Many Reasons to Visit Le Castellet and Bandol AOC
Visit Le Castellet
As we were approaching the end of our most recent sojourn in Sablet, I suggested to Shirley that we visit the Bandol region of the Var and taste wine since we had not been there for several years.
One of my favourite blogs is authored by Tuula, Southern Californian raised, but now living near the Bandol wine region. Her blog called “Belle Provence Travels” is about living and travelling around the South of France. I asked her, “What are your favourite villages near where you live.” She responded very quickly that Le Castellet is one of her favourite villages. So on our last Saturday, we headed out for the almost 2-hour drive there.
Le Castellet is a picturesque, medieval village, perched on top of a hill around a castle from the 17th-18th centuries, which houses the Town Hall. The town overlooks vineyards and the surrounding countryside directly north of the beaches of Bandol. Continue reading here to see the photos from Michel and Shirley’s visit.
Le Castellet History
Similar to the rest of Provence, there are traces of human settlement in the area that date back to Celtic-Ligurian times. The remains of Roman mausoleum are visible near the old castle. However, the village that exists today began to take shape in 1212 under the direction of the powerful Baux family. Unrest and power struggles. In 1434, the De Castillon family took control of the castle and hamlet until 1629 when it transferred to the De Lombard as part of a wedding dowry. The village suffered from plenty of destruction during the French Revolution. It was not until 1923 that a progressive mayor pushed for the restoration work resulting in the charming town that you see today.
Thick fortified walls still surround the perched village. However, today, the walls add to the character of the town rather than serving a defensive purpose. Enter the town via one of two entrances in the ramparts and stroll through the rambling streets and alleys. Popular with tourists, Le Castellet is a top attraction in the Var. In the peak of high-season (summer), expect busy shops and restaurants.
There are two public parking lots located just outside the rampart walls.
The tourist office in the village is open daily at Espace Touristique Gabriel Tambon, 2 rue de la Poste.
The Circuit Paul Ricard racetrack is nearby.
In summer months, the seaside town of Bandol is busy with visitors enjoying the sheltered bay. Located on the Mediterranean between Cassis to the west and Toulon to the east, Bandol has a small marina and a quiet ambiance.
In wine circles, this area has a reputation as one of Provence’s top appellation d’origine contrôlées (AOC) since 1941. The slope of the Massif de la Sante-Baume stretches to the sea, creating a natural amphitheatre. Late-ripening grapes flourish in the limestone soil with plenty of sun, gentle sea breezes and shelter from the mistral winds. To classify as a Bandol AOC wine red and rosé blends must contain at least 50% Mourvèdre grapes. The majority of Bandol AOC wines are reds (roughly 70%) with rosé and whites making up the balance. The appellation includes eight communes Bandol, Le Beausset, Le Castellet, La Cadière d’Azur, Saint Cyr-sur-mer, Sainte-Anne d’Evenos, Sanary-sur-mer, and Ollioules for a total of 1,500 hectares (3,750 acres) of vineyards.
Visiting the Var
Provence is blessed with cobalt blue skies and almost rain-free summers that make it the ideal outdoor destination for nature lovers and families with kids. You can even drink wine or beer at lakes and beaches in France, which may be one of the reasons why it is the most popular country to visit in the world. Just remember to drink lots of water too, and use that SPF crème solaire! Visiting the Var with kids this Summer? My top 10 things to do.
Architecture and wine. Paris architect Carl Fredik Svenstedt was tasked to execute the vision for Domaines Ott*, design a functional building that would satisfy the requirements for a visitor’s centre, wine storage, and house the state-of-the-art equipment for winemaking.