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A tour of the village

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the Siagnole fountain (1)

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the town hall (2)

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the covered washing area (3)

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the historic town hall (4)

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the vaulted entrance to the church (7)

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the present church (8)

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the old fountain in the grand rue from 1901 (9)

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Francis POULENC, composer (10)

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Henri THÉATRE painter (11)

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the old hotel MIRESTEREL (12)

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the glass workshop (13)

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the windmill at Sainte Anne (14)

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the oppidum (15)

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the Notre-Dame Chapel (16)

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the chapel of Saint-Denis (17)

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the Sainte-Anne chapel (18)

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the chapel of St. Anthony (19)

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the millstone quarry (20)

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the manufacture of corks (21)

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the grotto (22)

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the col rousse , rock formation (23)

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Bayonne, the mountain (24)

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the cascade gourbachine waterfall (25)

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1 Siagnole Fountain

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2 town hall

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3 The covered washing area

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4 The historic town hall

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7 The vaulted entrance to the church

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8 The present church

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9 The old fountain in the Grand Rue from 1901

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10 Francis POULENC, composer

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11 Henri THÉATRE painter

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12 the old hotel MIRESTEREL

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13 The glass workshop

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14 The windmill at Sainte Anne

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15 The oppidum

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16 The Notre-Dame Chapel

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17 The chapel of Saint-Denis

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18 The Sainte-Anne Chapel

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19 The Chapel of St. Anthony

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20 The millstone quarry

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21 The manufacture of corks

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22 The grotto

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23 Colle rousse , rock formation

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24 Bayonne, The mountain

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25 Cascade gourbachine waterfall

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The numbers/sights listed at the bottom of the map are all outside the village!

(c)   plan de Magalie SOBCZAK    www.paysdefayence.com / Office de Tourisme Bagnols-en-Forêt/  Tel. 0033 (0) 4 04 40 64 68/ bagnolsenforet@paysdefayence.com

Siagnole Fountain / The Fountain of the Child with a Goose

(near the town hall)

 

The Siagnole is a tributary of the Siagne in the French department of Var, sometimes also called “Siagne de Mons” or “Siagne romaine”. The mountain village of Mons (811 m NN) can be reached in about 40 minutes by car at a distance of 30 kilometres via Tourrettes on the D 563.

The fountain of the boy strangling a goose is located near the present town hall.

It is a marble copy of a fountain whose original is of Greek or Roman origin.

The original was made of bronze and did not have the ungainly hexagonal support that must support the weight of the animal’s body.

The sculptor of this bronze sculpture, famous in antiquity, was Boethus of Kalchedon. Pliny the Elder mentions him in his “naturalis historia”. The emperor Nero had the original taken from the Greek East to Rome and placed in his palace. The Greek original is dated to about 230-220 BC. The Roman copy was made in the 1st century AD.

This fountain was found with two other replicas in the Roman villa Quitiliana. Based on an opening in the goose spout, all replicas could have been placed in a fountain in the villa.

A Roman marble copy of the Hellenistic/Greek bronze original can be found in Munich in the Glyptothek. There the sculpture is called “Ganswürger”.

The chubby-cheeked boy has grabbed the goose by the neck with both arms and, in the heat of the moment, is simultaneously clutching the flapping inner wing, so that the large bird seems to be trapped. But the goose resists; they both clutch each other tightly, legs apart. Like a trained wrestler, the chubby boy leans his upper body backwards, the goose leans on it with its widely spread legs and, moreover, supports itself on the ground with its feathered tail. The child clutches the goose’s neck, screaming and struggling to breathe, the animal struggles to escape the restraint.

This fountain (no drinking water!) is one of the four historical fountains of Bagnols. It was only in 2005 that it was placed in the Francis Poulenc square near the town hall.

Source of literature: various brochures from the Tourist Office

The present town hall / mayor’s office

The town hall was built in 1907 on the foundations of St. Sebastian’s church. This church was first mentioned in 1480.

