saint-Tropez, there is Sainte-Maxime… Cross the seaside resort and head as far as Fréjus.
This seaside resort typical of the Côte d’Azur is directly opposite Saint-Tropez, on the other side of the gulf.
La Badiane. A nice gastronomic reference in Sainte-Maxime. 6 Rue Fernand Bessy, Sainte-Maxime; Tel.: + 33 4 94 96 53 93.
One strolls along the windy alleyways in this charming village, slightly set back from the coast.
The episcopal group. Aside from the cathedral, the cloister and the baptistry from the Vth century are well worth a look. 58 rue du Cardinal-Fleury.
The archaeological museum. This small museum reminds us of the city’s roman past. Place Calvini.
Villa Aurelienne’s parc. The ruins of an ancient roman aqueduct spring out of a 22 hectare pine forest . Avenue du Général-d’Armée-Calliès.
The Cocteau chapel (or Notre-Dame-of-Jerusalem).This curious chapel is adorned with frescoes painted by Cocteau, representing the artist with Jean Marais in a drawing of the Last Supper.. Route de Cannes, avenue Nicolaï, Tour-de-Mare quarter.
Domaine Clos des Roses. You would never guess from noticing the estate from afar on the passing road that once you cross the gate, a whole other universe would open up. Bought back in 2006 by an important entrepreneur from the Var region, Alex Barbero, the place has had a new lease of life: ultra modern reception hall with glass and stones from the Gard region, a tasting room with a view over the vats, a cosy restaurant with its central chimney, as well as elegant guest rooms and an infinity pool over the vines… the cellars can be visited for free and have been done up with informative panels and the shop often hosts contemporary art exhibitions. Outside, the vines stretch out under the sun of the Var region. There is also a cookery workshop. 1609 Route de Malpasset, Lieu dit ‘Sainte Brigitte’ RD37, Fréjus; Tel.: +33 4 94 52 80 51. www.closdesroses.com
Le Poivrier. A small, simple and friendly address with a nice terrace on the market square in Fréjus. 52 place Paul-Albert-Février; Tel.: + 33 4 94 52 28 50.
La Cave. With a modern décor, a stylish presentation of the dishes and a long wine list… You’ll come back.. 23 Rue Thiers, Saint-Raphaël; Tel.: + 33 4 94 95 79 62.
Domaine Château Sainte-Roseline. This exceptional classified vintage possesses a site, also classified, of outstanding beauty: an old XIVth century abbey, where the bishops of Fréjus would come to stay, a XIIth century cloister and a park with centenary plane trees. The relics of Sainte-Roseline are preserved in a chapel along with several more recent treasures: a mosaic of the artist Marc Chagall, representing the meal of the angels, and a bronze bas-relief by Alberto Giacometti. Exhibitions, events, tastings, wine tasting workshops: the estate offers a rich and varied programme all year long. 83 460 Les Arcs-sur-Argens. Tél.: 04 94 99 50 30. www.sainte-roseline.com
Maison des Vins Côtes de Provence. At the Arcs-sur-Argens, the place brings together all the wines of the appellation Côte de Provence (around 210 estates) and sells them at the wholesale price. The shop also stocks local produce and wine tasting initiations are organised each week. There is a renowned restaurant on the first floor, La Vigne à table. DN7, 83 600 Les Arcs. Tel.: 04 94 99 50 20. www.caveaucp.fr
A military town, Draguignan suffers from a lack of a glamorous image.. Nevertheless, a walk through the old medieval town does offer some nice glances of the XIIIth and XIVth century fortifications.
The Clock Tower. Built on a rocky peak, standing 18 metres high, it dominates the whole town. Built in 1662, it is topped with a wrought iron bell tower from the XVIIIth century.
Côté Rue. In Draguignan, we fell for this gastronomic restaurant hidden down an alley in the centre of town: a new and promising address, where inventive cuisine is orchestrated by the chef Benjamin Collombat. 42 grande rue. Tel.: 04 83 11 50 55.www.restaurant-coterue.com
This charming village from the Var region comes to life during the weekly market every Tuesday morning.
Notre-Dame-de-ben-Va Chapel. SOn the road to Saint-Antonin, this chapel reveals exceptional frescoes both inside and outside, dating from the XVth century.
Domaine Château Roubine. From the tasting cellar, one can take the whole 78 hectares of vines in with just one look, all together with different shades following the light. Cultivated sustainably with some principles borrowed from biodynamic culture, harvested by hand, overnight, these vines are cherished by the team, the cellar master, and of course the owner, Valérie Rousselle, who acquired the estate in 1994. She bought the XVIIIth century Italian inspired bastide and the classified estate that came with it after falling for it.. without much knowledge of wine! A challenge she has taken on with boundless enthusiasm: the vintages are well known these days, like the Terre de Croix blend, in reference to the estate’s Templar origins, or the Inspire blend, audacious and elegant. RD 562, Lorgues. Tel.: 04 94 85 94 94. www.chateauroubine.com
Château de Berne. Aside from a 550 hectare estate and a modernised cave, the Château de Bernes is a place apart, entirely dedicated to lifestyle. Luxury and elegance are laced in the walls of this Relais and Châteaux hotel, whose rooms were recently renovated by the decorator Nathalie Vingot-Mei. To the three restaurants, including one gastronomic, the estate adds a rich cultural programme (exhibitions, concerts, plays, etc), a spa and a cookery school.. A busy trip awaits! Route de Salernes. Tel.: 04 94 60 48 88.
