Massif des Maures

This massif is one of the wildest and oldest parts of Provence. Nestling at its foot or clinging to its slopes, 26 villages share its favours. From Hyères to Fréjus, it stretches for almost 60 km, or almost a quarter of the department, including a large part of the coast. Covered with cork oaks and chestnut groves, "Les Maures" offers a wide variety of landscapes for walking and horse-riding. There are some real gems to be discovered here, such as the magnificent Chartreuse de la Verne, or the pretty villages of La Garde-Freinet and Collobrières. From Notre-Dame des Anges, the panorama of the Golden Isles and the Presqu'ile de Giens is exceptional.

For a long time, the region's economic activity revolved around cork and chestnuts. Even today, the chestnut remains an important part of the life of certain villages: local produce, crafts and local festivals. Don't miss the not-to-be-missed Chestnut Festivals in Collobrières, Les Mayons, Gonfaron, La Garde-Freinet and Pignans.

At the foot of the massif on the hinterland side lies the Maures plain, a National Nature Reserve, the last wild plain in the Var.

Discover the area with the Saint-Tropez Golf Club.

Vue du Massif des Maures

Esterel Massif

With its red porphyry rocks, the Estérel massif is like no other. Situated between Saint-Raphaël (83) and Mandelieu (06), the wild landscapes are grandiose: gorges, sheer cliffs, gorges and jagged ridges follow one another in striking contrasts. Standing out against the azure blue sky, it towers majestically over the Mediterranean, all the better to plunge into its sea-blue waters. The most spectacular part of the coastline is the 452m-high peak of Cap Roux, where the rock slopes down into the sea.

The flora is rich and varied. Despite the fires, Aleppo pines, chestnut, hornbeam, fig and olive trees grow in profusion alongside palm trees, mimosas, eucalyptus and imported tropical plants that have thrived thanks to the mild temperatures. The area is criss-crossed by numerous hiking trails, making it a great place to go on foot or by bike. You can also discover the calanques from the sea on boat or canoe trips.

At the foot of the massif lies the 'Corniche d'Or', so nicknamed for the beauty of its scenery. The indented coastline offers beaches and small coves. The tiny "Isle of Gold" is home to a strange tower built in the 19th century by an original who proclaimed himself king of the island. It inspired Hergé to create the cover of an issue of his famous comic strip: Tintin!

Calanques de l'Esterel

Sainte-Baume Massif

It takes the form of a limestone wall rising to an altitude of over 1,100 m and stretching almost 14 km from west to east! This impressive rocky barrier takes its name from a cave (baumo in Provençal) that is said to have sheltered Saint Mary Magdalene at the end of her life. This grotto, converted into a sacred site in the 13th century, is one of the most visited places of pilgrimage in the Western world: no fewer than 8 popes and 18 sovereigns have visited it since the Middle Ages, among the crowds of anonymous pilgrims. Like Mont Sainte Victoire and Mont Ventoux, the Sainte Baume is one of Provence's 'sacred' mountains. Take the Chemin des Rois (Kings' Way) up to the grotto, or one of the many footpaths in the massif, which is also crossed by the Camino de Santiago. Please note: check with the Provence Verte tourist office to find out how accessible the paths are.

From the Pic de Bertagne or the Saint-Pilon, the panorama is simply extraordinary.

The massif is covered by a relict forest (a survivor of the last ice age!). It contains specimen trees of rare longevity, almost a thousand years old. These old trees are home to incomparable wildlife. To protect it, the Sainte-Baume Regional Nature Park has just been created!

Discover the area

La Sainte Baume verdoyante

See also...

Discover the other natural landscapes of the Var.