The demolition of this church and the construction of the new town hall are historically closely linked to the political decision to separate church and state. On 9 December 1905, its ‘Law of Separation of Religion and State’ came into force. The French Prime Minister of the time, Émile Combes, who attended a seminary and obtained a doctorate in theology, was behind the Combes Law, which bears his name. The property (probably with the rest of the church building complex) passed to the state around 1906.

The current address is 1 place de l’hôtel de ville.

The current mayor is Mr René Bouchard (from 05/2021).

Source of literature: various brochures from the Tourist Office

The covered washing area (le lavoir) /Bassin neuf

In the French-speaking world, the term lavoir is used to describe public, usually roofed washing places. In German-speaking countries, the term Waschhaus is usually used.

According to current knowledge, the history of covered wash houses dates back to the 18th century. In the Middle Ages and early modern times, women washed their laundry on stones by streams or rivers. In the course of the industrial revolution and the pollution it caused, covered buildings were built in larger numbers for the first time towards the end of the 18th century. This was also intended to reduce the risk of epidemics. It was recognised that dirty linen could lead to the spread of diseases such as cholera, measles or smallpox, which had devastating effects.

By law of 3 February 1851, the state decided to pay up to 30% of the construction costs of communal washing places. This was the trigger for a construction phase that affected all villages in France. The construction of the wash houses was usually financed from the respective community coffers, because the often – in the opinion of church and official authorities – too open-hearted and permissive behaviour of the washerwomen was to be stopped or at least hidden behind walls and low-pitched roofs. The wash houses were usually located by a stream or river and, like tanneries, were usually at the end of the village. Some lavoirs were also located in the immediate vicinity of a spring. Only in rare cases were lavoirs supplied with water by means of wells. Due to the mountainous location of Bagnols-en-Forêt, there was no possibility of washing at a stream. Therefore, the washing places are all located at springs on the outskirts of the village.

There are a total of four old washing places “lavoirs” in Bagnols. One can be found at the road junction from the D4 to La Motte (D47 route du Muy). Another is located about 200 metres from this one on the D47 route du Muy, direction La Motte, on the left side towards the valley (115, route du Muy). If you are driving into the village on the D4 from Frejus, there is another car wash just inside the bend of the “grande rue” on the right. A fourth washing place can be found right next to the Saint Antoine chapel (see number 19). The road “piste de la culasse” begins there.

Common to all lavoirs are two or more washbasins with washing stones inclined into the basin, on which the laundry was worked with wooden beaters or by hand. Brushes were hardly used at that time. Differences existed mainly in the height of the washstones. Thus, in many lavoirs, the washerwomen had to wash the clothes while kneeling, while better-equipped washhouses allowed them to work standing up. The outer walls of the wash houses could be made of stone or timber-framed. Often the buildings were also half-open. Wooden constructions were usually used to roof the wash houses; brick arches were the exception. From the 19th century onwards, there were also cast-iron supporting structures – similar to the French market halls (halles). The floor of the washing place was paved so that the washerwomen stood on a level and dry floor. The sides were sometimes equipped with benches. In Bagnols, the washing places have a roof to protect the washerwomen from bad weather and strong sunlight. But apart from the requirements of hygiene and health, the washing place had the advantage of combining two essential functions: one practical and one social. Since men were not allowed in the washhouses, in addition to their actual function, the washhouses offered women an undisturbed place for their communication, which could also consist of informal gossip – hence the derogatory comparison “gossipy like a washerwoman”. Any presence of an adult male was forbidden, and in case of transgression, the male was sometimes attacked and relentlessly thrown into the water amid the mockery and ridicule of the entire group. This shows how important it was that this tiresome washing work was made more bearable by creating an atmosphere that was as pleasant and playful as possible. The social role of the washing place was essential. There the girlfriends, who each had their own place, were under the supervision of the elders. They laughed and they talked. Women who could not leave their young children in care brought them to the washing place.

We have to imagine that it was once a lively and noisy, almost festive meeting place where the local women regularly met each other.

Literature source: www.wikipedia.de

The historic town hall

This building was used as the town hall probably until about 1907. From 1907, the new town hall (see number 2) was built.

On the upper floor of this building was the boys’ school, which later moved to the present tourist office. Until 1960, the building still housed public showers, whose hot water was fuelled by coal.

