Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France

Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey is a French commune located in the department of Alpes-Maritimes in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is located some 12 kilometres northwest of the famed perfume centre of Grasse on the D6085 highway. Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey and its surrounding area are rich in stone megaliths (particularly great table-shaped stone dolmens) and Bronze Age relics, probably more than anywhere else in the South of France.

Along the roads from Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey toward Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne and going west into the valley of the Siagne River a number of ancient tumuli burial mounds many may be seen. The most impressive dolmen is called “Verdoline,” just south of the village; it may date from as early as 4500 BC and its chamber measures some 1½ X 2 metres (5 X 6½ feet). Near this dolmen is the “Druids’ Stone,” a rock cylinder created by erosion.

Saint Vallier de Thiey is a charming Provencal village with its 12th century church and old doors, thus preserved the village of yesteryear reveals its hidden aspects to those who know how to dawdle.

In the agricultural village time, it is currently one of the most important sheep breeding centers, it has gradually developed into trade and crafts (painters, pottery, wood turner…..), many hotels, camping ground, guest rooms, sports activities, it offers visitors its natural (natural bridge) and archaeological (Druidic stone, dolmen) resources of quality, its remarkable fitted out cave.

Saint Vallier was bishop of Antibes, he was martyred in the 4th century by the Visigoths, during their invasion of Provence. Le Thiey is the mountain which dominates the village (1,452 m).

Place de l’Apiè, we can see the bust of Napoleon recalling his passage onMarch 2, 1815on his return from Elba, as well as the bench on which he sat.

Agriculture, the basis of the local economy until the 1950s, had gradually become a declining sector. The PLU has endeavored on the one hand to develop agricultural sectors by protecting their productive land holdings as the first support for local production sectors, known as short-circuit production, and on the other hand to support the development of market gardening and truffle fields. Promote all marketing initiatives for local agriculture (farmers’ market, local labeling, etc.). At the same time, the Préalpes d’Azur regional natural park organized a “flower meadows” competition to promote agricultural practices.

Historical heritage

The Verdoline Dolmen
The dolmens of Provence are generally Chalcolithic (around 1200 to 300 years BC). This dolmen is one of the best preserved in the region. It still has three slabs and two pillars. The weight of the two side slabs exceeds 1200 kg. The cover slab lies a few meters away, the bedside slab shows many cups (small cups) and crosses of Christianization.

The excavations that have been undertaken have brought to light some skeletons in a semi-flexed position, some pearls and a bronze object. Originally the corpses were lying in the cella or room, the covering stone closed the dolmen. Many small stones (Tumulus) then covered the monument and thus prevented thieves from unearthing the bodies. Up to 170 individuals were thus found buried in the same dolmen.

Oppidum de la Malle
One of the most prestigious Celto-Ligurian camps in France, with well-preserved 6m thick walls (3000 m3 of stones). Bories of large sizes on the course, magnificent panorama. Some blocks measure more than 1 cubic meter, the whole is homogeneous and seems to have been built in a single throw, without discontinuity or recovery.

These devices and the unity of this Castellaras indicate a strong and powerful social and military organization. Installed between 2 fertile plains, despite the altitude, this Castellaras is surrounded by mountains where we can see other less important enclosures, but which can participate in its protection. This enclosure was undoubtedly not intended for a village concentration, because exposed to the winds and without water, this one having to be held below, in the plain of FERRIER where we located at 600 m the remains of an establishment in terraces, with traces of huts, walls in large blocks, pottery from the Iron Age as well as a fragment of a Roman amphora from the 1st century BC

The golden goat Tower of Cavagne
The origin of this tower is undetermined. (Perhaps the primitive village of St Vallier de Thiey). Very beautiful panorama on the coast and St Vallier de Thiey.

Other places and monuments

Castellaras de la Malle
Bastide d’Arbouin
Grand Pré
Route Napoleon.
The Bad Guys

Religious heritage

Sainte Luce Chapel
Martyred in the 3rd century for refusing to marry a Roman prefect, not wanting to convert to pagan worship. Patroness of light and celebrated on December 13 “From Ste Luce, the day advances by a flea jump”. This chapel houses a well, its water is said to have a miraculous reputation for eye ailments. This luminous site was particularly well chosen, being lit by both the rising and setting sun.

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The Chapel was built in the 13th century, with a cul-de-sac apse oriented. East-West, the transverse part was built in the 17th century. It has a main nave, facing North-South, a perpendicular chapel and a large covered porch, Provencal style. It is crowned with a steeple and surrounded by cypresses in an admirable site. Inside, a painting from 1776 representing the penitents of Grasse who came to pray to Saint Luce to rid their city of a calamity. Opposite the porch stands a wrought iron cross on a marble column.

