Speaking of places we like so much and where we keep coming back, a name rise up from our hearts….Castellane, Provence region of France. First time we were there by chance, on the road to Camargue and we stayed at this hotel (a little bit expensive but it was just for one night). We immediately fell in love with this little village and we promised to be back soon….and we did, four more times…(photos taken over the years and already published – most of them – in previous posts).
The town of Castellane is a very old city located upstream of the Gorges du Verdon, at 724 meters above sea level.
The Roc, or Notre Dame overlooking the city is 184 meters above the city. The historical site has been occupied since the High Middle Ages. The site is accessed from the center of town behind the old Church of St. Andrew. The walk takes about 30 minutes, and it’s totally worth it! You can see it behind the Church of St. Victor. The old parish church of Saint-Victor-standing part of the thirteenth century and is a listed building. It is constructed in a similar manner and on the same plane as the Church of St. Andrew, the old town above the present town. It was the seat of a priory of the abbey of St. Victor in Marseilles. The apse is decorated with Lombard bands, each hoop is monolithic. Unusually for the region, it has a collateral novel revoûté the seventeenth century. The base of the tower date from 1445, but the summit was rebuilt in the eighteenth century. This work follows the damage done by Protestants in 1560. Its altar date from 1724. The choir is adorned with paintings, framed in wood, an Annunciation carved in high relief of gilded wood from the eighteenth century. The wooden furniture, the stalls, the pulpit and the lectern at the foot hexagonal form, in total, an interesting set of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The furniture also includes a silver chalice of the early seventeenth century, whose foot is multilobed.
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rock, belongs to the former Convent of Mercy. But the wall and the south facade only dates from the late twelfth century, having been shot in half during the wars of religion, and rebuilt in 1590. Crumbling in 1703, it was again rebuilt in the early eighteenth century and in 1860. A tent foliage and scrolls date from the Renaissance. The furniture includes a statue of the Virgin, in marble, of the sixteenth century and two paintings of St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis and St. Jane de Chantal, classified for tables and frames gilded, bearing the arms of the Bishop of Senez Duchaîne and dated the seventeenth century. She has received numerous votive offerings dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including classics engraved plates (136 total), bridal bouquets (21 total), a given array after a vow to Our Lady, dating from 1757, a given array after the cholera epidemic in 1835, a table given by a released prisoner, dated 1875, thanks for a given table after a smallpox epidemic, dated 1870, a table, given by a person who escaped a shipwreck in 1896.
The second time we stayed at this other hotel, not bad but it’s located just on the main street and it’s a bit noisy….plus it hasn’t a closed garage for bikes, so for hubby it’s usually a big “no”…..
In the early ninth century, all the area around the current town of Castellane was inhabited by only 84 people. To protect themselves from invasions, inhabitants shifted to the top of the Rock which dominates the valley of the Verdon, and on the terraces below the Rock. Some vestiges of this site of Castellane, who was appointed in SINAC 813 (current place called Signal and Petra Castellana in 965) are still visible. For practical reasons, the people then settled at the foot of the Rock in the bottom of the valley. Gradually, three towns came into existence: the Rupes, on top of the Rock, soon entirely occupied by the castle (built in 977 by Pons-Arbaud and Aldebert); the Castrum, halfway up, on a larger site but easy to defend; the Burgum, current site, easily accessible and facilitating trade.
In 1189, Baron de Castellane Boniface III was attacked by his lord Alfonso I of Provence whom he refused to honor, and must forfeit. Another war broke out between the Baron and Count of Castellane in 1227. In 1262, Charles I of Anjou submittied Boniface VI of Castellane. In the thirteenth century, the family of Castellane lost possession of the city in favor of the Counts of Provence. To protect themselves from these attacks, in addition to the protections specific to the city, the Castellane lords built a series of fortified outposts: Demandolx, Chasteuil, Rougon, and perhaps Taloire.
The Black Plague reached Castellane in 1348, and was followed by a devastating flood of Verdon. In 1390, Raymond de Turenne ravaged the surrounding territory and the village of Taulanne, failed to take the city, but destroyed the wooden bridge over the Verdon River. The bridge was rebuilt with stones in mid ‘400, and since then that road was frequently used as a route between the site and the Mediterranean. It was in March 1815 that Napoleon crossed this bridge when returning from exile in Elba: hence the bridge and Castellane also form part of the popular Route Napoleon tourist route.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, the high village is completely abandoned in favor of that of the lowland site. Provence was attached to the Crown of France in 1483.
The most monumental fountain, in the main square, features a pyramid on which is carved a cross on a square compass, two chisels and a mallet, emblems of the Freemasons. At the top of the pyramid is a pedestal with a ball.
From our third visit here we have always stayed at this cozy hotel, well known by all the bikers crossing these roads….
What we like the most while there, is strolling around little alleys and looking for something interesting, and hubby usually is so good at finding little treasures….and we always come back home with some local goodies…
On the place de l’église, the Porte de l’Annonciade is the scene of the Fête du Pétardier every year. This is the celebration of an episode which took place long ago. In 1586, the Wars of Religion brought terror to France. The Baron of Allemagne and the Duc de Lesdiguières began to covet the little town, but they had not reckoned with the courage of an inhabitant of the village, Judith Andrau, who poured boiling water from the top of this gate on the Captain directing the operation. Castellane was once again freed from the claws of those who wanted it as theirs and the streets rang with the joy of victory. Ever since, the inhabitants of Castellane have celebrated their heroine’s courage every year on the Sunday closest to 31st January.
Let’s not forget we are in the Provence region, the land of lavande, and you can find plenty of that here….(and sunflowers too)
It’s been already three years since we were there last time, we have to plan the next trip….