At Essential Sailing, we love the history, culture and cuisine of the places we visit almost as much as the sailing to get there. Our Captain’s Blog brings you a taste of what to expect from our luxury crewed sailing holidays around the French and Italian Riviera. In this blog we succumb to the ‘film set’ charm of Port Grimaud, the photogenic hill top village of Grimaud and the endless woodland of the Massif Des Maures
Sit back and be inspired.
Grimaud is one of Provence’s most photo genic hill top villages, crowned by a romantic 11th century château belonging to the Grimaldi family, after whom the village is named. Hidden amid flower-filled streets and shaded squares, you will find a beautiful Romanesque church (Église St.Michel), a restored 12th century mill and, in the arcaded rue des Templiers, a Hospice of the Knights Templars. From the château there are impressive views over Port-Grimaud and the Gulf of St.Tropez, and inland across the Maures.
MASSIF DES MAURES
Just inland from the coast, the Maures mountains offer a welcome escape from nearby St.Tropez. The range comes from the Greek amauros, meaning dark or sombre, and it is a surprisingly unfrequented region of low hills, clothed in dense forests. Take time to explore and you will find its deserted, winding roads of seemingly endless woodland are interrupted by the occasional yellow splash of mimosa or a quaint hidden village.
Tranquil Collobrières lies alongside the River Collobrier at the heart of the wild Massif. In addition to cork production this village’s other main industry is marrons glacés.
Gogolin is one of the main towns of the Maures. Its economy depends on the traditional crafts of cane furniture, silk yarn, brier pipes, knotted wool carpets and, above all, renown reeds for wind instruments. The Old Town is graced with brightly coloured houses, narrow cobbled streets and peaceful placettes (tiny squares)
Port Grimaud is the ultimate property development on the Riviera–a modern mini-Venice of pastel-coloured designer villas on a series of islets, divided by canals and linked by shaded squares and neat bridges. This ‘film-set’ village, the brain child of François Spoerry, was built in 1968, and has since become one of France’s major tourist attractions. Prices for the 2,500 canal-side houses are absurdly high, but after all they’re just up the road from St.Tropez. Many residents, including Joan Collins, simply jet in for their summer holidays.
The whole of Port Grimaud is traffic free and best explored by water taxi (coche d’eau). At the centre of the village, on its own islet, the pseudo-Romanesque church of St.François-d’Assise contains stained glass by Hungarian- born Victor Vasarély and provides a sweeping view of the port from the top of the tower.