The medieval village of Grimaud is perched on the hillside with spectacular views overlooking the Gulf of St.Tropez. The village is dominated by its 11th century castle which commanded the whole of the Gulf which was until the end of the 17th century called the Gulf of Grimaud. The village expanded out of the precinct of the castle and made its home in front of the old guard. The Romanesque church of St.Michel offers a cool and peaceful retreat to sit and reflect. The pretty houses are adorned with colourful bougainvillea flowers and the central square gives leafy shade to sit and ‘people watch’.Along the paved and flowered streets which wind down from the church to the ruins of the castle you will find several cafes, restaurants, little shops and you can browse through the artists studios for an original souvenir of your trip. Grimaud is a peaceful and appealing village to wander around and one can enjoy the wonderful views the village commands. A walk through the village taking in all the historical sights will take about 1 hour (without a visit to the Folk Museum), but do leave yourself more time just to enjoy it at a more leisurely pace.
1. St Michel’s Church – Built of Granite and limestone at the end of the 12th Century, is the magnificent church of St.Michel.The bell tower was added in the 16th century and the sacristy in the 18th century.There is a white marble holy-water basin dating back to the 16th century. The stained glass windows were created in 1975 by J.Gautier. The Square of the church and the parking “pre de Foire” was the former churchyard until 1885.
2. Rue du balladou (balladou meaning small ball in Provencal). None of the streets in Grimaud are named after a personality, this was decided by the town council in 1958 in order to preserve the charater of the ancient provencal village.
3. The Castle – The mention of a castle here was first recorded in the 11th century. The current walls surrounding the castle sheltered the original village.Over the passing centuries the castle was extended and passed from family to family until the French revolution when the castle was abandoned and was allowed to fall into ruins. There is still a medieval tower at the north and two 17th century towers to the south.The castle is a listed monument and has been subject to restoration since 1990.
4. Rue du baou – Below the Rue Rompe-cul, there is a Euphorbia, planted in 1989.
5. Chapel of the Penitents – The chapel was built in the 15th century and extended in the 18th century, seat to the White Penitents who helped the poor of the village. It houses the relics of St.Theodore and several statues, one of them being Notre Dame of the seven sorrows.
6. Rue de la pompe – the old people’s home and hospice – A hospital was situated on this site since 15th century and is now a hospice. A few steps away is the handle-pump built on the original well in 1841, which provided water to the villagers and their livestock. Rue du Gacharel (meaning mix or squelch in Provencal) before being cobbled the street became very muddy when wet.
7. Passage du Cros – In the Middle Ages this street gave access to the fields below the village where they grew their crops. On the right is the Rue des hoirs (from the Provencal meaning Garden), from here one can still see some of the gardens of the village houses.
8. Folk Museum – Free admission – Here you can discover the history of the village with an exhibition of objects of everyday life, there are agricultural tools, objects from the silkworm breeders, cork making, tableware, costumes and household linen. There is also an farmers apartment from the 19th century.
Discover the plain and the charming districts situated in the South of the village. You will enjoy the magnificent view of the village and the hills around during the walk.
Length: 3km Time: 45 minutes
Departure: Tourist Informatio
Level: easy hike
Departure from the Tourist Information, go to the right towards the Folk Museum; before arriving there, cross the road, then, some metres farther go down the small road to the left “chemin de l’Enclos”. After 350 m go down to the right, then after 30 m to the left and again to the left: chemin de la Castellane. This locality dates from the Middle Ages. Castellan (Provençal) means “lord of the manor” or “owner of a château”. After having crossed the area of la Réparade (from Provençal réparado which is a female Christian name) turn to the right at the crossroad where you can see a family burial vault of two families of Grimaud. This private building looking like a chapel dates from the 19th Century. Continue straight ahead towards the locality called “la Vicairie” and after 400 m, at the crossroad, go up the road to the left “chemin Mignonne”; you will come along a big meadow with horses (they are out most of the time) and you can enjoy a superb view of the village. After going up the hill (a bit steep) you will arrive at the departmental road; turn to the left, go along the “immeuble Beausoleil” an ancient hotel and the first at Grimaud dated 1875; you will see the Tourist Information soon afterward
You will discover the small valley of « La Garde » where from the 17th Century 3 watermills and 1 windmills (now disappeared) provided flour to the people of the region. Discover this charming valley bordered by olive trees
Length: 2 km Time: 50 minutes
Departure: Windmill St Roch
Level: easy hike with some uneven height
Departure from the parking beneath the windmill St Roch. Use the discovery footpath towards the Pont des Fées, keep on going on this path leaving the pont des fées behind on your left. At the big wood fence leave the discovery footpath and continue to go down the hill; 50 metres after fording the river “La Garde” you will see on the left an old olive grove and an ancient typical country house (bastide) of the 18th Century. Farther on the right take the footbridge crossing the river and go up the road. You will arrive at the departmental road 558 after some 500 metres, cross the road and go up towards the village. At the pedestrian crossing cross the road again and take the stairs up to the Boulevard des anciennes écoles, follow towards Place Neuve. From here you may enjoy a visit of the village before turning back again to the town hall and the wind mill St Roch
Length: 3,7 km Time: 1h20
Departure: Windmill St Roch
Level: easy hike with some uneven height
Departure Windmill St Roch. The itinerary is identical to the previous one, but at the footbridge continue straight ahead. After 250 m at the crossroad continue going along the river; you will see some small country cottages in the vineyards. 700 metres further cross the bridge on the right towards “chemin de la calade” (Provençal calado means “cobbled path”). After 700 metres you will arrive at the St Joseph’s oratory. You are now on the ancient cobbled road leading from Grimaud to Ste Maxime. Keep on going straight ahead until arriving at the departmental road, continue going towards the village for a few hundred metres, cross it at the pedestrian crossing and continue following the same description as for the previous itinerary.
Walks information courtesy of Office de Tourisme Grimaud
From the quiet, peaceful hillside setting of the Village of Grimaud, we move down to the charming, bustling Port Grimaud. This seaside town was created in the 1960s by architect François Spoerry. The colourful French ‘fishermans’ style houses resemble those in St.Tropez, and the town is built in the Venetian manner with the canals giving it the nickname ‘Little Venice’.The town consists of four main islands, and has over 2,900 houses with nearly all of the houses having its own boat mooring.Each of the houses is individually designed and the original pastel colour of the house is recorded and can only be painted in its original colours. The roofs are tiled with traditional ridged terracotta and at the windows there are the traditional wooden shutters. It took ten years to complete the building of the town as the land was previously marsh land which was thought to be unsuitable for building land, but the canals and man-made islands have made this into a major tourist attraction, in fact Port Grimaud is the third most visited tourist attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower and Mont St.Michel. One of the best ways to view the architecture of Port Grimaud is to take the boat trip around the canals, which takes around 20 minutes or hire a boat and explore the sights yourself.Travelling along the canals you will pass waterside restaurants,small cafes,the small gardens at the rear of the pretty houses and pass under the Venetian style bridges. It all makes for a trip to remember. At the centre of the town is the church dedicated to St.Francis of Assisi, it contains the tomb of Francois Spoerry, who died in 1999 aged 86.There is a market held in Port Grimaud every Thursday, Friday and Sunday starting at 9am – 1pm, it makes a pleasant way to spend a morning. There is also a ferry service which runs across the water to St.Tropez, this is the best way to travel as the roads can get very congested.
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