Brignoles, on the river Caramy, is in the Var department, and has a population just over 12,000 people, is 18km east of St Maximin and set north east of Marseilles, an d slightly north west of Toulon, but some kilometers from the coast. In the past the town relied for a living on the mining of bauxite, but the mine is long closed today the town is enclosed in a circle of modern commercial activity around an ancient heart. To the north are the beautiful villages of the Haut Var including the very photographic Cotignac with its caves and ruins.
The town centre still has its medieval streets including the 13th century residence of the Counts of Provence, shady squares and everywhere there are floral window boxes. There are also streets consisting of a series of steps, for the land is starting to rise away from the coast. The Musée du Pays Brignolais has every aspect of local life – everything from an ancient Christian sarcophagus to the first concrete boat made in 1840.The old statue of a saint has a deep navel thanks to the touches of many, many infertile women over countless years. Next door is the Office de la Culture where modern shows appear.
As well as the usual activities one might expect in a town this size, golf there is a plenty, and hunting in season. The Haut Var has plenty of good hiking, fishing, canoeing or just wandering through pretty villages. Art and cooking classes are available on courses long or short. There are markets here on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a flower market on Saturdays and a craft market on Wednesdays, as well as a flower market, but other places nearby each have their own special days and events. There is an annual Jazz Festival, but of course there are a host of other events going on all year round in surrounding towns.
Food and Drink
This part of France, benefiting from the Mediterranean climate, but slightly cooler inland temperatures, produces a huge variety of both fruit and vegetables as well as growing flowers which supply the whole country. There are some 27,000 bee hives to pollinate all these plants. Lavender, olive oil and wine are all important. The town is known for its plums, peaches and olives.
- Le Pourquoi Pas, Rue Cavaillon, Brignoles serves moules frites and steaks.10€
- Le Central, Place Carami, Brignoles8.50 € These places and prices are typical.
If you decide that this is the area for you I suggest you invest a few euros in Charles Davey’s book ‘Going to live on the French Riviera’. It will answer many questions and help you to sort out your priorities and reasons before you contact Sextant properties who will be able to put you in touch with a local bi-lingual estate agent. The agent will be someone who really knows the area as well of course as knowing what is available to suit both you and your budget. They can accompany you on visits and are well used to dealing with Brits so know the kind of things they expect. Discuss with them any special requirements – a pool perhaps or seclusion, or do you prefer to be at the hub of everything? Either way there is somewhere a property to suit you.