In this street, in the adjacent buildings with house numbers 13 to 55, there were two cork makers, one of which was the “Gandolphe” company, as well as numerous small shops, in which mainly women from the village worked.

Source of literature: various brochures Tourist Office

The oldest part of the village

On the basis of the building structures that exist today, it can be seen that the oldest buildings of the village stood here in the central location of the village. There are parts of buildings here on Waschplatz Street that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The village church of Saint-Sebastian at that time (see no. 2) was very easily accessible on foot.

Scientific evidence can be provided by determining the age of wooden beams used in these buildings (so-called dendrochronological investigations).

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office

The oldest street in the village

The rue de la calade was the main access to the village in the Middle Ages, coming from the direction of Fréjus. This access was secured by a town gate (rue du portail).

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

The vaulted entrance to the church

Rue Abbé Bruno leads directly to the church of Saint-Antonin (see no. 8). The staircase and the arched passageway are named after the priest Abbé Bruno, a prominent figure in the village. He came from Italy with his mother in 1923 and exercised his ministry as a pastor exclusively in Bagnols.

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

The present church

Saint Antonin

 

THE TEXT AND THE PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED GRADUALLY ………..

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office

The old fountain in the Grand Rue from 1901

 

THE TEXT AND PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED GRADUALLY ………..

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

Francis POULENC, composer

Poulenc was born in Paris. His mother taught him to play the piano; music was an integral part of family life. At the age of 15, he became a pupil of Ricardo Viñes at the piano; “I owe him everything”, he said in an interview in 1953. In 1918, while still serving in the army, he composed three miniatures. From 1921 onwards, he received musical training from Charles Koechlin.

Francis Poulenc died of heart failure in Paris on 30 January 1963. His grave is in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

The Sonata for oboe and piano, also premiered at the Strasbourg Festival, was written in Bagnols-en-Forêt in 1962 and dedicated to Sergei Prokofiev. It was premiered posthumously in June 1963, a few months after the composer’s death.

Poulenc lived on the upper floor of this house!

Documentary source: various tourist office brochures; Wikipedia

Henri THÉATRE, painter

born on 10.02.1913 in Hamoir, Belgium

died on 16.02.1985 in Bagnols-en-Forêt

married to Joanna Loris-Théâtre (also deceased)

His grave is in the New Cemetery, which is near the Notre-Dame Chapel. The grave is in the second row of this cemetery. It is the first grave on the left side.

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office; WIKIPEDIA

 

 

 

VAR-Matin 25.04.2004

Henri Théâtre
Emotion and Great Art

40 paintings by the painter Henri Théâtre, selected by the painter’s widow Joanna, are hung on the wall bars of the Municipal House at the suggestion of the Mayor with the help of the Twinning Association.
The vernissage of this exhibition was touching, because this artist lived more than 20 years in the village, where he also died and was buried in 1985.
The old people came together who knew the characteristic painting style of the artist. To paint the streets, the chapels, the sheep and the younger ones who got to know them today with the paintings.
Jean-René Etienne praised the artist, originally from Belgium, of which he had a reproduction printed on his invitation to the New Year’s Reception 2003. Soon he will make a proposal to the municipal council to sell stamped envelopes with an imprint of the artist’s painting of the Chapel of St. Denis.
“Henri Théâtre was a painter who created in painted manner in oil, charcoal and watercolor in a style that lies between representational and abstract. He was able to depict that rich in contrast and nuance.
His paintings were shown in numerous exhibitions and his works are appreciated by French and foreign collectors.”

“His wife keeps his memory alive by letting us experience her husband’s work. On this day, I am attached to the feelings with her.”

On view today from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the community hall.
It’s great art.

 

 

The old hotel, “Hôtel MIRESTEREL”, rue de l’Ancienne Mairie

THE TEXT AND PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED GRADUALLY ………..

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

The glass workshop

 

(Publication: from 2004 in the former village museum on the first floor of the local tourist office in Bagnols)

 

 

 

Why a glass factory in Bagnols?