Chez Bruno. . The reputation of this Michelin starred restaurant goes well beyond the borders of the Var region. 2350 Route des Arcs. Tel.: 04 94 85 93 93. www.restaurantbruno.com
Thoronet Abbey. It is, along with Silvacane and Sénanque, one of the three «Cistercian sisters of Provence». Nested in dip of a hill, this medieval work of art, built between 1160 and 1230, reveals architecture with very pure lines. Départementale D279, 83 340 Le Thoronet. tel.: 04 94 60 43 90. www.thoronet.monuments-nationaux.fr
Saint-Antonin du Var
Château Mentone. Lost amidst the forest of the Var region, this superb estate appears such an enchanting enclave: the drive is lined with centenary plane trees, there are 30 hectares of vines stretching under the sun, a «mas provencal» in all its splendour and its modernised vaulted cellar. The beauty of that image is matched only by the level of care tended to the vines, whose culture is classified organic and biodynamic (Demeter). If a solid team manages the estate and the vintages, the owner, Marie-Pierre Caille, is also passionate about wine. A city person, she works in public relations. Marie-Pierre Caille took a 180 degree turn when she bought the estate in 2003. To ensure the place lives on, she offers tastings in the early evenings, a table d’hôte and a few refined bedrooms. 401 Chemin de Mentone. Tel.: 04 94 04 42 00. www.chateaumentone.com
The village’s most famous export is the hexagonal brick red floor tile so typical of houses in the Provence region. The terracotta industry has indeed earned the village an international reputation since the XIXth century. Today still, fifteen or so artisans present their production in their workshops. Terra Ross museum. 3 000 sq m dedicated to ceramics, retracing the history of this tradition going back to the prehistory, the different steps in production and a nice collection of specimens.
Terra Ross museum. 3 000 sq m dedicated to ceramics, retracing the history of this tradition going back to the prehistory, the different steps in production and a nice collection of specimens. Quartier des Launes. Tel.: 04 98 10 43 90.
At the foot of a sharp cliff, Cotignac holds the label «village of character». Not far from its avenue with XVIth and XVIIth century facades, the town square contains a superb clock tower from the XVth century. Caves dug out of the rocky ridge can be visited.
Notre-Dame-des-Grâces. A high place of pilgrimage, this sanctuary is associated with an apparition of the Virgin Mary but also for a revelation a monk had on the birth of Louis XIV… The Sun king, accompanied by Anne of Austria came to thank the Virgin Mary.
Le Clos des Vignes. In an old sheep barn, you sit down on the shaded terrace, with a view over the vines, where you seem lost among nature… With refinement on top. The immaculate dishes showcase the local produce. Route de Montfort, Cotignac. Tel.: 04 94 04 72 19. www.restaurant-le-clos-des-vignes.fr
Cabasse was for a long time a place where they produced bauxite, a red rock from which aluminium is extracted. Today, it is a peaceful village of the Provence.
Notre-Dame-du-Glaive Chapel. This XVIth century chapel is certainly worth a visit for the view point over the Issole gorges and the «Fairy hole», a cliff in which troglodyte homes.
Domaine Gavoty. These vines have been passed down 7 generations of the same family along with their expertise and love of winemaking. 42 hectares, located near the old Roman Via Aurelia that testify of their footprint in time. Today, it is their descendant, Roselyne Gavoty that has taken the helm with her husband. On this limestone ground, known for its white wine, Roselyne has been one of the pioneers in the matter of rosé wine: offering quality vintages that are complex and elegant, she has given rosé wine its credentials, previously under estimated. She does however need to remain vigilant to underline the difference between a light rosé for the aperitif and a gastronomic rosé to the consumer. Le Grand Campdumy, Route de Flassans, 83 340 Cabasse. Tel.: 04 94 69 72 39. www.gavoty.com
Domaine La Commanderie de Peyrassol. As if appearing from the middle of nowhere, the Commanderie de Peyrassol is like nothing you’ll have seen before. First of all, because it reveals itself like a well kept secret, at the end of a windy and bumpy road. Then, because the aura of the time of the Templars, founders of the place in the XIIIth century, still reigns there. Finally, because once it was taken over in 2001 by Philippe Austruy, an art connoisseur, the hamlet’s perfectly renovated buildings are surrounded by stunning contemporary works of art, signed by Arman, Cesar or Tapiès amongst others. To prolong the moment, a large table d’hôte is open during the summer, orchestrated by a young chef. RN7, 83 340 Flassans-Sur-Issole. Tel.: 04 94 69 71 02. www.peyrassol.com
Domaine Château Margüï. First of all, the location – 115 hectares of nature, between vines forests and olive trees, where vines have been cultivated from time to time. A clear horizon that invites you to look into the distance, all the way to the outline of the Sainte-Victoire, to the west. There is also a traditional house, perfectly renovated, surrounded by gardens and ponds inspired by those at Albertas. Then, there is the wine. Coteaux varois vintages, renowned and already present on the nicest gastronomic tables. A clear victory: Marie-Christine and Philippe Guillanton only took over the overgrown estate ten years ago. The 16 hectares of restructured vines have already fulfilled their promises. Chateauvert. Tel.: 04 94 58 86 35. www.chateaumargui.com