Roquebrune-sur-Argens, French Riviera

Roquebrune-sur-Argens is a French commune located in the Var department and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It consists of three smaller villages: the village of Roquebrune-sur-Argens, La Bouverie and Les Issambres. It is home to the French National Water Ski Training Site.

The town takes its name from the red color of the Maures massif, forming, on the town, a “real” mountain, a rock with red soil. At the foot of this rock flows the Argens river, whose mouth at the Mediterranean Sea is located between Roquebrune and Saint-Aygulf, district of Fréjus.

With scenery dominated by its famous rock, Roquebrune sur Argens is a sprawling town that also boasts the sea at Les Issambres and the woods of Malvoisin. The centre is a myriad of traditional cobbled streets winding upwards to a beautiful square. Boulangeries, vegetable shops and cafes can be found dotted throughout and as you wander you will feel a real sense of being in the heart of a truly French town.

The geographical location of the town, between sea and mountains (Massif des Maures and Massif de l’Esterel), allows significant tourist activity. The pole Issambres boasts a varied nautical activities aimed at all audiences, from the marina, beaches and the national center for water skiing. The town has two seaside resorts: The seaside resort of Val d’Esquières and the seaside resort of Issambres. Green tourism takes advantage of the wooded areas of the Roquebrune mountain, the highest point of the town, allowing the Massif des Maures to dominate the mouth of the Argens.

The history of the oldest part of the village of Roquebrune sur Argens began around 983. However, signs of human beings, from the “Bouverian culture”, dating from pre-history, were found in caves near La Bouverie.

Middle Ages
The priory owned by the monks of the abbey of Saint-Victor de Marseille is probably founded in the ix th century.

The first three settlements of the commune were then concentrated in Villepey, in the Palayson and near the current village of Roquebrune. It is this latter place which gradually gained momentum on the other two, with 165 homes in 1316, against 17 in Palayson and 11 in Villepey. This change is confirmed by place names: charters always referred to castrum the xi th century to locate the villa organized around the priory monks of St. Victor. In the xii th century, it is no longer mentioned.

The Council of Vienna, convened by Pope Clement V, met between October 1311 and May 1312 to discuss the future of the Order of the Temple. Shortly after this council, which excommunicated the Templars, at the entrance to the village, in an exterior wall of the Saint-Pierre chapel was buried, head down, a member of the dissolved order.

The death of Queen Joanna I opened a crisis of succession to head the county of Provence, the cities of Aix Union (1382-1387) supporting Charles of Durazzo against Louis I of Anjou. Then Aix submits in October 1387, which precipitated the rallying of Carlists, including the Lord of Roquebrune, Antoine de Villeneuve. While supporting Charles de Duras for several years, he joined the Angevin camp with his two lord brothers from Gourdon and Barrême and obtained a “chapter of peace” from Marie de ChâtillonJanuary 2, 1388and pays homage to Louis II of Anjou, aged ten. The community of Roquebrune was conquered by the Angevin party at the start of the war (before 1385). The village spent the entire Middle Ages in isolation, sheltered from its walls, avoiding both invaders and epidemics, such as the black plague.

The construction of the parish church was completed in 1535. It is from this period that the legend of the “prior transformed into a willow” dates. Father Antoine, serving t he chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié, located south of the village, regularly took advantage of the generosity of the butcher who supplied him with meat. One night, on the way back, he was caught by the spirits of the dead who had taken refuge in the trees and turned into a willow. On this path there is always an oratory dug in a tree to remind of this metamorphosis.

Modern Times
In the xv th century buildings, lack of space began to expand outside the medieval walls from 127 families in 1471 (about 500) to 310 in 1540 (about 1300 people). This gave rise to the first transformations of the village, with the creation of the arches of the high place.

During the wars of religion from 1562, the count of Carcès, Jean de Pontevès, grand seneschal and lieutenant of the king, was at the head of the Catholics. They were feared under the name of “carcists” or “marabouts”, which meant “cruel and savage”. They fought the Razats or Leaguers of Marshal Retz who relied on the lords of Oppède, d’ Oraison and the baron of Germany, Nicolas Mas-Castellane. TheFebruary 10, 1592, a liguer captain was killed while besieging the carcists entrenched in the village. Forced to surrender, they were then all massacred.

Peace returned, transformations began again from 1608. The tortuous layout of the medieval streets was modified with the creation of rue Neuve, rue Droite (current Grande-Rue), rue des Lauses (Dalles), rue du Four and rue des Pins. The development of the town was such at that time that there were 2,000 people in the village in 1676. The economy of the commune was then centered on polyculture.

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French Revolution
Its opening onto the world took shape in 1829, during the construction of the Pont d’Argens connecting Roquebrune to the road to Italy. Then, in 1863, with the extension of the railway, and the opening of the station of Roquebrune, a new development is brought to local agriculture, which is transformed, thanks to these new outlets, until when the Wine Cooperative was created in 1913.

Post war
Located by the sea, the town has attracted holidaymakers since 1960. Its demographic development is linked to its very favorable geographic location, near the sea, and to relatively large major transport routes (A8 motorway, SNCF). It was during this period that the Issambres coastal subdivision was designed. The town embarked on the intercommunal route in 2000, with Fréjus and Puget-sur-Argens.

Gaillarde fish pond – This ancient Roman pond is listed as a historic monument.
Chapelle Saint-Pierre
Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul church
Chapelle Saint-Michel – this old chapel is regularly a place of exhibition, in particular of paintings
Chapelle Saint Roch
Écomusée 12 impasse Barbacanne, Museum of local arts and traditions.