Thanks to the richness of its pine forests, the Var attracted the attention of master glassmakers, anxious to find within reach the clay (for the moulds and furnaces), the fuel necessary to feed the furnaces and the proximity of silica gel deposits (extracted from sand). Bagnols, which had this “wealth” of glassmakers from St Paul-en-Forêt and Callian, settled in 1729 and created a glassworks in the Ruel district, now called “La Verrerie” (at the foot of Castel Diaou). This glassworks was in operation until 1780. From then on, the glassworks, as well as those of Saint-Paul, were subject to competition from the glassworks of Marseille, Arles and Gémenos (Bouche du Rhône), which then used coal as fuel.

Raw materials

a) Composition of the glass used in Bagnols

Sieved yellow sand: 100 parts (Reyran or Martigues)

Raw soda ash: 200 shares purchased in the form of stones

New ash: 50 shares bought from housewives

Crushed glass: exchange of 100 pieces for finished products

Yellow clay or marl clay: 30 parts were in the soil and subsoil.

These materials are brought together at a temperature of about 1,300°C.

The daily production of a master glassmaker was about 600 bottles,

b) Wood

Faced with the enormous consumption of wood (for example, the St Paul glassworks consumed 6,000 kilograms of wood per 24 hours), the Chambers of Water and Forests restricted their use by creating cutting permits. The Provence glassworks had to reduce its operating time to 4/6 months per year.

The organisation of work in the glassworks

The glassworks formed a real community insofar as it concentrated on all the trades associated with it.

In the hall: a hierarchy of work

Around the furnaces, the distribution of tasks and the hierarchy of established gestures prevailed with the master glassmaker, the glassmakers and the apprentices.

The master glassmaker

The most common situation in the 12th century was that of the master glassmaker, who was not the owner of the walls, land or forests he rented and exploited because they belonged to religious communities or landowners.

The glass worker

He is generally hired for a year and his salary varies according to the days worked or the quantity and quality of glass produced.

In Saint-Paul and Bagnols, glass workers were paid by the day from 1812.

The child or apprentice

The glass factory child is synonymous with the apprentice.

The apprenticeship started at the age of 12 and lasted about 3 years. A child who did not pass his apprenticeship remained a second-class worker called “big boy”.

The complementary trades of the glass industry.

Multi-skilled men prepare the raw materials for glass production, people load or unload the recycling furnaces, basket makers are responsible for nailing the articles and there are also packers, transporters and merchants who worked for glass production.

Alongside the glassmakers work the weavers, the woodcutters who cut the wood to length, the labourers who transport the sand and marl, the founders who pulverise the refractory earth in a special mill, the potters and their helpers the crucibles or pots in which the glass is melted and the various moulds.

Another morning’s work was devoted to loading and unloading the annealing furnaces, and another to packing the finished products, including the basket makers, i.e. the carriers or porters who transported the products to Fréjus, Draguignan or Grasse by mule or horse.

Operation and production of the Bagnols glassworks

A Bagnols census of 1706 lists the trades to which the 274 groups listed belong. It does not mention any glassmakers.

From 1723 to 1730, the parish registers of the BUISSON de VIRGILY, D’ESCRIVAIN, COLLOMP, DESPIERRE, DU QURELARD, BORNIOL and D’AUDOUARD families are known in Bagnols. There are also glass weavers.

These glass factories were therefore produced between 1706 and 1729, and it was the glassmakers located in Saint Paul and Callian who had to install them. The glassworks closed in 1870 like all the other glassworks in the forest. Because of the heat and especially the restrictions on felling to protect the forests, it only operated for 4 to 6 months a year.

The production of 1730 was sold locally at the glassworks or in the village on the neighbouring markets. Prices are never increased by transport costs.

40,000 drinking glasses

200 ladies’ glasses

500 bottles

400 cups

4,500 bottles, hardly consumed in the canton, are delivered to Nice for muscatel and liqueurs.

6,000 small bottles of essence of Tenis are delivered to the perfumers of Grasse.

Production of the year 1740. Glass factory of the DE BUISSON family.