In 1771, following a catastrophic drought forcing the populations to fetch water from the Siagne, pilgrimages were organized throughout the region. The well of Sainte – Luce is described as a “renowned place of devotion to which the custom is attached to hold masses and processions”

Saint Jean Chapel
The Chapel of Saint Jean-Baptiste is hidden in a clearing. Just below, you can hear the Siagne rumbling at the sheer cliffs of the rocks. On May 1, 1242, Fida de la Motte, lord of the stronghold of La Motte, donated his lordship to the bishop of Antibes. The latter, in return, must pay in his place the debt owed to the monastery of Valbonne and moreover, take care of the church and Algaraud (minister of the church, the prior).

It seems that the chapel was built in 1669 on the remains of the old church of La Motte, on the occasion of a wish formulated to preserve Saint Vallier from the plague. To the single bay of the Chapel was added in 1882 a “pavilion or the front of the chapel” is a covered porch. The chapel has a painting representing St Matthew, St John and St Mark. A ruined tower is located in the Marinon district on the right bank of the Siagne.

On June 24, the men celebrated Saint John Cavalier, patron saint of harvests and shepherds, by roasting a lamb. On the first Sunday of May a procession leaves the village towards the Chapelle Saint Jean.

Church of Our Lady of the Assumption: nave of the xiii th century five bays; collateral of three spans xvi th and xvii th centuries; bell tower of xviii th century bell tower of the xix th century.
Saint-Esprit Chapel: built in 1635 by the white penitents, it is dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-la-Rouguière.
Sainte Brigitte Chapel, monument to the Dead since 1925.
Saint-Pons Chapel.

Civil heritage
Doublier radio center.
ZAC du Pilon: aromas and various companies.
Rescue center.
Training center for young firefighters.

Natural heritage

The Old Road of Cabris
The cross of Cabris: this name is given to a district located on the old path connecting Saint Vallier, to Cabris at the limit of the two municipalities, to a pass. It takes its name from an iron cross, first planted on a tumulus and then moved to respect the tomb.

A wooden cross was originally erected in 1729 on the top of the Audides hill because “like every year the storm swept away the fruits of several districts of this place” “to be opposed to the storms of time, for the conservation of the fruits terroir “. The cross was then moved to the pass.

The Old Route Napoleon
Napoleon on his return from Elba Island borrowed from St Vallier de Thiey, not the current so-called Napoleon road (RN 85) but the Chemin de la Siagne. In 1815 the state of the road forced Napoleon to abandon his cannons and carriages in Grasse to continue the journey on horseback and transport his equipment on the back of mules. It is in 1832 and 1855 that the route of the national road N85 will be carried out between Grasse and the valley of Nans.

It was in 1913 that the abbot Jules CHAPERON proposed on behalf of the union of the so-called road from Antibes to Lyon “Napoleon route”. Archeology indicates that the old route passing through the Siagne has been used for millennia since at its immediate access there are 2 dolmens, 7 tumuli and 2 rock shelters, monuments and sites that are dated between the ancient Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age.

The Druidic Stone
This stone has excited the imagination of all visitors and is still today one of the most visited natural curiosities of SAINT VALLIER. It is a stone 2m50 to 3m50 on the side, resting on a pillar 3m high.

It is in fact the result of a natural phenomenon (like “fairy chimneys” or “damsels”) which results from the slow erosion of a hard rock protecting that of the underlying rock, less hard or more soluble. We can assume that the dolmen builders used the Druidic Stone: indeed two dolmens were located a few meters away. They are unfortunately destroyed. The tabular stone presents on the upper face a few cups and an F-shaped engraving that some authors have compared to animal engravings from the Vallée des Merveilles.

The natural bridge of Ponadieu
The Pont de Ponadieu results from the deposit of limestone (tuff) from a source that has disappeared. It is a light rock (used in buildings) in which we find the imprint of plants.

Grotte de Baume Obscure: this true underground network was only brought to light in 1958 because of the long and narrow gutters of access to the rooms which discouraged the first speleologists. Over a total length of 1,500 m, the visit extends only over a 700 m route, but descends to a depth of 60 m. After a long corridor, originally filled with clay, the visitor discovers in the nine successive rooms the vast domes, the gourswaterfalls and multitudes of filiform stalactites, a veritable forest of needles dotting the ceilings. In the hall of the gours, we admire the particular color of the water, highlighted by appropriate lighting, and the floor made up of a gigantic flow of stalagmite.
Grotte des Audides: the cave was inhabited from the dawn of humanity as evidenced by the cut tools, fossils and bones found. Six sinkholes were discovered in 1988. 60 meters deep – a third of what has been explored – we can observe the geological landscape of a sinkhole in full concretion activity, with its underground stream.

The dry stone huts, formerly for agricultural use. The Napoleonic cadastre of the municipality designates them under the same name – bastidon -, whether they have corbelled vault or canal tile roof on rafters. Tourism adorns them with the name of bories. One of the most remarkable examples is the “Roman hut”, with a facing formed by layers of cut stones assembled with sharp joints.

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