Religious heritage
The Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul Church, consecrated in 1535. It was included in the additional inventory of historic monuments by decree ofJune 18, 1987. The organ was built in 1966 by Frans Breil (German organ builder).The buffet was transformed in 2006 by Yves Cabourdin. The decor of the buffet is by Florence Fournel (Workshop “The Fairies are great” 49).
The Saint-Pierre Chapel, located at the southern exit of the city, former chapel of the Templars, registered on the additional inventory of historic monuments by decree ofFebruary 24, 1926. The apse is surrounded by a primitive cemetery, whose tombs were dug in the rock, and which seem to show the location of the first village. The bell is from 1786
The Saint-Michel chapel, within the walls of the “old town”. It is mentioned in 1314 on the inventory of possessions of the Order of Hospitallers of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, then to the brotherhood of white penitents in 1582
The Saint-Roch chapel, in Romanesque style. It was dedicated to Saint Roch in the xv th century to protect the village from the epidemics in Fréjus in 1480. The Notre Dame de la Roquette chapel, formerly called Notre Dame des Spasmes.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, with its chapel of the xvii th century and many ex-votos, part of the Congregation of Avignon Aquitaine Province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

Culture heritage
The Dolmen of Gaillarde-sur-Mer, classified as historic monuments by decree ofJanuary 8, 1910
Le Vivier maritime de la Gaillarde, assumed to be of the Gallo-Roman era, in Les Issambres, classified as historic monuments by decree of May 23, 1939;
The archaeological site “Sainte Candie”, at the top of the Roquebrune rock, not far from the cliffs surmounted by the three crosses, sculpted by Bernar Venet in homage to Giotto, Grünewald and El Greco.
The Rocher de Roquebrune, to the east of the Massif des Maures, partly in the town of Muy, forms with its proud silhouette in avant-garde of the Moors, a small isolated massif, whose jagged rocks of red sandstone are rather similar to the Esterel massif and spectacularly dominate the Argens valley
The botanical trail, along the 25 bridges aqueduct.
Heritage House, built around a real cooler of the xvii th century, dedicated to the history of the town, from prehistory (with some parts of the excavations of the Bouverie) to today. Beautiful vestiges of the Neolithic and remarkable testimonies of the Roman presence with the reconstruction of a tomb under tegulae and its garden with medicinal plants.
The House of Chocolate and Cocoa, in the former chapel of the xviii th century hospital.
La Maison du Terroir, shop for local Roquebrunois products, testimony to the agricultural tradition of the village.
The gorges of Blavet, at La Bouverie.
Château de Bagatelle, built in 1771 by the Duke of Blacas. It currently belongs to the Mutuelle des Agents des Impôts which operates a 300-bed holiday village “le Vacanciel Bagatelle”.
The Portalet xi th century, more ancient gate of castrum Roca Bruna created the x th century.
The Holy Spirit Square owes its name to the brotherhood of the same name that contributed to the creation of the municipality in the xiv th century.
The clock tower topped by a campanile wrought iron, built on the ramparts in the xvi th century with a bell of 1546, classified as a movable objects, which allowed the original prevent inhabitants in case of danger.
The Anfred tower, one of the two towers that protected the ramparts of the medieval town.
Portals, arcaded houses built in the xvii th century outside the medieval walls parallel to the walls.

Must do
Roc Azur in early October each year. – Great mountain bike race, in the foothills of the Massif des Maures.
Arena lake – This lake is due to an old gravel pit, used during the construction of the A8 motorway, in the 1960s. At the end of the motorway works, the site was redeveloped, by opening the dug hole, with access to the Argens river, not far. It is currently used in a nautical park, for the practice of windsurfing, pedalo, kanayk, in particular.
Rocher de Roquebrune free access. – This natural area is a hiking area, in particular towards the summit, from where one can admire the plain of Argens, up to Fréjus. In the summer season, access is only on foot.

Cultural events and festivities
Guided tours of the medieval village, the three chocolatiers, the Maison du Chocolat et du Cacao, the Maison du Patrimoine inaugurated by Guillaume Bonnaud in 2004, the Maison du terroir on Tuesdays from June to September (by reservation).
Treasure hunts and workshops for children are organized by the tourist office from April to October (by reservation).
Night Firefly Trail (night walking race).
Fireflies hike.
Mountain biking from Lachens to the sea: Thursday of the ascent.
Les Nuits de Saint-Roch, festival of French song performers: throughout the summer.
Issambres night nautical show (July 13 San Peïre beach) and on Lake Perrin (July 14th).
The Medieval Roquebrunoises.
Honey festival, the first weekend of October.
Roc d’Azur (mountain bike race), in October.
Painters’ day.

Hell’s Week
Every year in Roquebrune-sur-Argens, Hell’s Week takes place for several days. A large gathering of bikers around expo and motorbike competitions, American cars, waterfalls, jumping, infernal globe, slow races, mud catch, sexy show, exhibitors and what to eat or rehydrate without forgetting the numerous concerts all days.

French Riviera
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean. Riviera is an Italian word that corresponds to the ancient Ligurian territory, wedged between the Var and Magra rivers.

The climate of the Côte d’Azur is temperate Mediterranean with mountain influences on the northern parts of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. It is characterized by dry summers and mild winters which help reduce the likelihood of freezing. The Côte d’Azur enjoys significant sunshine in mainland France for 300 days a year.

This coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it also played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon,h Wharton, Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans. After World War II, it became a popular tourist destination and convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.

The eastern part (maralpine) of the Côte d’Azur has been largely transformed by the concreting of the coast linked to the tourist development of foreigners from North Europe and the French,. The Var part is better preserved from urbanization with the exception of the agglomeration of Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël affected by the demographic growth of the maralpin coast and the agglomeration of Toulon which has been marked by urban sprawl on its part West and by a spread of industrial and commercial areas (Grand Var).

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