45 000 bottles

200 ladies jeannes

500 small bottles

6000 essenciers

400 cups

40,000 drinking glasses.

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

The windmill at Sainte Anne

History of the mills in Bagnols-en-Forêt

The first mention of mills in Bagnols is found in the
in the deed of habitation of March 9, 1478, signed between Hec-
tor de Fiesque, brother and prosecutor of the bishop of Fréjus
Urbain, lord of Bagnols and Lodovico Amero, a native of Teso
of Teso, diocese of Albenga. This founding act of
of the commune of Bagnols-en-Forêt stipulates in its article
8, that the nobleman Lodovico Amero will be able to build at his
one or more mills and a hydraulic saw at his own expense and
and operate them for his own benefit for 15 years, after which they
after which they will revert to the lord bishop by right.
It should not be forgotten that under the Ancien Régime the cereals were the basis of the
It should not be forgotten that under the Ancien Régime, cereals were the basis of the population’s diet.
tions. The people of Bagnol therefore needed, above all, wheat
wheat mills.
There were, of course, water-powered wheat mills on the various
on the various waterways of the region. These
mills, mentioned as early as the XVII century, must have
mills, mentioned as early as the XVII century, must have been in operation long before that period, in the district of Les Moulins
or of the Molière, in Planastel and in Mériane.
A communal windmill and wheat mill had been built at the end of the
the end of the XVI century, in the district of the Moulin à vent or
Coullet-Rollan. In 1628, this mill needed to be
In 1628, this mill needed to be “mended”, i.e. repaired and in 1700, the iron
in charge of running it <“not being able to maintain it anymore” wanted
wanted to give it back to the commune. Another windmill
windmill, whose tower still exists, was built at the end of the

the end of the XVII century in the Ste-Anne district. On this site there was an area for treading wheat. This area belonged to
the hospital St-Jacques of Bagnols. In 1790, the community bought this area, which was considered too small, in order to enlarge it.
and built the windmill of Ste-Anne whose tower still dominates the village of Bagnols. The windmills replaced the water mills
water mills when these could no longer function, particularly during the dry season in the low water period.
In 1921 the municipal council, wanting to restore the windmill of Coullet-Rollan, explained: “that it is of the greatest use for the
that it is of the greatest utility for the dwelling that it is built on the ground of this commune a mill to grind the bleds especially during the summer
especially during the summer with all the more reason that the existing mills can only work with the winter rains which
exposes the inhabitants to very expensive displacements”.
But in Bagnols, the oil mills were by far the most represented in the commune. The culture of the olive tree must have held
especially from the 17th century onwards. Thus, all the water and wheat mills previously mentioned
in the districts of Les Moulins or La Molière, Planastel and La Mériane were all twinned with oil mills.
There were also blood oil mills in the village, i.e. with animal traction. At the beginning of the XIX
century, 7 oil mills, including two blood mills, pressed olives in Bagnols. Moreover, at the end of the XVIIIth century, the great
the mayors who succeeded one another, was, at the request of the people of Bagnols, to have a police regulation approved for the oil mills
for the oil mills in order to fight against the abuses of the mill owners: “for a long time the inhabitants have been suffering from the lack of
The inhabitants have long been complaining about the lack of crushing of their olives, which are usually crushed only halfway, which causes them to lose part of their olives, especially since the
which makes them lose a part of their olives especially considering that the marc remains entirely to the owners of the mills which make them iron and draw from it a considerable quantity of oil”.
a considerable quantity of oil “. These owners were also accused of not keeping their mills clean, of employing an insufficient number of
These owners were also accused of not keeping their mills clean, of employing an insufficient number of millers and of using poor quality scourers. Thirty years of discussion were necessary to
of discussions were necessary to arrive at a police regulation for oil mills, the aim of which was to preserve the exceptional quality of the olive oil.
quality of Bagnols’ olive oil, because, already in the 18th century, the Bagnols town councillors were aware of the
quality of the olives grown on their land.

Bernard ROMAGNAN

 

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office

The Oppidum

The cliff tops (Oppidum de la Fortesse) have been inhabited since the end of the Bronze Age (1000 BC).

From the oppidum de la Fortesse, inhabited since the Bronze Age (1800 BC), you have a unique view of the hinterland and the other oppidum; the millstone quarries exploited from Roman times until the middle of the 18th century, with an unobstructed view of the bay of Fréjus-St Raphaël, the plain of the Argens, the rock of Roquebrune and the Maures.

 

The remains of an oppidum (ancient fortified dwelling) can be reached by the G 13 “Petit Roc” forestry road, from the new cemetery. Before, you can reach the millstone quarry (see n. 20).

From the car park of the new cemetery (opposite the dump), take the forest track “G 13 Petit Roc” to the fork “Tailleries de meules col de la Pierre du Coucou”. There, go up to the right on the GR 51 (marked red and white). Continue on the GR 51 and turn right at the sign “Oppidum”. After visiting the same part of the path, return to the junction. Here turn right again onto the main GR 51 path and at a small cairn onto a narrow, sloping path back to the cemetery car park.

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

The Notre-Dame Chapel

Excavations in 1982 revealed that this chapel was built on the ruins of a Gallo-Roman villa built at the beginning of the century. Next to the chapel, ceramics bearing the inscription “Le Gladiateur” (The Gladiator) dating from 49 were discovered, which were exhibited with fragments of Gallo-Roman brick pottery in the excavation depot of the Tourist Office of Bagnols. The archives show that it was built in 1560 as a parish church occupied successively by several hermits. Since 1729, on 15 August, a service in honour of Our Lady is celebrated there, in thanksgiving for the various graces received during the year 1900. The mass of survival of the animated festivities is preceded by a procession.

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

The chapel of Saint-Denis (formerly Saint-Domnin).

The parish church is Saint-Domnin, in the plain the only religious building of the time and dating from the 8th century, Saint Sebastian, is completed (on the site of the current town hall), a large popular festival is organised to transfer the objects of worship.

The primitive church of St Domnin was then repainted with frescoes showing a procession leaving the plain to reach the new village.

It was long believed that the village represented on the right in this scene was Pieve di Téco, but there is still some doubt as to whether this village could be African, the country of origin of St Domnin. The frescoes date from the Italian period of the 15th century.

Saint Domnin (died 5 November 379) was the first bishop of Digne, from 364 to 379, as well as the archbishop of the city of Vienne in the department of Isère.

He was a native of Proconsular Africa and arrived in Rome with bishops from North Africa in 313, along with Saint Marcellin and Saint Vincent. There the Council met to judge the three Donatists. After receiving the commission from Pope Melchiades, they went to Nice after conferring with the bishops gathered at the Council of Arles in 314. They preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of the Italian side of the Alps, from the seaside to Vercelli, where they separated.

Together with St Vincent, he decided to preach in the Alps and converted most people to Christianity in Digne-les-Bains.

Source of literature: various brochures Tourist Office

The Sainte-Anne Chapel

Jean Vigneron (a Spaniard) built this chapel in 1654 out of gratitude to Louis XIV, who naturalised him French by letters patent. He dedicated it to Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, to whom he had great devotion. He also completed the altar, its ornaments and the objects necessary for worship. Originally, this chapel, located on the heights of the village, was six metres long and had a porch open on three sides (like the chapel of Notre-Dame / Our Lady of Mercy, located on Route Départementale 47 in the direction of Le Muy). To enlarge the chapel, the porch was walled up and the octagonal bell tower was added. The date of these structural changes is unknown. Excavations carried out in 1982 on the west side attest to the presence of a Gallo-Roman room. Ceramic fragments from the 2nd, 7th and 8th centuries were discovered during these excavations. Today, the Sainte Anne Chapel is used as an exhibition space for temporary art exhibitions in July and August. A mass dedicated to Saint Anne is held every year on 26 July.

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office

The Chapel of St. Anthony

The present chapel, dedicated to the recluse St. Anthony, already existed in 1660 and was built on top of an older building. The chapel is located about 600 metres south-east of the town hall, directly on the street of the same name “chemin de St Antoine”.

According to the ancients, this place was called “les thermes”, there would have been seven springs, two of which remain. A spring stream runs through the surrounding area of the building. The chapel was extended in 1677.

The feast of St. John the Baptist is celebrated here on 24 June.

Fires are lit on the meadows of the farm of the same name, close to the chapel. In the past, mulberry or heather branches were burnt here, on which silkworms were raised.

The tradition of the fair continues to this day.

Source of literature: various brochures Tourist Office

The millstone quarry

There is a parking space at the new cemetery. Here begins a forest path G 13, which climbs steadily and always offers a beautiful view of the village. After about 20 minutes you reach a fork in the road. Here you follow the sign on the right “Tailleries de meules col de la Pierre du Coucou”. After a 10-minute walk, the path climbs steeply. Climb up there on the right! The millstones, made of rhyolite stone, had different diameters. They were used to grind flour or olive oil.

Documentary source: various brochures from the tourist office

The manufacture of corks

TEXT AND PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED GRADUALLY ………..

Documentary source: various brochures from the tourist office

THE CORK POND

The cork oak is a tree that has been part of the European flora since the Tertiary period. If we start from the beginning of the Tertiary period, this means that the tree has flourished here for about 60 million years. Since then it has been growing in the western Mediterranean: southern France, Sicily, Sardinia, western Italy, Portugal, Tunisia and Morocco. In France, it grows wild in the eastern Pyrenees. It grows here and there on the French-Spanish border, where it covers the small hills with its dark foliage. The cork oak forest on the French side of the Pyrenees is the largest in the country, far ahead of the Var and Corsica. The first mention of cork processing dates from the 5th century BC. Combined with plaster, pitch or covered with wax, it sealed amphorae. The Greeks and Egyptians used it as a buoy for anchors, as a float for fishing nets and as the sole of a shoe. Pliny the Elder, the Roman historian, describes the use of cork as a roofing material for houses. In ancient times, cork was already used as an insulating material in the manufacture of beehives. The bark of the cork oak is a plant tissue made up of dead micro-cells, 90% of which are air, giving the material an extremely low density. Cork is a very poor conductor of heat, sound and vibration. It was not until 1681, with the widespread use of glass bottles, that the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon used the cork to seal his bottles of sparkling wine. The abundance of cork oak in the south of France led to the creation of companies specialising in the manufacture of corks. In Bagnols-en-Forêt, too, a new era is beginning in which cork oak is gaining in importance. Four companies producing cork oaks brought economic prosperity to the village and employment to many inhabitants. In 2001, with 7,000 hectares of cork oak forest, it was possible to produce 3,000 tonnes of cork per year in France (compared to 170,000 tonnes in Portugal, from where most of it was imported).
Growing conditions
The tree likes mild winters, fears late frosts, needs hot summers and at least 600 mm of rainfall per year. It does not tolerate calcareous soils, does not grow at altitudes above 700 m above sea level and does not tolerate taller trees in its vicinity. To compensate, it survives forest fires. If its bark is regularly peeled, it will live for 150 years; if it is never peeled, it will reach an age of up to 300 years.
Properties and uses – cork for many purposes
Elastic and imperishable, cork is a good ally for wine. It preserves wine and improves the quality of good wines during storage because cork is easily permeable to air. Because of its special properties – cork is waterproof, lightproof, neutral and fireproof – it is also an important building material; it provides excellent thermal and acoustic insulation (2 cm of cork insulates as well as 38 cm of concrete). Its fire resistance makes it suitable for shipbuilding, aerospace and nuclear engineering. Reduced to dust, it is an ideal polishing material for processing crystal, marble and granite.
A tree that takes its time
The cork oak does not grow very high, no more than about 13 metres. It grows very slowly. In 20 to 30 years, it reaches a circumference of 60 cm and a height of 12 metres.
The various processing stages are also long.
Cork is not a raw material like any other. Just as a good wine takes time, a cork should not be made in a hurry. The various stages of cork production take more than a year.
The peeling of the cork oak
A cork oak can be peeled for the first time when it is 30 years old and has a diameter of at least 40 cm, otherwise the tree may die. The first peeling is called “unpeeling”. The layer of cork that is peeled off the first time is too irregular to be used for cork production. It is transformed into insulation material. The cork layer is slowly renewed for nine years. After this period, when the cork layer has reached a thickness of 3 cm – the minimum for cork production – it is peeled a second time. The peeling, which is repeated every nine years, is now called “encorage”. After 45 years, a cork oak tree has reached the age at which it produces uniform, high-quality cork for up to 120-150 years.

A single tree allows 20 good quality peelings in its lifetime, during which 20,000 corks can be produced. From 100 kg of raw cork, 25 kg of corks are produced. From 1 kg of cork, you can produce 100 to 110 corks.

The peeling process
The cork oak is peeled during the sap period, from May to September, to avoid any risk of death. When it is very hot, the bark peels off the mother layer. The red mother layer produces wood on the inside and cork on the outside. The cork peelers first make a cut all around under the base of the branch with a very sharp bevelled axe. Then they cut the cork layer lengthwise along a natural slit from bottom to top. At the bottom, they then make a second cut all the way around and loosen the cork layer, using the style of the axe as leverage without damaging the mother layer. This is because this living part of the bark causes the renewal of the cork layer.
Transport and drying
The cork boards (“canons”) are transported by the “cameleers”. They tie up small bales of cork and carry them on their backs to the road, from where they are taken to the storage area. There they are stacked in the open air to allow the weather to strip them of their sap, tannin and minerals. This is a very important process for the quality of the cork.
Kitchen
After this period, the corks go to the cork maker. Here the outer woody layer is removed. Then these cork sheets are put in boiling water for an hour to disinfect them, improve their elasticity and smooth them out. Because of its impermeability to water, cork does not reabsorb the water that it has slowly lost during the brief boiling period of one year. Before further processing, the cork sheets are again stored in a slightly damp room in the dark for about a month so that they do not dry out before further processing. When the cork is processed, it has lost 75% of its original weight. Then comes the operation called face, during which the boards are cut straight. They are sorted according to their quality and thickness (density) and cut into strips 38 to 54 mm wide. This corresponds to the height of the future cork.
Rounding and cutting
These strips are sent to the “tubeuse”, a machine that cuts the excess cork along the length of the strip and rounds the strip. The corks are then cut to the desired length.
Washing and drying
The finished corks are placed in various baths where they are cleaned and disinfected without changing their original properties. They are then dried with hot air. This is an important operation to rid them of the last trace of moisture that could be the cause of the corky taste that winegrowers fear so much.
Sorting
Corks that are leaking, damaged, have insect holes or yellow spots are sorted. These can affect the taste of the wine or cause the bottle to leak. Next, the corks are sorted into quality levels from 0 to 6. Grade 0 refers to the best corks, which are used to close the finest wines. Very small defects in the corks are repaired with a mixture of cork powder and a binder. After a final sorting, the corks are marked with fire or ink. Each company has its own workshop where the customer’s logo is stamped on the corks. The corks are then immersed in a light paraffin bath to make it easier to uncork the bottle later.

 

The grotto

The first human traces in the area of Bagnols-en-Foret date back to about 12,000 years before Christ. This is the “Grotte du Muréon”. It can be reached via a hiking trail near “Gorges du Blavet”.

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office

Colle rousse , rock formation

THE TEXT AND THE PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED GRADUALLY ………..

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office

Bayonne, The mountain with the striking ridge

THE TEXT AND PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED PROGRESSIVELY ………..

Documentary sources: various brochures from the tourist office

La cascade de Gourbachin, waterfall on the stream “la Vauloube”.

Access:

Leave Bagnols on the D$ in the direction of Fréjus. At the lavoir (see no. 3), take a sharp right onto the D47 towards La Motte / Le Muy. After 300 m, cross the narrow bridge over the Vauloube. Immediately after the bridge, there is a small car park on the right. Here begins a shady hiking trail alongside the Vauloube. You should wear sturdy shoes because the stream has to be crossed on stepping stones. After heavy rain, the stream is not to be crossed !

The hike takes about 60 minutes from the car park to the waterfall and back the same way.

Literature source: various brochures Tourist Office